To the trained eye the CD 34 special election on April 4 held no surprises really. Turnout was low -about 10%. The top two vote getters were the top two fundraisers (CA Assemblyperson Jimmy Gomez and Planning Commissioner Robert Lee Ahn). Given the givens, the odds in a 60% Latino registered voter district strongly favor Gomez unless he somehow falters in the June 6, 2017 run-off election.
The following are some conclusions that I share for your edification:
Negative Campaigning Didn’t Work: Consultants say “we hate it but it works.” But negative campaigning didn’t help those who hit Jimmy Gomez and Arturo Carmona. While it may have diminished their respective vote totals, those impacted voters either stayed home or went to someone else.
Korean Empowerment is Here to Stay in LA: The pattern is now clear. Koreans (and Asians in general) are flexing their electoral muscle in greater LA. No one saw Robert Lee Ahn coming, but he raced by a talented field of especially Latinas to second place based on strong fundraising from Korea Town and an effective Korean absentee voter program.
“Hillary vs Bernie” Dichotomy Irrelevant to Latino Voters: The “who will win?” Bernie vs Hillary Democrats sweepstakes didn’t materialize because Asm Jimmy Gomez is a progressive and the Bernie camp was divided between Camona, Carrillo, and Mejia. Each got roughly the same vote. A united “Bernie candidacy” could’ve been in the hunt…
Anti-Establishment Feeling is Present but Not Decisive...Yet: Nevertheless, there is an anti-incumbent whiff in the air. You could tell by the number of candidates and the strong campaign narrative. We see this phenomenon in other races like LA County’s recently concluded many March elections. Same story for Texas’ local races to be held in May. Lots of challengers in normally boring races. But it remains to be seen if the dynamic breaks-through…
Rising Stars: Through it all two lights shone bright for me. Of course, kudos to the two front runners Gomez and Ahn. But two also-rans Maria Cabildo and Sara Hernandez rose above the rest with surprisingly attractive narratives and fundraising (in a difficult season). Cabildo exuded genuineness, compassion and district competence with issues like gentrification and affordable housing. Hernandez’ optimism and can-do job development skill charmed many. Both have an electable future of service if they choose to pursue. My advice: don’t stop now, your journey has just begun.