Those Santa Monica Republicans
If your only exposure to Republicans who run for the Legislature is to listen to the debates in the Senate and Assembly, you might come to believe that just about every Republican in the state is pretty darned conservative on social issues: against hate crimes legislation, against expanding anti-discrimination laws to include protections based upon sexual orientation, against gay marriage.
But every two years at election time, there comes the realization that the ones who make it to Sacramento are only those who hail from districts where those views likely represent the prevailing public sentiment. Turns out there are Republican candidates who live in decidedly more liberal districts and hold markedly different views.
Consider the Republican legislative candidates in the districts that include Santa Monica: Leonard Lanzi, running against Sheila Kuehl for state Senate, and Heather Peters, running against Fran Pavley for Assembly.
Over iced tea at an oceanfront hotel in Santa Monica this summer, Peters told me of her experience growing up, raised by "very liberal, hippy parents," in New York's Greenwiich Village at a time when AIDS was new, not well understood and spreading fast. She has very strong feelings about the need for gay couples to have domestic partner rights. "I lived in a community where the only 'family' that people had were the people who loved and cared for them, and they were on a daily basis being kept out of the hospital rooms."
Lanzi is now working for Junior Achievement after a longtime attachment to another prominent nonprofit group ended abruptly. "I worked for the Boy Scouts for 13 years as executive director in Santa Barbara," he told the Ventura County Star editorial board. "I was forced out for being gay... I know what discrimination in the workplace is all about."
He further said he admired Kuehl's record in the civil rights arena and said that on social issues he and his opponent "are very much on the same page."
It's too bad the voter registration in their districts is so stacked against them. If they won, they would certainly add the spice of variety to those weekly Republican Caucus luncheons.