Eric Bauman named new chairman of the California Democratic Party — but his rival refuses to concede

Longtime Democratic leader Eric Bauman won a razor’s-edge victory Saturday to be elected chairman of the California Democratic Party, beating rival Kimberly Ellis by just more than 60 votes, according to the state party.

But Ellis did not concede, saying late Saturday night that she had been in touch with attorneys.

“This race is not done,” she told hundreds of chanting supporters who were calling for a recount in the hallway of the convention center where the state party convention was being held. “We will see you all in the morning.”

Bauman, a long-time party leader, said he was humbled by the win. He reached out to Ellis supporters in his victory message.

“There is no denying that there is a problem when so many of our hardworking activists feel that they are not welcome within our Party and that they have been slighted and shut out of the process,” he said in statement.  “We cannot win the vital elections in 2018 and beyond without the energy, commitment and participation of every part of our Democratic family.”

The race, between a party insider and a progressive organizer, was a heated battle between divergent forces that are racking the Democratic Party nationwide. Bauman was a favorite of the party establishment, while Ellis drew the backing of liberals who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders in last year’s presidential primary. She has worked to train Democratic women to run for office.

Earlier in the night, Ellis supporters had gathered in a meeting hall of the convention center as rumors of victory circulated, drawing cheers and hugs and victorious speeches. As it became clear that Ellis had not won, a woman led the crowd in singing, “We shall not be moved.”

RoseAnn DeMoro, the executive director of the California Nurses Assn., which backed Ellis, told the crowd that she doubted a recount would change the outcome. 

“It is what it is. I’m sorry to tell you that. But you know what? It has very little to do with what you do out in the field, with what we do as an organization out in the field,” DeMoro said. “So let’s talk about this where do you go from here. You don’t give up. You double down.”

Bauman, who has led the L.A. County party since 2000 and been a state party vice chairman since 2009, was initially expected to cruise to an easy victory in the chairperson’s race. But Ellis was a surprisingly strong rival, her candidacy driven by her dynamism on the stump and by the support of liberal activists who were tired of a party establishment that they believed failed them in the 2016 presidential campaign.

10:31 p.m.: This article has been updated to note that Kimberly Ellis has not conceded the race.

This article was originally published at 9:59 p.m.