Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday Politics: CA-44, AD-51, AD-50, AD-64, SD-33

It's been awhile since we had a Saturday Politics edition but there's been a lot of developments now that we are well into 2012 which is a year divisible by 4, otherwise known as a Presidential election year.

AD-51. In my home Assembly District my friend Luis Lopez is running for the Democratic nomination. Luis is openly gay and is well-known to LGBT activists as the co-founder of HONOR Pac and HONOR Fund, two Latino LGBT political organizations. What people may not know is that he was born in East L.A. and even though his mom died when he as 8, Luis went on to get degrees from Pomona and Harvard after attending public schools. Recently, many Los Angeles-area Democratic organizations have been having endorsement meetings for the June 2012 statewide primary election. The Northeast Los Angeles Democratic Club endorsed heterosexual Jimmie Gomez, while the Stonewall Democratic Club, the oldest LGBT Democratic club in the country (and one of the largest) endorsed Luis, as did the Foothills Democratic Club. The big fight is on to see what will happen with the Los Angeles County Democratic Club and California Democratic Party endorsements.

AD-50. The 50th Assembly District, although adjacent in numerical order, is most definitely not geographically adjacent to the 51st. Surprisingly, the two political races are somewhat similar in that they both feature a grassroots, openly gay candidate (Torie Osbone in the 50th, Luis Lopez in the 51st) facing a more establishment type figure (53rd District Assemblywoman Betsy Butler in the 50th, Jimmie Gomez in the 51st). This is only a superficial similarity because in actuality Butler is a currently elected Assemblywoman who previously defeated an openly gay candidate to win her current seat but who enjoys support from various sections of the LGBT community due to her longstanding friendship with West Hollywood City councilman John Duran and her presence on the board of directors of Equality California Institute. Osborne is a longtime lesbian and progressive activist, having served terms (somewhat controversially) as the heads of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The issue in this district is that it includes both The People's Republic of Santa Monica (Home of the Homeless) as well as West Hollywood a.k.a. "Boystown" (L.A.'s Gay Ghetto) and that due to redistricting, the heterosexual, somewhat moderate Butler decided to run for re-election in a seat most thought should (or would) be represented by an openly LGBT and/or progressive politician. Osborne recently received the endorsement of the Stonewall and Malibu Democratic Clubs. Butler has more money and the advantage of incumbency while Osborne has significant grassroots support since her former partner Sheila Kuehl had previously represented these areas for 14 years.

CA-44, AD-64. Everyone expected this to be an exciting three-way race between two incumbent Congressmembers and a rising African American political star, fighting to represent a newly drawn 44th Congressional district which was carved out to include multiple sections of Los Angeles where Black and Latino people live in large numbers (17% of the District is African-American, 68% is Latino and a mere 7% is White). It contains the cities of Carson, Compton and South Gate. The first person to announce their intention to run in that district was (the very white) Congresswoman Janice Hahn whose 36th District she had won in July 2011 was basically eliminated in redistricting but whose political base of San Pedro was included in the 44th. However, it was expected that Congresswoman Laura Richardson would also seek re-election in the new CA-44 district, since Richardson's previous 37th District covered more than 50% of the new 44th and she could be considered the incumbent. However, Assemblyman Isadore Hall shocked a lot of people when he announced he was running and demonstrated significant support by outraising both Congresswoman in the 3rd quarter financial filings. However, since I last reported on this race, Hall has decided to drop out of the Congressional race and seek re-election to the Assembly in the newly drawn AD-64 (which was very similar to the district he currently represents). Hahn then followed that up by releasing a poll showing her with a nearly 20 point advantage over the somewhat ethically challenged Richardson. This one should be interesting to watch.

SD-33. Ricardo Lara, the second openly gay person of color to be elected in California (after California Assembly Speaker John Perez) used to represent the old 50th Assembly District (not the district with that name that Lopez and Gomez are running in in which MadProfessah's California residence is located) but has decided to run for the newly drawn 33rd State Senate District in 2012, potentially becoming the first LGBT person of color to be elected to that body. Happily for Lara, he currently does not face any significant Democratic opposition and will almost certainly become a State Senator representing a District which is over 70% Latino (the second most heavily Latino district in California). Interestingly enough this Senate district is literally right next door and slightly overlaps Hall's 64th Assembly District and the Hahn/Richardson 44th Congressional District. It will be great that the State Senate could have as many as 3 openly LGBT members (out of 40) starting in January 2013.

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