Online Extra: Political Notes: Gay man announces bid for LA Assembly seat
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Should Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) win a special election in June for an open congressional seat, then gay Latino leader Luis Lopez plans to run for his state legislative seat.
If Lopez wins the special election for the state's 51st Assembly District seat, then he would become the ninth member of the California LGBT Legislative Caucus. His election would mark a record number of out lawmakers serving in the Statehouse.
"Now more than ever, Angelenos want a fighter for progressive values who has their back and is leading the way forward," stated Lopez in an April 5 announcement about his intent to run for the office. "Our hopes and hard-won progress as Californians are facing unprecedented threats. My neighbors and friends urge me to step up to fight for our families and priorities in the Legislature. I am equal to their trust and to this solemn responsibility."
The news came a day after Gomez placed first place in the special election for the 34th Congressional District seat that was vacated earlier this year by Xavier Becerra when he became the state's attorney general. Governor Jerry Brown had named Becerra to fill the vacancy created by the election last fall of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris .
Because he fell short of 50 percent of the vote in the April 4 special election, Gomez is now in a June 6 runoff election with former Los Angeles city planning commissioner Robert Lee Ahn, who placed a distant second. Of the two moderate Democrats, Gomez has more support from party leaders and is considered the favorite to win.
In 2012 Gomez beat Lopez in their heated race for the state Assembly seat, which is centered in the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Eagle Rock and Echo Park and includes a portion of the historically LGBT enclave of Silver Lake. Lopez and his partner of 13 years, Hans Johnson, moved into the district after their former Silver Lake home ended up in a neighboring Assembly district where several incumbent lawmakers also landed through the decennial redistricting process for legislative seats.
In the weeks leading up to the November election their contest turned especially nasty, as the Bay Area Reporter noted at the time. Gomez faced a variety of accusations due to his political fundraising, including that he hated polar bears for taking money from hunters, while Lopez was accused of resorting to smear tactics due to his trailing in the polls.
A founder and past president of the Latino LGBT activist group Honor PAC, Lopez is a director at City of Hope comprehensive cancer center and a longtime board officer of Planned Parenthood-Los Angeles. From 2008 to 2013, he served as president of the East Area Planning Commission of the City of L.A. and is now vice president of The Eagle Rock Association, a local neighborhood preservationist group known as TERA for short.
In last June's primary election, the progressive Democrat placed first in the contest for seven seats from the 51st Assembly District on the Central Committee of the L.A. County Democratic Party.
Born in East L.A. in the easternmost portion of the 51st Assembly District to immigrant parents, Lopez' father, a union machinist, moved the family to the San Gabriel Valley in the mid-1970s. His mother died from kidney disease when he was 8 years old. A graduate of Pomona College, Lopez earned a master's degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He previously worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development a social science analyst and at KPMG Consulting Inc. (now Bearing Point Inc.)
To learn more about his campaign, visit https://www.luislopez.org/.
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Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.