Daniel Hernandez, the former intern credited with saving the life of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) when she was shot in the head during a mass shooting in 2011, is facing a recall effort, with opponents attacking him for being openly gay.
Hernandez serves on the school board for the Sunnyside Unified School District, which covers the southern part of Tucson, Ariz. He won his seat months after the shooting, but now he is one of the four school board members facing a recall. There are a total of five members on the board.
In the last few days, efforts to recall Hernandez have become pretty nasty. Right Wing Watch reported Monday that Hernandez’s opponents have been handing out flyers criticizing him for being gay.
“Put a REAL Man on the Sunnyside Board,” reads one flyer, showing a photo of Hernandez speaking at an Equality Forum event. “Daniel Hernandez is LGBT. We need someone who will support Sports and cares about our kids. We don’t need someone who hates our values. RECALL Daniel Hernandez TODAY.”
Another flyer attacks Hernandez for his work to combat gun violence, saying he “cares about only one things [sic] taking your guns away.”
“He doesn’t care about our kids. He doesn’t care about our community,” the second flyer reads. “RECALL DANIEL HERNANDEZ TODAY.”
Daniel Hernandez: ‘It’s disheartening’ to see these flyers
Hernandez responded to the negative comments coming from his opponents in an interview with the Huffington Post. He said he isn’t “overly concerned” with his opponents efforts to collect the 1,300 signatures by Dec. 14 to force the recall.
However, he said the “negative tone and nature of the way they’re doing it has been really bothersome and upsetting.”
“It’s disheartening that this is where we are in 2013, that people think it’s okay to put out these kinds of flyers about anybody,” he told the Huffington Post.
Marcos A. Castro is running the recall campaign against Hernandez. He filed the recall petition on Aug. 16. In it, Castro accuses Hernandez of not having “the courage to make difficult decisions and withstand criticism from people who hold opposing views.”
“He is deceitful in his communication with the community and does not strive to be knowledgeable about policies and programs in order to make informed decisions,” Castro said of Hernandez in the recall petition.
The Arizona Daily Star reports that Castro is the campaign manager and brother-in-law of Louie Gonzalez, who sits on the school board with Hernandez. Gonzalez, along with board member Bobby Garcia, are also facing a recall because of their support for superintendent Manuel Isquierdo, who is being criticized for his personal financial and legal problems.
Gonzalez and Garcia have been outspoken about their involvement in the efforts to recall Hernandez and another board member, Buck Crouch, for opposing Isquierdo.
In various interviews with reporters, the two have denied having any involvement with the making and distribution of the flyers criticizing Hernandez. Castro told The Huffington Post he also had nothing to do with the flyers.
Former Gabrielle Giffords intern is the ‘target of a heinous recall effort’
Hernandez is assuring his supporters that he will not go down without a fight.
In a tweet on Wednesday, he said he is “focusing on getting a positive message out to combat” the recall efforts. He also provided a link to the campaign website that was recently launched to fight against his recall.
“Help Daniel fight back against his unfair and unjust recall election,” the site states on its homepage.
The website also touts Hernandez’ achievements, such as fighting against corruption and being “a champion for families and students.”
“He is the target of a heinous recall effort attacking him as an LGBT person and as an advocate for common sense gun legislation,” the site states. “Join today to ensure that Daniel can fight back against these unjust attacks.”
Many have come out in support of Hernandez, including Gabrielle Giffords, who tweeted on Tuesday:
— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) August 27, 2013