Two years ago, California Democrats flipped seven Republican seats in Congress. This month, Republicans are on the cusp of flipping back four of them, and leading former East Bay legislator Delaine Eastin to enter the upcoming campaign to lead the California Democratic Party.
Eastin threw her hat in the ring on various social media platforms over the weekend, citing a need expand the party’s base after Democrats lost congressional seats to Republicans for the first time in decades. The GOP gains occurred in Southern California and the Central Valley.
Eastin hopes to follow a dogged, but ultimately unsuccessful underdog bid for governor two years ago, with a campaign to expand the party’s tent, nurture a new bench of future Democrats, expand its donor base, and refocus the party on environmental issues.
Eastin’s decision to run for party chair is not based on any single issue or individual, but a “call for arms” to rebuff short-term GOP gains with an “inclusive strategy” for state Democrats to rally behind, she wrote on her campaign website.
“There is great concern expressed that people have left the Democratic party, that we have allowed it to shrink to a handful of special interest groups. Many people do not feel the Party cares about them, or hears their concerns. I was asked if I would consider stepping up to lead the California Democratic Party, to inspire and grow our Party,” Eastin wrote.
California Democrats will hold elections for its party chair next April following January elections across the state for district delegates.
The November election was undoubtedly an inauspicious debut for California Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks, a former head of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. Hicks won the chairpersons seat in 2019.
Hicks replaced embattled chair, Eric Bauman, who was jettisoned after numerous allegations of workplace sexual harassment.
Two years prior, Bauman, also from Los Angeles, narrowly defeated Bay Area resident Kimberly Ellis in a hard-fought campaign that left a bitter taste for many progressives.
Eastin began her political career as a Union City councilmember before serving the region in the California Assembly for four terms. Eastin later served as state superintendent of public instruction for eight years, ending in 2003.
In 2018, Eastin ran to the left in a large field gubernatorial candidates as something of a pragmatic progressive. Although she finished a distant sixth in the race, her no-nonsense, plain-spoken debate performances, nonetheless, won her plaudits among state Democrats.