Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Political Notebook: Carrillo wins LA Assembly race


Assemblywoman-elect Wendy Carrillo
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The gay candidate in the runoff race Tuesday for an open state Assembly seat in the Los Angeles area came up short in his bid to be the Legislature's ninth out LGBT member, as progressive former journalist Wendy Carrillo (D) won.

It was the second time that Luis Lopez , 44, the director of government affairs at City of Hope comprehensive cancer center, had failed to capture the 51st Assembly District seat, which includes the LGBT-friendly neighborhoods of Eagle Rock and Echo Park, as well as a portion of Silver Lake, historically one of Los Angeles' LGBT enclaves. In 2012 he lost to former Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles).

The election of Gomez earlier this summer to the state's 34th Congressional District prompted the special election this fall for his legislative seat. He replaced Xavier Becerra, who was appointed the state's attorney general earlier this year by Governor Jerry Brown due to the election last fall of Kamala Harris as California's junior U.S. senator.

Succeeding Gomez in the statehouse will be Carrillo, 37, who had run against him in the special election for Becerra's House seat. She not only won Gomez's endorsement after placing first in the special primary election in October but also secured the California Democratic Party's endorsement in the December 5 runoff against Lopez.

According to the unofficial returns Wednesday morning, Carrillo defeated Lopez with nearly 53 percent of the vote. She garnered 8,811 votes, 943 more than Lopez received.

Lopez, via his Facebook campaign page, thanked "everyone who has been a part of this incredible community movement. Honored to celebrate all the hard work everyone has put into this grassroots campaign."

In her own thank you note to backers posted on her Facebook page, Carrillo wrote, "When we fight, we win. And to quote someone I love, 'When our children tell our story, they'll tell the story of tonight,'" a line from a song in the hit Broadway musical "Hamilton."

And in a reference to those who questioned the political novice's decision to run for office, Carrillo had a message for others thinking about becoming a first-time candidate next year.

"Don't wait to be tapped on the shoulder. Work hard. Believe in yourself. Build support. Organize. Mobilize. Empower community. Stay focused. Do the work," she wrote.

Carrillo's victory increases the number of female state legislators, whose ranks have declined in recent years, as the Statehouse is rocked by sexual harassment allegations against a number of male lawmakers, one of whom resigned his seat last week. The state Legislature's current roster of 26 women is the lowest in nearly two decades.

In the waning weeks of the campaign the California Legislative LGBT Caucus endorsed Lopez, who also had the backing of Equality California, the statewide LGBT advocacy organization. Over the weekend both groups blasted SEIU for sending out what they called "homophobic" mailers against Lopez.

The union recycled attacks made last year by San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim in her campaign for a state Senate seat against her gay board colleague Scott Wiener . She tried to connect financial support EQCA's political action committee received from oil companies and other industries to Wiener. The ploy failed, as Wiener won the election.

LGBT supporters of Carrillo dismissed implications that she would not be supportive of the community in the Legislature. She herself pledged to champion LGBT causes in an email blast last week.

"At a time of unprecedented attacks on working people, women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and others, it is critical that we stand up to protect and defend our progressive values," wrote Carrillo. "In the Assembly, I will stand up for gender pay equity, reproductive health care, and access to quality education, and will defend the progressive values that have made California a shining example of policies that put people first."

Carrillo will now be sworn in to serve the remainder of Gomez' term through next December. She will need to run in next year's election to win a full two-year term in the Assembly.


Trans VA Delegate-elect to visit SF

State Delegate-elect Danica Roem (D), Virginia's first transgender elected official, will be in San Francisco this weekend. Her swearing-in on January 10 will mark the first time an out transgender person has been seated in a state legislature anywhere in the country.

Roem, a 33-year-old step-mom and lifelong resident of her district, defeated a 26-year Republican incumbent who authored Virginia's constitutional ban on marriage equality by focusing on issues that mattered to voters, including traffic, jobs, schools, and equality. Her election was one of a wave of victories last month by transgender candidates in numerous states.

Saturday, December 9, Roem will be a special guest at the annual reception for Emerge California, which aims to elect Democratic women to public office. She will also host her own fundraiser in the city's gay Castro district Sunday, December 10.

The event will take place from noon to 2 p.m. at gay bar the Midnight Sun, 4067 18th Street. A donation of $25 is requested, though no one will be turned away due to a lack of funds.


Out education candidates hold campaign events

Two out candidates running for local education elected positions next year are holding campaign events this month.

LGBT backers of Gary Waddell class=st>, a gay man running to be the next San Mateo County superintendent of schools, are hosting a fundraiser for him from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, December 11 at gay Castro dance club Beaux, 2344 Market Street. Suggested donations start at $100 and can be made online at

Martin Rawlings-Fein, a bisexual transgender married father, will hold his official campaign kickoff for a seat on the San Francisco school board Thursday, December 21. It will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Castro at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center, 100 Collingwood Street. Donations will be accepted.


Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check Monday mornings at noon for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on the mud-slinging in the special election for the Assembly District 51 seat.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail

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