Friday, May 13, 2016

Nanette Barragán's Battle Against The Corrupt Political Machine Gets A Huge, Unexpected Boost


Nanette Barragán

Janice Hahn sees herself as a future governor and realized Congress isn't the stepping stone taking her in that direction. So she's leaving the safe deep, deep blue 44th congressional district seat-- Obama won it with 85% against Romney and it is likely to be even more Democratic in November-- for a seat on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. Vaguely liberal, Hahn isn't really about values or even issues as much as she is about Hahn. As part of her unending lust for higher office she made a deal to back Sacramento's most corrupt Democrat, Isadore Hall, for the congressional seat she's leaving in return for Hall's help with black voters in the supervisorial campaign. Who gets hurt in the deal? The people, 70% of whom are Hispanic, who live in the towns and neighborhoods in CA-44: Willowbrook, Compton, Rancho Dominguez, South Gate, Lynwood, Carson, Wilmington and San Pedro, and are treated like props in the careerist machinations of two self-serving political strivers.

Virtually every political hack in the state has endorsed Hall... he may be corrupt and conservative but he's the insider candidate all the other careerists want to see move up the ladder. Yesterday, though, the Los Angeles political landscape was jolted when the L.A. Times suddenly-- and very prominently-- endorsed Nanette Barragán, the progressive reformer in the race. Choosing not to accuse Hall of any criminal behavior or even corruption in general, the editors of The Times instead wrote that "only Barragán has demonstrated the integrity, courage and commitment to the environment that this industrial district needs. Voters should choose her on June 7."
Barragán has an up-from-the-bootstraps story that certainly resonates in this district: from the hardscrabble streets of Carson to the halls of UCLA and USC law school, to a White House internship and a job at one of Los Angeles' top law firms, Latham & Watkins. Her accomplishments were earned, not bestowed. Even her political opponents concede that her intellect and policy chops are impressive. And her legislative priorities-- the environment, education and jobs-- are clear.

Barragán has demonstrated that she can get things done in a short time. In her less than two-year career on the Hermosa Beach City Council, she led efforts to block oil drilling in the small city and pushed through a citywide plastic bag ban. Her record has won her the support of two powerful environmental advocacy groups, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters.

Practically everyone else in the state's Democratic political establishment, however, is backing Hall. This is not because he's a demonstrably better candidate, but because of his longevity in politics. Hall has held elected office for 15 years, climbing from the Compton school board and city council to the state Legislature. That might mean something to party operatives, but voters should ask what more he has done than win elections.

The answer is in Hall's record as a state legislator, particularly his years as one of the self-styled “moderate Democrats” in the Assembly who consistently opposed crucial climate change policy and tougher gun laws. For example, Hall did not join his colleagues in calling on the federal government to halt offshore drilling leases, or vote for a statewide ban on plastic bags, or a moratorium on fracking. His consistency was rewarded by the oil lobby, and he is one of the top recipients of donations from oil interests. Other big donors to his campaigns are casinos and gambling interests, tobacco companies and the alcohol lobby.

If Hall's votes were guided by a deep-rooted political conviction, that would be one thing. But he took an unexplained left turn after moving to the state Senate in December 2014. There he supported issues he once opposed, notably tougher gun laws and last year's landmark climate change bill, SB 350. Perhaps it's an intellectual evolution by Hall, but it raises questions about what his real priorities are.

By comparison, the biggest knock on Barragán is that she recently lived in Hermosa Beach, which is outside the 44th district. Federal law doesn't require members of the House to live in their districts; even so, Barragán has moved her residence to San Pedro, at the southern end of the district. More important to voters, she has historic ties to the district where she was born and raised, and where her family still calls home. Barragán does have challenges she must overcome if elected. On the Hermosa Beach City Council she displayed sharp elbows and an impatience that won't serve her well on Capitol Hill. But those are minor flaws compared with the major red flags of her main opponent.
I might add that although Hall was endorsed by a garbage-bagful of career politicians, Nanette has been endorsed by Blue America, DFA, PDA, countless Latino groups and women's groups and by a handful of standout members of Congress who Hahn wasn't able to manipulate, namely Raul Grijalva and neighboring congressmembers Linda Sánchez, Grace Napolitano and Lucille Roybal-Allard, as well as one of the icons of the Southern California environmental movement, L.A. Councilman Paul Koretz. RL Miller, who heads California's most cutting edge environmental group, Climate Hawks Vote, endorsed Nanette and told us last night that "This is the most important Congressional primary in California because the contrast between the two candidates is so stark. Nanette fights for clean air, clean water, and a brighter future for the working class families of her district. Her opponent represents the worst aspects of machine politics, funded by Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Big Sugar, gambling, and billboard blight." That about sums it up alright. Please consider contributing to the Barragán campaign at the thermometer below:
Goal Thermometer

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