Political Notebook: Katz fails to secure Stonewall endorsement
by Matthew S. Bajko
An East Bay bisexual Assembly candidate is hoping the proverbial "third time's a charm" proves true after failing for a second time to secure a local LGBT Democratic club's endorsement.
East Bay Municipal Utility District board member Andy Katz fell short of the 60 percent threshold he needed to secure the backing of the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club when it voted December 3 to consider giving Katz its sole endorsement in the race for the 15th Assembly District seat.
Now the club intends to open up its endorsement process to all of the candidates irrespective of their sexual orientation in the race. It plans to hold a third endorsement vote sometime in March.
The club had initially voted to award a sole endorsement to its former chair Peggy Moore over Katz when it held its first early endorsement vote in October. But the day prior to Halloween Moore, an out lesbian and former Obama campaign staffer, announced she had decided to drop out of the race.
Due to her surprise decision, the Stonewall club elected to hold a re-vote on giving Katz, now the sole out candidate in the race, its early endorsement nod. The club is not releasing the vote totals but Katz reportedly came very close to winning the club's support.
Asked about the outcome of the second endorsement vote, Stonewall political action committee Chair Michael Colbruno told the Bay Area Reporter he couldn't reveal the final vote tally but did say that had Katz "put in a minimal amount of effort he'd have been endorsed."
Katz, 33, a Berkeley resident who is the government affairs director at Breathe California, told the B.A.R. that the night of the vote coincided with a number of local city council meetings as well as the annual holiday party hosted by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), resulting in scheduling conflicts for a number of his supporters within the club.
"So I expect many more supporters will be available for the next vote," said Katz. "I think it may have been the smallest endorsement meeting that the club has ever had."
Katz declined to comment directly when asked if he remains confident of his chances in securing the club's backing come March. He did note that a number of Moore's supporters within the club have now signed on to his campaign after she dropped out of the race.
"What I can say is that my campaign will be working hard to engage the East Bay LGBT community to get involved in the club and on the issues that matter in Sacramento like addressing health disparities and civil rights," said Katz.
His biggest challenger for Stonewall's endorsement appears to be Oakland resident Elizabeth Echols, a former regional administrator for the Small Business Administration appointed by President Barack Obama. An elected member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, Echols is also an executive board member of the National Women's Political Caucus Alameda North chapter.
Echols, a formidable fundraiser in the race, urged her backers within the club to vote against Katz in order to block his getting the endorsement this month. Echols's campaign did not respond to an interview request by press time this week.
She likely will once again play spoiler in the endorsement vote next year in order to dent Katz's reach within the East Bay LGBT community.
Other Democratic candidates now able to seek Stonewall's endorsement include Emeryville resident Sam Kang, general counsel at the Greenlining Institute; former Richmond City Councilman Tony Thurmond; West Contra Costa Unified School District Trustee Charles Ramsey ; and San Pablo Councilwoman Cecilia Valdez.
Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) currently holds the seat but will be termed out of office next December. Her district includes portions of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, including the cities of Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont, El Cerrito, Hercules, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo, the community of Kensington, and a portion of Oakland, including Montclair and North Oakland.
Campos plans holiday wedding
Gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos and his partner of 17 years, Philip Hwang , plan to wed during the board's holiday recess sometime after Tuesday, December 17, its last meeting of 2013.
Back in July Campos had told the B.A.R. that he and Hwang were planning to have a private ceremony sometime prior to the new year. In 2014 Campos will be focused on his bid for a state Assembly seat in a race that is pitting him against his board colleague, District 3 Supervisor David Chiu.
In an email he sent out to his supporters December 5, Campos announced that the couple "will be saying 'we do' later" in the month.
"After that, we'll be taking a few days to honeymoon before our campaign shifts into high gear in January," added Campos.
The couple is keeping details of their ceremony private, but Campos did tell the B.A.R. this week that it would occur in southern California where his close family lives. And rather than jetting off to an island locale or European capital, their honeymoon will also be spent "just visiting family," said Campos.
He added, "We will have a larger celebration after the election."
Chiu himself was recently married to Candace Chen at a private wedding ceremony the couple held in late October.
Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings at noon for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on the likelihood of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club electing co-presidents in 2014.
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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.