Friday, December 02, 2016

There Are Going To Be Special Elections Coming Up-- Here's One In L.A. For Xavier Becerra's Seat


CA-34-- Perez and Gomez

Xavier Becerra was first elected to Congress in 1992 and, until yesterday he was the 4th-ranking Democrat in the House leadership. He's a generally liberalish guy, charismatic, polished, more often on the side of the angels than the rest of the House leadership. Coincidental with his last day as Democratic Party Caucus Chair, Jerry Brown appointed him to fill the Attorney General vacancy created by Kamala Harris' election to the U.S. Senate. Attorney General is probably the second most important state job in California, after governor. From what I'm hearing, Gov. Brown wanted a place-holder and Becerra wants to run for Senate in 2018 (Feinstein's seat, whether she's in it-- unlikely-- or not. She'll be just about to turn 86 when when the next Senate is seated.) Having a statewide, high-profile job gives Becerra the leg-up he needs to run and win. Fine; I don't see anyone better thinking about running anyway.

Now, what about his seat? The special election primary is scheduled for March 7th and the special election runoff will be May 9th. CA-34-- just a few blocks from my house-- is a densely populated, compact, urban district that includes-- for those familiar with Los Angeles-- Boyle Heights in the southeast, the downtown core from the Fashion District through the Financial District, right through Chinatown. The southwest of the district is Koreatown and a bit of the less gentrified part of Echo Park/Angelino Heights, all of Mount Washington, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, El Sereno, Lincoln Heights. On the east it borders on South Pasadena, Alhambra and Monterey Park. The district is about 67% Latino, 19% Asian. Whites make up less than 10% and, with a medium income of $34,752, it's one of the poorest congressional districts in the country-- 422nd out of 435. Parts of the district are rapidly gentrifying and I'd predict that after the next census the medium income will have increased very substantially.

All that said, Romney got a mere 14% in 2012. Locally, Republicans don't even bother to run candidates. Becerra was just reelected with 78.2% of the vote and his opponent was another Democrat. Within minutes of it becoming public that Brown had tapped Becerra for the A.G. gig, former Assembly Speaker John Pérez sent out a press release saying he had already filed. (Becerra had tipped off Villaraigosa who is behind Pérez's run in a big way, prep for his own gubernatorial campaign.) There is no question that Pérez is the establishment pick. The endorsements were ready immediately: congressmembers Karen Bass and Ted Lieu, Controller Betty Yee, ex-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, of course... He's generally progressive in a California establishment kind of way. He's openly gay to boot.

His likeliest opponents will be Gloria Molina, City Councilman José Huizar or Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (who will probably announce Monday). Jimmy's a guy with a load of street cred, a grassroots organizer who was just reelected to his Assembly seat with 86.4% of the vote, a district that includes most of the congressional district, from Boyle Heights through Chinatown to Eagle Rock.

Before the above PPP survey leaked out a few hours ago all the smart money was on Pérez. But if Gomez or Huizar decides to run, it looks like either could have a reasonable shot at beating Pérez. Also, keep in mind that lately Los Angeles voters have been uncharacteristically thumbling their noses at the candidates the establishment tries to shove down their throats, so... this could be exciting. It will, in the words of one top union operative, be a "bloody street fight." Now... here's another point of view, different from mine and worth taking into account:

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At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Monica Garcia: charter school lover.

Kim Kaufman

At 3:04 PM, Blogger Jeremy Thompson said...

Thanks for including my tweets from the other night.

I thought it would be worth noting that JP's been at this a while. He comes from campus organizing, labor, and Dem activism — where I knew him from before he ever ran for office or I worked for him.

One thing I really respected about him in the time he was Speaker was the connection he kept to those roots. He regularly had students at the office to talk about policy and politics, and had a real partnership with them when we were passing the Middle Class Scholarship program. Same thing with labor. I remember when we were on a bus tour supporting races around the state, and he heard that there was a strike going on along our route. He rerouted the bus and had his colleagues there; signs in hand, walking that line with the workers. He's a DNC Member (and I thought he'd be a good Chair candidate until all this came up!) but not by the merit of holding office...he'd been there from way before as an elected Member voted in by the CDP membership.

He's a guy who has never forgotten where he came from, has an amazing mind for details and policy, and has something else...

John Pérez DOES NOT back down from fights. His first year as Speaker, he went toe-to-toe with America's last orange, ego-maniacal, celebrity officeholder — Arnold. The Assembly put forth a budget plan that focused on saving jobs and doing all it could to protect elements of the safety net.

I'd love to see him in Washington taking on the new Administration. Search YouTube for his floor speech on so-called "Repairative Therapy" and imagine him taking on the Mike Pence-style thinking.

I knew him as an activist, worked for him as
Speaker, and came to call him a friend. He'd be a credit to this state and his district in the Congress.

I also have to say how great Asm. Gomez is, too. He's making up his mind about this, and I'd hate for the House I work in to lose his leadership and good policy work...especially because HERE he will continue to get bills passed and signed. I live north of that district, but I'd feel lucky to be represented by a mix of Jimmy in Sacramento (in the Assembly or the Senate seat that'll soon open up) and JP in DC.

At 6:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And can someone please verify Garcia's real address? Long-time rumors she lives in Pacifica Palisades not East LA.

Kim Kaufman


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