Oakland Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney
is becoming her own worst nightmare for re-election.

A much-anticipated fundraiser for New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker hosted by Rep. Barbara Lee was held Tuesday night at the Oakland Marriott–just a few blocks from a session of the Oakland City Council. For Oakland Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney the question of how to spend her Tuesday night was apparently easy–she called in sick for work. Then was inexplicably caught in the act of playing hooky from the council meeting.

The incident is undoubtedly one of the most embarrassing moments in recent East Bay political history after East Bay Express reporter Darwin BondGraham posted video and photos of McElhaney, elegantly dressed in white, hobnobbing at the soiree while the council meeting was still in session.

McElhaney is currently embroiled in a long-simmering ethics scandal, in addition, to facing recent calls by some councilmembers to schedule a censure hearing for her transgressions. The past two Rules Committee meetings have been canceled by McElhaney in an effort to avoid scheduling censure proceedings. Councilmembers Desley Brooks and Anne Campbell Washington said Tuesday night they will try again at the next rules meeting on Thursday morning. McElhaney later rushed back to City Hall for the remainder of the council meeting.

In the meantime, McElhaney is suddenly facing a growing threat to her re-election next month from community activist and first-time candidate Noni Session. It’s a scenario few could have imagined a month ago as support in McElhaney’s District 3 begins to show signs of cracking.

For instance, the tip about McElhaney’s whereabouts was delivered during public comment by Oakland Post publisher Paul Cobb, whose community newspaper has been increasingly critical of McElhaney. The East Bay Express also excoriated McElhaney last week while endorsing her opponent.

One significant political group that has stuck by McElhaney’s side is the Alameda County Democratic Party. During its endorsement of her campaign last month, some members lashed out at the grand jury report that slammed McElhaney for using her political influence on behalf of a personal matter involving a property next to her home. Some central committee members said the process by which the grand jury chooses cases is biased toward minorities.