Friday, February 10, 2012

Updated: Kathy Neal Makes Surprise Exit from Assembly Race

By Steven Tavares
Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 11:23 AM

Updated below. In a somewhat cryptic farewell, 18th Assembly District candidate Kathy Neal has suspended her campaign, according to a statement sent early today. “I am proud of the progress we made in such a short period of time and greatly appreciate the help, partnerships, and backing that emerged from a widely diverse base of support,” Neal said. “While I will not be an active participant in the race at this time, I will continue to be involved in state and local politics, because I am committed to improving the lives of those in our community, especially for those among us who are less fortunate or disenfranchised.”

Kathy Neal
  • Kathy Neal
Neal, a former Oakland port commissioner and current member of the Alameda County Central Committee, gave no specific reason for dropping out of the race just days before the official nominating process is to begin. As the only woman in the race, many political observers believed Neal would be a credible force. In her statement, Neal makes two references to this dynamic. “As women, I have always believed that our voices must be heard and I have worked tirelessly to place strong and effective women in elective offices,” Neal said. “While I regret that at this time I am unable to continue my candidacy in the new 18th assembly district, I look forward to future races where I can play an integral role in ensuring greater representation of women in office.”

Neal had bolstered her campaign coffers recently with a $60,000 personal loan. The figure put her cash on hand in the neighborhood of one of her challengers, Peralta Community College Trustee Abel Guillen.

In an interview with the Express last Friday, Neal gave no indication she was contemplating an exit from a race that many believe will be one of the most competitive in California. Her answers to campaign related questions were both thoughtful and forward-minded.

The abrupt suspension of Neal’s campaign may also help the chances of AC Transit board member Joel Young. Neal and Young were expected to battle for the district’s African American vote. And with Neal out of the race, it could help Young become one of the two candidates who make the November runoff.

Update 12:40 p.m.: In a phone interview today, Neal said it was not her intention to drop out the race to help Joel Young. Neal also said she thinks the likelihood of another woman replacing her on the ballot is low.

Neal said she is open to discussing a possible endorsement of one of the remaining candidates, but has not yet spoken to any of them.

While offering encouragement for another woman to enter the race, she said, she knows of no potential candidate and does not believe one would be able to quickly amass strong support.

“I would definitely like to see a woman in the race,” said Neal, “but at this late stage of the game, it would be difficult for a candidate to hold fund-raisers and gather enough support.”


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