Jan. 26, 2012 | The missive issued by 18th assembly district candidate Kathy Neal Wednesday faulting Joel Young for his latest alleged indiscretion was like a sizzling red flare lighting up the night sky. Her opponents all saw it in the distance and now like former San Francisco supervisor Chris Daly once said, “It’s on like Donkey Kong!”

Not only did Neal, a former Port of Oakland commissioner who was once married to Elihu Harris, package together Young’s past domestic violence allegations with charges he spat in the face of an aide to Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan earlier this month, but she also revealed she, too, was a victim of domestic violence as a young adult.

The move is a nice one-two punch (excuse the pun) for Neal, who until now, had not made much headway in differentiating herself from her three opponents—all of whom are remarkably similar in their politics. That fact makes this race, more than any other, about demographics.

Most observers view Vice Mayor Rob Bonta carrying the Alameda and Asian vote, Peralta Community College Trustee Abel Guillen holding the flag for Latinos and younger voters and Young and Neal vying for blacks and voters in Oakland.

All of this is simple arithmetic, but there’s one other aspect that nearly every politico mentions when they talk about Neal–her gender.

“She’s the only woman in the race,” Robin Torello of the Alameda County Central Committee last week. In fact, she said it twice for forceful effect.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder she took the sheath off her sword and started stabbing the air in front of Young’s campaign.