Self-described progressives, many of whom backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, claimed sweeping victories in last weekend’s California Democratic Party delegate elections. They hope to influence the leadership, policies and direction of the state’s dominant political party.
“This is a ringing endorsement of the new direction the Democratic Party needs, not just in California, but nationally,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, which passionately campaigned for Sanders last year. Many new delegates are nurses, the association said.
Others are skeptical about whether the new delegates can dramatically change what’s already a left-of-center party.
“They’re probably replacing like-minded people,” said Renee Van Vechten, a political science professor at the University of Redlands.
It’s not clear how many of the 1,100 state delegate seats up for grabs were won by progressives. But liberals statewide say their slates dominated in elections held in each of California’s 80 Assembly districts on Saturday and Sunday.
The district-level delegates – each district elects seven men and seven women – receive two-year terms and make up a third of the 3,200 or so delegates to the state party’s governing body, the Democratic State Central Committee. The other two-thirds come from central committees in California’s 58 counties or are appointed by Democratic elected officials and nominees.