California Democrats celebrate history, success with new headquarters

In politics, symbolism is key, and the California Democratic Party's new headquarters is no exception.

The building that officially opened on Monday was constructed with union labor and meets exacting environmental standards with solar panels on the roof and parking spots for charging electric cars. Even the carpet is made with recycled fishing nets.

Black-and-white photographs on the walls are a testament to the party's history and power, immortalizing Democratic luminaries like Gov. Pat Brown and celebrating recent victories like his son Jerry's return to the governor's office.

The new headquarters is also a reminder of who pays the party's bills -- it was financed by labor unions and Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmental activist.

Some of the Democrats' top leaders -- including Gov. Jerry Brown, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and California Attorney General Kamala Harris -- were on hand for the building's grand opening. It's located less than a mile from the Capitol, where the party holds unprecedented power that is unlikely to be seriously challenged by Republicans in the near future. 

"I've seen the Democratic Party all of my life, and never has it had such a following," Brown said. 

Monday's event was also a celebration of John Burton, who is the party's chairman, one of the state's most seasoned politicos and the new headquarter's namesake. Although he's cultivated a gruff and profane persona through the years, he appeared close to tears as Democrats showered him with praise.

"He loves the people that we serve," Pelosi said. "And they come first."

Follow @chrismegerian for more updates from Sacramento.

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