The Democratic Convention officially starts this afternoon, and the talk amoung progressive delegates is all about the nasty attacks on Kimberly Ellis, who is running for state party chair.
Lenore Albert, who is also running for the office, released a series of documents that show that Ellis has had some problems with debt and the IRS.
That’s old news to insiders – Eric Bauman, who won the last race against Ellis, also had those docs, but decided not to use them. Bauman later resigned over sexual harassment charges.
To some, Albert’s tactics reek of desperation – and have no place in a party race.
Gabriel Haaland, an LGBT and labor activist, noted on Facebook:
So I want to call out that debt shaming a black woman who struggled with her mortgage and student loans is one of the sleazy campaign tactics that I have ever seen.
It also plays off racist, sexist stereotypes so there is that.
That said, it makes her like most Californians, and for that reason makes her a better chair in my opinion.
I will say this. That opposition research that was commissioned originally by Bauman has been sitting around for a couple of years. Bauman decided against using it. The power brokers who did the campaign research left it on Lenore’s doorstep one morning so that their hands weren’t sullied. But their hands are sullied.
He told me, “they did the same thing to Stacey Abrams.”
In a sense, this race reflects the overall theme that we are going to see this weekend: The cautious leadership, dominated by members of the state Legislature and the Pelosi wing of the Congressional delegation, will be up against an increasingly activist party membership that is tired to moderation.
The legislators are looking at the state and seeing a place where seven Democrats won Congressional seats in formerly GOP districts, and they don’t want the party to take any stands that might alienate swing voters in those districts.
Willie Brown, the former mayor and Assembly speaker, has been pushingthis line in his Chronicle column.
But thanks to some serious organizing in local communities in the past few years, the grassroots base of the party has moved away from that position. The media say the party has moved “left,” but I’d put it another way:
The party has moved impatient.
The activists don’t want to wait for impeachment, don’t want to be careful about climate-change legislation, don’t want to move slowly on health-care.
We will see where these clashes emerge – because emerge they will.
And the Party Leadership is worried. At a press conference today, Acting Chair Alex Gallardo-Rooker told us that “if you want to [protest], do it outside, not in our house.” She added: “If there is screaming and yelling and protests, they will be removed.”