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CA Dem Party Race: Some Black Women Hurt But Ready To Mobilize After Kimberly Ellis Loss

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How did Kimberly Ellis, an African-American progressive Democrat and Bay Area grassroots activist, lose her second bid for chair of the California Democratic Party (CDP)?

During her last run for the job in 2017, Eric Bauman, who resigned amid sexual harassment allegations last November, only beat Ellis by a razor thin margin of 62 votes. Her near-win two years ago emboldened her supporters – their candidate could become the first Black woman to serve in the state party’s executive role in more than 30 years.

Depending on who’s responding, each answer to the question about Ellis’ loss falls somewhere between deepening fault lines of race, gender and politics that seem to be testing the strength of the Democratic Party, foreshadowing divisions that could open up even more as the party moves toward the 2020 election primary season.

Echoes of the Bernie vs. Biden rift between grassroots progressives and establishment Democrats and rumblings about the persistent marginalization of women voters and candidates all seemed to be playing out locally in the politics leading up to this year’s CDP elections.

Many African-American Democrats attending the convention, especially the women who voted for and supported Ellis, say their frustration with the party’s leadership’s routine neglect of African-American issues and candidates is reaching its peak.

“Kimberly Ellis’ campaign gave us all insight into the inner working of CDP and its voting bodies,” said K. Patrice Williams, an African-American woman and delegate from Solano County. “A world of special elections, held in January during off years on weekends between 10 and 1 PM, of which Black and Brown voters were not aware. We have now received a painful lesson in the world of super-delegates. State and federal elected officials that refused to vote for the most qualified, solutions-focused candidate who happened to be an intelligent, dynamic Black Woman.”

The CDP held the vote for chair this past weekend during the state party annual convention themed “Blue Wave Rolling” at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

More than 3,000 delegates voted Saturday night. Of that number, about 57% cast their ballots for the winning candidate Rusty Hicks, a prominent union leader from Los Angeles, backed by a majority of elected officials, most of the state’s organized labor groups and several influential party insiders.

Ellis, who secured the support of the Bernie Sanders-affiliated “Our Revolution,” other progressive and moderate Democratic groups, and a cross-section of African-American and other women voters, lost to Hicks by at least 25 percentage points. About 36% of delegates voted for her.

“We say that we support campaign finance reform,” said Ellis, who stresses that she did not accept any corporate donations for her campaign.  “I think it’s a fair question for us to ask, what are we doing as a state party to advance that value?”

Ellis, whose Facebook bio reads “Disrputor-In-Chief @Unbought-Unbossed” also touts herself as an independent advocate for the average Democrat, including young people, women, minorities and other groups who feel left out by the party’s establishment.

Rusty Hicks, a prominent union leader from Los Angeles is the new chair of the California Democratic Party.

In his acceptance speech, Hicks, current president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said his plans as CDP chair include a zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment, an effort to unite various factions of the party –  including progressive Democrats who supported Ellis – and preparation for the Democratic primary in March and national elections in November.

“We should embrace the passion that comes into the party, and also remember what our party is singularly focused on – and that’s seeing a change in the White House in 2020,” he said.

Ellis congratulated Hicks and thanked her supporters and the delegates who voted for her in a statement she shared the morning after the election.

“Party politics is always going to be tough and often disappointing,” she said. “But great change is never easy. So many delegates put a tremendous amount on the line in the face of extraordinary pressure. Certainly, there are challenges for us ahead, and I hope our new chair can bring harmony to our party during these difficult times.”

Activism

East Oakland Community Clean-up

The office of Councilmember Treva Reid invites you to…

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Oakland Clean Up Flyer

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Politics

After Winning Recall Election, Newsom Says “Let’s Get Back to Work”

According to preliminary results, just under 65% of the voters have said “no” to recalling Newsom in the special election that is estimated to have cost California taxpayers $276 million.

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Governor Gavin Newsom Speaking, Photo courtesy of California Black Media

It looks like Gov. Gavin Newsom will remain in the office he won in 2018 after he secured an insurmountable lead in votes counted so far in Tuesday’s gubernatorial recall election.

Several media outlets projected shortly before midnight Tuesday that the attempt to remove Newsom from office failed.

About an hour after thanking Californians for keeping him in office, Newsom tweeted, “Now, let’s get back to work.”

Larry Elder, a conservative Republican Los Angeles-based talk show host, who was the leading candidate vying to remove Newsom from office conceded the race. A total of 46 candidates were on the ballot to replace Newsom.

“Let’s be gracious in defeat,” Elder said after the results started pouring in and it was obvious he had no chance of winning.  “We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war.”

According to preliminary results, just under 65% of the voters have said “no” to recalling Newsom in the special election that is estimated to have cost California taxpayers $276 million.

With about 67% of all votes counted on September 14, only a little over 35% voted ‘yes’ on the recall.

Reactions on social media included the following:

Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo), Assembly Speaker Pro Tem tweeted, “A $276 million waste just to reaffirm 2018’s results with an election coming in 2022. The CA recall process must be reformed including elevating the Lt. Guv in the event of a recall. But to avoid partisan power grabs the Governor/LG should be a ticket of the same party (like NY).”

Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis wrote, “Thank you California for recognizing that @GavinNewsom is exactly where he needs to be, in the Governor’s office! His commitment to the people of California is unwavering and I look forward to his continued leadership of our great state!”

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA 37) tweeted, “Proud of our governor. Proud of our people. Proud of California.”

Newsom told supporters, although Californians voted “no” to the recall, he wants to focus on all the things they were saying ‘yes’ to by their votes.

“‘No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” Newsom said. “I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state. We said ‘yes’ to science. We said ‘yes’ to vaccines. We said ‘yes’ to ending this pandemic. We said ‘yes’ to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression.”

The gubernatorial recall was the fifth statewide vote Dr. Shirley Weber has overseen since she was appointed Secretary of State on January 19. Throughout the process, Weber, a former assemblymember who represented the 79th District in San Diego County, says she worked hard to make sure that voter fraud or the talk of fraud of would not interfere in the results of this election.

“We worked hard to secure our elections. There’s no evidence of fraud or miscounting,” Weber said on CNN. “As Secretary of State, we’ve been even-handed in how we’ve handled every issue. I was sued by the governor as well as by others because of some of the decisions we made that were fair and just.”

Weber’s office has 30 days to certify the recall election once all of the votes have been counted. If there are any discrepancies, Weber said those issues will be addressed.

“I like to say to those that continue to challenge this issue of fairness and so forth, I always say, ‘where’s the evidence?’” Weber said. “We are willing to accept the evidence as it is not just to simply (claim) open-ended allegations of fraud and deceptions. Those things are easy to say. But we have yet to get evidence of fraud and deception.”

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Bay Area

New Assemblymember Mia Bonta to Caucus With 3 Legislative Groups

The 18th Assembly District includes a large portion of the city of Oakland and the cities of Alameda and San Leandro. Bonta was elected in a special election on August 31, defeating fellow Democrat Janani Ramachandra.

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Assemblymember Mia Bonta, (third from left), with (left to right) Senator Steve Bradford, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurman, U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, assemblymembers Isaac Bryan Reggie Jones-Sawyer, and Kevin McCarty.

Soon after Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) was sworn in last week to represent California’s 18th Assembly District — which covers parts of East Bay — she signed on as a member of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus (CLWC), the California Latino Legislative Caucus (CLLC), and the California Black Legislative Caucus (CLBC).

Bonta is the 11th member of the Black Caucus and the only lawmaker representing a district in the Bay Area. In the Latino Caucus, she is the 30th member, and out of 120 lawmakers in both houses of the state Legislature, she is the 39th woman.

“Special congratulations to our newest member @MiaBonta, who was sworn into the Assembly this morning! #AD18 has chosen a fantastically fearless representative, and I look forward to working with you Assemblymember Bonta! #CALeg,” wrote Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D- San Diego).

Mialisa “Mia” Tania Bonta, who is Puerto Rican of African descent, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University in 1993 and a Master of Education (Ed.M.) from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1996. Bonta also received a J.D. from Yale University Law School in 1999.

Her work experience includes over 20 years working with nonprofits, including serving as CEO of Oakland Promise, a college and career prep program for Alameda County high school students.  She was also president of the Alameda Unified School District Board from 2018 to 2021.

“Congratulations to @MiaBonta on her election to the Assembly, which not only made her the first Afro Latina in the Legislature, but also raised the number of women in the Legislature to an all-time high,” California Lt. Gov., Eleni Kounalakis stated on Twitter.

The 18th Assembly District includes a large portion of the city of Oakland and the cities of Alameda and San Leandro. Bonta was elected in a special election on August 31, defeating fellow Democrat Janani Ramachandra.

“I am deeply honored to represent the 18th Assembly District. Our district has a long history of bold, progressive, leadership and I plan to continue this work in our diverse district,” Bonta tweeted September 7. “I’m ready to fight for bold solutions to issues like homelessness, housing affordability, climate change, and criminal justice reform for AD-18 and all Californians. I am ready to get to work.”

Bonta steps in to replace her husband, Rob Bonta, who vacated the AD 18th seat in April after Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed him California Attorney General, replacing Xavier Becerra, who is now United States Secretary of Health and Human Services.

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