Change in a Crowded Field
BY Kerry Eleveld
June 09 2009 11:00 PM ET
Anthony Woods may be running for California's 10th congressional seat amid at least eight other candidates, but that's the way he likes it.
"I'm running against the field, and I think it's the best way to approach it," Woods says, noting that the three best-known candidates -- all fellow Democrats -- bear the ignominious distinction of working in the state's capitol. "Right now, Californians give the leadership of Sacramento a 14% approval rating -- I think that clearly helps me."
Woods, an Iraq veteran who was discharged under the military's gay ban just last December, hopes to fill the seat being vacated by the current sponsor of the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal bill, Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, who has been tapped by President Obama for a position at the State Department.
Accomplishing his goal would make him the first openly gay African-American member of Congress. But the path is far from certain in this race, which features no incumbent, an unusually crowded field (including six Democrats, a Republican, a Green Party candidate, and one "decline to state"), and an open primary that pits all candidates against each other regardless of party affiliation. If no single candidate wins the primary vote with more than 50%, a runoff ensues, with the top candidates from each party squaring off against each other.
"You could be looking at 10 or more candidates," says Todd Stenhouse, senior adviser to Woods, referring to the primary. "But the reality is that it's an overwhelmingly Democratic district, so the conventional wisdom is, that's where the race will be determined."
Woods is the only candidate thus far who was born in the district, and as personal stories go, his is plenty compelling. The 28-year-old was raised in Fairfield by his single mother, a small-business owner who cleans houses for a living. He earned a congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and, upon graduating, served two tours of duty in Iraq. He then returned to school to get his master's degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and was selected to be a professor of economics at his alma mater, West Point, in 2011.
- WATCH: Rep. Polis's Epic Blowup on House Floor Over Immigration
- Holiday Guide: Shop Here, Not There
- WATCH: Colo. Baker Who Refused Gay Wedding Cake Appears In Court
- Op-ed: Stop Judging Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black
- Is The GOP Discriminating Against Its Gay Candidates?
- WATCH: Bill O'Reilly's 'War on Christmas' Led By Abortionists and Married Gays
- World News Nelson Mandela, Humanitarian and HIV Advocate, Dies at 95 13 min 17 sec ago
- Women Toni Braxton's Dream Role Is to Play Lesbian on Orange Is the New Black 14 min 27 sec ago
- Entertainment News Sam Champion Receives Emotional Send-Off From Good Morning America 44 min 46 sec ago
- Style Model Watch: Learn How To Charm The Camera With Marc Buckner 1 hour 15 min ago
- News New York Officials Demand Olympic Sponsors Take Action 1 hour 47 min ago
- Election Is The GOP Discriminating Against Its Gay Candidates? 1 hour 49 min ago
- Travel Out Traveler Awards: Best Queer Cruise Excursion? 1 hour 52 min ago