The 2010 California Gubernatorial race was supposed to be epic.
Ever since Gov. Schwarzenegger terminated personality-less Democrat Phil Angelides in the 2006 campaign, progressives have been looking forward to fighting for the governor’s chair in 2010. The fight was supposed to be between two big-city mayors who would use the position as a stepping-stone to a presidential bid.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is an enthusiastic supporter of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples and he has been an unwavering friend to the Los Angeles LGBT community. Unfortunately, following a very public affair, scandal and divorce, and the fall of his approval ratings, he never even entered the race to lead California.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom did officially declare his candidacy for governor, despite the fact that he also was tinged with recent scandal. Newsom’s role in the journey toward marriage equality is legendary and there are few straight allies in politics who have been as vocal in their support of LGBT issues. Sadly, this gay rights champion will never lead his state. Newsom pulled out of the governor’s race in October 2009.
So, LGBT advocates in California are now left to put all their eggs into the basket of Attorney General and former Governor Jerry Brown.
Jerry Brown already served as California Governor in the 1970s, but after serving as Attorney General, he felt called back to the top post. Brown doesn’t make LGBT equality a core tenant of his candidacy, but there is little question about where he stands. Brown refused to defend Proposition 8 and he initiated the first court fight to try and overturn it. He is an ally and a friend to LGBT rights and he will probably enjoy the majority support of gay voters in California.
On the Republican side, the field became less interesting last week when Orange County Republican Tom Campbell left the race for governor to join the race for Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat. Campbell is unapologetic in his support for marriage equality and other LGBT issues -– hopefully there will be more Republicans like him in the future. But now that he is out of the race, which Republican candidate will champion LGBT issues?
No one. The two remaining Republican candidates are both bad news for the gay community.
eBay CEO Meg Whitman will more than likely be the Republican nominee. She has a ridiculous amount of money and thus far she is polling on top. She has been vocal about her support of Proposition 8 because of blah, blah, blah man and woman. She does support civil unions and she is OK with gay and lesbian couples adopting children, so she isn’t on the Mike Huckabee level of anti-gay, she is more on the spineless Democrat level of anti-gay. To her credit, she did come out in favor of maintaining the legality of the 18,000 married gay and lesbian couples in California, which means she is OK with me being married to a man because we did it in the right time frame. At the end of the day, it is hard to decipher really where her heart is on gay issues because of her flip-floppy past.
The only Republican with an opportunity to squeeze past Whitman is State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. Poizner is predictably against marriage equality, but he is for domestic partnerships. Poizner indicated how he would treat LGBT issues as governor when he “refused to issue a letter welcoming people to the state’s numerous Pride events.” Like Whitman, he has a muddy past on gay rights. Equality California Executive Director says that in 2004, Poizner claimed to support full equality for gay people. Then, before the vote on Proposition 8, he would refuse to say where he stood on the issue, but now he is quite vocal in his opposition to marriage equality.
Photo credit: Jim Ferrigan