Political Notebook: Alameda LGBTQ Dems back out Assembly, supervisor candidates

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday July 19, 2022
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Alameda County supervisor candidate Rebecca Kaplan, left, and Assembly candidate Shawn Kumagai were endorsed by the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club in their respective races. Photos: Courtesy the campaigns
Alameda County supervisor candidate Rebecca Kaplan, left, and Assembly candidate Shawn Kumagai were endorsed by the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club in their respective races. Photos: Courtesy the campaigns

The East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club has thrown its support behind two high-profile out candidates who could make history in November. Meanwhile, in the race for the open Alameda County District Attorney position, the LGBTQ political club once again failed to coalesce around a candidate.

At the July 18 endorsement meeting Stonewall members endorsed lesbian At-Large Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan in her race for the open District 3 seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. It also endorsed gay Dublin City Councilmember Shawn Kumagai in the race for the open 20th Assembly District seat.

If elected, Kaplan would be the first LGBTQ person to serve on the county board, while Kumagai would be the first LGBTQ state legislator of Japanese descent if sent to Sacramento. He would also become the first out person to represent a state legislative district that is solely within the East Bay.

The club did not release a breakdown of the endorsement vote, but a candidate needed at least 60% of the ballots cast in order to secure Stonewall's support. According to the queer political group, 69 of its active members voted Monday out of a total of 138 active members, or 50% of its membership.

Neither of the Alameda County District Attorney candidates, Pamela Price nor Terry Wiley, was able to secure Stonewall's endorsement. They are competing to succeed D.A. Nancy O'Malley, who opted not to seek reelection this year.

Price took first place in the June primary with 43.23% of the vote, while Wiley came in second with 27.13%. When Stonewall held its endorsement vote for the primary in March, the club ended up not endorsing in the DA race.

The club also had failed to endorse any candidate in the District 3 supervisor and 20th Assembly District races. Kaplan took first place in her primary with 41.01% of the vote, and former Alameda city councilmember Lena Tam landed in second with 28.13%.

The district includes the cities of Alameda, San Leandro, a portion of Oakland, and the unincorporated communities of San Lorenzo, Hayward Acres, and a portion of Ashland. Kaplan, an Oakland council member since 2008, decided to seek the supervisor seat following the death last November of longtime supervisor Wilma Chan, who was struck by a driver while walking her dog in Alameda.

In her past races Kaplan had not been able to secure Stonewall's support of her candidacies, such as her 2014 Oakland mayoral bid. Nor did the club endorse Kaplan's re-election to her council seat in 2016 and 2020, when she fended off out challengers both times.

In his primary, Kumagai came in second place with 23.93% of the vote. Labor leader Liz Ortega finished first with 32.17%.

They are vying to succeed Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), who opted against seeking reelection. Earlier this year he endorsed Ortega to represent the district redrawn following the 2020 decennial census count to include parts of West Dublin and Pleasanton along with the cities of Hayward and Union City.

Gay nurse and union leader Jennifer Esteen, who came in third in the primary, endorsed Ortega in the general election on Sunday. In a statement, Esteen said if Ortega is elected to the Legislature then she would "be a lion" in championing the various causes and issues that she cares about, from supporting workers to tackling climate change.

On Monday, ahead of the Stonewall meeting, Ortega's campaign also announced via Twitter that gay former state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano had endorsed her. It quoted Ammiano as saying "Liz is a vocal, unapologetic advocate for Black, Immigrant, LGBTQ & disability civil rights. These challenging and difficult times demand leaders like Liz, a progressive leader who will fight to preserve reproductive choice & our rights in Sacramento."

Gay Santa Clara councilmember Becker again runs for mayor

Santa Clara native Anthony Becker is making a second run to lead his South Bay City. The gay city councilmember launched his mayoral bid Monday on his 37th birthday in front of City Hall's "Universal Child" sculpture.

"What better place to announce my candidacy for mayor than before a great symbol of inclusion and respect for all people," stated Becker.

Elected to his District 6 council seat in 2020, becoming the second LGBTQ person to serve on it, Becker had lost his 2018 bid to become mayor. He is part of a council faction seen as more favorable to the San Francisco 49ers, as the football team has clashed for years with Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor, 62, a former longtime councilmember.

In 2016, her council colleagues appointed Gillmor the city's mayor when her predecessor resigned. Two years later she won a full four-year term and is expected to seek reelection this November.

Improving communication and collaboration among city stakeholders and organizations is a main focus on Becker's mayoral campaign. In announcing his candidacy July 18, Becker pledged if elected mayor he would take Santa Clara "in a new direction where we value progress, not blame / where our council makes decisions to benefit our residents instead of acting from divisiveness / where we can compromise to end needless conflict."

He would be the only LGBTQ directly elected mayor in the Bay Area should he win the race. There are no out candidates in the Oakland or San Jose mayoral races this fall, while most smaller cities in the region annually rotate their mayor position among their city council members.

Dems boost gay CA House candidate

Following his strong second-place showing in the June primary, Will Rollins continues to consolidate support among Democratic Party circles for his House candidacy in the new 41st Congressional District. It includes a large part of the gay retirement and tourist mecca Palm Springs.

The gay former federal prosecutor, who lives with his partner in Canyon Lake, is aiming to oust from office conservative Congressmember Ken Calvert (R-Corona). While Calvert received 48% of the vote last month, Rollins garnered 34.7% while another Democratic candidate came in third with 15.6% of the now official vote.

On Monday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named Rollins' race one of its targets to flip "Red to Blue" come November. It is one of seven California House races on its list, which can be found here.

"CA-41 shifted towards Democrats for the first time following the GOP opponent's weak performance in the primary. The incumbent hasn't faced a competitive race in over a decade and is desperate to hold onto his seat," noted the DCCC.

Rollins' campaign hailed his being added to the party committee's list of "top-tier candidates" who will now receive organizational and fundraising support from it.

"I'm excited to see our national partners recognizing what the people of Riverside already know: Ken Calvert has spent three decades in Congress enriching himself and his cronies, while largely ignoring the folks who live here," stated Rollins. "Today's announcement is proof positive that our campaign has the momentum to take on Calvert and deliver real leadership for Riverside families."

The news followed the political action committee for national LGBTQ advocacy organization the Human Rights Campaign endorsing Rollins in early July. He is the lone LGBTQ candidate from the Golden State on the Democrats' targeted seats to flip list.

Gay progressive Democrat Derek Marshall continues to be snubbed by the party and national LGBTQ groups. It is because of his underdog status in his race this fall against Congressmember Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia) in the Golden State's 23rd Congressional District.

Gay Congressmember Mark Takano (D-Riverside) is seen as having a lock on being reelected to the state's 39th Congressional District seat. And Robert Garcia, the mayor of Long Beach, is seen as the odds-on winner in the contest for the new, open 42nd Congressional District seat along the coast of Los Angeles County. Both are running against GOP opponents in heavily Democratic districts.

Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column previewed the Stonewall club's endorsement vote.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes

Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

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