News and Commentary

West Hollywood Votes Out Anti-Trump Dem Who Honored Stormy Daniels
NALEO National Chairman John Duran attends the LA Pride ResistMarch on June 11, 2017 in West Hollywood, California.
Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images

The progressive mecca of West Hollywood, California, voted out a longtime Democratic legislator who made national headlines two years ago after honoring former porn star Stormy Daniels for her “resist” efforts against President Donald J. Trump.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Councilman John Duran, whom the outlet described as “a colorful figure who has been dogged by sexual harassment allegations,” lost his re-election bid last week. The race featured 11 candidates, with the top two vote-getters winning the two city council seats that were up for grabs. Duran, who has been an elected official in the city since 2001, came in fourth place.

“Every time I sneezed, there was a story…about it,” Duran told the Times after his recent loss. “I was constantly in the public eye, constantly in public scrutiny. I feel I’ll get a little bit of my privacy back.”

During his last mayoral stint, Duran declared May 23, 2018, “Stormy Daniels Day” in West Hollywood. He issued an official proclamation in recognition of her “leadership in the #Resist movement” at a press conference that took place outside of an erotic apparel store named after a drag queen known for directing gay-themed, X-rated movies. Daniels had claimed Mr. Trump’s lawyer paid her $130,000 to conceal her alleged tryst with the president. She was also presented with the key to the city award as her then-attorney, Michael Avenatti, stood by her side.

Duran, 61, had publicly speculated that President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to win the Oval Office.

However, he was pressured to relinquish his mayoral title last May amid numerous accusations of sexual misconduct.

In West Hollywood, the position is mostly a ceremonial role that rotates between the five councilmembers every year. Duran remained on the City Council, ironically calling for due process to be followed, urging constituents to refrain from jumping to conclusions.

Controversies included singers from a gay choir accusing Duran of sliding his hand down their underpants, a racially insensitive characterization of an Asian man, and alleged sexually inappropriate comments at a city-sponsored anti-Trump event.

Duran, who is also a criminal defense attorney, had previously acknowledged that he believed “the bigger issue” at hand had been his lewd public persona, which evolved from decades of activism and legal counsel on behalf of the gay community, including HIV/AIDS issues at a time when most attorneys refused such cases.

“I have never hidden from any of you that I am a fully fledged sexual being,” Duran wrote on Facebook in 2019. “We fought too hard in the 70s and 80s for the right to be, the right to create a gay male subculture, the right to maintain sexuality in the midst of plague and to come out on the other side into marriage equality. To express yourselves sexually just like any other subculture in America. And we explored the lengths of that spectrum from [the] leather community to drag queens.”

Duran admitted to having sex with a man he met on a gay hookup site who he later hired as a subordinate at City Hall. The individual went on to sue Duran and the city for sexual harassment and wrongful termination. The case was settled outside of court in 2016 when the city agreed to pay Duran’s accuser $500,000.

Mr. Duran officially leaves office on December 7, when the new councilmembers are scheduled to be sworn in.

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