Democratic Activists for Women Now (DAWN) voted to rescind its endorsement of State Senate candidate Ann Ravel on Wednesday night over her opposition to Proposition 15 and refusal to give back campaign donations from South Bay attorney Jim McManis
Last year, the advocacy group endorsed both Ravel—who is running for the open District 15 seat—and her opponent, Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese. In a statement, the organization’s executive board said that since giving Ravel their endorsement last fall, “new information about [her has been] revealed,” that led them to reconsider.
“For over 20 years, DAWN has focused on electing and supporting pro-choice progressive women candidates and leaders,” the organization’s executive board said in a prepared statement today. “As a respected mission-driven, values-based organization, our endorsements matter. ... Because of publicly stated opposition to Proposition 15 and unwillingness to oppose corporate power grabs, the DAWN Executive Board rescinds our endorsement of Ann Ravel for State Senate.”
Over the last few months, Ravel has publicly stated her opposition to California Prop. 15, which if passed would require commercial properties to be assessed every three years and taxed at its current fair market value.
“As I mentioned to [DAWN], it makes me realize more and more how people are so polarized over what they think are litmus tests when in fact the reason that am concerned about Prop. 15 is that it is going to impact minorities in much greater numbers than it will help,” Ravel told San Jose Inside. “Those are the people who are going to lose their jobs, are going to lose their business and that’s who I’m worried about.”
The former Federal Election Commission chair also noted that the California NAACP also opposed Prop. 15 for the same reasons.
Although not mentioned in the statement provided to San Jose Inside, DAWN President Linda Alexander said that Ravel’s refusal to return campaign donations from McManis also factored into the decision.
The well-known attorney of the law firm McManis Faulker where Ravel currently works, represented Judge Aaron Persky during the successful 2018 campaign to recall him from the Santa Clara County Superior Court bench. Two years prior, the now-former county judge made national news after he sentenced ex-Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to just six months in county jail for raping Chanel Miller behind a campus dumpster.
During the recall effort, McManis made a number of public statements about Miller—who is now a best-selling author—including one where he accused her of not writing her own victim impact statement. In a May 2018 Vogue story run days before the election, he was quoted saying he believed Miller was not attacked and attempted to excuse the rape by stating she “had been drinking before she arrived at the fraternity party.”
Ravel, who opposed the recall effort, made a public apology last year for supporting a campaign, which she said was full of “victim blaming and negativity.” But when asked last month by women from the Recall Judge Persky campaign to return his $2,000 check, as well as another $7,000 from his colleagues, she demurred and said the he was acting in his capacity as a legal representative for Persky.
“There are people who represent murderers and they’re doing what they’re supposed to do under the law and under our system of justice,” Ravel said at the time. “What [the Recall Persky campaign is] arguing is clearly showing a lack of understanding of the importance of the justice system.”
A DAWN executive board member told San Jose Inside that Ravel was asked once again if she would return the campaign donations. She told them she wouldn’t.
“Victim blaming is never OK,” the executive board member said. “Ann Ravel defended him and I think for any woman that’s insulting and offensive.”
Stanford Law Professor Michele Dauber, who led the Recall Persky effort, said the campaign leadership is “gratified” that DAWN withdrew the endorsement.
“She was silent while Perksy’s campaign spokesman Jim McManis engaged in rank victim blaming against Brock Turner’s victim,” Dauber said. “She continues to accept thousand of dollars in campaign contributions from McManis and refuses to distance herself from him. Ann is standing with victim blamers instead of victims. She cannot be trusted to advocate for survivors in Sacramento.”
In an interview, Ravel repeated her previous argument that McManis was “defending his client.” “Even if I don’t agree with what I argued, that’s his job,” she said.