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Online Extra: Political Notes: Log Cabin endorses out GOP CA candidates

by Matthew S. Bajko

San Diego Supervisor candidate Bonnie Dumanis. Photo: Dumanis for Supervisor campaign
San Diego Supervisor candidate Bonnie Dumanis. Photo: Dumanis for Supervisor campaign  

A gay California Republican group has endorsed out GOP candidates running in the June primary for a San Diego County supervisor seat, three state legislative seats, and re-election as district attorney in Sacramento County.

The Log Cabin California Political Action Committee unanimously voted on the endorsements during the state Republican Party's convention in late April.

It threw its support behind lesbian former San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis in her bid for county supervisor. Should she be elected to the board's District 4 seat, Dumanis would be the only LGBT person serving on it and one of the highest out Republican elected officials in California.

The district covers nearly all of San Diego, including the gay neighborhood of Hillcrest, the beach community of La Jolla, and inland areas from Kearny Mesa south to Encanto. Dumanis would be the second openly LGBT person elected to the county board and the first lesbian to serve on it. Dave Roberts, a gay man and Democrat, was the first out San Diego County supervisor but lost his re-election bid in 2016.

Dumanis is in a tough campaign against former state assemblyman Nathan Fletcher. The two also ran against each other in the 2012 San Diego mayor's race, which they both lost.

Now a registered Democrat, Fletcher in recent weeks has faced questions about his being a Republican with an anti-gay voting record when he served in the state Legislature. Questioned about his past stances by the San Diego Union Tribune's editorial board, Fletcher said he had changed his views on a number of issues since leaving the Republican Party.

The attacks against his record appear aimed at boosting support for the other Democrats in the race, in particular former assemblywoman Lori Saldana. Splitting the Democratic vote would provide an advantage to Dumanis, as she is the only Republican on the ballot.

Late Friday Fletcher's campaign lashed out in an email to supporters against a number of mailers attacking him that voters had received in recent days.

"I have seen it all. A republican funded, right-wing, Pro-NRA PAC is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to try and deceive Democratic voters into supporting a weaker Democrat they believe they can beat," stated Fletcher in the email, which included a fundraising ask. "The mailers have been labeled false and mis-leaden (sic) but that won't stop them. The only thing that will stop them is us standing firm, rejecting the Republican funded lies and fighting back."

If no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote in the June 5 primary then the top two vote-getters will advance to the November 6 general election.

"It's a tough race, but not as tough as Bonnie is," Matthew Craffey, chairman of the statewide Log Cabin Republicans, told the Bay Area Reporter. "Bonnie shatters stereotypes of what it means to be a 'Republican,' so even though the Democrats have an advantage in voter registration, I think she will attract a lot of independents and moderate Democrats to vote for her, and that will hopefully put her over the top. We will be rooting for her."

The other countywide GOP candidate on the June 5 primary ballot that Log Cabin endorsed is Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. One of two lesbian district attorneys in California, Schubert is seeking a second four-year term this year.

She is fending off a challenge from Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Noah Phillips, a Democrat and straight married father. After Sacramento police in March killed an unarmed black man in the backyard of his grandmother's home, protesters took to the streets of the state capital and targeted Shubert, who will decide if the officers will face charges. The police have yet to hand the case over to the DA's office, at which point a decision on what charges to bring, if any, will be made.

Shubert more recently caught a break with the capture of the suspected Golden State Killer, garnering glowing media attention just weeks ahead of the election. Craffey told the B.A.R. that voters will reward her with another term.

"Anne Marie has has done an excellent job as Sacramento DA and will win re-election," he predicted. "She enjoys popular support from both Democrats and Republicans and has so far raised twice as much as her opponent."

The state's other lesbian DA is Jill Ravitch in Sonoma County. A Democrat, she is also up for re-election in June and is assured of a third term as the only person who had filed to run against her dropped out of the race.

In addition to the three lesbian countywide candidates, there are three countywide races with gay candidates looking to make history on the June ballot. In San Diego, David Myers, a commander with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, where he has worked for 32 years, is challenging his boss, Sheriff Bill Gore, who is seeking a third term. It is believed that Myers would be the first out elected sheriff in California if he wins.

Gay Watsonville City Councilman Jimmy Dutra, a Democrat, is aiming to become the first LGBT person to serve on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. He is seeking the board's District 4 seat on the primary ballot.

In San Francisco, Jeff Sheehy is seeking to become the first HIV-positive person to be elected supervisor in the liberal city. A gay married father, Sheehy was appointed in 2017 by the late mayor Ed Lee to the vacant District 8 seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

He is running on the June primary ballot to serve out the remainder of the term through the end of 2018 and would need to seek a full four-year term in November.
Looking to oust Sheehy off the board is gay attorney Rafael Mandelman, a member of the City College of San Francisco board of trustees. He came in second place in the 2010 race for the supervisor seat, which includes the gay Castro district.

Both Sheehy and Mandelman are Democrats, and Mandelman has garnered endorsements from all of the city's main newspapers and both LGBT Democratic clubs.

And in the Bay Area there are two countywide education races with out candidates that will be decided in the June election. In San Mateo County, Gary Waddell and Nancy Magee are vying to succeed lesbian San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Anne E. Campbell. After serving two four-year terms in the position, Campbell opted not to seek re-election next year. Her current term will end in January 2019.

Waddell, a gay resident of Pacifica, currently serves as deputy superintendent of the instructional services division at the county education office. Magee, a lesbian resident of Half Moon Bay, is the county's associate superintendent for the student services division.

In the East Bay, gay Alameda County Board of Education trustee Joaquin J. Rivera is running for re-election on the primary ballot. He is being challenged by scientist and entrepreneur Abdur Sikder, a father of three who is from Bangladesh and lives in Berkeley.

State legislative races
Log Cabin's PAC also endorsed a trio of gay men seeking to serve in the state Legislature. Two have no chance of winning, while the third faces tough odds running in a district that now favors Democrats in voter registration.

Henry Gomez Nickel, a gay man who serves on the San Bernardino City Council, is seeking the 40th Assembly District seat. The current officeholder, Assemblyman Marc Steinorth (R- Rancho Cucamonga), is running for a San Bernardino County supervisor seat rather than seek re-election.

In 2010 Nickel lost a bid for the state's then 63rd Assembly District seat. Four years later he won election to a partial term on the San Bernardino City Council representing the city's Ward 5. The next year he won election to a full four-year term.

On the board of the California League of Cities LGBT Caucus, Nickel five years ago married his partner of 10 years, an immigrant from El Salvador. Should he win the Assembly seat, he would be the first out Republican elected to the state Legislature.

(In 2010 former Republican assemblyman and senator Roy Ashburn came out as gay after being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving with a younger male passenger he reportedly had met at a Sacramento gay club. He was termed out of his Senate seat that fall.)

But Nickel is facing an uphill climb in the race against San Bernardino County Supervisor James Ramos. The Democrat reported having $422,602 in his campaign account at the end of April - Nickel reported having just $18,865 to spend - and noted in a news release that Democratic registration in the district outnumbers Republicans by over 15,000 voters.

Nonetheless, Ramos stated, "We are not taking anything for granted and have already held a number of community meet and greets throughout the district."

The only other candidate to qualify for the June ballot was Democrat Libbern Gwen Cook. The teacher has yet to report raising any money, however, and isn't expected to survive the June primary.

Should Nickel capture the Assembly seat come the fall, it would be a "huge, landmark moment related to LGBT equality within the GOP," predicted Craffey, adding that Log Cabin will be doing everything it can to help him win.

"Having an openly gay Republican representative in the state Legislature would not only be validating and empowering to LGBT conservatives everywhere, but would also be one more example of how the old-narrative of the Republican Party's views on LGBT issues is no longer relevant," Craffey told the B.A.R. "Henry enjoys strong support from everyone in the California Republican Party, and of course from Log Cabin, and has an excellent chance at winning this race."

In an emailed response to the B.A.R. regarding Log Cabin backing him in the race, Nickel noted that he was also recently unanimously endorsed by his county Republican Party and has the support of a vast majority of the Republican Assembly Caucus.

"I believe Log Cabin is one among many Republican organizations that represent our party's commitment to inclusion," wrote Nickel, adding that he doesn't "believe who one marries determines party preference. I find the notion offensive and erroneous. I appreciate the ideals and principles espoused by the Republican Party."

He expressed confidence in being elected to the Assembly.

"Most voters decide who is best qualified based on the candidate's record, experience, and commitment to serving constituent interests," wrote Nickel. "I will serve no differently than any other member of our Assembly insofar as I will continue to put constituent interests first. That is how I have been elected twice in a predominantly Democratic city and now serve as the unanimously elected Mayor pro tem."

Log Cabin also endorsed Ontario resident Matthew Munson, who is running against state Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) in the 20th Senate District, which encompasses parts of the Inland Empire. He has no chance of winning and had told the B.A.R. that he is running in order to have a leadership post within the state GOP.

Joshua Herr, president of Log Cabin's Los Angeles chapter, received an endorsement for his write-in candidacy for the 50th Assembly District seat. As no one qualified for the ballot to run against the incumbent, Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Herr will almost assuredly compete against him on the November ballot.

Herr told the B.A.R. he decided to run so voters have an alternative to the current officeholder, who he says is part of the Democratic leadership that is making it harder for people like himself to live in California.

"Homelessness in Los Angeles and throughout the state has exploded over the past several years," wrote Herr in an emailed reply. "The current leadership in Sacramento has offered middle-to-low-income Californians few options: accept a lower standard of living, live on the street, or leave the state. Hundreds of thousands are choosing to leave."

There are now 15 LGBT candidates known to be running for state Assembly or Senate seats this year in California, two fewer than the high seen in 2012. Yet the eight lesbian legislative candidates on the June primary ballot is a record number.

Currently, there are eight out members of the state Legislature, four each in the Assembly and Senate. The membership of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus is also split evenly between men and women at the moment.

Two members could depart at the end of the year if gay Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) wins his race for state insurance commissioner, marking the first time an LGBT person is elected to statewide office, and if lesbian state Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) is elected to a seat on the state's Board of Equalization.

Due to three of this year's out legislative candidates running for the same Assembly seat in the East Bay, the most the LGBT caucus could grow this year is by seven members depending on the outcome of the various races with out candidates.

The Political Notes column will return Monday, June 4.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes .
Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail m.bajko@ebar.com.

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