June 5 Races to Watch
It’s primary season, and this year citizen redistricting combines with our new open primary system to give California a chance to enlarge our pro-equality majority — even in some of the most conservative parts of the state. If you are a political junkie like we are here, you know that sometimes a race a long way from your neck of the woods can nonetheless have a huge impact on issues you care about. With that in mind, we’ve picked some key races to watch on Tuesday.
Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani is running for an open state senate seat in the Central Valley, against Bill Berryhill, an assemblymember who has consistently voted against equality. Her chances in the primary are good, and due to redistricting, Galgiani has a decent shot at picking up a state senate seat that could give the Democrats the two-thirds majority they need to fix the budget. That she’s also openly lesbian and a committed advocate for equality is even better, which is why EQCA staff and volunteers have put in several shifts making calls to get out the vote for Galgiani. Galgiani’s campaign site.
Running for an open assembly seat, Susan Eggman is the second openly lesbian candidate running in the Central Valley. Eggman’s experience on the Stockton city council gives her strong governmental experience. Like Galgiani, EQCA has been turning out the vote for Eggman, and we’d be thrilled to have two openly LGBT candidates in the conservative Central Valley. Eggman’s campaign site.
Ricardo Lara, currently serving in the assembly, was elected chair this year of the Latino Legislative Caucus, is the first LGBT person to lead the powerful group. He’s running unopposed for the District 33 state senate seat. Lara’s campaign site.
Luis Lopez is an openly gay candidate in Eagle Rock, running as a slight underdog to Jimmy Gomez. Lopez has deep roots within the district, currently serving as president of the LA city East Area Planning Commission, and has previously worked as a founding board member on the HONOR PAC, a Latino LGBT political action committee. Lopez’s campaign site.
Laurette Healey has been a passionate advocate for equality for more than a decade, working tirelessly to support anti-hate crime legislation here in California, and then serving on the board of EQCA. She’s in a crowded field, up against five other candidates for an open seat, but Healey’s strong pro-equality record sets her apart. Healey’s campaign site.
Abel Guillen is a “two spirited” man running in the East Bay’s District 18 on a platform of progressive values, including support for affordable health care and broader access to education. Guillen’s campaign site.
Richard Roth is a 100 percent supporter of LGBT equality in a tough Inland Empire district. He faces a tough Republican incumbent, and a Democratic challenger who hasn’t been a consistent supporter of LGBT issues. His district has been flooded with money from shadowy PACs, and Roth will need all the help he can get. Not only have EQCA volunteers made phone calls for the former Air Force general, we’re doing get-out-the-vote work for Roth on June 5 — sign up to join us here. Roth’s campaign site.
Marty Block has been a consistent voice for equality in the Assembly, currently acting as whip, marshaling votes for pro-LGBT bills. He had looked to win in a walk until George Plescia, an anti-equality Republican entered the race. In order to hit the supermajority in the Senate, Block’s seat is necessary, and losing a 100 percent advocate to a regressive Republican would be a significant setback. Block’s campaign site.
John A. Pérez, America’s first openly gay Speaker of the Assembly, is in a safe race, but is worth celebrating as a consistent advocate for full equality in California, and a vital force ensuring votes on progressive bills that promote acceptance and equality and end exclusion. Pérez’s campaign site.
Mark Leno’s race isn’t likely to be contentious, but as a regular partner with Equality California in a new district (due to redistricting), we’re happy to watch this race. An out gay man, his FAIR Education Act was one of the premier EQCA-sponsored successes last year, and his leadership within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus has been both deft and effective. Leno’s campaign site.
Fans of the film Milk might remember Ammiano playing himself (the gay teacher who shouts down Briggs). Fans of safe schools might remember him as the author of Seth’s Law last year, an anti-bullying act that makes schools safer for all students. Ammiano was also redistricted by the independent commission, and, like Leno, is in a relatively safe seat. Ammiano’s campaign site.
Rich Gordon is also relatively safe, in large part because of how effective he’s been as a legislator, passing 15 of 19 bills he authored. He’s also gay and the current chair of the LGBT Caucus, making him an important piece of the pro-equality legislative process. Gordon’s campaign site.
Want to learn more? Check out EQCA’s 2012 Endorsement Guide before you vote in Tuesday’s primary election!