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GRASS VALLEY, Calif. February 11, 2017 – Our speaker, ERIC BAUMAN, started his talk as follows:

“Democrats are so morally correct but outside California we control nothing. Between 2008 and 2016 we lost 1000 legislative seats and now the Presidency. Why is California different? Organization and commitment. We have to be a model.” he said.

Eric Bauman has been vice chair of the California Democratic Party since 2009 and is now running to succeed John Burton as Party chair. He is in his 8th term as chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the largest local Democratic Party organization in the nation. In addition he serves as Senior Advisor to the State Assembly Speaker and Director of the Speaker’s L.A. office of Member Services. He has also served in various senior level positions in California state government. Professionally, he is a Registered Nurse specializing in Emergency and Intensive Care. He was energized by his nursing experience with the poor, particularly in Imperial Valley which he described as a “healthcare disaster” that local supervisors wouldn’t address. There were voters there to elect Democratic leaders but they were not accessed. Accordingly, his primary policy focus is healthcare. For example, he worked with John Garamendi to pass a “healthcare for all” bill which was vetoed by Governor Wilson.

Bauman, who was born in the Bronx and is Jewish and gay, was inspired by Bill Clinton because he was the first politician to talk about the AIDS epidemic and to support the gay community stating “We are all part of the same community.” Eric got involved at a time when California went from a “pink to blue” state electorate. After 16 years of Republican governors and legislatures, hard work turned the tide and Democrats now dominate California politics. How?

Bauman advised “You can’t win elections if you don’t show up. We need serious grass roots commitment and organization to bring about this kind of political evolution. Get Democrats elected and build from there. We are the real populism, not the fake one. There are lots of differences in the Democratic Party but we all agree that:

  1. Any person who works should have access to food and shelter
  2. All kids should have access to free public education
  3. We all require clean air and water. [62% of kids in Fresno have asthma due to the use of dirty fracking water for irrigation which pollutes the soil, the air and water.]

The fact is that Democrats put people first but we must be focused. Indivisible is important. It’s a tough fight. Use the tools we have and do not give up.”

Our issues are:

  1. The Right to Choose
  2. Marriage equality (Prop 8 has not been repealed.)
  3. Voting Rights
  4. Healthcare
  5. Immigrants are not to be handed over to authorities

The Democratic National Committee election is February 25th and Bauman supports Keith Ellison, a Democratic Congressman from Minnesota, because he has vibrancy and energy and will stand up and speak for us. “The DNC Chair is important when the party is out of power because of its effect on appointments. 446 will vote but the outcome is unknown. “So far we are votes short.” he said.

“You have to tailor your approach to your venue and use every media to reach every generation. You have to build, grow, and strengthen the Democratic Party in California. Remember, it only took 86,000 votes in 3 states to shut out Hillary.” Eric advised. “Stay involved, show leadership. We need to have one on one discussions from the heart and head with our citizens and our representatives about what matters.” he said. For example, Eric recently set up a meeting between leaders of the Rural Caucus and some urban state senators and assemblymen to discuss rural issues that do not get addressed. We assume we understand each other but we don’t until we talk to each other. There are no Democrat state or Congressional representatives here to talk to so you have to create them. Don’t bother trying to persuade the opposition. There are 39 Democratic legislators in California. Talk to them.“ said Bauman.

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We need liberals on the Supreme Court which rolled back the Voting Rights Act and opened the door for Republican cheating. They are taking voters off rolls; often there is no paper trail with voting machines. The systems are often hackable. There are untrained poll workers and inaccurate voter rolls. All these things would be addressed if we had Democrats controlling Congress. 50 states have 50 different rules and each county runs its own election. Secretaries of State have limited authority. Legislation is pending here to allow online and DMV voter registration. We need to know who the new voters are because we want to have more people participating. Our pool of data is important. But there is a problem with cross-over ballots and “declined to state” vs “undeclared” voters. How do you discern how many are undeclared?

Of course there remains the problem of the Electoral College. “We will save that for another day.”

Big money often defeats us. For example, the pharmaceutical and health Insurance industries have been successful in defeating single payer healthcare here. For example, SB 1 and SB 872 (healthcare for all/single payer bills) passed but Schwarzenegger vetoed both. “Insurance companies’ main purpose is to not pay claims. They take 30% of their cost for themselves. That’s money that could pay for health care for all.” Bauman said. “In California we have 4.8 million who now have insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but we need more providers of care and infrastructure particularly in rural areas. There is work to be done. We need to get money out of the system. A corporation is not a citizen and money is not speech.” he said.

“Although we have the majority here there are 4 to 5 seats we would like to have by displacing the likes of Darrell Issa, Jeff Denum and Steve Knight. Help if you can.” Bauman said.

“Use all your resources and tools you have to encourage leaders and candidates. You must have a commitment to do it. We need candidate training sessions about: how to talk to voters, what the issues are; making a realistic campaign plan and how to carry the Democratic progressive message.” Bauman said.

Eric Bauman wished us good luck and left with a standing ovation.

Submitted by Michele Spencer, a member of the Nevada County Democrats