Two women of color running to replace termed out California State Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) are neck-and-neck in fundraising and claim similar “firsts” in their political careers.
Candidates Aisha Wahab—Hayward mayor pro tem and the first Afghan-American woman elected to public office—and Lily Mei—Fremont's mayor and the city's first elected woman and Asian American—each hope to represent more than 900,000 residents in Senate District 10, which includes Milpitas, Santa Clara and the northwestern corner of San Jose.
Wieckowski recently endorsed Wahab as his successor, but if campaign coffers are any sign, it’s still going to be a close race.
During the first six months of 2021, Mei raised $300,456 and spent $19,456, while Wahab reported $243,937.88 and spent only $485.
One major distinction, however, is the negative attention being shone on Mei’s political past.
While her campaign website cites an “unequivocal commitment to advancing the rights, well-being, and dignity of LGBTQIA+ people and their families,” moments from Mei's tenure as a Fremont Unified School District Trustee from 2008 to 2014 paint a different picture.
She previously rejected a proposal to recognize a day honoring civil rights leader Harvey Milk, voted to ban “Angels in America,” a book about the AIDS epidemic, from FUSD curriculums and voted against inclusive sex education for all students.
Mei refutes these allegations, despite news coverage reporting otherwise—prompting the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee to unanimously withhold endorsements for anti-LGBTQIA+ candidates.
Mei's current endorsers include U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, San José Mayor Sam Liccardo and former CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group Carl Guardino.