Anthony Woods, a gay African-American Army veteran, who won one of the nation's highest medals for bravery, has announced that he will add his name to the growing list of Democrats seeking to replace the outgoing U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher in the 10th Congressional District.
Woods, who announced his candidacy late Monday, immediately joins a crowded candidate field includes Lt. Gov. John Garamendi and freshman Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan.
A West Point graduate who rose to the rank of captain in the Army, Woods served two tours in Iraq and was awarded the Bronze Star for leading troops of the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment at the Battle of Tal Afar in June 2005. The medal is the 4th highest combat-related decoration awarded in the U.S. military.
He ended his military career last year when he told his commanding officer that he was gay. Woods was subsequently released from the Army with an honorable discharge under its "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy which prohibits open homosexuals from serving in the ranks.
"I just got tired of living a lie," the 29-year-old Woods told the Sacramento Bee during last weekend's California Democratic Party Convention. "I spent four years at West Point living and breathing the Honor Code. So I made the decision to tell my commander."
In addition to discharging him, the Army also demanded Woods repay the $35,000 in educational benefits he received. Nevertheless, Woods went on to secure a master's degree from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
While Tauscher still must hurdle U.S. Senate confirmation as undersecretary of state in the Obama Administration, the field of people seeking to replace her has grown in recent days. In addition to Woods, Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier are all gunning for the post.
Once Tauscher is confirmed, a special election for the seat will be scheduled for sometime this summer.
Click here for additional California Independent Voter Project coverage on the 10th Congressional District special election.
Follow Jeff Mitchell's Bay Area political reporting at BAPolitix.org