Andy Katz, a bisexual candidate seeking an East Bay state Assembly seat, was dealt a significant setback today when the current holder of the seat announced she had endorsed one of his opponents in the race.
Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) came out this morning (Wednesday, January 29) with an endorsement of Elizabeth Echols, a former regional administrator for the Small Business Administration appointed by President Barack Obama. Echols lives with her husband, Parviz, and their daughter, Theresa, in Oakland.
In a statement issued by Echols’ campaign, Skinner said she had been impressed with Echols “substantive public and private sector experience” working in both Obama’s administration and as an e-commerce adviser to former Vice President Al Gore. Echols also worked as the director of policy at Google and was a key executive at the U.S. Green Building Council.
“As someone who entered my 2008 race for Assembly in the January before the primary, I held off in my endorsement to let the process unfold and to take the time to review and observe candidates,” stated Skinner, who will be termed out of office in December. “It is clear to me that Elizabeth Echols is the candidate with the stature necessary to be a strong and effective representative for AD15, will hit the ground running when she enters the Assembly and stands for the progressive values that constituents throughout the district express to me on a daily basis.”
Echols has attracted significant support for her campaign for the seat, which stretches across Northern Alameda County and Western Contra Costa County including the cities of Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Emeryville, Hercules, Kensington, Piedmont, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo, and parts of Oakland.
Considered the frontrunner in the race, Echols’ endorsers include state Senator Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, and gay Berkeley City Councilman Darryl Moore.
“I’m honored to receive Assembly member Skinner’s endorsement,” stated Echols. “She has been a leader on many issues I intend to champion in the state Assembly, including investing in job creation, providing a world-class public education and protecting our environment. I’m grateful for her trust, and excited for the opportunity to carry on a tradition of progressive leadership.”
Katz, an elected board member of the East Bay Municipal Utility District, has yet to secure the endorsement of any sitting state lawmaker, according to a list of endorsers on his campaign website. He has attracted support from a number of local elected officials, including several LGBT leaders such as BART Board Member Rebecca Saltzman, Alameda County Board of Education Trustee Joaquin Rivera, and California Democratic Party Delegate Gabriel Quinto.
In December Katz reportedly fell short by one vote securing the endorsement of the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club. After Peggy Moore, an out lesbian who had secured an early endorsement from Stonewall, abandoned her bid for the Assembly seat the club revisited its decision.
Club leaders said Echols’ campaign worked to block the endorsement of Katz. She could nab Stonewall’s backing when the club votes for a third time in March on an endorsement in the race, as this time members will be allowed to vote for any of the Democratic candidates regardless of their sexual orientation.
Katz is also the sole non-incumbent LGBT candidate seeking a state legislative seat to have yet won the endorsement of Equality California, the statewide LGBT advocacy group. EQCA in late 2013 endorsed the two other gay Assembly candidates: San Francisco Supervisor David Campos and Campbell Councilman Evan Low.
If he survives the June primary, where the top two vote-getters regardless of party affiliation move on to the general election, and were to win the seat in November then Katz would become the first out bisexual person elected to the state Legislature.