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LGBTQ groups endorse queer East Bay Assembly candidate Ramachandran

Assistant Editor

East Bay Assembly candidate Janani Ramachandran has secured endorsements from the LGBTQ Victory Fund and the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus ahead of the August 31 runoff race to represent Alameda, San Leandro, and part of Oakland. Photo: Courtesy Janani Ramachandran
East Bay Assembly candidate Janani Ramachandran has secured endorsements from the LGBTQ Victory Fund and the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus ahead of the August 31 runoff race to represent Alameda, San Leandro, and part of Oakland. Photo: Courtesy Janani Ramachandran  

Two more LGBTQ groups have endorsed queer social justice attorney Janani Ramachandran ahead of the August 31 runoff race for the East Bay's 18th Assembly District seat. The Oakland resident is facing off against Alameda Unified School Board president Mia Bonta to succeed Bonta's husband, Rob Bonta, who resigned earlier this year to become California's attorney general.

Both the LGBTQ Victory Fund and the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus have now endorsed Ramachandran, 29, who also identifies as lesbian. If elected, she would be the first legislator who identifies as queer and first out API female state legislator. Of South Indian ancestry, she would also be California's first South Asian assemblywoman.

"Janani's commitment to community-based solutions that address the real issues facing California residents with progressive action makes her the ideal candidate for this district," stated Victory Fund President & CEO Annise Parker. "I do not doubt that once elected, Janani will enact true, transformative change for her constituents and the entire state."

Noting she was one of eight LGBTQ Victory Institute national fellows in 2020, Ramachandran stated she is "incredibly honored to have the support of this LGBTQ political trailblazing organization that gave me many of the tools and training I needed to get my start in the political world. Victory helps elect hundreds of LGBTQ lawmakers across the country — and representation truly does matter."

A spokesman for gay Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), the chair of the affinity group for out lawmakers in the Legislature, told the Bay Area Reporter Low was traveling Friday and could not be reached for comment. He is listed as having personally endorsed Bonta, according to her list of endorsers. LINK: https://www.miabonta.com/endorsements#endorsements

Several other LGBTQ caucus members — lesbian state Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) and gay Assemblyman Chris Ward (D-San Diego) — have also personally endorsed Bonta. While the individual members are allowed to make personal endorsements, the caucus as a whole typically endorses out legislative candidates it considers to be viable contenders.

Ahead of the special election held June 29 for the Assembly seat, bisexual Assemblyman Alex Lee (D-San Jose) had dual endorsed Ramachandran and another candidate who failed to survive the primary. Gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has yet to personally endorse either candidate in the runoff race.

The California Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus also solely endorsed Ramachandran this week. The first-time candidate has proved to be a formidable figure in the race, tapping into a network of family and friends for donations to amass a sizeable campaign war chest.

Bonta, 49, a Black Latina, was the first place finisher in the contest last month, while Ramachandran came in second with neither surpassing the 50% vote threshold required to win the seat outright. One of the two is set to become the Bay Area's fifth female state legislator, representing Alameda, San Leandro, and a portion of Oakland in the Legislature's lower chamber.

Equality California, the statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, in June dual endorsed Bonta and Ramachandran. Both the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club and the B.A.R. gave sole endorsements to Ramachandran, as did the East Bay Times newspaper in May.

The East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club did not endorse in the race as no candidate received the 60% required when it held its endorsement vote in the spring. After they failed to advance from the June primary, gay candidates San Leandro City Councilman Victor Aguilar Jr. and San Leandro Unified School District Board of Education member James Aguilar (no relation) both endorsed Ramachandran.

While Bonta fell a few votes short of securing the Alameda County Democratic Party's endorsement, she did garner the backing of the California Democratic Party. Ramachandran filed a formal complaint against the endorsement vote held at the end of the Fourth of July weekend, but the state party's endorsement appeals committee upheld Bonta's endorsement last week.

Whoever is elected to the seat will need to run for a full two-year term in 2022.

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