By Michael D. Evans
On May 20, Democratic representatives from throughout California will elect a new chair for the California Democratic Party (CDP). John Burton is stepping down after two terms having revived the state party and securing a permanent headquarters for the CDP. Burton’s legacy of empowering the grassroots and building for the future has been documented by the CDP (www.cadem.org/burtonlegacy).
Three candidates are vying to be the next CDP chair.
- Eric Bauman is a registered nurse and currently vice chair of the CDP and chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the largest local Democratic Party in the nation.
- Kimberly Ellis is the executive director of Emerge California, which encourages and trains women to run for elective office, and served previously as the national affiliate for Emerge America.
- Lenore Albert-Sheridan is a small business owner and consumer advocate.
Bauman and Ellis announced their intention to run for chair some time ago and have been traversing the state to engage with Democrats and secure endorsements. Albert-Sheridan announced recently, and little is known about her candidacy.
Bauman and Ellis each has provided an extensive platform for the future direction of the CDP. The highlights of these plans are as follows:
Bauman intends to build the CDP around three pillars (excerpted from his campaign Web site):
Big tent. The CDP must be a big tent, where…everyone…has a seat at the table. We must do more to be welcoming, inviting and engaging to new activists, new ideas and new innovation.
Bold ideas. The CDP must be the leader in making progressive values a policy reality for the nation, and must be on the cutting-edge of innovation, creativity and problem-solving.
- end california’s top-two primary. The Top-Two Primary force[s] Democrats to spend an inordinate amount of time and resources fighting other Democrats…and less time reaching out to new areas to grow our Party.
- california democratic center for progress and action. Part think tank, part learning and resource center, I envision this as a much-needed space where Democratic activists can come together…to innovate, strategize and organize ourselves to solve some of our most vexing problems.
- single-payer healthcare. California [has] a historic opportunity to finally declare itself a “healthcare sanctuary state” by enacting single-payer healthcare.
- metaphorical legal wall. [We need] to immediately review our Constitution and our statutes to ensure we have the necessary safeguards in place to guard the people of California from Trump’s dystopian worldview.
Building the future. We must implement creative programs, engage our grassroots activists and partners, and build our Party from the bottom-up.
- build the bench. We must work together to build the bench.
- creative programs. It is important for us to build our Party’s future by implementing creative programs…at a statewide level.
- engaging young democrats. We must engage our grassroots activists and partners to build our future, together.
Summary. California is leading the resistance, and California can lead the rebuilding of the Democratic Party across the nation. It starts with a big tent California Democratic Party, committed to aggressively fighting for bold ideas and building the very future that we hope to leave to generations to come.
Ellis has issued a seven-point plan titled “A New Path Forward: Getting CDP Back to Basics” (excerpted from her Web site):
Build a permanent California field team. We have to be in our red and purple communities for all 24 months of the election cycle, creating collaborations today that demonstrate our commitment to what’s important to people in their own lives.
Lead through coordination. Rather than be threatened by [third-party] efforts or dismissive of their longevity—we need to lead with open mindedness, leverage energy and enthusiasm, find common ground—not reject them.
Empower the county central committees. I will ensure that CDP helps to minimize operational costs by providing professional services like social media training and graphic design, as well as coordinate professional treasurer contracts. County Central Committee money should go to organizing, not overhead.
Shift and deploy resources. When it comes to organizing, we must start thinking bigger, better and bolder—which means mobilizing our central committees in deep blue counties to adopt districts where we can flip seats—in California and states where the district maps can be re-drawn.
Play the long game. Unless we want a Republican controlled Congress until 2032—no, that’s not a typo—we must begin our work today—and that work is outside of California. We have 21 months until we can wrestle control of Congress from Republican hands.
Build the bench. In our red and purple districts, we need to think long term. This means we need to invest in progressive, community rooted candidates at the local level.
Invest in innovation. There is a wellspring of energy, talent and innovation just waiting to be engaged. Connecting with voters and supporters should be a swipe away. The computing power in our pocket can turn anyone into a community organizer.
Summary. It’s time to get back to basics. It’s time for a bigger, better, bolder party. Get ready—here comes the big, beautiful, blue California wave. It’s rising and so are we.
The election for chair of the CDP and the other party officers (two vice chairs, a secretary, a controller and 20 regional directors) will take place on May 20 at the CDP Convention in Sacramento. The new chair will set the direction of the party for the next four years.
Michael D. Evans is a political activist, editor and writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.