On Saturday, delegates of the California Democratic Party elected Eric Bauman as the party’s next chair in a tightly contested election, a race perceived by some as a proxy fight for control of the party between its moderate centrist members and its progressive activists.
In an election with approximately 3,000 votes cast, Bauman, who previously served as vice chair of the California Democratic Party, defeated his opponent Kimberly Ellis by a margin of 62 votes. Ellis has requested an audit of the election results, which will take place later this week.
Steve Maviglio, spokesperson for the California Democratic Party, said the convention had an “incredible amount of passion and energy,” adding that the party needed to harness the energy and “get everybody on the same team again.”
“Eric’s job is going to be to bring everyone together,” Maviglio said. “Our goal is to channel the energy and help defeat some of the Republicans in office across the state.”
According to his campaign website, Bauman, who received endorsements from Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, California State Treasurer John Chiang and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, supports single-payer healthcare, labor organizer and grassroots organizer for the LGBTQ rights movement.
Ellis, who was also endorsed by Newsom, State Controller Betty Yee and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, is the former executive director of Emerge California and has worked to support women in the Democratic Party running for elected office, according to her campaign page.
Caiden Nason, president of Cal Berkeley Democrats, said he supported Ellis in the chair race and called Saturday’s results “bittersweet.” Nason said he had supported Ellis because he believed Ellis was more willing to shake up the party structure, adding that he thought the way the party was run was “outdated and (not) inclusive.”
“It’s an establishment win, but it’s also a victory for progressives,” Nason said. “We’re not considered a plank of the party — we’re half the party. An outsider was going against a vice chair and only came up 2 percent short.”
Dan Kalb, an Oakland city council member and California Democratic Party delegate, said although he also preferred Ellis, both candidates were well-qualified, and the differences between the two candidates’ supporters should not be “over-exaggerated.”
Kalb said the most important task was for the party and activists to “push back against our common foe,” adding that the only way for the party to push a progressive agenda was to unite.
“Let’s not forget who our foes are — our foes are the Republicans in office and their supporters, and we have to stand up … and push back against the Trump agenda,” Kalb said. “You’re going to see us united in pushing back and promoting strong progressive policies for California.”