's Races to Watch



California 45th Congressional District: Steve Pougnet and Mary Bono Mack
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been pushing Palm
Springs mayor Steve Pougnet as the great blue hope of California’s 45th
district, painted red since it was carved out in 1983 and currently held by Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack.
If elected, Pougnet would be the fourth openly gay member of Congress —
joining Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, Colorado's Jared Polis, and
Massachusetts's Barney Frank in the House of Representatives, should all three incumbents win their
respective races. He would also be the first representative legally
married to a same-sex spouse as well as the first gay dad to join the Capitol Hill ranks.

The 45th district is an expansive one, with pockets
nowhere near as gay-friendly as Palm Springs, where Pougnet was elected mayor in 2007. Pougnet is straightforward with constituents in his
campaigning, however, he told The Advocate earlier this year. “Am I gay?
Yes,” he said. “Am I a husband? Yes. Do I have children? Yes. Really,
we are a family unit no different from any other. People will absolutely
know who we are, and when I am standing there at the soccer games with
moms talking about jobs and schools and the failings of our education
system, they will know that it matters to us as well.”

Bono Mack
has broken with her party by voting for hate-crimes legislation, but
this year she voted against repeal of “don’t ask, don’t
tell.” Still, she has picked up the endorsement of conservative gay
groups GOProud and the national Log Cabin Republicans. “We continue to
count Bono Mack as an ally when fighting for the Employment
Non-Discrimination Act and a litany of other issues that much be
addressed by Congress,” said Log Cabin deputy executive director Christian Berle (Bono Mack
has stated her support for workplace protections against antigay
discrimination but is not currently a cosponsor of the gender identity–inclusive
version of ENDA, now stalled in Congress).

Like a few more
high-profile battles in California, the 45th district has been steeped
in negative ads from both sides. As of Tuesday, the Cook Political Report
gives the edge to Bono Mack, though by no means does she
have a lock on returning to Washington.

California Gubernatorial and Attorney General Races

of the state’s most bruising gubernatorial campaigns in history has all
the hallmarks of any good soap opera. But clearly the stakes in the
race — namely soaring unemployment and a crushing state budget deficit
that nearly guarantees stalemate in Sacramento each year — transcend
political melodrama. Perhaps nowhere are the candidates more
diametrically opposed in their positions than on Proposition 8. Democrat Jerry
Brown, the state’s attorney general, has emphatically declined to defend
the 2008 ballot measure stripping same-sex couples of the right to
marry, as has outgoing California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Republican Meg
Whitman, who has spent more than $140 million of her own money in the race, says
she would defend Prop. 8 as governor. So has Los Angeles County district
attorney and Republican state attorney general candidate Steve Cooley. That sent
chills down the organizational spine of Equality California, the state’s
largest LGBT rights group, which at a recent press conference tapped
University of California, Irvine, School of Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky
to break down the potential consequences of such a move by an AG.

a constitutional scholar, argued that while a deadline has passed for the
state to defend Prop. 8 in the case Perry v. Schwarzenegger, now before
the ninth circuit court of appeals, it’s possible that the court would
consider allowing a new attorney general to intervene. Like Jerry Brown, Cooley’s
opponent, Kamala Harris, opposes defending Prop. 8 before the ninth
circuit, which will hear arguments in the case in December.

Tags: Election