Tag Archives: Juanita Millender-McDonald

SoCal Minority Battle Royalle: Homophobic Charges Flying

The upcoming special election to replace the late Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald is getting nasty.  There are 19 people who have filed already, but there are just three front runners, State Assemblymember Laura Richardson, State Senator Jenny Oropeza and the daughter of the late Congresswoman Valerie McDonald.  Power-brokers down in SoCal are taking sides. Yesterday, Senator Sheila Kuehl blasted Richardson for being “homophobic” in a letter and started fundraising for Orepeza.

The charges stem from an incident ten years ago when Richardson ran and lost to openly lay Gerrie Schipske for a State Assembly seat in Long Beach.  Kuehl’s letter yesterday charged that Richardson’s campaign mailers during that race “were filled with homophobic hate speech so shocking that many of her biggest supporters withdrew their endorsements of her candidacy.” Capitol Weekly:

The mailer, sent by Richardson during her 1996 Assembly run against Gerrie Schipske, accused her opponent of being “committed to the radical gay agenda” and “strongly backed by ultra-liberal Santa Monica Assemblymember Sheila Kuehl, the Assembly’s only openly gay member.”

The mailer was so aggressive that it cost Richardson support, said Parke Skelton, a consultant to both Kuehl and Oropeza. “A number of [Richardson’s] major supporters saw that and withdrew their endorsements,” he said.

Though ten years have passed, but the wound still seethes for Kuehl.  Richardson’s team declined to respond, but Jasmyne Cannick, a well known out African American political activist “says Richardson’s positions has been distorted.”

“Richardson is not homophobic. Ten years ago was 10 years ago, and a lot can happen in that span of time, including education and new sense of right and wrong. Ten years ago, Richardson looked at things differently as it related to the gay community and in that 10 years, she’s changed,” Cannick said.

“So is she going to be labeled as homophobic forever? Not to mention the fact that gay and lesbian issues aren’t the end all in this race,” added Cannick, an aide to Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally, D-Compton.

They may not have been in this race before, but they are now.  And has she changed in the last 10 years?  MadProfessor over at dailykos took a look at her record.

As far as MadProfessahcan discern, Richardson is not a co-sponsor of any of the California LGBT community’s major legislative priorities in the State Legislature: Mark Leno’s AB 43 (Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act) or Kuehl’s SB 777 (Student Civil Rights Act) or John Laird’s AB 14 (Civil Rights Act of 2007). A lack of such sponsorship does not mean that she’s homophobic, but since most of the Democratic caucus is signed on to all or at least one of these pieces of legislation it is significant that Richardson’s name is nowhere to be seen, especially considering she represents a district which is putting on the third largest gay and lesbian pride celebration in the country this weekend.

Today, Cannick posted multiple pictures of Richardson appearing with Black LGBT activists as well as a picture of Kuehl herself appearing with Richardson from 2006. It appears as if Richardson AND Kuehl have some “splainin” to do. So far silent in the dispute is State Senator Jenny Oropeza, who may be waiting to see how the dispute between the African American and LGBT communities shakes out and hope that bolsters her candidacy.

If this story leaps beyond the insider CapWeekly, to the mainstream news Richardson will have to talk about her support for GLBT issues.  Kuehl is no shrinking violet and will not back down from this battle.  Thus far Kuehl has only raised $1,655 for Oropeza on ActBlue.  This campaign is only a few weeks old and it is already getting nasty.  I expect there will be way more to come.  An open Congressional seat doesn’t happen all that often.

Mourning the Passing of Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald

UPDATE: (H/T to Josh) CDP Chair Art Torres says:

  “California and the nation have lost a great friend and public servant. I have known Juanita for many years, having served with her in the California legislature in the early `90s. She was a champion for the consumer and fought injustice wherever she saw it. She always valued public service and served her state and nation with grace and honor.

  “Juanita’s Congressional record included several distinguishing firsts, including being the first African-American woman to give the national Democratic response to President Bush’s weekly radio address and initiating the annual Memorial Day Tribute to Women in the Military. Her solid commitment and advocacy will be greatly missed.

  “Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family.”

Our country is worse off today, but we are better off thanks to all Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald did for our country. The joyful occasion of thousands of us gathering in San Diego as proud Democrats will now have a somber tone as we mourn the passing of a great leader. We’ll miss her, she was a woman of firsts.

She was the first African American woman to serve on the Carson City Council; the first to hold the position of Chairwoman for two powerful California State Assembly committees (Insurance; and Revenue & Taxation) in her first term. She was the first African American woman to give the national Democratic response to President Bush’s weekly radio address, and the first to be named Honorary Curator of the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach.

Additionally, Millender-McDonald was the first Democratic Chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues to lead the women on two groundbreaking meetings, the first with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to talk about the plight of women globally, and another with the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange to develop strategies for increasing women’s investments and net worth.

She also convened the first meeting between women members of Congress and Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the only women to serve on the High Court, to discuss issues of national importance to women. She also led a delegation of 27 women to meet with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, taking the Families First Agenda to 35 states across the nation, another first.

She also had landmark legislation:

  * the Projects of National and Regional Significance – a $1.8 billion program to address national transportation arteries congestion and mitigation.
  * the historic Alameda Corridor initiative in the 90’s;
  * the Mother-to-Child HIV/AIDS Transmission Act – legislation the President has established as his $15 billion African AIDS initiative;
  * legislation to increase diabetes research in minority and female populations;
  * the American-Asian Justice Act to allow foreign-born children of former and current American servicemen to be united with their American families;
  * the Freedmen’s Bureau Preservation Act of 2000, which directs the National Archives to preserve the records of former African American slaves for future generations to trace their family history;
  * the Prohibition Against Alcohol Trafficking Act (PAAT Act) to end the sale of alcohol to minors via the internet.
  * legislation that directs the Secretary of Education to study and report to Congress of the troubling dropout rate among Latino, Native American; American Samoan and African American high school students;
  * legislation to secure $2 million to reduce the backlog of Equal Employment Opportunity complaints, including sexual harassment allegations of female air traffic controllers;
  * the Anti-terrorism/Port Security Act of 2003;
  * the Terrorist Threat to Public Transportation Assessment Act of 2001;
  * the Child Safety Lock on Firearms Act; Date Rape and Violence Act; Sexual Trafficking.

She will be dearly missed.

Fox Attacks Black People; Where do CA CBC Members Stand?

UPDATE III:Our friends from Color of Change stopped by to say, “Big news — James, our director, talked with a credible reporter who talked with Carolyn Kilpatrick, who, after being pressed, said that there is a Fox debate in the works, it just hasn’t been announced.” Is Barbara Lee going to let this happen?

UPDATE II: ColorofChange worries that the CBC Institute is still in talks with Fox and says, “This is no time to let up the pressure. They could be waiting for it to blow over so they can announce next week.”

UPDATE: No need to call, the CBC Institute made a smart move, Fox lost out to CNN. Huge victory for Color of Change and a great day for the Democratic Party

Can a couple of Californians — armed with little more than internet connections and the truth — change the Congressional Black Caucus?

The Politico’s Ben Smith is reporting we will soon find out. James Rucker and Van Jones are set to use their organization Color of Change to challenge the boneheaded exploration by the CBC Institute of hosting a debate for Fox “News”. The opening salvo is going out via email and links to a Robert Greenwald video Fox Attacks: Black America. The email says in part:

Fox News has a horrible record of attacking Black people, leaders, and cultural institutions. But at this very moment, the Congressional Black Caucus Institute is negotiating to partner with Fox to host presidential debates prior to the 2008 elections.

For the CBC Institute to partner with an organization like Fox News-given its hostility to Black political interests-would be shameful. You can help prevent them from making this serious mistake by calling on them to drop negotiations with Fox […]

Given its record, Fox News shouldn’t enjoy the support of Black political or cultural institutions connected to the Congressional Black Caucus. We believe the CBC Institute will change course once it realizes that Black America, if not all of America, is watching. Please join us in making sure they hear us, loud and clear:


It should be expected that this video will be seen widely, in just three weeks his video Fox Attacks Barack Obama has been viewed 349,341 times.

Following the massive backlash and victory against the Nevada Democratic Party’s attempt to get in bed with Fox, Matt Stoller explained:

Over the past three weeks or so, the progressive movement – bloggers, Moveon.org, grassroots activists, filmmakers – pressured the Nevada Democratic Party to drop Fox News as the host of a presidential debate in August. In pursuing this short campaign, we made two basic arguments that were eventually accepted by party leaders.

First, we argued that Fox News is not a news channel, but a propaganda outlet that regularly distorts, spins, and falsifies information. Second, Fox News is heavily influenced or even controlled by the Republican Party itself. As such, we believe that Fox News on the whole functions as a surrogate operation for the GOP. Treating Fox as a legitimate news channel extends the Republican Party’s ability to swift-boat and discredit our candidates. In other words, Fox News is a direct pipeline of misinformation from the GOP leadership into the traditional press.

The current trend in the Party to hold leaders accountable for counter-productive decisions will now be waged in the Congressional Black Caucus and against the CBC Institute. Where do California members stand? Who knows, but you can ask them:

CA-09: CBC 1st Vice Chair Barbara Lee – (510) 763-0370

CA-37: Juanita Millender-McDonald – (310) 538-1190

CA-35: Maxine Waters – (323) 757-8900

CA-33: Diane Watson – (323) 965-1422

You can also sign the petition and call the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at (202) 785-3634. But first, check out the video.