December 2021 Newsletter Articles
Remembering Michael Escoto: Data, Devotion, Socks
By Roger Riffenburgh
The California Republican Party has recognized and honored Michael Escoto, one of its key leaders, after his recent passing. Escoto, a pioneer and innovator in political information technology, is celebrated at the CRP headquarters and with a program for people in need.
Michael Escoto was the Deputy Executive Director and Chief Data and Digital Officer of the state party. Bryan Watkins, the CRP’s Chief Operating Officer & Executive Director, said that Escoto created the CRP’s Digital program from scratch. It includes the digital fundraising program, a new revenue stream for the party, and CARES (the California Republican Engagement System), which connects with volunteers. He also led development of the CRP’s Election Integrity hub, which provides statewide support and reporting for voter integrity matters.
Michael Escoto grew up in Northern California (in Elk Grove) and studied political science at the University of Southern California, where he was active in the AGO fraternity. He worked in a series of political jobs, including absentee ballot director in Nevada, CRP deputy political director in 2010, senior digital strategist at the National Republican Congressional Committee, and director of analytics at the RNC and the Trump campaign in 2016. Bryan Watkins said that Escoto “played a pivotal role in electing Donald Trump.” He later took what he had learned and brought it back to California to help the CRP and Chairwoman Jessica Patterson, a good friend. Watkins, a close friend, said that Mike Escoto was also excellent at developing people’s talents. His legacy includes dramatically expanding the capability of the CRP and expanding the pool of data and digital political operatives.
Mike Escoto died unexpectedly on October 13th. The family has not disclosed the cause of death. The CRP held a celebration of life to remember him. They designated the room where he held brainstorming sessions as the Michael Escoto Collaboration Space. They also named the media studio the Escoto Media Room. (See the tribute video.)
In addition, in memory of him, the CRP started Mike Escoto’s Winter Warmup Sock Drive to gather socks for people in need. Mike Escoto loved new socks and wore a new pair every day, justifying this habit by saying he spent less than the average person spends on coffee. The goal is to collect 14,860 socks – for the number of days that Michael was with us, plus one day to pay it forward. Donors may drop new socks off at a collection center, send them to the CRP office, or contribute to the sock fund. Bay Area collection centers are the Contra Costa GOP HQ in Walnut Creek and the Santa Clara County GOP HQ in San Jose. Click here for details.
CA Redistricting Commission Proposes Districts, Seeks Comments
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is seeking input on the proposed districts for California State Senate, Assembly and U.S. Congress. The proposed districts were made available in mid-November and must be finalized prior to December 27.
These districts followed several different “visualizations” in which districts were posted and then modified in response to feedback. The Commission has developed an online District Viewer where one can view both existing and proposed districts.
Feedback on proposed districts can be given in a variety of ways via the California Redistricting Commission website or during meetings as they are scheduled. The Commission’s website contains an online comment form at wedrawthelinesca.org
In addition, the Commission has provided specialized tools to allow citizens to give more precise feedback on how lines should be drawn. DrawMyCalifornia.org has online tools to allow citizens to
- Describe and submit a community of interest, or
- Draw and submit a proposed district for consideration by the Commission
Preliminary analysis of the proposed districts indicates that there will be significant changes from the districts used in the past decade. In previous cycles, new district lines have prompted retirements of incumbent legislators as well as opportunities for new candidates to serve. Already, one member of Congress from San Mateo County, Jackie Speier has announced her retirement.
Congressman Jay Obernolte (R-San Bernardino County), in a presentation to the California Congress of Republicans, advised observers not to draw too many conclusions from the proposed lines as they may well change based on public comment.
One thing we know for sure is that the number of California Congressional Districts will decrease by one from 53 to 52.
The currently scheduled meetings of the Commission are shown on the events list with a link to enable online streaming.