It may be a stretch to call it a battle for the soul of the party, but last weekend, thousands of California Democrats filed into union halls and recreation centers to help choose some of their rank-and-file delegates.
While the numbers are still being tallied, a group led by the California Nurses Association and other self-described Bernie Sanders-progressives are claiming it won a majority of the delegate slots chosen over the weekend, as well as the bulk of the 80 executive board seats up for renewal.
“We have the momentum and we are confident we will have a majority,” said Don Nielsen, director of government relations for the CNA.
Among the new delegates are dozens of nurses, he added.
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Still recovering from the stinging loss to Republican President-elect Donald Trump, which came after a bruising primary between Hillary Clinton and Sanders, the elections of seven men and seven women in each of the state’s 80 Assembly districts could have broad implications for the future: Delegates choose party leaders. They endorse in elections, and they can influence the agenda.
Those selected last weekend join their elected colleagues on central committees and those chosen by elected officials to comprise the full list of delegates. The liberal successes were heartening to Sanders’ wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, who celebrated on Twitter.
“Progressives swept CA Dem Party delegate elections this week,” Sanders wrote. “Huge turnouts up/down the state led to impressive win! Thank you California!”
Still, others warned not to make too much of the slates’ victories.
Tweeted RL Miller, chair of the Environmental Caucus: “Please remember that (the California Democratic Party) is already progressive...”