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This dispute over candidate endorsements is dividing the California Democratic Party

Clockwise from upper left: Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, John Chiang. Kevin de León, Dianne Feinstein and Delaine Eastin. (Los Angeles Times)
Clockwise from upper left: Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, John Chiang. Kevin de León, Dianne Feinstein and Delaine Eastin. (Los Angeles Times)

It’s up to a few thousand California Democratic Party delegates to decide whether the state party endorses candidates at its February convention in San Diego — a nod that could come with millions of dollars of support.

But this month, California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman sent a letter to statewide candidates urging them not to seek the state party endorsement in February, prompting allegations that he was trying to silence dissenting voices. Bauman said his letter was simply meant to stave off disunity at the convention.

The dispute over endorsements is the latest battle between Bauman and those who backed his rival, Kimberly Ellis, in a bitter leadership contest in the spring that was decided by a handful of votes and resulted in a recount. Party delegates split into establishment and grass-roots factions, aligning themselves with Bauman and Ellis respectively, mirroring the divide among Democrats in deciding between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary.

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