The Democratic Party of Orange County’s central committee held a meeting last night that addressed an endorsement given to Phil Bacerra, a Democrat running for Santa Ana city council. A source informs the Weekly that delegates voted 34-10 to suspend it. The double take followed domestic violence allegations against Bacerra by Griselda Govea, a former girlfriend of the candidate. Democratic Party officials responded to her public accusations by hiring an attorney to conduct an investigation and issue a report on its findings.
“What he did to me really happened,” Govea tells the Weekly. “They hired a professional to get to the bottom of it and they did. The conclusion is based off the findings, not emotions.”
Govea recounted her years-long relationship with Bacerra in an earlier interview with the Weekly and described it as one that turned verbally, mentally and physically abusive. She alleged that on separate occasions, Bacerra slammed her against a wall, spat on her and kicked dirt in her face. She provided the Weekly with emails from 2010 where she wrote Bacerra accusing him of having laid his hands on her and spat on her.
“The Democratic Party of Orange County takes allegations of abuse seriously,” says Rachel Potucek, DPOC communication director, in a statement to the Weekly. “After conducting a thorough investigation with full participation of both parties, the Central Committee voted to suspend its endorsement of Mr. Bacerra for Santa Ana City Council, Ward 4 at this time.”
But Bacerra is claiming internal party politics, not the investigation, are to blame for the endorsement dump. “After being a lifelong Democrat, like many others, I’m very disappointed in my party,” Bacerra tells the Weekly in an email. “Even after an independent, thorough, and impartial investigation–which I cooperated with fully–was completed and found no proof of these claims and issued a report that came back inconclusive, some members of the county party leadership, who are working directly with my opponent, continued to participate in this cheap political theater.”
Prior to last night’s vote, Bacerra denied all allegations made against him after Govea went public with her story. “While our relationship was unhealthy, I was never physically abusive,” Bacerra stated. “I have never in my life laid my hand on a woman in violence. I was far from the perfect boyfriend and I regret and apologize for the harsh words said during emotionally-charged arguments.”
The Orange County Young Democrats’ Executive Board quickly moved to revoke the endorsement they gave Bacerra in September shortly after Govea made her accusations public earlier this month. An online petition called for Bacerra to drop out of the Ward 4 race against fellow Democrat Roman Reyna, but his campaign carries on.
With both endorsements gone, Govea feels a greater sense of vindication. She hopes her story will similarly resonate with the local electorate.
“This should make the Santa Ana voters accountable for whom they put in a position of power,” Govea adds. “Exactly what I’ve been when saying from the beginning [is] let’s be accountable and do our homework with these candidates. Stop these type of abusers from getting into a political position of power.”
Story updated with DPOC spokeswoman’s comment on Bacerra’s endorsement suspension.
Gabriel San Román is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and the tallest Mexican in OC. He also once stood falsely accused of writing articles on Turkish politics in exchange for free food from DönerG’s!