California progressives may take battle over Democratic chair to court

July 24, 2017

Kimberly Ellis

The California Democratic Party has certified the results of its state chairmanship election in which the establishment candidate narrowly edged the leader of the statewide progressive movement. Progressive leaders are still not content, though, and are threatening to take the election battle to court. [LA Times]

At a testy convention held in Sacramento in May, Eric Bauman, the former head of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party defeated progressive challenger Kimberly Ellis by 62 votes. The result prompted a walkout, protests and allegations that the election was rigged by the Progressives.

On Saturday, the state party held a daylong hearing in Sacramento in which a six-member compliance review commission assessed allegations of vote irregularities. The commission reviewed 355 ballots that were deemed questionable, invalidating 47 votes — 25 for Bauman and 22 for Ellis.

One notable ballot the panel threw out belonged to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, the state’s chief elections officer. Padilla did not pay his Democratic Party dues, the panel discovered.

The commission’s findings did not swing the outcome of the vote. Bauman won the election by less than 1 percentage point.

Party official Michael Wagaman, who chaired the hearing, said the commission fond no evidence of vote stuffing or destroyed ballots. Wagaman also said there was no evidence of the party being biased toward any one candidate.

The commission also rejected a request by Ellis for an outside audit. Wagaman said the commission conducted a thorough and transparent review.

But, Ellis has accused the compliance revision commission of bias toward Bauman. Her political consultant described the hearing Saturday as “bad political theater” before it even started.

Ellis has already indicated she is likely to mount a court challenge to the election result.

In San Luis Obispo County, a similar battle has unfolded between progressives and the local Democratic Party’s old guard. Last week, the progressives took over the helm of the SLO County Democratic Party, with Rosemary Canfield being elected the new chair.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Wikipedia/ Progressive; a person(s) who is never content or happy with anything.