Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Janice Hahn City Hall Allies Conduct Whisper Campaign, Claim Debra Bowen Is Against Marriage Equality

Oy. This is going to be a long election.

A couple of days ago rumors started circulating around the interwebs that CA36 Congressional candidate Debra Bowen was against marriage equality. Things came to a head on Monday when Chad Molnar, Councilman Bill Rosendahl's LAX-Community Liaison and one-time staffer to Congresswoman Jane Harman, posted this comment on Venice Patch.

Yesterday, Bowen's campaign released a statement to correct the record.

Bowen's campaign said Tuesday that information listed on Project Vote Smart's 2002 National Political Awareness Test is incorrect. Campaign spokesman Steve Barkan said her record and actions put her firmly in the camp of those in favor of same-sex marriage.

As a state senator, Bowen twice vote in favor of same-sex marriage: in 2004 on Assembly Joint Resolution 85, which opposed the federal marriage amendment, and in 2005 on Assembly Bill 849, which would allow same-sex couples to marry in California.

Bowen has even officiated some same-sex marriages, including the wedding of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Zeke Zeidler and his husband Jay Kohorn, Barkan said.

Montana-based Project Vote Smart sends its National Political Awareness Test – now known as the Political Courage Test – to candidates in state legislative, congressional, gubernatorial and presidential races, asking for their views on a variety of issues, including hot-button topics such as abortion and gun control.

In 2002, Bowen was running for re-election for a state Senate seat and filled out the survey. She was elected as Secretary of State in 2006, after being term limited out of the state Senate.

Project Vote Smart national director Kristen Vicedomini said her organization sends the surveys to candidates, who fill them out and return them. In some instances a campaign worker or representative can fill out the survey, but the candidate herself must sign off on it. Three different Project Vote Smart employees check the information before putting it online.

Barkan said he doesn’t know how it came to be that Bowen’s 2002 survey said she was against gay marriage.

“It could’ve been an error on the part of her. She didn’t have a campaign staff in 2002. … More likely it was an error by a volunteer,” Barkan said. “What’s more important is her record.”

Gay rights organization Equality California, which has put out a legislative scorecard every year since 2004, has given Bowen consistently high marks for voting in favor of gay-friendly legislation as a state senator. In 2004 and 2005 she had a 100 percent rating, and in 2006 she scored 93 percent.

"She voted for the marriage bill in California and has been a strong and vocal supporter of marriage equality," Equality California spokesman Vaishalee Raja wrote in an e-mail.

Vicedomini said Project Vote Smart allows candidates to update their answers if their positions have changed, but since Bowen's survey is from 2002, “it’s a little bit past the window to update that.”

Bowen also responded directly to the concerns on a local listserve.

This issue is very personal to me - I have long told people that I am an automatic aye on any civil rights issue, and if voters don't like that, they will have to find another rep. I have no room for compromise on this issue. I've talked to new members about finding their own such bottom line issues. This is one of my key no-room-for-negotiation bottom lines.

Apparently, none of this satisfied Mr. Molnar, who posted this comment on Venice Patch in response to the story.

Chad Molnar's boss, Councilman Bill Rosendahl, was one of Janice Hahn's first endorsements. According to Rosendahl's city website, Molnar is:

experienced in understanding and addressing constituent concerns with large transportation hubs, having previously served as Congresswoman Jane Harman's District Director and top advisor on issues surrounding the Port of Los Angeles. He is a political veteran, having managed several campaigns for Congress and the state legislature.

His biography would suggest he's worked closely with Janice Hahn, a council ally with Rosendahl's office on many controversial LAX issues. And, of course, Hahn's council district includes the Port of Los Angeles. 

Campaign records show Molnar donated $250 to Hahn's campaign in 2008.

Responding to inquiries at his office if he was the same Chad Molner who posted on Venice Patch, Molner had this to say.

Whatever happened to the first amendment, Marta? I respect your right to express yourself, and you should respect mine.

In 2002, Debra said she believed marriage should be between a man and a woman. That's all I've said. And that's all I will say.

I am gay, and I am proud. And I won't let you bully me into silence.


I contacted Cory Allen, the president of the Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club that Chad Molnar referenced in his original comment to Venice Patch. Mr Allen confirmed that Bowen wasn't present for the endorsement meeting, but disputed the characterization that Bowen "snubbed" Lambda.

Allen said officers from the club had attempted to contact Bowen through Facebook and the candidate's website, but was not able to get a hold of her in time for the meeting.

Although Long Beach Lambda ultimately endorsed Janice Hahn, Allen believes Debra Bowen is a strong supporter of equal rights.

"It's clear she's an ally for our community."

I also contact Bill Rosendahl, but he declined to comment for this story.


  1. Whatever happened to the first amendment, Marta? I respect your right to express yourself, and you should respect mine.

    In 2002, Debra said she believed marriage should be between a man and a woman. That's all I've said. And that's all I will say.

    I am gay, and I am proud. And I won't let you bully me into silence.

  2. Mr. Molnar, no one is disputing your first amendment right to express your views on a candidate, regardless of who your employer is or what connections you may have to Bowen's opponent in the CA36 race.

    However, it is within my first amendment rights to point out that despite the fact that Bowen and third-party individuals corrected the record, you continued to imply that Bowen was misrepresenting her stand on marriage equality.

    It is also within my rights to point out your connections to Bowen's opponent and allow the reader to draw their own conclusions as to your possible motivations.

    As always, if you wish to correct the record, you are welcome to respond.

  3. Thank you for the opportunity to correct the record. It's true that I expressed outrage over Bowen's own statement in 2002 that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but that information did not come from me. It was sent in an email blast last Friday to the West L.A. Dem Club, and not by anyone even remotely associated with me, Bill Rosendahl, or Janice Hahn's campaign. I would hope that you would understand why I would express outrage over it. It is a very personal matter for me.

  4. I understand your passion about the issue. However, I think it's important to acknowledge that Bowen never made any statement against marriage equality. The Vote Smart form was simply incorrect. It's a small, but crucially important distinction.

  5. Just as an FYI- SOS Debra Bowen has shown up (and supports) the HERO Awards of Stonewall Young Democrats since 2009. Debra is as pro-equality as you can get.

    P.S. Opinions expressed are my OWN.

    Ari Ruiz

  6. As a former congressional campaign staffer, I would have been FIRED for putting my opinion in print... we even had restricted rules for our facebook pages. The only way we could have gotten away with posting something like this would have been if the campaign gave me special permission.

    It tells me this Chad guy either made a HUGE mistake that could get him fired, or the campaign (and/or Rosendahl) gave him permission.

  7. Well, the good news is that we have a candidate that has always been clear on the issue, Marcy Winograd. She is the true progressive in the race.

    Besides, we just re-elected Debra Bowen to Secretary of State because we want her to serve in Sacramento during uncertain times involving redistricting. It’s more important she remain in Sacramento, protecting our 55 electoral votes so we retain the presidency.

  8. California's electoral votes aren't in play, and any measure to split them by CD would have to go to the voters and the SoS wouldn't have much sway there. Personally, I think that it's more important that we have a strong national advocate for electoral integrity and transparency, which is a role Bowen's quite familiar with on the state level.

    Fortunately, the Republican field now looks fractured enough that it will be two dems as top two.

  9. Oh Don't push the Winograd button - she's unelectable. And Ms. Evry has broken it down to everyone - the reason why she got 41% of the vote on 2010 was because they were voting against Harman not FOR Winograd. KEEP IT REAL.

    Bowen is the real progressive that is electable. I don't care what you say, she has represented the district for years.

  10. Who cares whether or not Bowen filled a form out incorrectly, she shouldn't be running in the first place. Marcy Winograd should have been given first dibs, she has been fighting against that bitch Jane Harman for years while Hahn and Bowen saw fit to pursue other opportunities.

    Janice Hahn is a joke. She got an unfair advantage because she was buddies with Harman, and was able to lock all sorts of endorsements into place before anyone even knew Harman was retiring.

    I just dont understand why Bowen is in this race. Shes been a great SoS and and we just fucking re-elected her to do that job for another term. There is nothing she brings to the table that Winograd doesn't already have. Marcy Winograd is one of the strongest progressive voices in California politics but somehow thats not good enough for Hahn and Bowen.

    This whole situation is a big cluster-fuck of stupid decisions. Hahn is a sneaky manipulator and Bowen should finish the job she was elected to do.

  11. Dear Anonymous,

    I think the reason Marcy Winograd received 41% of the vote is because people believed in her and her vision. Typically, when voters do not like an incumbent or the challenger they do not vote at all. Marta supports Debra Bowen and is doing what she can for her candidate, but I don't believe her analysis is unbiased. That is the nature of politics, and, as Marta so rightly points out, it is also within my rights to point out Marta's connections to Winograd's opponent and allow the reader to draw their own conclusions as to her possible motivations. In short, absent an independent analysis from a political research company on what motivated 41% of the electorate in the 36th CD to vote for Winograd, I wouldn't beleive anything you hear. The fact remains that Winograd received 41% of the vote in the last election, and that is the only fact we know. Anything else is pure conjecture.

  12. In the past, Winogad got 41% in a closed primary system, against Harman, with no other Dems in the race.

    This race is completely different.

    Harman isn't running. Two well-known liberal dems are already in the race, each with substantial bases of support. This primary isn't a primary at all, it's a "top two" race, with voters having to chose between Republicans and Dems, so it's more like a general election.

    To cap it off Winograd has no institutional or fundraising support, which has mostly gone to Bowen.

    All this means Winograd is essentially running a "vanity" race and won't make it past the first round of voting.

    As for bias, it's pretty clear I have a point of view. What this means for me is I have to be extra careful to get my facts straight. Ideally, you should be able criticize my point of view, but if I'm doing my job right, you shouldn't have a leg to stand on when it comes to the facts I use to back up my claims.

  13. This Marta Evry person is such an establishment hack.

    You accuse Winograd of running a vanity campaign? Is that a fucking joke? She has been fighting for progressive values in the 36th district and all over California for years. She ran against Harman 5 months ago and almost beat her. She almost took down an incumbent democrat in an extremely blue district during a shitty mid-term year.

    Now that Harman is retiring, she is running again to win the seat that is rightfully hers. Hahn is a sneaky bitch, who got inside information and used it to technically start her campaign before anyone even knew Harman was retiring. That alone should disqualify her in the mind of any reasonable, thoughtful progressive.

    Bowen has no reason to be running for this seat, her entry makes no sense. Anyone with any fucking sense knew that Winograd was going to get into this race, she has payed her dues, she has run in this district, for this exact seat multiple times. Its an obvious slap in Winograd's face for Bowen to have entered this race. Bowen is basically saying she doen't think Winograd is good enough or that somehow Bowen would represent the seat better.

    You want to talk about a vanity campaign, what do you call it when someone gets into a race that already has a great candidate who has experience running for that seat and is just as progressive on all the issues? I call that vanity. Bowen thinks she should have that seat, just because she is Debra Bowen. She knows that this seat is rightfully Winograd's and she is running to boost her ego, just like Hahn.

    You can pull your whole "she doesn't have money or establishment support shtick" all you want, its the same argument Harman made against her and she almost lost. Besides, if Hahn and Bowen hadn't decided to be egotistical bitches, the party and the people would have rallied around Winograd no problem. This whole situation has turned into a big embarrassment because Debra Bowen and Janice Hahn are in love with themselves and refused to acknowledge that a more experienced, deserving candidate has been waiting to run for this seat for years.

  14. I think we should leave the word "bitch" out of our conversations when talking about women candidates.

  15. Dear anonymous @ 9:37--

    I haven't made an endorsement in this race, but I would be concerned if Marcy Winograd were to somehow be the Democrat that advanced to the top two, presuming that the finalists end up being a Dem and a GOP candidate, mainly because she has made public statements that would be very damaging, especially with regard to foreign policy. One need not wonder what would happen, for instance, if her repeated inflammatory words regarding Israel were brought up for attention.

    Next, I would ask that you show some respect. Calling Janice Hahn and Debra Bowen "bitches" because they chose to run for office against someone that you prefer is far from appropriate, no matter the circumstance. The seat is not rightfully Winograd's or anyone else's. It's rightfully the seat of the person who gets the most votes. That's how democracy works.

    Lastly, your assertion that the party would have rallied around Winograd is absurd. I'm no fan of Jane Harman, but just stating the facts here: the local delegates in the Democratic Party overwhelmingly supported Harman over Winograd in the most recent endorsement process, in two distinct votes.

    Lastly--if winning an election by 20 points counts as almost losing, I hope I almost lose every time I run for anything any time in the future.

  16. Wow, Anonymous is as scary crazy as Winograd was at the convention. The seat is not rightfully anyone's until they are elected by the majority of the people who show up and vote! Hello, it's still a democracy!
    WInograd's behavior at the convention was INSANE! I actually argued with the chair to make sure she had a chance to speak her mind, and she would have served her campaign better by not opening her mouth. I'm not in the district, so I don't have a vote, but I must say that the immaturity shown by Winograd at the convention, and Anonymous on this site makes me wonder how she got even 41% last time. And I know of several people who voted AGAINST Harman, so that would be my guess as to how she got so many votes, too. Personally, I was interested in what she had to say because I was a little angry at Harman and was hoping someone decent was running against her.
    Also, one of Winograd's fans hit me in the face with a Janice Haun sign because I was volunteering for Gavin. It wasn't a joke hit, she was venomous. Seriously people at least act like you are grown up.
    BTW, My name is Brenda, but I don't have an account that's why I am Anonymous, too...

  17. Anon 9:37, didn't anyone tell you that things you put on the internet get copied, pasted, and redistributed?

    I understand that people have different ideas about policy, but how exactly does all this "bitch"-ing help our district? If this is what Winograd and her supporters are like, it's not going to be a surprise to anyone that she isn't going to be a factor in this race.

  18. It appears that the strongest argument for Winograd appears to be that she has lost elections twice, while the complaint against both Bowen and Hahn are that they recently won elections. Anyone see a problem with this type of logic? Maybe John McCain should be President now, since he lost to Bush in 2000.

    Or, maybe, Debra Bowen and Janice Hahn (and I support Bowen), should be considered because the people whom they represent think they are doing such a good job that they keep re-electing them.

    And if Winograd could not beat Harman--who Winograd supporters equated with evil--then maybe it's a sign that we just don't want Marcy Winograd. Which you would think is fine with her, since she does not have much interest in living in the 36th either.

  19. All this Winograd bashing must make you people tired! I agree the debate should be civil and calling candidates any names isnt going to be constructive in any way. We can drop the 'bitches' and 'crazy' tags. I've checked this blog a few times since this race started and it seems like all you do is take cheap shots like "running a vanity race" or your nonstop Hahn bashing. Then you post them all over the other sites to infer legitimacy. We need a much better dialogue if we are ever going to get ourselves out of the problems we face. Focus on some real issues people!

    PS: Let's also not forget that someone posting as 'anonymous' and pretending they support Winograd and making ridiculous statements so you can use them to attack her isn't outside the realm of campaign shennanigans. I'd bet you a shiny nickel the person who posted that is supporting Hahn or Bowen, just so they have fodder to bash Winograd. I'm just sayin....

  20. A couple of comments. No one in this race has many endorsements because filing hasn't opened yet. Winograd is a teacher with a husband who is a labor lawyer, so it stands to reason that the groups she got against Harman like UTLA and Afscme she has a reasonable chance of getting this time. The comment about the Secretary of State's duties is a little off the mark because the Governor would pick the replacement until the next election. However there are a few cases where there is specific legal power and it's possible we could lose something if Bowen left office now. But the chances of that compared to what? Why don't people talk about who would be the best member of Congress, not this personal sniping. I hope John Chiang changes his mind and runs.

  21. The anti-winograd sentiment on this site is clownish. So Winograd cant win because she calls out Israel for subjugating an entire people? How does that make any sense? She cant win because she lost against a strong incumbent with 41% of the vote? Absurd. All these arguments feel like they were crafted by the DLC in order to insult and demonize the most progressive candidate in this race.

    I'll say it again, Hahn is a sneaky "person" for using her friendship with Harman to get a head start on a race no one else even knew was happening. I would like to hear any sort of argument explaining why this type of behavior is acceptable.

    Bowen just got re-elected 4 month ago. What she is doing is the exact same thing Harman did, and everyone agreed that it was terrible when Harman did it, but somehow if Bowen wants to quit her job whenever she wants she deserves all of our unwavering support. Please the hypocrisy is painful.

    I would love to hear any argument as to why Winograd would not win, that doesn't involve illogical attacks on her about Israel or establishment support.

  22. Anonymous 4:26 - if you do as much GOTV as you do posting on blogs maybe Marcy will have a shot!

  23. OK, Anon 4:26, tell us what you would do if you got to "hear any argument as to why Winograd would not win, that doesn't involve illogical attacks on her about Israel or establishment support."

    What would happen if someone presented that argument to you? Would you listen carefully and appreciate the fact that someone took the time to share it with you? Or would you go back to screaming about bitches?

  24. @ 10:55

    WTF? Why are you asking me what I would do if someone did answer my question? I asked the question and I am fully prepared to listen to whatever answer is given.

  25. Just stating upfront that I was a Winograd supporter in the last election. No way would I consider Hahn. That being said, this time I am torn between Bowen and Marcy. Both are excellent candidates. The question is a pragmatic one. Who has the best chance of winning in the general election?

    Just wanted to address a few prior posts from others:

    1) Susie: I disagree with your premise that “Typically, when voters do not like an incumbent or the challenger they do not vote at all.” The correct analysis is not “or” in your statement but “and” – if they dislike both then voters are not likely to vote. According to Rutchick anytime an election is between two unappealing options it becomes "demotivating to voters, weakening their faith in the political process, depressing turnout & contributing to an atmosphere of negativity & cynicism." In addition, that is just one component in a very complex determination in voting psychology & behavior. Further, in this primary, out of 157,418 registered democratic voters, only 38,178 voted (24% turnout). So the question becomes, does that turnout qualify as voters being demotivated or is that number a typical turnout for a primary in a non-presidential election year? Well, in the 2006 primary, 48,560 total voters turned out the vote in the Harman/Winograd race; in 2010, 45,938 turned out (less voters). So, your second premise that people came out to vote for Marcy is not factually correct. What occurred was a general anti-incumbency vote which when invoked against a disappointing government is manifested as a vote against the incumbent & in many instances a default vote for a challenger. To not recognize that reality is political unsophistication & perilous.


  26. …Cont…
    2 (a) To anonymous March 9 at 8:50 who stated “Janice Hahn is a joke. She got an unfair advantage because she was buddies with Harman, & was able to lock all sorts of endorsements into place before anyone even knew Harman was retiring.”

    Really? Are you still in high school? This is politics. Stop whining. I’m no fan of Hahn’s, but I can think of dozens of races where this has occurred (even in caucus races) & where was your outrage then? If the shoe were on the other foot, you’d be saying how clever or savvy your candidate(s) was.

    2 (b) To anonymous March 20 at 9:37 who stated “Bowen thinks she should have that seat, just because she is Debra Bowen. She knows that this seat is rightfully Winograd's & she is running to boost her ego, just like Hahn.”

    Really? You are either the same anonymous or cut from the same cloth. You would be the first one to decry someone having a rightful claim to a seat in government (e.g. Harman or someone you don’t support) but when it comes to your candidate you can’t see through your own hypocrisy.

    2 (c) To anonymous March 11, 5:37 who stated “PS: Let's also not forget that someone posting as 'anonymous' & pretending they support Winograd & making ridiculous statements so you can use them to attack her isn't outside the realm of campaign shennanigans. I'd bet you a shiny nickel the person who posted that is supporting Hahn or Bowen, just so they have fodder to bash Winograd. “

    Embarassing, isn’t it? Like I said, I was/am a Winograd supporter. Bowen’s entry has made the choice difficult. However, when names are attached in the Progressive Caucus DB to these attacks on Marcy’s opponents, it is hard to deny that they are indeed Winograd supporters. Some are blinded by their loyalty & instead of engaging in constructive dialogue, they resort to name calling & bullying. Many of us were horrified to hear our fellow Winograd supporters bully & taunt Harman supporters with “lovers of a baby killer” & the like. For a faction of Marcy’s supporters to use words like “bitches” is hardly out of their realm & is a reflection of how this faction operates. Nasty inner politics is detrimental to Marcy’s campaign.

    Let the democratic process play out & may the best candidate win. We are in this struggle together.

  27. Here are some facts worthy of consideration.

    1. Marta Evry -- who may have found "progressive" religion and/or suffered remorse after her long spell as a Harman shill -- has demonstrated disproportionate hostility toward Winograd, leading her to fact-challenged cheap shots like calling her current run a "vanity" campaign, miscounting numbers of supporters at rallies, offering theories -- again, without facts/polls -- about why she received 41% of the vote that are invariably negative, and in last June's primary, joining Harman's sleazebag campaign consultant, Harvey Englander, in lying about Winograd's residence at the time.

    2. Ms. Evry's blog seems to have a penchant for "disappearing" posts that are critical of her. I have had two such posts disappear, including one on March 12 similar in content to this one. After my first one disappeared about a week ago, the one complaining about the disappearance did appear.

    3. Candidates must ultimately be judged on their positions, their own character
    and behavior, and other personal qualities. Others posting above appear ready, however, to blame a candidate for the unruly or "immature" behavior of even a single individual supporter. This substitute for analysis merely applies the badge of immaturity (not to mention predisposition) on the critic, not the candidate, since if one is so disposed, surely any opponent of a candidate can find a supporter of that candidate who has misbehaved.

    Right, Marta?

  28. "Anonymous said...
    Here are some facts worthy of consideration."

    Um, items 1, 2, and 3 look more like expressions of opinions than assertions of fact to me. Maybe we should leave that sort of thing to Fox News?

  29. Anonymous 3:19 - Here's a fact worthy of consideration.

    If you don't have the courage of your convictions to sign your name to your opinions, I don't have the time to care.

  30. Anonymous 3:19
    said "Others posting above appear ready, however, to blame a candidate for the unruly or "immature" behavior of even a single individual supporter."

    If only that were true. Some were intimately involved in the campaign, one a known staffer (as recognized by our group - mostly Winograd supporters). These weren't simply volunteers who "misbehaved." The point I believe the poster made above was that this group of individuals (not only one individual) hurts a candidate's campaign - hence why staffers are held accountable for their actions (when those actions are brought to light). I'm guessing Marcy doesn't know; certainly she wouldn't have tolerated such behaviors had she known. I don't think anyone is blaming the candidate; certainly not blaming Marcy! Don't see that anywhere in the post above. Must be the "predisposition" of the guilty.

  31. Anon 3:32 -- There are plenty of facts in the anon 3:19 post. Let me break it down for you:

    1. Marta was a shill for Harman in 2006 and again in 2010.
    2. Marta then exhibited rabid (yes, that adjective is an opinion) hostility toward Winograd, and still does.
    3. Marta lied about Winograd's residence in 2010, as did Harvey Englander. (It is a widely shared opinion that Englander is a sleaze.)
    4. Marta offered theories without factual basis about how Winograd garnered 41% of the vote last June (here, the fact is the absence of facts from Evry).
    5. I have twice attempted posts here that disappeared after seeing a note that they had been posted.

    Sorry your perception seems to be a bit skewed in your rush to compare the above fact-laden post to the laughable Faux Noise.

    As for Marta at 3:40, your apathy is my ecstasy. Keep on not giving a damn.

  32. Anon 5:05pm. What an angry person you are. What grudges and vengeance you hang on to ... and for what reason? What do you gain from it? Let it go. Focus your energies on getting Marcy elected rather than attacking a fellow democrat you don't agree with it.

  33. Anon 8:23, people should not get away with publishing lies about others. They need to be called out. Nor should specious arguments go unchallenged. And if you see no hostility in what Ms. Evry posts about Winograd, then you are not paying attention.

  34. COMMENTS ON THIS POST ARE NOW CLOSED. You are welcome to carry on this pie fight in any future posts, but if you post here, regardless of your point of view, your post will be deleted.