by Matthew S. Bajko
Gay San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener was in first place in his bid for the city’s 11th state Senate District seat as of Wednesday morning, with the unofficial returns showing him likely to defeat his opponent, fellow Supervisor Jane Kim.
The two board colleagues had been locked in a contentious race to succeed gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who is termed out this year and had endorsed Wiener. In recent weeks the rhetoric in the race had increasingly turned to which of the two had a stronger record on LGBT rights and would be the better advocate for the community in Sacramento.
With both of San Francisco’s two Assembly seats held by straight men, the statewide LGBT advocacy organization Equality California had made electing Wiener its highest priority this election season. It poured in hundreds of thousands of dollars to help Wiener win the seat after he come in a surprising second place to Kim in the June primary.
In addition to mailers and television ads, EQCA made 50,000 calls to voters in the district in the days leading up to the election and sent out 25,000 texts to remind people to vote.
“This is the state legislative seat with the most LGBT voters in it. That gives the person who represents it a platform to advance cutting edge legislation for our community, just as Mark Leno has been doing,” said EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur, who attended Wiener’s election night party in the Castro.
EQCA’s efforts appear to have paid off, as Wiener was holding on to a 13,628-vote lead as of late Wednesday morning.
He had 52.5 percent or 142,059 votes, while Kim was at 47.5 percent with 128,431 votes. On election night Wiener told the Bay Area Reporterthat he was “cautiously optimistic” about winning the race.
“I think in the June primary we ran a good campaign but not an inspired campaign. In the general election we ran an inspired campaign,” Wiener said about what made the difference over the last four months. “We did a better job of communicating to voters what my values are, what I have done to help people, and what I plan to do in Sacramento.”
Jane Kim is flanked by her campaign manager Christopher Vasquez, left, and her father, Richard Kim, at her election night party at Slim’s. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Surrounded by her campaign staff, volunteers, and others, Kim took to the stage at Slim’s late Tuesday night to address those who had gathered there to watch election returns.
“Thank you so much for caring about our city and our region,” she said.
Counting the primary in June, Kim noted it was her sixth run for office and that she was “so heartened by meeting so many voters who continue to care so deeply. … We really believe San Francisco and the Bay Area should be a place for all of us and not just some of us.”
Kim added that she and Wiener “have had a hard-fought election this year,” but people should look beyond their race “and fight even harder. I know we are fighting the right fight.”
Wiener’s winning the Senate seat ensures that San Francisco will continue to have LGBT representation in the statehouse. The city has elected out legislators ever since lesbian former Supervisor Carole Migden won an Assembly seat in 1996.
Other legislative races
In a major upset Sabrina Cervantes, a lesbian who had attracted significant financial support from the state Democratic Party and outside groups, ousted Assemblyman Eric Linder (R-Corona) from his 60th Assembly District seat centered in northwestern Riverside County. As of Wednesday morning, she had 52.2 percent or 44,103 votes, while Linder was trailing with 47.8 percent or 40,350 votes.
“We did it!” Cervantes posted early Wednesday morning to her Facebook campaign page.
Should their leads hold as absentee votes are counted, Wiener and Cervantes will join six other out lawmakers who won their races Tuesday in the state Legislature. When the octet takes their oath of office Monday, December 5, they will comprise a record number of LGBT legislators serving in the statehouse. There are currently seven members in the California LGBT Legislative Caucus, and gay Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) is termed out along with Leno.
All four of the incumbent out Democratic lawmakers seeking re-election Tuesday easily landed in first place in their contests. Senator Ricardo Lara won another term in his District 33 seat with 78.8 percent of the vote.
Gay Assemblyman Evan Low of Campbell garnered 70 percent against his Republican opponent to win another two-year term in his District 28 seat.
Lesbian Stockton lawmakers Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman and Senator Cathleen Galgiani both defeated GOP challengers. Eggman won another term to her District 13 seat with 64.4 percent of the vote, while Galgiani won re-election to her District 5 seat with 55.6 percent of the vote.
In San Diego lesbian Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), who is termed out of her seat this year, easily won the 39th District Senate seat. She garnered 62.4 percent of the vote.
And gay San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria easily took first place in his bid for Atkins’ Assembly District 78 seat. He had 68.8 percent of the vote.
Palm Springs resident Greg Rodriguez, a gay married father who is HIV-positive, failed to defeat Assemblyman Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) in the 42nd Assembly District. Mayes came in first with 58.2 percent of the vote.
The only gay Republican state legislative candidate on Tuesday’s ballot, Log Cabin California Los Angeles chapter president Matthew Craffey, lost as expected to Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) in the 50th Assembly District. He secured 24.7 percent of the vote compared to Bloom’s 75.3 percent.
Seth Hemmelgarn contributed to this report.