West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran today endorsed Bobby Shriver for election as L.A. County’s 3rd District Supervisor this coming November.
Duran came in third in the June primary race for the supervisor position, behind Shriver, a former mayor of Santa Monica and a nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy, and former state legislator Sheila Kuehl.
Duran’s endorsement of Shriver followed an endorsement of him on June 30 by West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico. That leaves the City Council evenly split in its endorsements, with Councilmembers John Heilman and Jeffrey Prang having previously endorsed Kuehl. Councilmember Abbe Land is unable to make an endorsement because of her position as head of the Trevor Project, a non-profit group, according to Land’s deputy Kiran Hashmi.
In making his endorsement, Duran said he was more philosophically aligned with Shriver. Duran noted, for example,that both he and Shriver think the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) should be amended to loosen regulations on developers. CEQA requires an “environmental quality impact” analysis by local government units on development projects. The findings of some of those analyses have been used to by residents of West Hollywood and other communities to oppose or force changes in some development projects. Real estate developers based outside of West Hollywood but with projects in the city have been major donors to Duran’s previous City Council campaigns.
While no one party garnered more than 50 percent of the vote, Kuehl came in first in the June primary with 36 percent of the vote compared with 29 percent for Shriver and 16 percent for Duran. Kuehl ran first in more than 630 of the county’s precincts while Shriver took first place in 250.
Each of the supervisor candidates is a Democrat, as are all of the West Hollywood City Council members. But Kuehl shares another trait with four of the five WeHo Council members in that she is homosexual. Thus her endorsement by D’Amico and Duran, two of the Council’s four gay council members, has intrigued some political observers. Given that Duran is openly gay and has positioned himself in the supervisor campaign as a fiscal conservative, some wonder whether he will help divert some gay votes to Shriver and also help him attract support from more conservative voters and the development community. On the other hand, some predict the LGBT vote will go to Kuehl. While many older gay men privately express discomfort with lesbian women, that feeling is less common among younger gay men who some observers believe will lean toward supporting an LGBT candidate, whether male or female.
In a comment published on a blog by KPCC, the public radio station, Kuehl criticized Duran’s endorsement. “It’s quite disloyal to the LGBT community,” she said. “I don’t think every gay person has to endorse every other gay person but if you have a qualified LGBT candidate, you’d think you’d take that into account.”
“I did not want to make my decision based on sexual orientation,” Duran said. “I think we are beyond the part of electing the first of everything.”
In the June primary Kuehl ran first in West Hollywood, 40 percent of whose population is composed of gay men, winning 38 percent of the primary vote compared to 24 percent for Duran and 16 percent for Shriver. Duran is up for re-election to the West Hollywood City Council in March of next year.