Some Alameda County Democrats fumed last spring after the local central committee endorsed the candidacy of District Attorney Nancy O’Malley over the progressive candidate, Pamela Price. The decision rankled a growing number of so-called progressive Berniecrats within the county party.
After the primary, the furor only grew after it became apparent that O’Malley, following her June victory, had transferred $30,000 from her campaign to the central committee’s coffers.
Some progressives on the committee, including Price, slammed the local party for its lack of transparency, charging the executive committee with failing to explain the donation in a timely manner.
The fallout from the O’Malley endorsement and the rise of progressives within the party, in some ways, has created the early signs of a schism at the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.
The ire toward O’Malley grew yet again this month after she endorsed Republican 16th District Assemblymember Catharine Baker over the Democratic candidate, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan. Baker represents the Tri-Valley in Alameda County and parts of Contra Costa County centered around Walnut Creek.
“Catharine Baker is an outstanding leader in our community,” said O’Malley in a press release from the Baker campaign on Sept. 10. “She is a proven advocate for safe communities, safe families, and victims of crime, and she has worked in bipartisan fashion to put the needs of our community first over partisanship. I am pleased to support her for re-election to the 16th District.”
Last Sunday during a debate in Pleasanton, Baker touted the O’Malley endorsement, along with another, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, also a Democrat. Baker is also backed by Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern.
Price posted a Baker campaign brochure that includes the O’Malley endorsement on Facebook last week. Some followers lashed out.
Several Democratic central committee members, including some who supported O’Malley during the primary, expressed dissatisfaction with O’Malley’s latest move, especially after the blow back that has followed from the far left-wing members of the committee.
Guillermo Elenes, a member of the central committee, said he was critical of party chair Robin Torello’s role in securing the endorsement for O’Malley. “She has allowed candidates like O’Malley to skate through under the banner of the Democratic Party,” he said.
During Saturday’s endorsement meeting, Elenes handed Torello an index card with a question regarding O’Malley for some candidates up for endorsement. Torello refused. The card read, according to Elenes, “DA O’Malley endorsed Baker, a Republican. What would you say to her if you had her here?”
On the second try, Elenes forcefully demanded that Torello read the question. “Please, read it!” he said. Torello flashed a surprised look as Elenes walked back to his seat. She did not read the question.