Demo­cratic Party chair can­di­date seeks ar­bi­tra­tion

Los Angeles Times - - OBITUARIES - By Seema Mehta seema.mehta@la­times.com Twit­ter: @LATSeema

Kim­berly Ellis, who has spent nearly three months con­test­ing the re­sults of the race for Cal­i­for­nia Demo­cratic Party chair­per­son, on Tues­day called on the party to en­ter bind­ing ar­bi­tra­tion to end the dis­pute.

“If their goal is to avoid a le­gal bat­tle, here it is. The ball is in their court,” she said in a state­ment.

Mike Roth, a state party spokesman, said the party would fol­low its ex­ist­ing rules on elec­toral chal­lenges rather than en­ter 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.

Ellis, a pro­gres­sive Bay Area or­ga­nizer, nar­rowly lost the race to long­time party ac­tivist Eric Bau­man dur­ing an elec­tion held at the state party’s an­nual con­ven­tion in May in Sacramento.

She never con­ceded the race, and her cam­paign has re­peat­edly and un­suc­cess­fully con­tested the re­sults, al­leg­ing bal­lot stuff­ing, bias and cor­rup­tion on the part of the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­cratic Party.

Most re­cently, the party’s six-mem­ber com­pli­ance re­view com­mis­sion in late July re­viewed 355 bal­lots deemed ques­tion­able out of the roughly 3,000 cast, in­val­i­dated 47 of them, and af­firmed Bau­man’s vic­tory in the con­test. He won by 1.9 per­cent­age points.

Two days later, Ellis an­nounced her in­ten­tion to ap­peal the de­ci­sion, a move widely viewed as a pre­cur­sor to a law­suit. That ap­peal will be de­cided later this month by the party’s cre­den­tial­ing com­mit­tee.

On Tues­day, she pro­posed bind­ing ar­bi­tra­tion as an al­ter­nate op­tion.

“Be­tween the pub­lic state­ments and back chan­nel mes­sages, we’re told the Party doesn’t want a lengthy and ex­pen­sive le­gal bat­tle. We agree — so here’s an­other ap­proach,” Ellis wrote.

The bit­ter cam­paign be­tween Bau­man and Ellis ex­posed schisms in the state Demo­cratic Party that echo the di­vide be­tween sup­port­ers of Hil­lary Clin­ton and Bernie San­ders dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial pri­maries.

Some party lead­ers worry that the in­fight­ing will hob­ble the party, which dom­i­nates Cal­i­for­nia pol­i­tics and is at the cen­ter of the op­po­si­tion to Pres­i­dent Trump.

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