Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone’s affinity for antiquated colloquialisms has turned into a hog-wild debacle after telling Fly that Gary Kremen, his as-yet-unannounced 2022 election opponent, is “sucking the tit of the union.”
In suggesting that Kremen, a Valley Water District board member and tech entrepreneur, obsequiously latches onto whatever political milk he could suckle from unions, he implied Kremen may piggyback off Stone’s recent conflicts with labor leaders around in-person work during the pandemic and the feasibility of Prop 15.
The Silicon Valley Democratic Club took the comment personally.
Three-quarters of the club quietly voted during an April 19 meeting to censure longtime Democratic political fundraiser Stone, calling for his resignation and apology. The Santa Clara Democratic Party Central Committee followed suit in a vote on Thursday, mirroring calls for Stone to resign from office and apologize for the comments.
Stone first learned the news and emailed club members Monday, apologizing for the “inexcusable” and “politically stupid” comments. “It was never my intent to disparage women or labor,” he wrote. “It was just a miserable and insensitive way to express my frustration at that moment.”
That didn’t convince Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, an SVDC executive board member who led the vote against Stone. She told Stone his comments were “offensive, sexist, misogynistic and anti-worker.”
Contending he was being bullied, Stone tried to explain his remark, saying his “comment was a reference to the old phrase ‘sucking hind tit.’”
Digging himself deeper, the assessor continued breaking the metaphor down “as an idiom meaning to get a raw deal or the short end of the stick. It is derived from barnyard pigs in which the weakest pig is forced to nurse on the mother pig’s nipple furthest back and therefore gets the least amount of milk.”
“If anyone is a pig in this situation, it is not labor,” Dauber sparred in response to what she framed as his “bizarrely graphic description of mother pig nipples,” and called him out on what she characterized as “numerous statements that in my opinion tended to deny or minimize the offense.”
“Even your own numbers appear to show a lack of support among women,” she added.
In response, Stone tallied his record of progressive voting, support of unions, diversity within the assessor’s office and how he’s fundraised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democratic campaigns.
“I have supported countless pro-labor Democrats for local office, most recently for example, David Cohen. I have endorsed, walked precincts, and raised funds for scores of Democratic women for public office including Hillary Clinton, Cindy Chavez, Susan Ellenberg, Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, Kamala Harris, Susan Hammer: the list is much longer,” he wrote.
Stone also took his own jab at his opponent, accusing Kremen of “toxic” behavior on the Valley Water board, where he has failed to get support from his female colleagues. He was also left puzzled by the apparent double standard of supporting his opponent, who owned the URL sex.com, which Stone said “sought to profit from the exploitation of women.”
But those attempts to diffuse or divert attention left Dauber, a formidable critic who led the successful recall campaign against the Santa Clara County judge in the Brock Turner case, unmoved.
Even so, Stone says he’s not going anywhere and that his track record will speak for itself. “I will not be bullied, and I have no intention of resigning,” Stone wrote. “I will win this race as I have the past 11 consecutive elections.”
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect an amended resolution from the Santa Clara Democratic Party Central Committee and correct Kremen’s role with the site sex.com.