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California Politics

Prosecuting the status quo, Rollins is running for a U.S. House seat

He stressed the urgency of passing the Equality Act to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity



Courtesy of Will Rollins

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – In a bid to challenge the status quo and bring accountability to Washington, former federal prosecutor Will Rollins has advanced to the ballot in his pursuit of a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives to represent California’s 41st Congressional District this November.

He will face Republican incumbent Ken Calvert in a rematch of the 2022 campaign for the seat that saw Rollins defeated by Calvert. Of the total vote count of 236,638, Calvert garnered 123,869 votes to Rollins’ 112,769.

Rollins is a seasoned legal professional with a focus on counterterrorism and counterintelligence cases. His decision to run for Congress stems from a deep-rooted concern for the threats facing democracy and communities, exacerbated by what he perceives as the extremism and corruption entrenched in current political structures.

Rollins lives in the desert city of Palm Springs with his partner of 13 years, Paolo Benvenuto. While they have no children of their own, Rollins emphasized that they love their role of being “Guncles” to their nieces and nephews. 

Courtesy of Will Rollins

Rollins’s upbringing in a family with bipartisan affiliations has deeply influenced his perspective on governance and reform. 

Growing up amidst discussions of legal proceedings and journalistic pursuits, Rollins developed a multifaceted understanding of societal dynamics and the importance of a free press. His father’s career as a journalist, including an encounter with notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, imbued Rollins with a deep respect for the power of print media in shaping public discourse and holding authority to account.

“I was raised to appreciate the intricate balance between law enforcement’s duty to protect and uphold constitutional rights,” Rollins said. “It’s about ensuring safety while also safeguarding individual liberties and holding those in power accountable.”

Rollins’s journey from the courtroom to the campaign trail embodies a fusion of legal acumen, familial influence, and a commitment to democratic ideals. 

As he progresses through the primaries, Rollins seeks to bridge partisan divides and champion a platform rooted in justice, integrity, and the collective well-being of Californians in the 41st District.

A Personal Journey Toward Equality

The catalyst for Rollins’s interest in counterintelligence and military service traces back to a pivotal moment during his junior year of high school. He recalled the profound impact the events of 9/11 had on his worldview. 

“My heightened interest came  when I was junior year in high school, and I went into my first class of the day which was Model UN. We watched on the West Coast as the North Tower collapsed. That had a profound impact on me seeing other Americans covered in ash, and being scared. I remember being scared.” 

It was around this time that Rollins toyed with the idea of following in the footsteps of his veteran grandparents and enlisting in the military. However, being closeted in a society where discriminatory laws like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” prevailed added layers of complexity to his decision.

“Being closeted and watching the stories of Arabic linguist being discharged under don’t ask don’t tell at the time created very complicated and difficult emotion to experience as kid. You want to serve your country and you want to be part of a team, but you have your government telling you that there is something defective about you and that you pose a threat to national security. That is horrible. I don’t think any kid should grow up feeling that.”

He emphasizes the detrimental effects of discriminatory laws on individuals and society as a whole, advocating for equality and merit-based opportunities for all Americans.

“That experience did shape a lot of my outlook on antidiscrimination laws, and why quality and freedom for everybody makes the whole country stronger. You have to let people thrive based on merit, not based on what they look like or who they love.”

Reflecting on his delayed coming out, Rollins acknowledges the regret and internal conflict he grappled with for years. 

Courtesy of Will Rollins

“I regret not being able to accept myself sooner because it was so limiting you end up living your life for fear of what other people think rather than for yourself that has a major impact, not an individuals but our society collectively, and that’s part of the argument that I always try to make to voters.”

Advocacy for LGBTQ+ Rights and Economic Thriving

Rollins emphasized the critical need for advocacy and support for LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly in Riverside County.

“Growing up in the greater LA area where people assume that it is progressive, and they assume that everybody embraces LGBT rights and that they have for a long time. Unfortunately, that is just not the reality.” 

When the the Murrieta Valley Unified School District adopted neighboring Chino Valley Unified’s policy notifying parents of student gender identity, Rollins said that fighting for LGBTQ+ rights and protection in California is at the forefront of his concerns. 

“You hear people talking about LGBT kids as dangerous. There is a reversion to this 1950’s idea that being LGBT is contagious fueled by the rhetoric on the Right about grooming,” he said.

Rollins passionately articulated the importance of representation and empowerment for LGBTQ+ youth, stressing the message that there is nothing wrong with being true to oneself. “We need to punch back as LGBTQ+ elected officials; that is really important,” Rollins asserted. “You have to make kids know that there is nothing wrong with them and that they should be proud of who they are.”

Furthermore, Rollins condemned the far-right’s obsession with demonizing vulnerable populations, particularly through legislative measures targeting LGBTQ+ individuals. He criticized laws such as mandatory outing bills and teacher surveillance laws, which he believes undermine the principles of small government touted by traditional Republican values.

“The traditional John McCain, small government, and Dwight Eisenhower Republicans wouldn’t recognize the modern turn that the GOP has taken,” Rollins said. 

Highlighting  the detrimental impact of such policies, not only on the targeted individuals but also on the broader community and economy, Rollins cited the example of a gay pediatric surgeon in New Orleans who left the state due to discriminatory legislation targeting LGBTQ+ families. This departure not only affected the surgeon and his family, but also deprived the community of vital medical expertise, illustrating the far-reaching consequences of targeting LGBTQ+ individuals.

The example underscored the urgent need for advocacy to combat discrimination and promote inclusivity, emphasizing that the well-being and prosperity of the community are intertwined with the protection of LGBTQ+ rights. 

Struggles with Identity and Society’s Perceptions

Rollins shared the challenges he faced in coming to terms with his identity and the pervasive societal stereotypes that influenced his journey.

Rollins revealed that it wasn’t until his early twenties that he found the courage to come out, attributing his prolonged denial to growing up in a community where the existence of gay individuals was largely unseen or dismissed. 

“The image that I had from society and from my peers was that gay people were jokes; we were the comic relief,” Rollins lamented.

Despite growing up in a progressive family, Rollins recalled the impact of societal attitudes, particularly within sports culture, on his perception of masculinity and sexuality.

“I didn’t think I could be good at sports and be gay,” Rollins admitted. “That was the rhetoric perpetuated by the coaches.” 

Rollins described the prevalence of derogatory language and stereotypes, perpetuated by peers and coaches alike, which led him to internalize feelings of inadequacy and denial about his own identity.

“When you are a young man and about to get in a fight, what are the first words that come out of your opponent’s mouth? They call you a faggot to demoralize you and emasculate you, regardless of your actual orientation.”

Rollins highlighted the profound effect of societal demonization of gay individuals, emphasizing the difficulty for young people to navigate their identity without visible role models or support systems. 

“You get into a position where you start denying who you are to yourself because you think that it makes you less than.”

Rollins said it took him many years to realize that the issue lay not with himself, but with a society that perpetuated harmful stereotypes and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community – stereotypes he hopes to help eradicate if he is elected to office. 

Priorities for Congressional Term

Rollins laid out his key priorities should he be elected, ranging from civil rights to economic revitalization.

Courtesy of Will Rollins

Rollins, who played a role as a Assistant U.S. Attorney in tracking down individuals involved in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, expressed his frustration with incumbent Congressman Calvert’s actions, particularly regarding the certification of the election results and his stance on LGBTQ+ rights. Rollins cited Calvert’s voting record of homophobia as motivating factors for his decision to run for office.

“You shouldn’t be fired from your job or kicked out of your home just for being gay that is still a possibility in America.”

Among Rollins’s top priorities is the protection of voting rights, emphasizing the importance of ensuring equal access to the ballot box for all Americans. He also stressed the urgency of passing the Equality Act to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, highlighting the need for comprehensive federal protections.

Addressing local concerns, Rollins emphasized the need for improved infrastructure in Riverside County, particularly to alleviate traffic congestion. 

“Traffic sucks whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat,” Rollins said. “I think we can all agree on that.”

He also criticized corporate greed, which he believes is driving up prices and exacerbating financial strain on middle-class families.

“Corporate greed right now is driving up prices for average working families in so many different contacts, whether it’s baby formula or milk, whether it’s your groceries or your gas. A lot of this is driven by massive concentration of wealth by corporations and individuals who pay for less in taxes than nurses, cops, and firefighters. This is a fundamental issue that Washington has let go for way too long.”

Rollins highlighted Palm Springs as an example of effective governance, praising the city’s inclusive policies and economic growth. He emphasized the importance of visible representation for the LGBTQ+ community and underscored the economic benefits of creating welcoming and inclusive communities.

Additionally, Rollins pledged to prioritize women’s rights, including the codification of Roe v. Wade into federal law, in response to concerns about reproductive rights and access to healthcare.

“Women’s rights right now are at the forefront of my priorities,” Rollins told The Blade. 

As Rollins continues his campaign, his platform reflects a commitment to social justice, economic prosperity, and inclusive governance, with a focus on addressing the pressing needs of Riverside County residents. If elected, Rollins aims to bring his experience and values to Congress, advocating for meaningful change and progress on behalf of his constituents.

Closing Thoughts

Rollins gave the following message for young queer leaders of tomorrow.
“The American dream is a possibility for you too. We are going to work hard every single day to make sure it becomes a reality. I hate to use the cliché, It gets better, but it really does and once you find your family, the possibilities are endless. I know it can be really dark sometimes. I’ve been there myself. But we are resilient and your resilience will pay in the long run too. I think that 2024 is going to send a lot of people who believe in our freedom of equality into Congress and so stay optimistic and thank you for hanging in there.”


California Politics

Influential lesbian political couple killed in San Diego car crash

Moore and Wood were married in a ceremony at Oakland’s Lake Merritt a month prior to same-sex marriage being legalized in California



Oakland political leader Peggy Moore, left, and her wife, Hope Wood, were killed Friday night in a vehicle collision in Southern California. (Photo: Moore/Facebook)

By Cynthia Laird, News Editor | SAN DIEGO COUNTY – Oakland political leader Peggy Moore and her wife, Hope Wood, died late Friday night, May 10, following a head-on collision on State Route 76 in unincorporated San Diego County. The news brought a flood of tributes on social media, as friends and colleagues remembered the couple.

According to multiple media reports, Moore and Wood were passengers in a Jeep Gladiator that was traveling westbound on the highway at 11:17 p.m. when a Chrysler 300 that was driving east swerved into the westbound lanes, striking the Jeep.

In addition to Moore and Wood, the driver of the Jeep was killed as was the driver of the Chrysler, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. A third car, a Toyota Camry, which was behind the Jeep, was involved in a minor side-swipe, according to the reports. It is not known why the Chrysler veered into oncoming traffic.

Moore, 60, had long been involved in Oakland politics. She managed the successful 2014 mayoral campaign for Libby Schaaf and served as a senior adviser to her. In 2016, she unsuccessfully ran for the at-large seat on the Oakland City Council, facing lesbian incumbent Rebecca Kaplan. Moore also worked as an organizer for Barack Obama’s winning 2008 presidential campaign.

In a phone interview with the Bay Area Reporter Monday, Schaaf said that she was devastated by the loss of Moore and Wood. During her 2014 mayoral campaign, Schaaf said that she and Moore “spent all day, every day together for a year.”

“She molded me into the mayor I became — in the most beautiful ways our democracy needs more of,” Schaaf said. “She was centered in love.”

Schaaf said that she hosted a gathering at her home Saturday evening with her former campaign and City Hall staffers. “I was so shocked. I wanted to create a space to celebrate her and Hope,” she said. “It’s a devastating loss for me personally and for democracy.”

Schaaf added that Moore was the only member of her campaign team to come to work for her in City Hall as a senior adviser. Moore stayed until she launched her own City Council campaign, and then Schaaf said that she came back to City Hall for the last few months of Schaaf’s tenure. (Schaaf had been reelected in 2018 and left office in January 2023. She is currently running for state treasurer in 2026.)

Schaaf said that recently, Moore and Wood had been mostly living in Orange County to be closer to Wood’s family. Moore maintained an apartment in Oakland, Schaaf said. Moore had also been spending time with her family in Oklahoma City, which is where she celebrated her 60th birthday.

“I was on a Zoom call with her days ago,” Schaaf said.

Kaplan stated that Moore was a “dedicated community leader.”

“May her memory be a blessing,” she wrote in a text message. “Her death is a shock and a great loss.”

Congressmember Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) knew both women.

“I’m heartbroken to hear of the tragic loss of Peggy Moore and Hope Wood,” Lee wrote on X. “Peggy was a friend, an activist, and one of the best organizers I knew. Her passion and fight for justice and equality is what brought her and Hope together.

“Together they organized, changed hearts and minds, and helped to create a world where who you love doesn’t limit your freedoms,” she added. “Both Peggy and Hope made an impact on our community, on our city, on our state, and on our nation that will be felt for generations to come.”

“It is always tragic to lose a loved one, but the loss of Peggy Moore and Hope Wood is not just a personal loss to me, but a huge loss for our community. The dynamic duo have always fought to ensure there was representation and equity in every arena they worked within. We mourn the loss and appreciate their legacy, because their work will live on in the lives that they touched,” Shay Franco-Clausen, Political Director Equality California, said in a statement.

Started consulting firm

In 2019, Moore and Wood, 48, started Hope Action Change Consulting. On the site, they wrote that they fell in love while working on the 2008 Obama campaign.

“As women of color, we are experts at the dance of values in the workplace,” they wrote on the site. “We have lived outside the main streets of society in the intersections of our gender and our race, and we have learned to navigate a path through many streets where we have not been welcome. Despite the difficulties of this journey, we are full of optimism for where our path leads.”

Moore and Wood were married in a ceremony at Oakland’s Lake Merritt on July 29, 2013. It was a month prior that same-sex marriage returned to being legalized in California after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an appeals court decision that Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban passed by voters in 2008, was unconstitutional.

On Facebook, friends remembered the couple.

“We want you to know how much we loved you both,” Brendalynn Goodall, a member of the Alameda County Democratic County Central Committee, and her wife, Nancy Hinds, wrote. “The news of your passing has left us feeling shocked, numb, and incredibly sad. It’s hard to believe you are no longer here. You were more than just friends — you were family.

“We shared so many unforgettable memories and experiences together — from life’s ups and downs to discussions about politics, community, family, relationships, careers, and even our beloved pets,” added Goodall. “We were always there for each other, through thick and thin.”

Longtime DJ Page Hodel was also stunned by the news. “I am still doubled over … literally speechless over hearing the news of the tragic passing of our beloved Peggy Moore and her wife Hope Wood,” she wrote on Facebook.

Moore is also remembered for co-founding Sistahs Steppin’ in Pride, which took place in Oakland beginning in the early 2000s. Kaplan mentioned it as one of Moore’s accomplishments. For a decade, it brought the East Bay’s diverse queer women’s community together in celebration during the last weekend of August. Up to 2,000 queer women attended the event at its peak, Moore told the B.A.R. in 2011, the last year of the march.

The event had started as the East Bay’s version of the dyke march held in San Francisco and took place in conjunction with the old East Bay Pride. When that event stopped in 2003, Sistahs Steppin’ in Pride stepped up, so to speak, to make sure there was a queer presence in the East Bay.

The new Oakland Pride started in 2010. Last year, a combined Oakland Pride and Pridefest parade and festival were held in early September.

Wood was a former teaching fellow for Harvard Kennedy School’s Leadership Organizing, Action: Leading Change course and a UCLA teacher education program alumna, according to the couple’s consulting website. She had devoted more than two decades of her life to organizing across California and the United States.

Moore and Wood’s friend Lisbet Tellefsen organized an impromptu memorial Sunday, May 12, at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater where Moore and Wood were married. Schaaf said that she attended.

“There were lots of [people wearing] Sistahs Steppin’ in Pride and Moore for City Council T-shirts,” Schaaf said.

“She was an amazing leader for the LGBTQ+ community,” Schaaf added. “She brought her full self to everything she did.”


The preceding article was previously published by the Bay Area Reporter and is republished with permission.

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California Politics

U.S. Rep. Young Kim’s support from far-right extremist Jack Hibbs

Hibbs, a Christian nationalist pastor, podcaster, & commentator has appeared on right-wing outlets like Newsmax, Fox News, & Charlie Kirk



Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) has spent years cultivating support from far-right extremist and pastor Jack Hibbs. (Photo montage: Media Matters)

By Eric Hananoki CHINO HILLS, Calif. – Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) has spent years cultivating support from far-right extremist and pastor Jack Hibbs, who has repeatedly told followers to vote for her and hosted Kim at his California church to call for “her sweet and glorious victory.”

Those interactions also include Kim telling him that he’s done an “awesome job shepherding, guiding our congregation” and praising Hibbs on the day he delivered a sermon attacking LGBTQ pride. 

Hibbs is a Christian nationalist pastor, podcaster, and commentator who has appeared on right-wing outlets like Newsmax, Fox News, and Charlie Kirk’s program. He also has a lengthy record of toxic commentary, which became a source of controversy earlier this year when House Speaker Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) invited him to serve as the House of Representatives’ guest chaplain.

Hibbs has criticized in vitro fertilization (IVF) as a process where people “throw away 500 children” to get one child. He said that Jewish people need to abandon their religion. He’s told his congregation that “violent” LGBTQ people will go door-to-door and threaten “to sodomize people who disagree with them.” And he’s advised his followers that their Muslim neighbors are going to turn on them “very soon” and side with terrorists.

Hibbs has a long history of bigoted and far-right rhetoric

IVF: Hibbs is staunchly anti-abortion and has also criticized in vitro fertilization. During a 2013 sermon, he said

HIBBS: The Bible says that God opens and closes the womb according to his will. There are people who can’t get pregnant, and they get pregnant through artificial insemination. I would never judge that. And I don’t have an up vote or a down vote on it. I leave that in the hands of God. OK?  […]

For me personally, my conviction is it does concern me about the disposing of a fertilized egg. For this, my reasons are purely theological. I understand the scientific part of it. That’s a done deal. It was life before it was fertilized. So the issue becomes to get one child, do we throw away 500 children? See our culture says, who cares? It’s just nothing. I understand that, but you can’t tell that to a scientist. A scientist will tell you that little nothing you just threw in the trash can is just as technically advanced and powerful and meaningful as if it lived to be 99 years old on the scientific level.

You see, it becomes an ethical, moral issue, doesn’t it? So you have to be [INAUDIBLE] in your own heart and your own mind, and just leave it at that. It’s a tough thing to answer. Be personally convinced, and let the Lord lead you in that.

Jewish people: Hibbs stated that people must look past “the sins of the Jew and give them the hope of Jesus” and claimed that “true Jews” are those who don’t “get bogged down in Judaism, which … cannot save you.”

LGBTQ people: After the Supreme Court approved marriage equality, Hibbs told his congregation in a 2015 sermon: “God is telling us, ‘Jack, church, don’t put your hope in man, you’ll be disappointed. Hope in me because it’s going to be like it was in the days of Lot. Violent homosexuality, knocking on doors, threatening to sodomize people who disagree with them.’” 

In September 2019, Hibbs said of people “who practice homosexuality”: “The Bible says it is destructive against nature. It destroys your body and it ruins your psyche, and it ravages your soul. I have all the Scriptures here to back that up.”

He has also stated that “transgenderism is actually a sexually perverted cult” and claimed transgender people are evidence of the “last days.” He supports dangerous and discredited conversion therapy as he issued guidance telling people how they can supposedly change their sexual orientation.

Muslims: Hibbs has warned his congregation about the alleged danger of Muslims by invoking the ISIS caliphatetelling them during a 2015 sermon: “If your friends are devout Muslims, they have a horrific day of reckoning coming very soon for them. They are going to have to choose between the caliphate and being a nice neighbor to you. Think of that. They have no choice one way or the other. I’d like to side with Patrick Henry. Give me liberty or give me death.” 

In a 2007 sermon about “The Rise of Islam,” he falsely said: “Not every Muslim is a terrorist, but every terrorist has been a Muslim.” Speaking on Charlie Kirk’s radio show last year, Hibbs said of Islam: “It is violent, it is deadly, it’s a death cult.” 

Hibbs’ church also released a companion guide that unabashedly portrays Muslims as a threat to the country, including stating: “Muslims are mandated to expand where ever they are. They must convert you and or your children. And they must kill those who do not convert.” 

An excerpt from an anti-Muslim guide from Jack Hibbs’ church.

Kim has had a years-long history with Hibbs

Kim, a former member of California’s State Assembly who currently represents the state’s 40th Congressional District, has spent years relying on the support of Hibbs. 

On February 23, 2020, she appeared with Hibbs at his church, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, during her second campaign for California’s 39th Congressional District. A broadcast posted to the church’s Facebook page identified Kim as a “congressional candidate” (Hibbs is currently under criticism for using his church for electioneering). 

Hibbs began: “On the local ballot for us here, we’re going to bring out three candidates who we support, we pray for, and we want to honor for their commitment. The first is no stranger to us. She’s not only been here before, but she’ll attend service from time to time. She’s running for the 39th District, which we need her to win this time. I think she won last time, personally. That was up against Gil Cisneros. I’m talking about Young Kim.” 

While on stage, Kim thanked Hibbs for talking about the election, stating: “Pastor Jack, you’re doing an awesome job shepherding, guiding our congregation to really understand why it is so important to find out who the candidates are with biblical values so we don’t have the legislation, the sex education that is passing while we were sleeping.” 

She then told the congregation that “we need to elect elected leaders who share our Christian biblical values.” 

After Kim spoke, Hibbs said: “We love her. We thank you for her, and God, we pray that come election night that there would be no angel or demon able to tamper with the results. That Lord, you would bring her sweet and glorious victory.” 

Kim has repeatedly praised Hibbs online. After that February 2020 endorsement, she shared photos of her appearance with Hibbs and wrote: “Had a blessed Sunday visiting Calvary Chapel Chino Hills and Agape Church OC in Yorba Linda. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share my testimony. I am so grateful and encouraged by your prayers!” 

She also wrote in August 2018: “Great to meet with Pastor Jack Hibbs … Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, and all you do for our community!” 

And on June 5, 2022, she praised Hibbs for delivering a sermon, stating: “Great to hear Pastor Jack’s sermon and see friends this morning at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills. Thanks for the warm reception!” 

While Kim did not specify the content of the sermon, or what she heard, that June 5 sermon had criticism of Pride Month, with Hibbs stating

HIBBS: Some people are saying that it’s Pride Month. And so I had a thought about that. Look, it’s a free country. Our Constitution protects everyone’s views and stuff like that. You know? It’s a free country. That’s their, that’s — they said it’s their month.

And then I thought, you know what? We ought to start — by the way, I’m joking. But could you imagine? Let’s start a Christian pride month. Now, what what no. Don’t clap. Don’t clap. That’s not good.

Where do you go to church? You should not clap at that. Christian and pride should never come together. Right? That’s important. Of all the sins listed in the Scriptures, the sin of pride is the original, the Bible says.

In addition to endorsing Kim at his church, Hibbs has frequently praised her online:

  • He wrote in August 2018: “VOTE PRO-LIFE. I had a great sit down with YOUNG KIM. We discussed issues our biblical worldview and prayed together.” 
  • He wrote in February 2020 that he “just voted for Young Kim” and posted a picture of a Kim campaign sign. He stated a few days later: “If you attend Calvary Chapel Chino Hills then you most likely live (as I do) in the 39th. District and If you do then I am asking you to support and vote for Young Kim. SHE HAS 100% OF MY SUPPORT – – VOTE YOUNG KIM in the 39th.” 
  • He wrote in April 2020 regarding a coronavirus op-ed she penned for right-wing outlet The Epoch Times: “A BIG THANK YOU from our very own Young Kim. And if you her Op-Ed, remember to vote for her this coming November (if we have elections).” 
  • He wrote in January 2021 regarding Kim’s support for anti-abortion legislation: “We are so proud of our very own congresswoman Young Kim. God bless you Young keep up the fight we’ve got your back.” 

Additionally, Hibbs invited his followers to a 2018 “Meet and Greet with Young Kim, Candidate for the 39th Congressional District,” adding, “I want to encourage you to pray and vote Young Kim on Tuesday.” He also donated to Kim’s campaign in 2020. 

In a post in February, Hibbs again endorsed Kim for Congress.


The preceding article & research study was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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California Politics

Newsom releases revised budget, cuts spending, state vacancies

The budget proposal — covering two years — cuts spending, makes government leaner, & preserves core services without new taxes



California Gov. Gavin Newsom releases the revised state budget on May 10, 2024. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today released a May Revision proposal for the 2024-25 fiscal year that ensures the budget is balanced over the next two fiscal years by tightening the state’s belt and stabilizing spending following the tumultuous COVID-19 pandemic, all while preserving key ongoing investments. 

Under the Governor’s proposal, the state is projected to achieve a positive operating reserve balance not only in this budget year but also in the next. This “budget year, plus one” proposal is designed to bring longer-term stability to state finances without delay and create an operating surplus in the 2025-26 budget year.

In the years leading up to this May Revision, the Newsom Administration recognized the threats of an uncertain stock market and federal tax deadline delays – setting aside $38 billion in reserves that could be utilized for shortfalls. That has put California in a strong position to maintain fiscal stability.

“Even when revenues were booming, we were preparing for possible downturns by investing in reserves and paying down debts – that’s put us in a position to close budget gaps while protecting core services that Californians depend on. Without raising taxes on Californians, we’re delivering a balanced budget over two years that continues the progress we’ve fought so hard to achieve, from getting folks off the streets to addressing the climate crisis to keeping our communities safe,” Newsom told an audience of reporters and officials.

Key Takeaways:


The Governor is solving two years of budget problems in a single budget, tightening the state’s belt to get the budget back to normal after the tumultuous years of the COVID-19 pandemic. By addressing the shortfall for this budget year — and next year — the Governor is eliminating the 2024-25 deficit and eliminating a projected deficit for the 2025-26 budget year that is $27.6 billion (after taking an early budget action) and $28.4 billion respectively.


Governor Newsom’s revised balanced state budget cuts one-time spending by $19.1 billion and ongoing spending by $13.7 billion through 2025-26. This includes a nearly 8% cut to state operations and a targeted elimination of 10,000 unfilled state positions, improving government efficiency and reducing non-essential spending — without raising taxes on individuals or proposing state worker furloughs. The budget makes California government more efficient, leaner, and modern — saving costs by streamlining procurement, cutting bureaucratic red tape, and reducing redundancies.


The budget maintains service levels for many key housing, food, health care, and other assistance programs that Californians rely on while addressing the deficit by pausing the expansion of certain programs and decreasing numerous recent one-time and ongoing investments.


Governor Newsom is balancing the budget by getting state spending under control — cutting costs, not proposing new taxes on hardworking Californians and small businesses — and reducing the reliance on the state’s “Rainy Day” reserves this year.

According to a statement from the governor’s office, California’s budget shortfall is rooted in two separate but related developments over the past two years.

  • First, the state’s revenue, heavily reliant on personal income taxes including capital gains, surged in 2021 due to a robust stock market but plummeted in 2022 following a market downturn. While the market bounced back by late 2023, the state continued to collect less tax revenue than projected in part due to something called “capital loss carryover,” which allows losses from previous years to reduce how much an individual is taxed.
  • Second, the IRS extended the tax filing deadline for most California taxpayers in 2023 following severe winter storms, delaying the revelation of reduced tax receipts. When these receipts were able to eventually be processed, they were 22% below expectations. Without the filing delay, the revenue drop would have been incorporated into last year’s budget and the shortfall this year would be significantly smaller. 

The governor maintains that with his revised balanced budget, it sets the state up for continued economic success. California’s economy remains the 5th largest economy in the world and for the first time in years, the state’s population is increasing and tourism spending recently experienced a record high. California is #1 in the nation for new business starts, #1 for access to venture capital funding, and the #1 state for manufacturinghigh-tech, and agriculture.

Additional details on the May Revise proposal can be found in this fact sheet and at

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California Politics

Commissioner Danny Hang is running for WeHo City Council

The nomination period for the November 5, 2024 General Municipal Election begins on July 15 and continues until August 9 at 5:00 p.m.



Danny Hang - Photo by Mike Pingel

By Mike Pingel WEST HOLLYWOOD – West Hollywood Business License Commissioner Danny Hang is throwing his hat in the ring in the race for two open seats for West Hollywood City Council in the November 5, 2024 General Municipal Election.

Hang is a Southern California native who was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley. He is the proud son of Chinese-Vietnamese refugees who fled the Vietnam War in search of hope, freedom, and the American dream.

The son of a union worker, Hang saw firsthand how his father worked long hours as a machinist and became a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 725. Hang is a passionate advocate of professional growth and vocational equity. He believes that workers are the backbone of the most powerful economy in the world, and deserve a fair and equitable wage. Because when workers succeed, then EVERYONE succeeds.

As the son of an immigrant small business owner, Hang watched his mom’s nail salon succeed and slowly serve as an equalizer leading to a pathway to the American middle class for his family. He knows firsthand that small businesses are vital to creating local jobs and growing the West Hollywood economy. Immigrant-owned small businesses are centerpieces of their neighborhoods, and they contribute in a meaningful way to the diversity and vibrancy of the West Hollywood community. As such, Hang recognizes the economic and community oriented success that West Hollywood’s thriving Russian speaking community has continued to achieve throughout the years.

A first-generation college graduate, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University and kicked off his career in public service at the Social Security Administration, where he adjudicated Supplemental Security Income benefits for people with disabilities and older adults.​

Having fueled his passion for serving others, he returned to school to pursue a double master’s in Social Work and Gerontology from the University of Southern California. Hang now works in disability retirement for the county of Los Angeles.

His involvement with the community led to his appointment as an at-large member of the West Hollywood Disabilities Advisory Board. He worked hard to address issues affecting people with disabilities, including ADA compliance, transportation, housing, and access to City government and services for people with disabilities.

He was later appointed to the West Hollywood Business License Commission. Additionally, he was also appointed as an alternate member of the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation by the State Bar Board of Trustees and he serves on the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Asian American & Pacific Islander Advisory Board. He also served on the Executive Board for Asian Democrats of Los Angeles County.

Hang is a proud member of the West Hollywood community where he resides with his cat Piper. His focus is on improving the community through servant leadership.

The Nomination Period for the November 5, 2024 General Municipal Election begins on Monday, July 15 and continues until Friday, August 9 at 5:00 p.m. The City Clerk’s Office will begin taking appointments to pull Nomination Papers on Monday, July 8.


Mike Pingel

Mike Pingel has written six books, Channel Surfing: Charlie’s Angels & Angelic Heaven: A Fan’s Guide to Charlie’s Angels, Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman, The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy after all these years; Works of Pingel and most recently, Betty White: Rules the World. Pingel owns and runs website and was Farrah Fawcett personal assistant. He also works as an actor and as a freelance publicist.

His official website is


The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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California Politics

Recognizing & celebrating lesbians: Mayor Pro-Tem of El Cerrito

Lesbian Visibility Week stands as a vibrant affirmation of solidarity with lesbian/queer women within the LGBTQ+ community



Mayor Pro-Tem of El Cerrito, California, Carolyn Wysinger. (Photo Credit: Carolyn Wysinger)

EL CERRITO, Calif. – Carolyn Wysinger is a distinguished figure in both local politics and the LGBTQ+ community having risen as a prominent voice advocating for inclusivity and diversity. Her first term as Mayor Pro-Tem of El Cerrito, California is marked by a robust commitment to visibility and engagement in political arenas.

First elected to the El Cerrito City Council in 2020, Wysinger’s trajectory in politics has been underpinned by her resolve to bring LGBTQ+ voices to the forefront of decision-making. Her work emphasizes the crucial role of allies in combating anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, advocating for a political landscape that welcomes all voices, particularly those from marginalized communities.

Carolyn Wysinger shown here as the latest newly elected member of the El Cerrito City Council in 2020.
(Photo courtesy of Carolyn Wysinger)

Before venturing into politics, Wysinger made significant contributions to the cultural and educational sectors. A lifelong resident of Contra Costa and a proud graduate with a B.A. in English from California State University, Long Beach, with a M.F.A. from Antioch University, she has also been a vital part of the literary world. Her book, “Knockturnal Emissions: Thoughts on #race #sexuality #gender & #community,” provides insights into diverse identities and has been featured on essential reading lists at several universities.

Wysinger’s influence extends beyond her literary achievements. She has organized notable queer events such as LA’s NFL Sunday Funday and the Long Beach Blue Party, and she has held leadership roles with organizations such as the NIA Collective, San Francisco Pride, and the Human Rights & Relations Commission of Richmond. Her appointment to various committees, including the Economic Recovery Task Force of San Francisco and the Legislative Committee of the California Democratic Party, showcases her broad impact across social and political spheres.

Her community engagement is highlighted by her affiliations with the Sierra Club, NAACP, Black Women Organized for Political Action, and her involvement in the Philonise and Keeta Floyd Institute for Social Change. These roles reflect her deep commitment to addressing systemic inequalities and fostering community solidarity.

In addition to her political and social endeavors, Wysinger is known in her community as an educator who has profoundly impacted the lives of her students at Richmond High School, where she taught English Language Learning, African-American Literature, and led several student groups, including the Black Student Union and LGBTQ Student club.

Wysinger’s Take on Lesbian Visibility Week

In an exclusive interview with The Los Angeles Blade, Wysinger shared her robust insights on the significance of representation and the ongoing struggles and victories of the LGBTQ community during Lesbian Visibility Week.

Wysinger, a steadfast advocate for equal representation in politics, emphasized the necessity of proportional representation of women, including LGBTQ individuals and people of color. “Having a proportional amount of women represented in politics to the constituents is extremely important. We need this not only for women but for everyone in the community,” she explained, underlining the intersectionality of representation.

The current political climate has seen a surge in anti-LGBTQ laws, but Wysinger remains optimistic due to the strong network of allies within California. “It is great to know we have so many allies in California who are fighting in their respective offices to bring equity to our community,” she said.

This network includes notable figures such as London Nicole Breed, the Mayor of San Francisco and State Controller Malia Cohen, who have been pivotal allies, supporting Wysinger as a woman of color in her political journey.

Wysinger also addressed a common narrative that discourages women within the LGBTQ community from seeking elected office. She is committed to dismantling this mindset, attributing her success in leadership to the support from various political queer groups, including Equality California.

Reflecting on the evolution of LGBTQ visibility, Wysinger highlighted the stark contrast between the representation she observed growing up between the Bay Area and Louisiana and the visibility in today’s media.

“Lesbian Visibility Week is something that we did not have back in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s when we were being so heavily targeted. This week is a reminder of what we have done in the community and that we are here. It is so important to highlight the queer women who are on the front lines of what we are fighting right now,” Wysinger said.

Wysinger credits her nieces and nephews as a significant inspiration, underscoring the importance of nurturing the future generation of leaders and allies. Her message to the younger generation and to her younger self is resonant with empowerment: quoting a line from the television sitcom “A Different World,” delivered by famed Black comedian Whoopi Goldberg, Wysinger said, “You are a voice in this world, and you deserve to be heard.”

Through her leadership and advocacy, Wysinger continues to champion the visibility and representation of lesbian and queer women, paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable future.

Lesbian Visibility Week

Lesbian Visibility Week, extending the celebration from a single day that began in 2008 to a full week, stands as a vibrant affirmation of solidarity with LGBTQI women and non-binary individuals within the community. This special week  spanning April 22-28not only celebrates lesbian identity but also underscores the importance of inclusivity and support for all women, particularly those from marginalized communities.

Graphic design by Chiamaka Ejindu

The initiative for Lesbian Visibility Week was catalyzed by concerning findings from the Pride Matters survey conducted by Pride in London in 2018, which revealed that gay women are almost twice as likely to conceal their sexual orientation in the workplace compared to their gay male counterparts. This stark disparity highlights the urgent need for greater visibility and acceptance of lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer women both in professional environments and in daily life.

Organized with the support of the Diversity Umbrella Foundation, Lesbian Visibility Week aims to create a more inclusive society where LBTQ women can openly express their true selves without fear of discrimination. Whether it’s at work, at home, or in social settings, the week promotes a culture of understanding and acceptance.

The significance of Lesbian Visibility Week is also reflected in the efforts of DIVA Media Group, Europe’s leading LGBTQ media organization, which reaches an audience of 250,000 users monthly, in partnership with EL*C (Euro Central Asian Lesbian Committee), ILGA World, GLAAD, Curve and LGBT Foundation. Feedback from the community indicates a persistent feeling of being misunderstood and under-supported, further emphasizing the necessity of this observance.

Through a series of events, educational activities, and community engagements, Lesbian Visibility Week not only celebrates the contributions and diversity of lesbian women but also fosters a dialogue about the challenges they face. By doing so, it strives to be a powerful voice for unity, lifting up voices that are too often silenced and paving the way for a more equitable society.

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California Politics

WeHo Mayor John M. Erickson discusses re-election campaign

Erickson officially announced his re-election campaign for West Hollywood City Council this week & sits down with WeHo Times



West Hollywood Mayor John M Erickson - (Photo by Paulo Murillo/WEHO TIMES)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – West Hollywood Mayor John M. Erickson, Ph.D. officially announced his re-election campaign for West Hollywood City Council this week.

WeHo Times caught up with the incumbent following his big announcement to discuss his campaign, some of his accomplishments from his first term and the challenges he faces ahead.


So it’s official today. You announced your run for reelection.

Yes. I announced this morning I’m running for re-election to the West Hollywood City Council.

What is running for re-election looking like for you?

It looks like what I’ve been doing for the last four years, delivering for our residents and our businesses. When I look at the city and where I started four years ago, back then, we weren’t allowed to go outside. We were in masks, and now we are out in a vibrant, although a little gray and overcast today, sky. We have new businesses opening every day. We have residents that are further protected, thanks to some of the tenant harassment ordinances that we’ve passed. And we’re working on bringing the city into the future with new infrastructure and great new projects like the coast Playhouse and the purchasing of the Log Cabin on Robertson Boulevard. These things that are priorities to me and always have been, so the work that we’re doing continues on. My re-election ensures that the residents and businesses remain at the forefront of my mind, and I am committed to running strongly to ensure that we prioritize their needs.

Pandemic lockdown aside, how else is this campaign different from the last one?

I mean, the last time I ran, I ran a people forward campaign. It was a people centric campaign that really focused on bringing a new voice to the City of West Hollywood. And this time, it’s about holding true to those values that I ran on. I think the stuff that I’ve done over the last four years and also just the sheer logistics this time, we can go door-to-door, we can go out and see each other, and be within six feet, so making sure that the community feel we are back and are part of the campaign. That’s something I love so much.

What kind of feedback are you getting after people learned you were running for re-election?

I’ve announced it early. I’m really proud to say I am endorsed by over, I believe, 70 board members and commissioners. I’m endorsed by almost every elected official that represents West Hollywood and some are Congress member Adam Schiff, supervisor Lindsey Horvath, Senator Ben Allen, Assemblymember Rick Chavez, and my colleagues Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers and Councilmember Sepi Shine. When you look at the list, it’s a broad coalition of supporters and organizations already. I’m endorsed by Equality California, Victory Fund, The Los Angeles Building Trades Council, the Sierra Club, and the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters. A lot of people jumped in early because they see the progress that we’ve made, and I’m really excited to see the momentum going forward.

What kind of challenges does your campaign anticipate?

I think the main topic of conversation will be what the future of the City of West Hollywood looks like, and I really welcome those conversations. I’m going to be running a positive campaign like I always did. I’m not going to be getting into the mud because I believe that residents want a positive mayor and a positive candidate out there putting forth a vision of the city that not only shows our progressive values, and our history, but also leans us towards the future in the way that we’ve been going. Is everything sunshine and rainbows? No candidate should ever say that. But we have work to do, and I’m really looking forward to that work and in those robust conversations.

What are some of the issues that are coming up for you, in this this election versus your first run?

This time it’s about building more affordable housing and housing, as a whole. We have a lot of housing to build and transportation infrastructure. We’re trying to bring the city into the 21st century when it comes to our roads and sidewalks and making sure that they’re accessible to everyone, and getting people out of cars and maybe onto bikes are another mode of transit. Walking is another great example. I think the last and most important thing that I said when I first ran was climate change. I’ve really made that a staple of my campaign, sustainability practices and climate resilience and I have that record to back it up. That’s why I’ve already received endorsements from the two leading organizations in that field. And we have a lot of work to continue to make sure West Hollywood leads on those issues. Then I think when we always invest in community safety and our businesses, you can’t go wrong there.

How is your campaign addressing public safety?

As many know, I led the charge to bring back two deputies after hearing the response from the community and making sure that our people felt safe. The first call we always get is always going to be about community safety. We need to make sure we’re responsible to that and so we’re building and pushing forward a robust public safety plan. I’m already endorsed by the firefighters and that’s really important to me, because they are our first responders. We’re building a new state-of-the-art Fire and Sheriff Station in partnership with LA County so that first responders have 21st-century tools to ensure that our diverse community is safe at home and in our neighborhoods.

So what do you tell the voter who isn’t sure about you?

I would ask them to look at my work ethic, and look at the work that I have done, and look at my response to the community. When you email City Hall, do you not get an email back? Do you not get a phone call back? What I say to the voter that’s unsure is that I’ve led the City with distinction and I’ve led the city with, I believe, the honor that I’ve always been taught by my former mentors. I’m looking forward to continuing that and making sure that the people of the City of West Hollywood know that they’re my first priority.

How will your campaign address your detractors?

There’s always going to be detractors. I would say that even my detractors would say that I answer the phone when they call. I don’t think anyone can ever say that I don’t welcome a robust conversation. I have very strong values and morals. I’m really proud of that. My grandmother taught me those things when as a young queer kid in Ripon, Wisconsin. I think the most important thing that I can say to my detractors is, you may not like what I’ve done, or you may not like what we’re trying to do as a city, but I want you to come and talk to me and give it a chance. If after that, you still don’t want to be involved in the conversation, you can always call me if something’s happening because I’m there for you just as I’m there for everyone else.

What do you love most about being Mayor and council member of the City of West Hollywood?

The best part about being the mayor and the council member in the City of West Hollywood is you get to see and interact with people on a person-to-person basis in a way that we all work together for a better future for our city. When the principal of West Hollywood Elementary School can call the mayor directly and not have to go through staff, when a resident can call, or a parent at a school can call the Mayor of West Hollywood and say they’re having this issue, or need more green space, or they want to have pickleball courts in the city… my answer is going to be yes, because that’s the role of our local government. Local is where community happens. And I’m so proud of that. This is why I post my Plummer Park event for the last 34 months now without missing a single one. The community needs to know that we’re out at a school, or we’re out in the streets, or their businesses. The mayor is listening and I think that’s the best part of being here, we get to hear right from the community.


For a full list of endorsements, biography, issues, and more visit and follow John on social media @JohnEricksonWH.

To read about John’s accomplishments in his first term, go to:


Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist.


The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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California Politics

Raul Ureña battles recall election in Calexico over his trans identity

For Ureña, the recall is more than a political hurdle; it is a litmus test for the values of the community he serves



Raul Ureña (center) with supporters last month in Calexico, Calif. (Photo Credit: Raul Ureña/Facebook)

CALEXICO, Calif. – A battle is underway that encapsulates the broader national struggle over LGBTQ+ rights, environmental policy, and the future direction of local governance. At the center of this storm is Raul Ureña, 26, one of the youngest and first openly transgender city council members in Calexico’s history.

Ureña faces a recall election orchestrated by a faction of past politicians and fueled by a campaign marred with alleged misinformation and accusations rooted in prejudice.

Ureña, alongside fellow young councilmember Gilberto Manzanarez, has been instrumental in ushering in a new era of progressive policy-making in Calexico, aimed at rectifying a decade of economic downturn, political strife, and social neglect. Their tenure has been marked by significant investments in the community’s infrastructure, environmental initiatives, public safety, and efforts to boost the financial health of the city, in stark contrast to the practices of previous administrations.

The Recall Effort: A Closer Look

The recall, set against the backdrop of Calexico’s 116th anniversary, emerges as a politically motivated attempt to derail the momentum gained by Ureña and his colleagues. Ureña provided insights into the recall’s dynamics: “Right now it is April 5, we are 11 days from the recall election that was petitioned by a group of very hateful citizens,” Ureña told The Bolade. “They have raised north of $30,000, which is a substantial amount for our small city, mainly to circulate petitions for the recall.” 

Despite the financial and political onslaught, Ureña remains undeterred, highlighting the backing from organizations like the United Auto Workers, a testament to his environmental advocacy and progressive policies, including the introduction of the county’s fastest and only electric vehicle chargers.

The Impact of Ureña’s Policies

Under Ureña’s stewardship, Calexico has witnessed tangible progress across several domains:

  • Financial Health: Addressing the city’s financial mismanagement has been a priority, with corrective measures now steering Calexico away from a state-designated “High Risk” status due to previous overspending and budgetary inaccuracies.
  • Transportation and Infrastructure: Ureña’s role as the city’s commissioner at the Imperial County Transportation Commission has been pivotal in securing funding and advancing projects like the $13.4 million Intermodal Transportation Center, set to enhance regional mobility and address border traffic issues.
  • Environmental Advocacy: A staunch environmentalist, Ureña has championed the New River Improvement Project, aiming to remediate one of the nation’s most polluted rivers, alongside initiating the city’s first micro-transit system, which has become the county’s most successful transit service.
  • Community and Public Safety: Investments in emergency services, the rehabilitation of essential facilities like Fire Station #2, and improvements in parks and recreation underscore the commitment to public welfare and community engagement.
  • ProWorker Policies: Ureña and Manzanarez have implemented pro-worker policies as part of their economic development strategy in Calexico, focusing on the well-being of the working population. They spearheaded an equitable spending plan for the American Relief Plan Act (ARPA), allocating 1 million dollars in “hero pay” to essential workers who served during the COVID-19 pandemic, recognizing their contributions as equally valuable to those of other city employees who received similar compensations in the past.

Facing Down Hate and Misinformation

Addressing the recall campaign’s undertones, Ureña stated, “The claims against me for the recall are just dog whistles for transphobia.” 

He remains committed to his agenda, asserting that he takes the right’s labeling his party as “radicals” as a complimentary testament to their dedication. “We have our goals and strong ideas. we  said we were going to clean up the new river and that project is under construction. The electric vehicle chargers are under construction. We are building the largest transportation center in the imperial county. We are building affordable housing. We are radical, because when we say we are going to do something, we go ahead, and we do it. No excuses.”

Equality California (EQCA) has thrown its support behind Ureña.

“Ureña is one of only a handful of out transgender elected officials in California and, at a time when trans Californians are facing unprecedented political attacks, trans representation in elected office is more important than ever,” said EQCA Executive Director, Tony Hoang. 

The Future of Calexico

As the recall election looms, the stakes for Calexico and for Ureña could not be higher. A city at a crossroads, Calexico’s voters face a choice between continuing on a path of progressive reform and environmental stewardship or reverting to the governance that precipitated years of decline.

For Ureña, the recall is more than a political hurdle; it is a litmus test for the values of the community he serves, the efficacy of his policies, and the resilience of progress against the tide of misinformation and intolerance.

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California Politics

Evan Low survives historic primary race, will be on November ballot

Elections officials certified their vote counts Thursday. It is reportedly the first time three candidates will advance out of a primary race



Gay Assemblymember Evan Low is part of a trio of candidates moving on to the general election race for an open South Bay U.S. House seat. (Photo Credit: Assemblymember Evan Low)

By Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor | CUPERTINO, Calif. – Having survived a historic primary race for an open South Bay U.S. House seat, gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) will now vie in November to be the Bay Area’s first gay congressmember. But he is facing a tough three-person contest this fall.

As the Bay Area Reporter first reported online April 3, Low ended up tying for second place with Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian once all ballots were counted this week. The two Democrats both received 30,249 votes.

Because California’s election code does not allow a tie vote in a primary to be determined “by lot,” the pair will both appear on the November 5 ballot along with former San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo. The fellow Democrat finished first in the March 5 primary race with 38,489 votes.

One of the three will succeed Congressmember Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), as she decided to retire when her current term expires. Her House District 16 seat spans San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

“I am honored to have won the support of our community to advance to the general election to replace the esteemed Anna Eshoo for Congress. Thank you to all of my incredible supporters who gave their time, money, and votes to support our campaign,” stated Low. “This historically close race shows that every vote really counts. I could not have made it this far without every one of you, and I hope to earn your support once again in November.”

Low also expressed thanks to the other candidates who ran in the primary, including bisexual Palo Alto City Councilmember Julie Lythcott-Haims, “for a thoughtful campaign and for their commitment to serve our community. I look forward to continuing to share my vision for the future with every voter in the coming months.”

Elections officials in both jurisdictions certified their vote counts Thursday. It is reportedly the first time three candidates will advance out of a primary race since California began using its open primary system. Adopted by voters in 2010, normally only the top two vote-getters regardless of party affiliation advance out of the primary for a federal office to the general election.

In the case of a tied vote, per the state’s election code, “if only one candidate receives the highest number of votes cast but there is a tie vote among two or more candidates receiving the second highest number of votes cast, each of those second-place candidates shall be a candidate at the ensuing general election along with the candidate receiving the highest number of votes cast, regardless of whether there are more candidates at the general election than prescribed by this article.”

Any of the candidates or a registered voter in the state can ask for a recount. They now have five calendar days to do so, but it will cost them tens of thousands of dollars because the financial burden falls on them and not the county election offices.

In announcing her certification of the primary election results in Santa Clara County, Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey noted, “The results of this election exemplify why your vote truly matters.”

Other close races

The House race was one of several primary contests with LGBTQ candidates across the Golden State that took weeks to determine due to razor-thin vote margins. It wasn’t until March 28 that bisexual Riverside City Councilmember Clarissa Cervantes declared victory in her race for an open Assembly seat.

Cervantes took second place over fellow Democrat Ronaldo Fierro by 202 votes. In November, she will compete against Republican Leticia Castillo, who placed first in the primary, for the 58th Assembly District seat that spans Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

“I want to extend my deep gratitude and appreciation to my daughter, my family, my dedicated team, our tremendous volunteers, and every labor union and organization who stood with us and believed in my candidacy,” stated Cervantes. “Thank you for standing with me. I am ready to champion the needs of our communities in Sacramento and ready to deliver lasting results for the Inland Empire.”

If victorious, Cervantes will be one of the Golden State’s first bisexual female legislators. She would also succeed her sister, lesbian Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona), who is favored to win her November 5 race for the open Senate District 31 seat against GOPer Cynthia Navarro.

The Cervantes sisters, who are both moms, would be the first pair of LGBTQ siblings to serve together in the California Legislature. Of the two, Clarissa Cervantes is likely facing the tougher fall campaign.

Castillo and Republicans likely will continue hammering her over being arrested last year for drunken driving weeks after a judge had dismissed her DUI conviction from 2015. Cervantes has been sober for more than seven months now, per a campaign spokesperson, and was one of several Democratic primary candidates who overcame DUI headlines to win in March.

State Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine) also faced attacks stemming from his DUI arrest last year in Sacramento. Nonetheless, he survived his March 5 contest for an open U.S. House seat in the heart of Orange County and is competing in November against former Republican Assemblymember Scott Baugh of Huntington Beach.

Min’s campaign blasted Baugh Thursday over his benefitting from an April 3 fundraiser in Newport Beach with Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana. It signaled how their race “is ground zero in the fight for the House,” stated Min campaign spokesperson Amelia Matier. “Baugh’s connections to white nationalists and his backing by groups against abortion and LGBTQ+ rights fit right into Johnson’s MAGA Congressional playbook.”

They are seeking the District 47 seat being vacated by Congressmember Katie Porter (D-Irvine), as she lost her primary bid for the U.S. Senate seat that for years had been held by the late Senator Dianne Feinstein. After her death last fall, Democratic lesbian U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler was appointed to fill the vacancy by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Butler opted not to seek a full term this year and will step down shortly after the November 5 election. Congressmember Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) is expected to easily win the seat over his GOP opponent, retired baseball star Steve Garvey.

The state’s current two gay congressional members, Democrats Mark Takano of Riverside and Robert Garcia of Long Beach, both represent Southern California districts and are expected to easily win reelection in November. They both had endorsed Low in his primary race.

Southern California congressional candidate Will Rollins has received support from the Democratic Party. (Photo: Courtesy Will Rollins)  

But as he is seeking a safe Democratic seat that will not factor into if Democrats retake the House this year, Low will not have the same party advantages as gay congressional candidate Will Rollins has in his bid for a House seat in the Palms Spring area. Rollins is aiming to oust from office conservative Congressmember Ken Calvert (R-Corona) from his 41st Congressional District seat.

His race is seen as a possible pickup for the Democrats, and unlike when he first ran against Calvert in 2022, Rollins has received early backing and support from his party since he launched his campaign last year. Thursday Rollins announced raising over $1.8 million in the first three months of 2024.

His campaign noted it is the single-highest fundraising quarter ever for a candidate running against Calvert. Rollins is also reporting having more than $3 million in cash on hand as he ramps up his fall campaign.

“The contrast in our race could not be clearer, and that’s demonstrated by our continued fundraising success,” stated Rollins. “Voters in California’s 41st District know that 32 years of Ken Calvert is far too much. It’s time to turn the page from his decades of corruption and MAGA extremism and bring in new leadership that works across the aisle to get things done for Riverside County. Together, we are going to win this race and deliver a pro-democracy and pro-working family agenda for the people of our district.”

Two other gay Democratic congressional candidates are mounting rematches this year and have not gotten the same party support as Rollins has received. Progressive lawyer David Kim aims to oust from office Congressmember Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) from his District 34 House seat to become the first out Korean American elected to Congress.

Progressive activist Derek Marshall is seen as the underdog in his race against Congressmember Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia) for the District 23 House seat in the high desert country east of Los Angeles.

In the East Bay race to succeed outgoing Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), who also lost her primary bid for Feinstein’s former Senate seat, queer candidate Jennifer Kim-Anh Tran, Ph.D., is also seen as the underdog against fellow Democrat Lateefah Simon. The BART board member took a commanding lead in their primary race for the District 12 House seat and is expected to easily win it come November 5.

Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang following the victory by Evan Low in the CA-16 primary election, released the following statement:

We are thrilled to see Evan Low advancing to the November General Election after his victory in California’s 16th Congressional District. With LGBTQ+ civil rights under attack, we need leaders like Evan in Congress. He has been on the front lines of the fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights for years —and he would make history as the first LGBTQ+ leader to represent the Bay Area in Congress.

As Chair of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, he has advanced legislation to better the lives of LGBTQ+ Californians in various arenas, including healthcare, safe and supportive schools, cultural competency for law enforcement, and more. Last year, he joined Sen. Scott Wiener in successfully advancing ACA 5 through the legislature — a constitutional amendment that will remove the discriminatory, anti-marriage equality language of Proposition 8 from our state’s constitution once and for all. Thanks to his leadership, voters will have the opportunity to protect same sex-and interracial marriages this November.

Evan’s experience and strong record make him the best candidate to represent California’s 16th Congressional District, and we look forward to helping ensure he wins in November.”  


The preceding article was previously published by the Bay Area Reporter and is republished with permission.

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California Politics

‘Don’t disturb me after work hours,’ new worker rights bill introduced

If passed by lawmakers and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, California would be the first state to implement a “right to disconnect” law



Photo Credit: Facebook/Assemblymember Matt Haney

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A measure introduced on Monday would allow public and private sector employees to essentially silence their notifications from employers after scheduled work hours.

Assembly Bill 2751, introduced by Democratic San Francisco Assemblymember Matt Haney, would require employers to guarantee that their employees would have uninterrupted personal and family time outside of clearly defined set work hours. The only exemptions would be emergencies or for scheduling purposes.

If passed by both the Assembly and the Senate and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, California would be the first state to implement a “right to disconnect” law.

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California Politics

Trans city councilmember Lisa Middleton, state of safety & inclusion

Middleton’s insights come at a crucial time amid a deluge of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and anti-trans discrimination inundating the country



Palm Springs City Councilmember Lisa Middleton speaking with a PSFD First Responder. (Photo Credit: Councilmember Lisa Middleton)

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – In a heartfelt exclusive interview with the Los Angeles Blade, transgender Palm Springs City Councilmember Lisa Middleton, shared her thoughts on the current state of safety and inclusion for LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly in educational environments. Middleton’s insights come at a crucial time amid a deluge of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and anti-trans discrimination inundating the country. 

Middleton, known for her pragmatic approach to governance on the Palm Springs City Council and her unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, spoke candidly about the tragic death of nonbinary student, Nex Benedict, underscoring a harrowing reminder of the vulnerabilities faced by queer youth. “That was a horrible, terrible death and an unnecessary one,” Middleton lamented, highlighting the dire need for safe and accepting spaces in schools. “Everyone has the right to feel safe and wanted,” she added, pointing out the predictable nature of such tragedies in a climate where civic leaders use LGBTQ+ children as targets. “We are at our best when we celebrate the diversity of humanity.”

Asserting the humanity of transgender individuals as an integral part of the human spectrum, Middleton criticized the binary norms that segregate individuals into ‘normal’ and ‘other.’ “This idea that some people can be called normal and other folks are not normal is absolutely ludicrous. All of us are entitled to respect for our individual humanity,” she stated, championing the diversity of humanity as a source of strength and enrichment.

Middleton also told The Blade that she is optimistic about the future of LGBTQ+ student’s rights amidst the recent recall of homophobic school board members in three communities, a move she views as a victory for inclusivity and educational integrity. “Those recalls were because the voters and the people of their communities did not want their schools turned into circuses,” Middleton said. 

Looking ahead, Middleton discussed her ambitions to bring pragmatic solutions to Sacramento, especially in addressing the needs of California’s growing regions. Her focus remains on improving infrastructure, public safety, and emergency management resources, ensuring the state is prepared for any crisis, including climate-related disasters.

Middleton also highlighted the importance of standing up against attacks on the community. “We have to stand up to those attacks,” she asserted, stressing the importance of amplifying transgender voices and advocating for the community’s aspirations, dreams, and hard work. “Transgender people can achieve things everywhere, and anywhere we are very much a fundamental part of humanity.”

Middleton’s leadership has not only been recognized within the LGBTQ+ community but also across a broader spectrum, as evidenced by her unanimous election as vice president of a diverse leadership body. “They picked me to be one of their leaders because they know I can stand up not only for my community—the LGBT community, the transgender community—but for every city across the state,” Middleton said.

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