Capitol Alert

Eric Bauman running for California Democratic Party chairman

California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman
California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman Courtesy of Eric Bauman

Eric Bauman, longtime head of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, said Wednesday that he intends to run for state party chairman in two years.

Bauman, a vice chairman of the state party, wrote in an email to party activists that he was hesitant to formally announce his bid to succeed Chairman John Burton in the spring of 2017 because he wanted to avoid a protracted intraparty battle. But as others test their viability in weighing potential campaigns, Bauman said he felt compelled to circulate the email to ask for early support.

“I am a candidate for chair of the California Democratic Party when Chairman Burton's term ends, but I firmly believe that now is the time to focus on things that bring us together, not things that divide us,” Bauman wrote. “And that is why, even though others have already started their own full-fledged campaigns for chair of the CDP, I remain focused on defeating Republicans and electing strong progressives in 2016, not on internal party elections.”

Bauman has been a fixture in state and local politics for years and currently works as a senior adviser to outgoing Speaker Toni Atkins and director of the Speaker’s Office of Member Services in Los Angeles. In recent months, Bauman has sought to boost his profile outside of the party’s inner circle. On Wednesday, he appeared alongside state GOP Chairman Jim Brulte at a question-and-answer session hosted by the Los Angeles County Business Federation.

Bauman considered running for party chairman several years ago as former lawmaker Art Torres prepared to leave the post but he and others ultimately deferred to Burton.

A close friend of former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Bauman officially launches his campaign at a time of considerable clout for his region: Both Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and incoming Speaker Anthony Rendon represent Los Angeles districts.

The post involves fundraising, campaign strategy, and motivating the party faithful. Bauman straddles the party’s elected and activist wings, camps that close observers say he will ultimately have to unite to win the position. In the email and a brief interview, Bauman noted early support from Democratic Party Vice Chairwoman Alex Gallardo-Rooker; Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus; Solano County Democratic Party Chairwoman Brigette Hunley, state party Regional Director Susie Shannon and Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma.

“I will continue to be everywhere as I always have been,” Bauman said.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago