A Valiant Effort

Tuesday, September 1 was special election day in California’s 10th Congressional District and while Democratic hopeful Anthony Woods garnered considerable national attention in his quest to fill the seat vacated by former Congresswoman and now Obama Administration appointee, Ellen Tauscher, voters had other ideas.

In a very crowded field of 14 candidates, Woods finished a very respectable fourth, with 8% of the vote. The Democratic winner, California Lt. Governor John Garamendi had 26 percent and will now face a general election challenge from Republican and minor party candidates November 3.

Despite the loss, Woods brought attention to an otherwise unnoteworthy election, because had he won, the Iraq War veteran and Harvard graduate would have been the nation’s first Black openly gay member of Congress. While he has not discussed the possibility of running for future office, he did promise supporters that he would continue to be a voice for the causes in which he believes.

Get Out the Vote for Anthony Woods

The special election to fill California’s 10th Congressional District seat is September 1, and Democratic candidate Anthony Woods is rallying support for a weekend of get out the vote activities. Woods, who would become the first openly gay Black member of Congress if elected, is one of more than a dozen candidates vying for the seat previously held by Rep. Ellen Tauscher, who has left to take a position in the Obama State Department.

While only registered voters in the district can vote for Woods, he’s soliciting help from where ever he can get it. Anyone in the country can contribute money to the campaign, but he’s also organized virtual phone banks, so supporters across America can call undecided voters in the district and tell them about his campaign.

Campaign Notes

The Public Employees Federation (PEF), New York’s second largest state-employee union, representing 9,000 professional, scientific and technical state employees, as well as hundreds of employees in local government agencies, including the Albany County Probation Department and Albany Housing Authority, Thursday announced its endorsement of Corey Ellis in his bid for mayor of Albany.

Ellis, City Councilman from Albany’s Third Ward, has already received the endorsement of the Working Families Party in his quest to unseat four-term incumbent Jerry Jennings. With the PEF support, he can now expect to get a sizeable volunteer army in his get out the vote efforts.

In the Democratic-controlled city, victory in the September primary all but assureds victory in November, but now should Ellis finish just short of a win, he may have sufficient reason, as well as a ballot line, on which to continue the race through to the general election. Today’s endorsement however, makes this race tighter than Jennings expected.

Three thousand miles away, in California’s 10th Congressional District race, the moment of truth comes much sooner for underdog challenger, Anthony Woods. The primary is September 1. However in a crowded field that includes more established, well-known and experienced politicians, Woods picked up an endorsement from the Bay Area Reporter, a gay and lesbian newspaper that has come out in support of this openly gay, African American Iraq War veteran.

…it is more than Woods’s sexual orientation that leads us to recommend him to East Bay voters. Woods would bring a fresh perspective to Congress which has become mired in special interests and hyperbole. One need look no further than the current debate over health care reform; there are not enough progressive Democrats and Republicans are swooping in to kill any effort at real reform.

Finally, New Yorkers who want to vote in the September 15 primary for mayor, public advocate, comptroller, Manhattan DA and a host of city council seats, need to register by Friday, August 21.

Bolt of Lightning

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Records are meant to be broken but Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt smashed the Men’s 100-meter mark into little pieces Sunday.

Bolt cruised to the finish of the 100-meter final at the world championships in Berlin, besting the 9.69 mark he set winning gold at last year’s Beijing Olympics by 0.11 seconds, finishing in a time of 9.58 seconds. It was the biggest improvement in the 100-meter record since electronic timing began in 1968.

Weekend Update

Since my return to blogging you may have noticed a particular emphasis on politics. I admit, I’m political observer and activist, basically a political junkie. Right now we are in the midst of a hot campaign season and frankly that interests me more even than the standings of my pathetic New York Mets right now. I am actively involved in or simply paying attention to several races around New York City as well as other parts of the country, so from time to time will post updates.

The race I care most about is the one for New York City Mayor. Democratic challenger Bill Thompson has picked up key endorsements this week, from Congressman Jose Serrano and the city’s largest municipal workers union, District Council 37, who supported incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the last elecction. While reports of a less than stellar fundraising month may have given some people pause, those in the know understand that building the grassroots support is the most vital strategy right now, which will pay off as the campaign moves closer to November.

The billionaire mayor’s money will always buy him more television ads and direct mail brochures. But Thompson has a growing and energized base of real live human supporters, prepared to do the neighborhood leafleting, fundraising and visibility events, and the get out the vote efforts.

Downtown in City Council District 3, Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, incumbent Council Speaker Christine Quinn seeks re-election as a result of her deal with Bloomberg to engineer a City Council vote to extend term limits (against the wishes of the citizens of New York). At a candidates forum this week, she faced sharp criticism from her challengers.

Contenders Maria Passannante-Derr and Yetta Kurland ripped Quinn not just for her role in the term limits vote, but in not forcefully opposing a 2005 Bloomberg-backed lawsuit that successfully appealed a state court decision allowing same-sex marriage.

“This election is about an arrogant incumbent that has sold out our community for a right-wing Republican mayor,” Passannante-Derr charged.

Back upstate, in my old stomping grounds of Albany, Democratic Mayoral challengers, City Councilman Corey Ellis and four-term incumbent Jerry Jennings held competing press conferences this week on the same subject, what to do about the city’s growing number of abandoned and vacant properties, and they articulated two distinctly different approaches.

The Huffington Post this week called the Albany mayor’s race one to watch.