Everybody knows who the Democrats will nominate for president this week. But who will they nominate in four years, or 12? Chances are those folks are in Charlotte, and party regulars are looking for them. Away from the TV cameras, a convention can resemble an NFL scouting combine, as everyone hunts for the party's "rising stars."
L.A. Councilman Eric Garcetti has been playing this game for a while. Four years ago, in Denver, he hosted a "Rising Stars of the Democratic Party" soiree -- anointing himself as one of the rising stars, along with big names like Newark Mayor Cory Booker and San Francisco D.A. Kamala Harris (whose star did rise, in 2010, to state office).
Last night, Garcetti hosted another "Rising Stars" party in Charlotte, with a dozen fresh names on the bill. Meanwhile, Garcetti's own star remains right where it was four years ago. He's still a councilman, though now he's running for mayor.
Also in Charlotte this week is the person who poses the biggest threat to Garcetti's rise: L.A. Controller Wendy Greuel.
Greuel, who is tied with Garcetti in fundraising for the mayor's race, will be hustling around the convention hall, meeting with the California delegation and networking with folks who might be able to help her campaign. Though she would seem to have as much claim as Garcetti to being a "rising star" in the party, it was not exactly a surprise to see her left off Garcetti's party roster.
L.A. Councilman Tony Cardenas did, however, make the cut. Cardenas is on his way to Congress, so technically he qualifies as a "rising star." But he's also a key player in the Latino Valley, which should be hotly contested ground in next year's mayor's contest, which means it makes sense for Garcetti to curry his favor.
Greuel should have an edge in the San Fernando Valley as a whole, but Garcetti may have more appeal in the Latino neighborhoods of the Valley -- especially if he has folks like Cardenas on his side. (Some history: Cardenas narrowly lost to Greuel in a council race a decade ago.)
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Here's the list of Garcetti's "Rising Stars."
Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown
West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
New York City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin
Kentucky State Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen
Maine House of Representatives Minority Leader Emily Cain
L.A. Councilman Tony Cardenas
New York Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries
Hartford (Conn.) City Council President Shawn Wooden
Georgia State Senator Jason Carter
Utah State Senator Ross Romero
Check back in four years to see how many have moved up.
Of course, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is also in Charlotte -- he's chairing the convention -- and he, too, has been described as a "rising star." (So clearly this meme is out of hand.)