California Democratic chair race angers 'Berniecrats'

The result was a letdown for Ellis supporters who'd been energized by inaccurate reports on social media that she had won the race.

The hotly contested race reflected the deep divisions within the Democratic Party, which is universally committed to fighting President Donald Trump but has not fully healed from last year's contentious presidential primary between Sanders and Hillary Clinton. And to their supporters, I want to say directly that you will have a seat at the table in the California Democratic Party.

Longtime party insider Eric Bauman defeated Ellis by 62 votes out of almost 3,000 cast — a razor-thin margin for a candidate who lined up support from most of the state's elected Democrats and, until recently, was widely expected to win with minimal opposition.

Congress asks: Are federal employees overpaid? Reportedly, many of Kimberly Ellis's supporters have alleged that some delegates for Eric Bauman were counted twice.

Ellis has called for new blood in the party. "We haven't always used our success to advance progressive ideas", said Naida Tushnet, a 75-year-old retired educator from Long Beach who said she's a longtime party volunteer but attending her first state convention. The Burbank congressman is a rising star in the party after his role as the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee gave him a platform to scrutinize Trump's campaign contacts with Russians.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton raise their arms together in celebration during the California Democratic Party Convention in Sacramento, Calif., on Saturday, May 20, 2017.

There weren't many policy differences between Bauman and Ellis, but it shows post-election, the self-identified "Berniecrats" remain a loud, influential and dissatisfied faction that the California Democratic Party must reckon with.

Kimberly Ellis who is running to head the California Democratic Party is hugged by supporter Treva Reid before the start of the California Democratic Party convention Friday

Democrats could pay a price if the tension in their party lingers, said Thad Kousser, chair of the political science department at University of California, San Diego.

"The world, literally the world, is counting on all of you, counting on California to reject Trump's deception and destructiveness", said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is among a crowded field of Democrats running for governor next year. Prominent Progressives like Nina Turner and RoseAnn DeMoro, of the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United, consider Bauman to be the candidate that would fight for establishment Democrats and coprporations rather than for the people, according to an article in L.A. Times.

California Democrats meet Saturday with renewed optimism about their party's chances of adding to their huge majority among the state's 53-member congressional delegation and potentially tipping the balance of power in the U.S. House.

Convention delegates heard from most of the state's prominent Democrats, who had tough words for President Donald Trump and the GOP Congress, urging their party's fired-up activists to work against the 14 Republicans in the state's congressional delegation.

While both major candidates for party chair endorsed Clinton's presidential bid, Sanders supporters have rallied around Kimberly Ellis, the former head of an organization that works to elect Democratic women to office.

The divide was on clear display in the race to replace Burton as party chair. Activists demanding government-funded health care for all residents stormed into the convention center and interrupted an introductory speech.

  • Larry Hoffman