Two gay Assembly candidates win races
by Matthew S. Bajko
Two gay men seeking state Assembly seats emerged victorious from Tuesday's Democratic primary races, ensuring that the Legislative LGBT Caucus will not fold next year. Once as large as six members, the caucus will see its ranks dwindle down to only four members.
San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano, running unopposed in the city's 13th Assembly District, easily claimed victory Tuesday night. Unofficial election returns Wednesday showed he had netted 100 percent of the 41,446 votes cast.
In Los Angeles, labor activist John Perez, a University of California, Berkeley alum, trounced the other candidates in his race to replace termed out Assembly Speaker Emeritus Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) in the 46th Assembly District after his two main rivals both threw their support behind his candidacy, though their names remained on the ballot. Perez won 55 percent of the vote compared to his three opponents, who all netted less than 17 percent, according to unofficial returns.
Due to the heavy Democratic makeup of the two candidates' districts, they are both expected to easily win their general election races in November. Perez would be the first openly gay Latino lawmaker elected to the Legislature.
Once in Sacramento they will join fellow caucus members lesbian state Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), who ran unopposed Tuesday and is also expected to win come November, and termed out state Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who unseated lesbian state Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) in the 3rd Senate District. Leno is also expected to easily win the general election. [See story, page 1.]
Exiting the Statehouse this year due to term limits will be openly gay state Assemblyman John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) and state Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles). No gay candidates ran for the two lawmakers' seats.
"I think Leno and I will be a good match, though he'll always out-dress me," joked Ammiano. "We were thinking it would be only two of us left in Sacramento, so anything more than that I am really happy about."
Leno told Ammiano at his victory party Tuesday night that "it is going to be a hell of a lot of fun serving with you."
Four out candidates went down for defeat Tuesday, including a shocking loss for West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon. Yolo County Supervisor Mariko Yamada pulled off a surprise win in the state's 8th Assembly District, where Democratic Assemblywoman Lois Wolk is termed out of office. Despite Cabaldon having wide support, he came up short with 48 percent of the vote, just shy of 16,000 votes, while Yamada walked away with 52 percent, garnering more than 17,000 votes, to claim victory.
In Palm Springs, openly gay Cathedral City Councilman Greg Pettis came in second place after running a strong campaign against his opponent, Coachella Valley Unified School District Trustee Manuel Perez, in the 80th Assembly District. Pettis earned 26 percent of the vote while Perez received 36 percent.
Berkeley City Councilman Kriss Worthington lost his bid in the East Bay's 14th Assembly District, while Laurette Healey came up short in the 40th Assembly District in the San Fernando Valley.
Worthington came in third place in the four-person race, losing to Nancy Skinner, who claimed victory with 47 percent of the vote.
Healey also landed in third place against her three opponents with 21 percent of the vote. Bob Blumenfield took the top spot with 53 percent of the vote.