Rep. Ro Khanna

Rep. Eric Swalwell understood the fairly simple task last May of authorizing a proxy to place his vote for California Democratic Party chair candidate Kimberly Ellis. But neighboring Congressman Ro Khanna appeared flummoxed by the process.

Ellis, whose underdog campaign captured the imagination of progressives, came up short in her bid for party chair by just 62 votes. Her campaign issued an official challenge of the result last month leading to the disclosure of ballots and 220, which are under further examination.

Khanna, seeking support from progressives, publicly endorsed Ellis to lead the state party, but according to the review, he did not even cast a vote.

On Twitter, Khanna laid blame for the non-vote on his staff. “My delegates voted for her. My staff messed up my proxy. It was an honest mistake which I explained to Kimberly and her supporters,” Khanna wrote.

It’s unclear at what point in the process Khanna’s staff “messed up,” but according to the review, a ballot was never received. In contrast, other East Bay officials and delegates were flagged for examination related to problems with a proxy and other issues, but those instances were documented on the ballot review form.

Nevertheless, Ellis could have used all the help should could get against one of the most entrenched party insiders in the state, Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman.

At the time of Khanna’s support for Ellis, his nascent congressional career was only a few months old and featured a vigorous push to position himself as someone capable of inheriting the progressive mantle one day from the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders. This despite a fundraising largess bolstered over the past election cycles by Silicon Valley elites and well-heeled charter school supporters

Ellis, for her part, had performed a similar pivot. A former supporter of Hillary Clinton during last year’s presidential campaign, she repositioned her message to gain support from a highly-energized progressive flank in the Bay Area and southland that strongly supported Sanders.