The California progressive movement’s summer of discontent continues, with anger still on display over the abrupt withdrawal of a single-payer health care bill and over the May election of a party insider as California Democratic chairman.
This week, the Associated Press reported that progressives remain interested in pursuing a recall campaign against Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, (pictured) for his decision to kill Senate Bill 562, the Healthy California Act. Los Angeles activist Steve Elzie is a lead organizer.
The California Nurses Association last month paid for two mailers to be sent to constituents in Rendon’s Los Angeles County district blasting him for “holding health care hostage” and “protecting politicians, not people’s health care.” The mailers urged constituents to complain to Rendon’s offices over the decision, but did not advocate a recall.
That decision may reflect that CNA President RoseAnn DeMoro – who initially led the criticism of Rendon – has realized how difficult it would be to ultimately remove him from office.
Obtaining the 20,000-plus signatures needed to trigger a recall election might not be much of a problem, given that single-payer champion Bernie Sanders got 44 percent and 48 percent of the vote in the June 2016 Democratic presidential primary in California’s 38th and 47th Congressional Districts, respectively. The districts cover much of Rendon’s 63rd Assembly District district which includes parts or all of Commerce, Bell, Lynwood, Paramount and Lakewood.
But Rendon has gotten at least 69 percent of the vote in his three Assembly bids. He also has more than $1.2 million in his campaign war chest and has the support of other influential unions, meaning ready access to more donations and help campaigning.
Rendon killed SB562 because he said it failed to adequately identify how it would pay its $400 billion in annual costs to provide health care to every Californian.
‘Berniecrat’ still won’t accept loss in party chair vote
The other flap pitting the party establishment against “Berniecrats” also flared this week when Bay Area political organizer Kimberly Ellis launched a new salvo over her narrow loss for state party chairman to Eric Bauman, a nurse who has long been a fixture in Los Angeles County Democratic politics and was deputy to the last state chair, former Congressman John Burton.
At May’s state Democratic convention in Sacramento, Bauman held off a late surge from the lesser-known Ellis to win 51 percent to 49 percent. Ellis immediately challenged what she said were election irregularities, leading to a July recount in which 47 of about 3,000 ballots were thrown out but Bauman’s margin of victory was unchanged.
Ellis and her fellow Sanders’ supporters, however, still don’t accept the results.
On Tuesday, she called on the California Democratic Party to accept binding arbitration to determine who really won the May election. She hinted it was the only way the party could head off a lawsuit that she suggested last month was forthcoming if she were unhappy with how party officials handled her appeal, which continues this month with a hearing of the Democratic Party credentialing committee.
California Democratic Party spokesman Mike Roth said the party would stick to its rules, which don’t provide for arbitration.
“Ms. Ellis is now deep in her own end zone and throwing a desperate Hail Mary pass in hopes of changing the outcome of an election that she lost fair and square,” Roth said.
But Ellis’ “Vote for Kimberly” website remains unchanged and continues to feature sharp – if indirect – criticisms of Bauman for allegedly close ties to corporate interests.