Gay Democratic group backs Duncan over gay incumbent in race for Dallas County judge
Openly gay Dallas County Judge Jim Foster cried foul this week after Stonewall Democrats of Dallas overwhelmingly voted to endorse one of his challengers in the March primary, Larry Duncan.
Foster, who’s reportedly the first openly gay incumbent not to be backed by the group, said it was unfair that a Stonewall member who’s a paid employee of Duncan’s campaign was allowed to participate in the endorsement process.
"To me, that’s a huge conflict of interest," Foster said.
"I have done more than the two of my opponents combined for the community," he added. "But the decision was not based on GLBT issues. The decision was based in my opinion on party politics, and that’s not right.
"I’m disappointed in Stonewall, which I’ve been a longtime member of. I have spent over 35 years of my life working on these issues for the GLBT community, and I’m disappointed that that is all for naught," Foster said.
Foster declined to identify the Stonewall member who works for Duncan’s campaign. But former Stonewall President Michael Moon, who participated in the endorsement process, acknowledged that he’s working for Duncan.
Both Moon and current Stonewall President Erin Moore said according to the group’s bylaws, any paid member in good standing 30 days prior to the endorsement meeting is allowed to participate, regardless of whether they work for a campaign.
Moon also noted that while he took part in a debate and vote on the county judge endorsement, he didn’t pose any questions to Foster, Duncan or Clay Jenkins when the three Democratic candidates screened for a committee last weekend.
Moore said Moon’s participation had "no bearing on the process." The endorsement committee voted 29-3-2 to recommend Duncan, with Jenkins receiving three votes and Foster receiving two.
"He was just another voice in the room," Moore said of Moon.
The endorsement committee’s recommendation of Duncan and 57 other candidates in the primary was ratified by Stonewall’s general membership on Tuesday, Jan. 19. With more than 150 people present, only two people voted against the slate of candidates, with two others abstaining.
Moore said she wasn’t surprised by the committee’s lopsided support for Duncan, who currently serves as president for Dallas County Schools and has been a staunch straight ally of the LGBT community since the 1980s.
"Larry’s been a longtime supporter of Stonewall Democrats," Moore said. "He’s supported the club whether or not he’s running for office. … He’s a great administrator, and that’s what the county judge does."
Moore also noted that Stonewall leaders have made it clear the group wouldn’t be giving a free pass this year to Democratic incumbents, gay or straight, who’d been endorsed in the past, as Foster was in 2006.
"We say that all things being equal, being gay comes into consideration, but it’s not the only consideration and never has been," Moore said.
Duncan said he was "extremely honored" to receive the group’s backing. "The Stonewall Democrats are known for the rigorousness of their screening process and the effort they put into campaigns," he said.
Openly gay Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, one of the founders of Stonewall who’s supporting Jenkins in the primary, said he was disappointed that Jenkins didn’t receive the endorsement. Jenkins has raised by far the most money of the three candidates, and he has the backing of numerous high-profile Democratic elected officials.
"Larry Duncan’s built positive relationships with a lot of members of Stonewall Democrats, and in a final analysis, that makes a difference," Fitzsimmons said.
Fitzsimmons added that he was bothered by what he called "a vicious slur" posted in story comments on Dallas Voice’s Web site last month, suggesting that Jenkins "doesn’t support the gay lifestyle."
"It was unsubstantiated and done anonymously, and it has absolutely no validity," he said.
Fitzsimmons also said there was a "whisper campaign" within Stonewall suggesting that Jenkins is uncomfortable with gay people.
In response to a question about the issue during the screenings, Jenkins said he was best man at a gay wedding, that he and his wife have vacationed with a lesbian couple, and that he had a gay roommate in college.
"I have a long history of not being uncomfortable with the gay lifestyle," Jenkins said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 22, 2010.
Stonewall Democrats of Dallas endorsements for the March 2 primary
Dallas County Democratic Party Chair: Darlene Ewing
U.S. Reps: Cong. Dist. 3: John Lingenfelder; Cong. Dist. 5: Tom Berry; Cong. Dist 26: Neil Durrance
Governor: Bill White
Lt. Governor: Ronnie Earle
Agriculture Comm: Hank Gilbert
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6: Keith Hampton
State Representatives: District 100: Terri Hodge; District 102: Carol Kent; District 105: Loretta Haldenwang; District 108: Peter Schulte
Justice, 5th Appeals, Place 4: Bonnie Goldstein; Place 12: Larry Praeger.
District Judge: 68th Judicial District: Martin Hoffman; 116th Judicial District: Tonya Parker; 134th Judicial District: Dale Tillery; 191st Judicial District: Gena Slaughter; 193rd Judicial District: Carl Ginsberg; 194th Judicial District: Ernie White; 203rd Judicial District: Davie Lamb; 254th Judicial District: David Hanschen; 256th Judicial District: David Lopez; 265th Judicial District: Mark Stoltz; 291st Judicial District: Susan Hawk; 292nd Judicial District: Larry Mitchell; 298th Judicial District: Emily Tobolowsky; 363rd Judicial District: Tracy Holmes.
Criminal District Judge: Court No. 7: Michael Snipes
Family District Judge: 301st Judicial District: Lynn Cherry; 302nd Judicial District: Tena Callahan; 304th Judicial District: William "Bill" Mazur; 330th Judicial District: Andrea Plumlee
Judge County Court At Law: No. 3: Sally Montgomery; No. 4: Mark Greenberg.
Judge County Criminal Court: No 2: Lennox Bower; No 3.: Doug Skemp; No 4.: Teresa Tolle; No. 5: John Loza; No. 7 : John Carlough; No. 8: Tina Yoo; No. 9: Peggy Hoffman.
Judge, County Criminal Court of Appeals: No. 1: Cas Callaway; No. 2: Jeff Rosenfield.
Judge, County Probate court: No. 1: Brenda Hull-Thompson
County Judge: Larry Duncan
County Commissioner, Pct. 4: Elba Garcia
District Clerk: Gary Fitzsimmons
County Clerk: John Warren
County Treasurer: Joe Wells
Justice of the Peace: Precinct 2, Place 1: Wesley Johnson; Precinct 3, Place 2: Michele Wong Krause; Precinct 4, Place 1: Mary Abeyta; Place 2: Katy Hubener; Precinct 5, Place 1: Luis Daniel Supelveda
Constable: Precinct 2: Jerry Pittman; Precinct 4: Charles Woertendyke; Precinct 5: Jaime Cortes