Across the country this primary season, progressive insurgents have been upending establishment Democrats. From the surprise victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic socialist from the Bronx who defeated one of the senior leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives, to the California Democratic Party’s endorsement of lefty state lawmaker Kevin de León over incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein, there’s “a revolution on the left” taking place in America, according to the New York Times.
The battle rages even here in Humboldt County, where a group of progressive activists have accused our elected representatives of not only missing the progressive boat but also of violating Democratic party bylaws with their endorsement of a conservative incumbent, Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg, over his Democratic challenger, Steve Madrone, in last month’s primary election.
Members of the Humboldt Progressive Democrats, a chartered club of the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee, submitted a letter to party bosses in Sacramento earlier this month asking that the Credentials Committee strip delegate status from U.S. Congressman Jared Huffman, State Senator Mike McGuire and State Assemblyman Jim Wood.
These same progressive activists previously raged against the Democratic machine last fall when they officially “admonished” Wood for his lack of support for Senate Bill 562, which would have established a single-payer health care system in the state.
Wood, for the record, said he supports a universal health care system but considered SB 562 unrealistic.
In this month’s letter to the California State Democratic Party the Humboldt Progressive Democrats cite two sections of the California Democratic Party State Bylaws.
Article II Section 9(b) reads:
This Committee may remove any member if, during his/her term of membership, such member affiliates with or registers as other than Party Preference Democratic; publicly avows preference for another party; publicly advocates that the voters should not vote for the endorsed candidate of This Committee for any office; or who publicly gives support to or avows a preference for a candidate registered as other than Party Preference Democratic in the Voter nominated top two primary.
As the letter points out, Sundberg was registered Republican until April 2009 — immediately before his first run for county supervisor — when he changed his party affiliation to “Decline to State.” In February of 2010 he changed it again to “No Party Preference.”
Madrone, meanwhile, is a registered Democrat and earned the endorsement of the Humboldt Democratic Central Committee.
The letter says Huffman, McGuire and Wood also violated Article VIII Section 4(a) of the party bylaws, which reads:
County Party Exclusively Responsible: Endorsement of candidates for all local nonpartisan offices (defined here as all nonpartisan offices whose jurisdiction do not extend across county lines) shall be the exclusive responsibility of the relevant Democratic County Central Committee.
So, are the activists right? We at the Outpost are no experts in the particulars of party bylaws, so we’ve reached out to Huffman, McGuire and Wood for their responses to the allegations, and we also asked some questions of the California Democratic Party. We’ll update you when we hear back.
We will note, in case you’re curious, that the process for removing party delegates is pretty complicated and involved, as it’s described in the bylaws. The procedure requires a written statement of charges laying out the grounds for removal, and it allows the accused to demand a hearing before the state Democratic Central Committee.
Below you can read the full letter from the Humboldt Progressive Democrats, and we’ll post a link to the Bylaws and Rules of the California Democratic Party for all you wonks.