Key races to watch for progressive Democrats

Posted: November 1st, 2012 | Columns, Featured, Political Spectrum | No Comments

Allan Acevedo | Political Spectrum

Allan Acevedo

This is it. By the time readers sit down and flip through this column, Election Day will be here. If all of the imploring and cajoling to turn out to vote has not done it for you, there really is likely very little to add to the conversation. For those who have been mobilized and organized to vote and encourage others to vote, there is hope.

There is hope we will elect equality supporters to local and federal offices in San Diego and across the nation. Here are just a few of the candidates I will be watching very closely at the closing of the polls on Election Day:

Deputy Mayor Dave Roberts

Roberts is running to serve on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. If elected, he would be the first new face on the board in over 20 years and the first Democrat in 17 years. He would also serve as our first LGBT supervisor in County history. Running to represent the third supervisorial district, which is mostly a North County district spanning as far north as Escondido and Encinitas, Roberts’ race represents a unique opportunity for the county. If he successfully wins this race, Democrats could mount a credible challenge to winning the fourth and first district – both strongly Democrat districts – from entrenched Republicans and, for the first time, give us a Democrat majority on the board as early as 2014. This would lead to a dramatic change in the way the county thinks of development of our backcountries, providing food stamps and HIV/AIDS services.

Representative Bob Filner

Filner stands a chance of being elected as our first Democrat mayor since Maureen O’Connor was termed out in 1992. Filner has been a progressive member of the United States House of Representatives and an advocate for the LGBT community despite representing a strongly Latino and minority district, which voted in favor of Proposition 8 in 2008. Though Councilmember Carl DeMaio is himself LGBT, I have already stated why he has not earned by vote and hope on Election Day, Filner will take on the challenge of moving San Diego forward.

Councilwoman Sherri Lightner

Lightner represents City Council District One and is in a tough re-election campaign. Her race will determine the partisan majority on the council. Should DeMaio be elected mayor, Lightner will determine whether the Democrats are able to split the control of City Hall or whether Republican ideals will further erode the strength of labor unions and working class families. Lightner, though not popular among many progressive Democrats, is a true representative of her moderate district and has been a staunch supporter and advocate for the LGBT community on the Council. She is not a career politician – she is actually an engineer – and should be given four more years to help moderate the council and also ensure that Republicans do not gain a majority.

Port Commissioner Scott Peters

A former City Council president, Peters represents one of the best opportunities in the nation to win over a Republican seat that Democrats have coveted for years. I still remember the first precinct I ever walked was in 2004 for Francine Busby. Ever since then, I knew I wanted Brian Bilbray out of office. Though in the primary I did volunteer and eventually quit my job to work full time for former Assemblymember Lori Saldana’s campaign to be the Democrat opponent of Bilbray, Peters won the primary and all Democrats, especially progressives, should be casting their vote to get Bilbray out of office.

Representative Tammy Baldwin

Baldwin currently serves in the U.S. House of Representatives for Wisconsin’s second district. If elected, Baldwin would be the first openly LGBT candidate elected to the U.S. Senate, and first woman to do so in Wisconsin. We need a strong and progressive leader like Baldwin at the table for our community. It is often said that if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. Baldwin and our community have come a long way since her first election. In 1992, she was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly and was only one of six openly LGBT candidates to win a general election. Her historic election would have far reaching ramifications, well beyond the borders of Wisconsin.

Former Minority Leader Richard Tisei

Tisei is a former Republican member of the Massachusetts Senate, and is also openly gay. If elected in his race, he would be the first non-incumbent gay Republican to sit on the U.S. House of Representatives. Though many view Republican and LGBT identities as oxymoronic, I do not. I do believe there is a place for conservative fiscal values, coupled with a strong support for equality. Though I do not support many of Tisei’s views and would prefer to keep Representative John Tierney in office, I recognize the role that openly LGBT Republican officials could have in changing the GOP from the inside.

—Allan Acevedo is co-founder and president emeritus of Stonewall Young Democrats of San Diego. He has worked on multiple political campaigns and served on numerous boards including the San Diego Democratic Club, California Young Democrats, Gay-Straight Alliant Network and Equality California PAC. Follow @allanacevedo on Twitter.

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