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Congressional candidate Maebe A. Girl is campaigning through drag shows

Maebe A. Girl, sporting dramatic makeup and earrings, poses for a photo with arms crossed, against a brick wall.
Maebe A. Girl, who was elected to the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council in early 2019, is running for Congress.
(Hector Juarez)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, May 19. I’m Justin Ray.

G. “Maebe A. Girl” Pudlo says there are a lot of similarities between performing in drag shows and political campaigning.

“There’s a lot of crossover,” Girl says. “When I do drag, I host a lot of shows. I’m on the mic, listening to people, [and] engaging with people. It’s really not very dissimilar from being in a political setting where I’m giving a campaign speech. I used every drag show that I’m in to speak about politics and speak about my policies and let folks know about our campaigns. It’s actually been a really wonderful tool.”

Through her shows, she has been increasing awareness for her campaign: She’s running for Congress, hoping to get enough votes in the June 7 primary election to qualify for the November runoff for the 30th District seat currently occupied by Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank). The other candidates are: Sal Genovese (D), Patrick Lee Gipson (R), Ronda Kennedy (R), William Meurer (G), Johnny J. Nalbandian (R), Tony Rodriguez (American Independent Party), and Paloma Zuniga (R).

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Girl was born in Pittsburgh, where she lived until age 9. She then moved to the Chicago suburbs, where she grew up. Eventually Girl moved to Los Angeles, where she’s lived for nearly a decade.

Girl, 35, says she’s always been interested in politics and volunteer work. She decided to run for Silver Lake Neighborhood Council in early 2019. She was elected.

“It was really inspiring because I ran as my authentic, very visibly queer and trans self,” Girl says. “Putting yourself in a situation like that when you are an openly trans person can be a scary thing.”

Girl has been serving as the treasurer and the co-chair of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council’s Budget and Finance Committee. Getting elected has inspired her to run for higher office.

“I thought to myself, the folks who elected me to my local position are going to be the same folks who are voting for every position from city to state to national office. And so I decided to run for Congress,” Girl says.

She had been performing in areas like West Hollywood, downtown, Silver Lake, and Highland Park under her drag name Maebe A. Girl for seven years. Because most people knew her under that name, she decided to use it when running for office. But when asked if she identifies as a drag queen, she says, “I wouldn’t necessarily say that, no.”

“I think there’s been overemphasis on the fact that I’m a drag queen and an under-emphasis on the fact that I’m a trans person,” Girl says. “Drag is what I do, trans is who I am. And I’m not running to be a drag queen in Congress. I’m running to be a trans representative. I’m running to be a representative for all the people in my district. But I specifically want to be able to be a voice for trans people.”

Girl’s bid is a long shot, considering her opponent is Schiff, the longtime congressman who, as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was one of the key investigators in the impeachment inquiry against former President Trump. Girl ran in 2020, coming in third place behind Schiff and Republican Eric Early. She missed second place by 1,114 votes, according to certified results released by the Los Angeles County registrar’s office.

Girl says her core team consists of three people, “but we do have over 70 folks who are helping to volunteer with us.” Susan Sarandon has donated to her campaign.

“I am running against a very high-profile establishment Democrat, Adam Schiff. I think that probably one of the hardest parts about it is that he has a national profile,” Girl says. “A lot of folks don’t realize that his voting record, in my opinion, is not the cleanest. I think a lot of folks consider him to be progressive when he’s actually pretty moderate as a Democrat. He’s pretty middle of the road.”

In response to the claims, a Schiff campaign spokesperson said that, “Adam doesn’t take any election for granted, and he looks forward to speaking directly with voters about the issues that matter most: attacking inflation, expanding affordable housing, securing universal healthcare, combating the climate crisis, protecting Roe, and creating an economy that works for everyone.”

(GovTrack, a site for data about Congress, does a great job of providing information in an easy-to-read format. Schiff’s page shows that his voting record is pretty in sync with Democrats. You can click around to see how he voted on specific issues.)

When it comes to her own political stances, Girl says she’s been misunderstood.

“I feel like I’m mischaracterized in certain ways because I am very visibly queer and I care a lot about LGBTQ rights. But that’s not exclusively what my platform is about. I have a very intersectional platform that includes universal healthcare, housing for all, education for all, environmental justice, racial justice, LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, alleviating homelessness, staying out of war,” Girl says. “I think that our elected representatives need to be doing a lot more.”

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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- First, I wanted to thank you all for your responses to yesterday’s newsletter. We really hit a nerve with that one. We were wondering if you have any stories you’d like to share about using public transit. If you’d like to share, please email me at Justin.Ray@latimes.com with the subject line “Public Transit Story.” We may include it in a future edition of Essential California.

The 101 Best California Experiences is a guide to the most delightful, fascinating and awe-inspiring things to do across the Golden State. Filled with history, insider tips and the latest traveler updates, the guide invites you to go beyond the mouse ears and selfie spots and see California in a whole new way. Who’s ready to explore? Los Angeles Times

An insider’s travel guide that takes you beyond the mouse ears, selfie spots and Golden Gate Bridge.
(Grace Danico / For The Times)

L.A. STORIES

Enrollment in Los Angeles public schools is expected to plunge by nearly 30% over the next decade. “The pace of the decline has accelerated since the pandemic, a phenomenon officials struggle to explain,” Howard Blume writes. “Experts have offered no conclusive explanation, but factors include families moving to more affordable areas, the decline in birth rates, a drop in immigration and, until recently, the rapid growth of charter schools.” School officials will have to make tough choices about academic programs, campus closures, jobs and employee benefits. Los Angeles Times

A woman was attacked by a mountain lion in Northern California. Her dog may have saved her. On Monday afternoon, a woman and her Belgian Malinois named Eva began walking along a trail off Highway 299 near the Northern California town of Big Bar, a little over an hour’s drive west of Redding. Authorities explained how her canine was not afraid to engage with the lion. Los Angeles Times

A mountain lion bares its teeth
“She screamed and the dog immediately engaged the mountain lion,” said Capt. Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Law Enforcement Division.
(Nati Harnik / Associated Press)

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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

An Orange County Superior Court judge put the $320-million sale of Angel Stadium on hold amid an ongoing public corruption investigation into Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu. Los Angeles Times

Column: Vancouver’s safe drug-use sites are wrenching to see. California should open them anyway. Open-use drug havens such as San Francisco’s Tenderloin and L.A.'s skid row have become a contentious subject in the state. What do they look like in Vancouver? Columnist Anita Chabria reports what she observed. Los Angeles Times

Medics attend to a man who overdosed
Medics attend to a man who overdosed in May in Vancouver, British Columbia.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

CRIME, COURTS AND POLICING

Woman serving life in California prison led $2-million unemployment fraud scheme, prosecutors say. This case is a head-scratcher. A California unemployment insurance benefits scheme that led to 13 people being charged was orchestrated by a state prison inmate. Natalie Le DeMola, a 37-year-old serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, was named as the ringleader, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of California said Tuesday. As we explain in the article, the story behind the first-degree murder charge is horrific: She was a teenager when she, her boyfriend and an acquaintance conspired to kill her mother in April 2001, court documents show. They would eventually carry out the act. Los Angeles Times

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HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Why Tefere Gebre, a longtime labor leader, has brought his organizing talents to Greenpeace. Gebre has addressed many issues facing the planet: the massive rise in refugees, skyrocketing economic inequality and climate change. In February, he took the position as chief program officer at Greenpeace USA. Capital and Main spoke to Gebre about his motivations for serving in the position: “Here’s the core of it. There ain’t going to be any jobs on a dead planet.” Capital and Main

Los Angeles County is doing significantly better than New York City so far in this latest spring wave of Omicron cases, and officials remain hopeful that California can avoid the significant increases in coronavirus hospitalizations seen on the East Coast. Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

PETA filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture against UC Berkeley laboratories. The treatment of monkeys and guinea pigs in campus labs is out of compliance with standards set by the Animal Welfare Regulations, the complaint claims. It cites two guinea pigs who died after receiving a fatal dose of eye drops. Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said the incidents in PETA’s complaint occurred nearly two years ago and were reported by campus to the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare at the time they occurred. Daily Californian

Mass firing at Netflix. This week, the streaming platform announced it was cutting 150 jobs amid a slowdown in revenue and a decline in subscribers that has shaken the entertainment industry and triggered a reexamination of the streaming business headquartered in Los Gatos. Reporters Wendy Lee and Ryan Faughnder reveal some details about what potentially may be Netflix’s future. Los Angeles Times

FILE - This June 24, 2015, file photo, shows the Netflix Apple TV app icon in South Orange, New Jersey.
“As we explained on earnings, our slowing revenue growth means we are also having to slow our cost growth as a company,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement.
(Dan Goodman / Associated Press)

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CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles: Sunny 77 San Diego: Sunny 72 San Francisco: Overcast 64 San Jose: Overcast 69 Fresno: Sunny 80 Sacramento: Overcast 78

AND FINALLY

Today’s California memory is from Edward Silver:

My family moved to California on the heels of the Manson Family rampage. A bit later, I lived through the L.A. riots. Angry people smashed the windows of my office and I forced friends to sequester themselves in my apartment. Soon, I got pretty shook up in the Northridge Earthquake. After a decent interval, I profited from the Silicon Valley-based dot-com bubble, then limped away from its implosion. Before I turned around, it was 2008 and I gasped at the complete zappage of Southern California real estate and regional banks. And now this. California is not where you go for R&R.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments to essentialcalifornia@latimes.com.


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