Political Notebook: July heats up with political events
by Matthew S. Bajko
The dog days of summer are proving to be expensive for LGBT donors in the Bay Area.
From candidates for local offices to the presidential contenders, numerous politicians have been hosting fundraisers in recent weeks to fill up their campaign coffers ahead of the fall election. And more such events are set to take place over the coming week.
Last Saturday, LGBT leaders in the South Bay hosted a $100-a-person fundraiser for Congressman Mike Honda (D-Campbell) at the home of gay Campbell City Councilman Richard Waterman.
Gay state Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) and his husband, Dr. Dennis McShane, are hosting an invite-only fundraiser tonight (Thursday, July 19) at their home for Gordon's re-election bid. It will also celebrate Gordon's turning 64 on July 3.
They have invited as a special guest openly gay Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles).
"When I was 18 and diving headfirst into protesting the Vietnam War, and heard the Beatles' song 'When I'm Sixty-Four,' I couldn't imagine being 64. Now here I am, 64 years old, and political activism has defined my life for the past 45 years," Gordon, chair of the Legislative LGBT Caucus, wrote in an invitation he sent to supporters via Facebook. "Donations made in support of this event will be used to help send me back to Sacramento so that I can continue to serve in the state Assembly on your behalf. "
Gordon has received some blowback for his voting this month in support of the state's controversial high-speed rail project. The legislation approved by lawmakers includes provisions to electrify Caltrain's Peninsula tracks, a $1.5 billion project, by 2019 and make them compatible with high-speed trains under a "blended system," something Gordon fought hard to see be included in the bill.
"I think high-speed rail has to be part of California's future," Gordon told the Bay Area Reporter this spring. "Connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco with a high-speed train is an investment that needs to be made."
Despite strong pockets of opposition to the train project in his Assembly district, which stretches from Mountain View west to Half Moon Bay and other coastal communities, Gordon is expected to easily win re-election this November. A large portion of the money he will raise from donors will likely be used instead to elect Democrats running in swing districts around the state.
The latest campaign finance reports won't be out until later this month; as of May 19 Gordon reported raising $178,360 in 2012.
With 40 percent of his district new due to redistricting, Gordon is spending money on his own race, sending out mailers to his new constituents.
"We haven't taken anything for granted," he said.
Oakland race could get volatile
Speculation that longtime Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente would pull papers to run for the city's at-large council seat had the incumbent, lesbian City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, hitting up her supporters for campaign donations last week.
An East Bay Express article, citing unnamed "City Hall sources," said that De La Fuente would give up his District 5 seat to take on Kaplan ahead of running against Mayor Jean Quan in 2014. The conjecture centered on the fact that the councilman wants to place a measure on the fall ballot that would repeal Oakland's ranked-choice voting.
Such a citywide campaign could give De La Fuente a platform to circumvent campaign finance laws, according to the Express . Kaplan could then find herself outgunned moneywise, as De La Fuente could raise unlimited funds for his ballot measure and serve as its lead spokesman.
The news hit a day after the B.A.R. 's online Political Notes July 9 column reported that Kaplan had yet to attract a serious opponent in her re-election race and appeared to have an easy road to winning a second term.
"Things can change quickly in politics," noted Kaplan in an emailed pitch for donations that linked to the two stories.
She added that she'll "run the same grassroots, issue-based campaign around my record – with or without an opponent. And I'll need you by my side either way. But your support today will make sure we have the resources to get our message out across town – no matter what we're up against."
As of press time Wednesday, De La Fuente had yet to pull papers to seek the at-large seat. The Express reported Monday that his ballot measure was stricken from the council's July 17 agenda because it failed to garner support from the mayor and city administrator. Tuesday's meeting was the last before the council takes its summer recess and when the council returns in September it will be past the deadline to put the measure on the ballot, the paper noted.
Obama, Romney swing through Bay Area
Having already hit up donors in San Francisco and on the Peninsula in recent months, President Barack Obama is now targeting the East Bay. The president, who is trailing his presumptive Republican opponent Mitt Romney in the money race, is hosting a series of local fundraisers Monday, July 23.
In June Obama's campaign pulled in $71 million, its best monthly fundraising total to date, yet Romney and the GOP managed to raise $106 million.
"This is no joke. If we can't keep the money race close, it becomes that much harder to win in November," Ann Marie Habershaw, the chief operating officer for Obama for America, wrote in an email to supporters last week.
Obama will first participate in a technology roundtable in Oakland before heading to the Piedmont home of Quinn Delaney and Wayne Jordan for a dinner reception. That event is limited to 45 people and costs $35,8000 per person.
Delaney is the founder and president of the Akonadi Foundation, aimed at nurturing the racial justice movement. Her husband Jordan, a real estate investor and developer, is the foundation's secretary-treasurer.
Later that night Obama will head to the Fox Theatre in Oakland for a campaign rally with supporters. Tickets for the cheaper $100 balcony seats sold out within days, while general admission tickets costing $250 also are expected to sell out.
At the higher end are $1,000 preferred seating, while tickets at the $7,500 level come with preferred seating and entrance to a photo reception with Obama. Tickets were still available as of press time Wednesday (July 18) at https://donate.barackobama.com/page/contribute/o2012-July23OaklandReception1?custom1=205504
Medical marijuana advocates plan to protest Obama's visit over the Justice Department's continuing crackdown on cannabis dispensaries throughout California. Last week the outrage was over the planned shutdown of Oakland's Harborside Health Center, reputed to be the nation's largest medical marijuana dispensary.
LGBT rights activists are planning their own protest. They continue to press him to sign an executive order banning LGBT discrimination by federal contractors.
Romney is also targeting Bay Area donors with his own lineup of Peninsula fundraisers July 22. A lunchtime $50,000-a-person get-together will be held of the Woodside home of Siebel Systems founder Tom Siebel .
Then the former Massachusetts governor is expected to attend an event at the Fairmont Hotel atop San Francisco's Nob Hill. Romney wraps up his swing through town at a private $50,000-per-plate dinner hosted by Shaklee Corporation chairman and CEO Roger Barnett and his wife, Sloan.
SF Dems set to elect new chair
The newly elected members of San Francisco's Democratic County Central Committee will be sworn in at the July 25 meeting. And it appears longtime DCCC member Mary Jung will be named chair of the local Democratic Party's oversight panel.
As the B.A.R. reported in a blog post shortly after the June primary, Jung had emerged as the likely candidate to succeed party chair Aaron Peskin, who opted not to seek re-election.
Currently serving as the party's recording secretary, Jung is a straight moderate and strong ally of the LGBT community. She initially had told the B.A.R. she was not interested in becoming chair.
But her fellow DCCC members convinced her to change course. Several sources told the Political Notebook over the last week that Jung continues to have a lock on the chairmanship.
Former LGBT center ED returns
A familiar face among the city's LGBT leadership has returned. Thom Lynch, formerly the executive director of San Francisco's LGBT Community Center, is back in town.
He started work Monday, July 9 as vice president of development at the United Way of the Bay Area.
Lynch is credited with turning around the LGBT center's finances following a poor first year of operation in 2002. In 2007 he moved to Spain only to return to the city a year later.
He took over New Leaf: Services for Our Community and in 2010 oversaw the closure of the LGBT nonprofit due to its no longer being financially viable. Then the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles hired him to be its executive director, and Lynch relocated to southern California.
It doesn't sound like he will miss living in West Hollywood, where he took up residence while working for the choral group. The famous gay enclave's rules regarding storage containers for moving had him fuming on Facebook.
"Got off the phone with the City of West Hollywood today. What a bunch of idiots. They seem only to be interested in serving developers and businesses. Can't say I've ever had a good experience at town hall," complained Lynch.
Surely the same can't be said of 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.
Political Notes, the notebook's online companion, is on summer hiatus. It will return Monday, August 13.
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Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.