Equality California Salutes California’s Pro-Equality Winners in the 2014 General Election
By Stephan Roth
In an election marked by the defeat of many pro-equality candidates across the nation, Equality California today celebrated the victories of more than 100 of its 116 endorsed pro-equality candidates in California, based on current results. These victories at the local, state and federal level will help ensure that California remains the national leader in advancing full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
All eight of EQCA’s endorsed candidates for statewide office won their races, including Tom Torlakson in the highly competitive race for Superintendent of Public Instruction and Board of Equalization Member and EQCA Institute Board Member Betty Yee in the contest for California Controller.
This year, Equality California significantly expanded its political program in a number of ways. First, it launched a pilot project in which it endorsed LGBT leaders in local races across the state, with the long-term goal of grooming and supporting candidates at the local level to eventually run for statewide office.
Out of the 10 local LGBT candidates that EQCA endorsed seven secured their seats, with one race still too close to call. Most notable among these victories was Sheila Kuehl, who successfully ran for Los Angeles County Supervisor in the Third District. Her powerful and historic win makes her the first out LGBT person elected to serve as Supervisor of the nation’s largest county. Also significant was the election of Jeffrey Prang as Los Angeles County Assessor. Since Los Angeles County has over 10 million residents, Prang’s election makes him the LGBT officeholder serving the largest number of constituents in the nation.
Other EQCA-endorsed, openly LGBT candidates with wins included James Williamson for Palm Springs Unified School Board, DR Heywood for Anaheim City School Board, Scott Houston for West Basin Municipal Water District, Jay Hansen for Sacramento City Unified School District, and Shelley Kaplan for Cathedral City Council.
The LGBT Legislative Caucus will welcome one new member this year, Evan Low in Assembly District 28. Other members of the LGBT Legislative Caucus who were up for re-election, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins in Assembly District 78, Susan Eggman in Assembly District 13 and Rich Gordon in Assembly District 24, all won re-election.
“These wins help ensure that as our current leaders are term-limited out or move to higher office there will be a deep bench of 100-percent pro-equality candidates waiting to take their place,” said Rick Zbur, EQCA executive director. “We know full equality isn’t a short-term project, which is why investing in the future is so important.”
In another part of its expanded political program, Equality California this year also endorsed California candidates at the federal level, with 37 of its endorsed, pro-equality candidates winning at the polls. These included openly gay incumbent U.S. Representative Mark Takano in Congressional District 41 and strong LGBT ally Ted Lieu in Congressional District 33.
EQCA also implemented a major get-out-the-vote program that included direct candidate contributions; mailing voter guides to over 330,000 members across the state; deploying field teams and volunteers to support candidates with door-to-door canvassing; and extensive phone banking with over 18,000 calls to its members.
EQCA-endorsed candidates in tightly contested races emerged victorious, including Jacqui Irwin in Assembly District 44, while others lost hard-fought races, including Sharon Quirk-Silva in Assembly District 65 in Orange County and Rebecca Kaplan in her bid to be Oakland’s first openly LGBT mayor.
“As a result of EQCA’s work and the dedication and support of the LGBT community, California has made great strides in educating the public about our issues in the last 15 years,” said Zbur. “That civil rights for LGBT people continue to be used as a wedge issue demonstrates that, even in California, and across America there’s still much work to be done.”
The results for EQCA-endorsed candidates:
California Statewide Office
Governor — Jerry Brown* re-elected
Lieutenant Governor — Gavin Newsom* re-elected
Secretary of State — Alex Padilla elected
Controller — Betty Yee elected
Treasurer — John Chiang elected
Attorney General — Kamala Harris* re-elected
Insurance Commissioner — Dave Jones* re-elected
Superintendent of Public Instruction — Tom Torlakson* re-elected
For complete election results visit www.eqca.org