The nasty campaigning might be over - but the results of seven very close California races are not yet in and some candidates have been reluctant to concede defeat. Palm Springs Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack, for instance, held out until late Friday, presumably hoping that some of the 164,000 outstanding provisional and mail-in ballots still to be processed in Riverside County (as of Nov. 8) might tip the balance back from her rival, emergency room doctor Raul Ruiz, in their contest for the 36th Congressional District where only a one percent differentiates Republicans from Democrats.
(Rep. Mary Bono Mack with step son Chaz Bono and friend Howard Bragman at GLAAD event honoring Chaz. Photo by Karen Ocamb)
Bono Mack has been in Congress since she won a special election to fill the seat of her famous husband, Sonny Bono, who was accidentally killed in 1998. Her current husband, Florida Rep. Connie Mack, lost his bid for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson's seat on Election Day. Bono Mack's trans stepson Chaz Bono saw the writing on the wall earlier than she did, tweeting well-wishes: "Thank you @MaryBonoMack for 14 years of loving service to my 2nd home. I love you, and am proud 2 stand with you in your next life chapter."
But late Friday results showed Bono Mack with 87,365 votes (48%) to Ruiz's 94,633 (52%) and Bono Mack finally conceded. "Today, I called Dr. Ruiz and congratulated him on his impressive victory. Dr. Ruiz will do a fine job if he is guided as well by the people of the congressional district as I was. Please give him the opportunity to succeed," Bono Mack said in a statement. (By Saturday, Nov. 10, Ruiz's lead had grown to 7,336 votes.)
With all due respect to Chaz Bono and his step-mother's public support for trans issues, Bono Mack ran an extraordinarily negative campaign, calling Ruiz a "radical" for joining in a Native American protest of Thanksgiving in the late 1990s when Ruiz was a medical student at Harvard. Bono Mack also ran an ad using excerpts of a law enforcement news conference against Ruiz (without their permission) that featured remarks he gave at a march supporting Native American Leonard Peltier.
Law enforcement thinks Peltier is a convicted cop killer while many civil rights heroes and groups - such as Nelson Mandela, Amnesty International, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights - think he was railroaded by the FBI. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported in 2007 that gay billionaire David Geffen switched support from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama after President Clinton refused to pardon Peltier, though he had pardoned Marc Rich. Nonetheless, Mary Bono Mack approved this ugly message:
In another closely watched congressional race, Republican conservative Rep. Dan Lungren has not yet conceded defeat in his contest with Dr. Ami Bera in the 7th DC. Lungren was one of ten major races targeted by CREDO SuperPAC for his Tea Party extremist positions on women, in particular. They supplied the ground troops while the GOP infused millions of dollars to save the seat. Longtime GOP stalwart Rep. Brian Bilbray is another who has not conceded in his race against Democrat Scott Peters. Bilbray's spokesperson Patrick Howell said the race was "far from over," as additional ballots are processed.
The gap also continues to tighten in the 50th Assembly District between Democrats incumbent Assemblymember Betsy Butler and Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom. As of Saturday, Nov. 10, the Sec. of State's website shows Bloom with 103 votes more that Butler. Recently, I posted a piece by LA County Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman on how Butler was being unfairly attacked for not voting on SB 1530 (which Butler describes here), a bill that would make it easier and quicker to get rid of a teacher accused of any sexual impropriety. In a commentary within that piece and another post in which I suggested that Butler was being misrepresented as to her abstention, I asked why gay people, in particular, would be so quick to deny due process to a accused teacher given how the myth of gay "sexual perversion" still lingers in the minds of many ill-informed.
A teacher at Deerfield Beach High School is fighting the Broward school district over its handling of an accusation that she possibly contributed to a young girl's homosexuality.
Juliet Hibbs, a straight woman currently on medical leave, was investigated last year for misconduct after the girl's parents made those allegations to the school's principal. However, the district cleared her and no action was taken.
"I was shocked by the charges" and the principal's decision to have the district pursue the matter, said Hibbs, 47, who is now filing a case with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the school system.....
"My career has been ruined. Before Deerfield, I had an impeccable record," said Hibbs, an educator for 10 years. She said she now has several medical problems from the stress of the situation that will likely prevent her from teaching.
Equality Florida is looking into the situation, which includes the teacher trying to protect the girl from psychological abuse by her stepfather. Back in California - Bloom is now on record as supporting SB 1530 while Butler wants the bill amended to consider the due process of the accused teacher. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk told me Friday morning that there is no way to speculate about a possible recount until after all votes have been processed and reported.
Meanwhile - some good news for Democrats: they now have a super-majority in the state Assembly. Openly gay Assembly Speaker John A. Perez is also thrilled about the fact that four states now have openly gay people as the top leaders of their states houses.
(Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, center, with WeHo Mayor Jeffrey Prang, Rep. Adam Schiff, WeHo City Councilmember John Duran, and Assemblymember Betsy Butler at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center gala Saturday, Sept. 10. Photo by Karen Ocamb)
Here's a press release from Perez's office with more information:
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), President of the National Speakers Conference and the first openly gay person to be elected Speaker of a legislative body, was proud to note that Colorado House representative Mark Ferrandino was chosen by Democrats today to serve as Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives in January. With Oregon Representative Tina Kotek on track to be elected Speaker in that state, there will be four LGBT Speakers nationwide.
"I am very much looking forward to working with Rep. Ferrandino and Rep. Kotek. I know how important it is for the LGBT Community to have a seat at the table, and these key victories underscore the powerful momentum our community has built to achieve full acceptance by society and respect in the eyes of the law," Pérez said.
Speaker Pérez also noted the additional high-profile legislative positions were on top of other decisive victories for the LGBT community nationally on Tuesday, including marriage equality votes in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington, the reelection of the first national ticket to support marriage equality, and the election of the first openly gay U.S. Senator, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.
"We have won four hard fought contests in key states, and for the first time in our history, the electorate has voted in favor of marriage equality," said Speaker Pérez. "This is a critical turning point in our long march to justice, and I am deeply moved by the tireless commitment of the activists and allies who made these victories possible."
Prior to Tuesday's election, Speaker Pérez and Rhode Island Speaker Gordon Fox were the only openly gay Speakers. Speakers Pérez and Fox, and incoming Speakers Ferrandino and Kotek, are Democrats. On Thursday, Assembly Democrats in California unanimously chose Speaker Pérez to continue serving as their leader.