There continue to be several fissures in the Democratic party as competing factions jockey for party positions and the future direction of the party. One of those fissures opened in dramatic fashion at the California Democratic party’s convention last weekend. We had a really good diary recounting a view from on the ground at the convention, where Los Angeles County chair Eric Bauman was elected to the state party chairmanship with a slender margin of 62 votes, out of over 3,000 cast.
The saga continues because Bauman’s opponent, Kimberly Ellis has not conceded the election and there is a review underway:
“I will not concede this race until we have validated the results,” Ellis said. […]
Ellis said she met with California Democratic Party staff and executives and “shared with them some concerns” with some of the votes that were cast. Ellis supporters are questioning whether all the votes came from credentialed party delegates.
“One of the things that party cannot be is a party that’s just like Trump and the Republicans,” Ellis told the crowd. “A party that operates in closed rooms, smoked-filled rooms, behind curtains, in secrecy and shadow. It is time for this party to be a transparent party.” […]
Ellis was the director of Emerge California, a Bay Area nonprofit organization that trains Democratic women to run for office.
Though Ellis supported Hillary Clinton in the presidential primary, former Bernie supporters, including the National Nurses Union and Our Revolution backed Ellis and she emerged as an unexpectedly strong challenger.
Bauman was the state party’s vice-chair for the prior term. When announcing his candidacy, he said the party needed to welcome fresh voices. But news that Bauman’s consulting firm received $12,500 a month from the pharmaceutical industry to help defeat Prop 61 didn’t help him win over progressives. Prop 61 would have capped prices paid by the state of California for drugs at levels the VA pays, though there was a lot of discussion about secondary effects of the bill.
In an interview with The Real News, former Sanders-surrogate and Our Revolution board-member Nina Turner discussed what happened at the CA convention:
It’s a very influential position and it became the target, or the focal point, of what is really an ongoing civil war in many ways between the Sanders forces, who describe themselves as “progressive,” they want single-payer healthcare, Medicare for all, $15. But most importantly, they don’t want to raise money from billionaires. They want to raise money from the general public, and that’s a point of great division in the party right now, and it was a point of great division at the California convention. […]
RoseAnn DeMoro, the leader of the nurses, said something in her speech during the convention that I think is worth noting.
What she said was, there is not going to be consensus or unity for the sake of unity; that the Democrats have to show that they really are the party of the people. And that message is not just for California Democrats; that message is for the DNC as well […]
But what I will give the California Democrats credit for, and maybe it’s because the Berniecrats were such a force, is that there was no illusion there. Folks knew that there was tension in the room. They knew that it was a fight between these so-called establishment Clinton Democrats and people who are more on the progressive side. That wasn’t hid. […]
But the beauty of this, Paul, is even though she lost – and I want our viewers to understand this – sister Fantasia, the singer, said it this way; she said, “Sometimes you’ve got to lose to win again” – the fact that she only lost by 62 votes says a lot. The fact that the establishment-backed candidate, who had every big name, had more money, more influence, more power only won by 62 votes, that the California Democratic Party is really split between the progressive wing and the establishment wing says that progress has been made.
Sanders backers had won the majority of elected positions in California’s party re-organization, but these posts accounted for only a third of delegates, the remaining two thirds were Democratic County Central Committee appointments and elected officials along with their appointees.
In a statement posted to Facebook, Ellis had this to say about the review of ballots underway:
It is critical that the delegation has confidence in the outcome of this Chair’s race so that we might move forward, irrespective of whomever wins. Should the election results stand, we will congratulate Eric on his well earned success.
As reported by the San Jose Mercury News, the new party leadership believes it can lay concerns to rest after a review of all ballots which is currently underway:
“They’re not redoing anything,” said Steve Maviglio, a Democratic strategist hired Sunday by the party to handle communications about the controversy. “They’re just literally looking at the ballots.”
In a lengthy, nine-point email sent to reporters Tuesday, Maviglio dismissed speculation about “ballot stuffing” and other ways the election might have been rigged. He said that the ballot boxes “are constantly monitored” during voting, with observers from each side, and that they are opened with those observers present.
The delegates’ ballots, which Maviglio said were counted twice on Saturday, are not secret.
“Any suspected problem ballot can be individually identified, tracked and segregated from the rest of the vote,” he said. “For this reason, the proverbial bad apple cannot spoil the bunch.”
Maviglio seems to be pretty confident the review will validate Bauman’s win, though he does seem to have a bee in his bonnet about the National Nurses Union: