Richmond’s Kimberly Ellis falls just short of taking over the California Democratic Party

Richmond resident Kimberly Ellis narrowly
lost Saturday’s race for California Democratic
Party chair by only 60 votes.

STATE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION
The race for the future of the California Democratic Party amounted to two choices: stick with the status quo that has served the state party extremely well over the past few decades or change course and back the type of progressive purity advanced over the past year by Sen. Bernie Sanders. Over the weekend, at the party’s convention in Sacramento, Democrats supported the establishment, but only barely.

Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman, the runaway early favorite, narrowly beat the upstart Berniecrat Kimberly Ellis by just 60 votes out of nearly 3,000 votes cast by party delegates. The number of votes matched the amount of attention and energy party faithful had unleashed over the chair’s race to replace long-time John Burton. There were roughly 3,300 total voting delegates at the annual convention.

On Sunday morning, Ellis suggested to supporters that her campaign would not concede the election and also consult lawyers, the Los Angeles Times reported. Absent any accounts of wrongdoing in the voting process, it is likely Bauman’s victory will stand. The state party, for instance, has no rules in its bylaws for a recount.

The wave of progressive discontent with the Democratic Party, meanwhile, took Ellis, a previously unknown former head of the women’s political group Emerge California, to a near takeover of the state party, arguably the most powerful in the nation.

Labor and activists groups reacted with disappointment over Ellis’ defeat. It was especially stinging after rumors circulated at the convention and on social media that Ellis was leading the vote after 60 percent of votes were counted. The powerful California Nurses Association, which had strongly backed Sanders during the presidential campaign and Ellis’ run for party chair, appeared ready for victory. Within the hour, though, came news of Bauman’s slim victory.

Some disgruntled union members suggested wrongdoing in the election process. According to the Los Angeles Times, some nurses said voters should be required to provide photo identification before voting. However, this idea is abhorred among Democrats not only in California, but across the country, who say Republicans used the requirement to disenfranchise poor and minority voters.

California Republican Party Chair Jim Brulte reacted with glee Sunday in a press release that said state Democrats were hypocrites. “Democrats think voter identification laws are important for their party elections, but don’t think they are good enough for the California voters,” said Brulte.

Outgoing state Democratic Chair John Burton also gave ammunition for conservatives and online right-wing web sites after he repeated cursed into open mics during several different occasions over the weekend. During one crude instance, Burton, known for his bawdy vocabulary, led a chant of “Fuck Donald Trump,” while double-pumping his middle fingers in the air.

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