Kimberly Ellis represents a tidal wave of progressive change in the California Democratic Party by running for the top CA Democratic Party seat, the California Democratic Party Chair. Ellis is CEO of EmergeCalifornia, a non-profit organization which trains women to run for office. She challenges the seasoned Democrat, Eric Bauman, California Democratic Party Vice Chair since 2009 and 8 term L.A. County Democratic Party Chair. While Ellis’ focus is on rebuilding the party by “developing the next generation of community organizers, start recruiting and training organizers who will organize around issues in their local community.”, Bauman’s focus is also investing in hiring local organizers and being able to broker meetings between elected officials and activist leaders to come to consensus “facilitating those kinds of meetings where we activists talk to the elected officials talk with our union brothers and sisters, talk with the other organizations that are key to our party and bring solutions that work for all of us.”
Ellis and Bauman are starkly different when it comes to money in politics. Getting money out of politics is one of Ellis’ top priorities in order to “level the playing field for women, for people of color, for Millenials, for LGBT, and other underrepresented communities to serve in elected office.” Bauman is the textbook example of how money in politics works against the best interest of the people. Bauman’s consulting firm was paid $12,500 a month by the pharmaceutical industry and its allies, which collectively spent over $100 million to successfully defeat CA Prop 61, which would have lowered drug prices in California.
Both candidates have differing strategies in dealing with elected officials who do not support Progressive values. Bauman says “There are members of our party up there who are as conservative as some Republicans….we have got to work with them or we’re never going to change them.” Ellis on the other hand chooses to leverage the voters. “I think we can try to work with them, but if that doesn’t work, we work around them. I actually think that a lot of people who run for office today, run for the wrong reasons. They run because they want to be something, not because they want to do something. And as a party we do actually choose candidates, we do that at the local level. It’s another reason why we need to make sure that we are democratizing the Democratic Party in a way that opens up the local level to more voices, more perspectives, more diversity. So when our elected officials aren’t doing what they should be doing which is advocate on behalf of the people, it is our job to call them out, to hold them accountable, to make sure that we organize, to make them pay at the ballot box.” Watch the Bauman-Ellis (1.16.17) forum here.
The California Democratic Party Chair election occurs at the California State Convention on May 19-21, 2017. The approximately 3200 delegates get to vote in the party chair election. The delegates are roughly comprised one third elected by Assembly Districts, one third appointed by county central committees, and one third appointed by elected officials.
For more information on Kimberly Ellis, click here.