Website launched in response to Pugno primary win
by Dan Aiello
As expected, self-described Proposition 8 author Andrew Pugno won the Republican primary last month and will face off against Democrat Dr. Richard Pan for California's 5th Assembly District in what both sides are anticipating will be a tough race.
The open seat was once solidly a Republican district east of Sacramento.
Pugno won the GOP primary after raising more than $350,000 using the protectmarriage.com's Yes on Prop 8 mailing list after the anti-marriage equality initiative passed.
Sacramento's Stonewall Democratic Club has responded with the launching of the website, http://www.StopAndrewPugno.com, calling on the LGBT community to help stop Pugno's political aspirations in their tracks.
"We're certainly not excited to see Pugno on the ballot but it was completely expected," said Stonewall President Chris Moore, the creator of the website. Moore is also the new deputy director of political affairs for Equality California.
"It's going to be a difficult race no matter who you are, because the registration in the district is neck and neck," Moore told the Bay Area Reporter. "It's been trending Democratic and it's at a tipping point."
One of the encouraging signs for the Democrats came in 2008 when Barack Obama won the traditionally Republican district.
AD5 is currently represented by Republican Roger Niello, who will leave office as a result of term limits. AD5 encompasses the suburban Sacramento communities of Fair Oaks and Folsom.
On the Democratic side, Pan, a pediatrician at UC Davis Children's Hospital, won in last month's primary. Pan captured the nomination with about 44 percent of the vote, defeating Sheila Kuehl protege and San Juan school board member Larry Miles and lobbyist Matt Gray.
Pan attended the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club's Pride breakfast in San Francisco last month and club leaders said he is someone the community should support. He has also been endorsed by openly gay
The general election in November is expected to draw major campaign contributions and interest from both progressives and conservatives, as Democrats attempt to pick up the seat for the first time since 1978.
The Republican registration advantage in AD5 has fallen to an insignificant level in the last four years. According to the Sacramento Bee, Democrats are hoping to capitalize on the national interest in the overlapping 3rd Congressional District race and have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to back Pan.
Pugno, who already has tapped into the Proposition 8 supporter base to finance his run, has a large campaign war chest, including a $100,000 loan he gave the campaign.
"With such a polarizing figure as Pugno, who knows who will be showing up," to volunteer and contribute, Moore told the B.A.R. "Every day that passes is another day that we need to be working to make sure he's not elected here [in the Sacramento area], and it takes money to do that."
Stonewall was unable to reach a 60 percent consensus on any Democratic candidate before the primary, but after the election the club endorsed Pan, who Moore said, "is 100 percent" on LGBT issues.
"He has a rich history of working with the LGBT community and has been a big supporter," said Moore.
Asked if Stonewall would counter Pugno's use of the Yes on Prop 8 list with a fundraising effort to the No on Prop 8 list, Moore told the B.A.R ., "I think that will be part of the overall effort Stonewall is doing to reach out to coalition partners."