Election Update


Latina State Senator Jenny Oropeza and African American Assemblywoman Laura Richardson and Valerie McDonald, daughter of the late Juanita Millender McDonald square off Tuesday in the special election to replace the Congresswoman. If anyone receives 50% of the vote, she wins the seat outright, otherwise, the top vote getter in each parties primary vies for the seat in July. The latest fundraising numbers show a tight money chase between Oropeza and Richardson with Valerie McDonald bringing up the rear. In the endorsement game, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not weighed in as expected but the California Democratic Party has, endorsing Oropeza. Moreover, the bulk of organized labor has endorsed Richardson.

Serious competition in the form of Long Beach Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske was averted when she abruptly pulled out of the race after her constituents implored her to stay on the Council. That leaves the white vote largely up for grabs and it leans heavily toward Oropeza. Latino voters are united in support of Oropeza while African American voters, who vote in larger numbers than Latinos, are split between McDonald and Richardson, with the lion’s share going to Richardson because of her broader political support despite substantial Congressional Black Caucus support for McDonald’s candidacy.

The California Legislative Black Caucus is united behind Richardson and the political leadership of heavily African American enclaves in the district: Compton and Carson are almost all united for Richardson. Other African American candidates in this race are just vanity candidates and unlikely to garner significant support. If the Congressional Black Caucus retains this seat, it will be in spite of their divided efforts, not because it did anything to support the winner.

In other news, Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings has drawn a challenger in the form of Belle Glades, Florida City Commissioner Ray Torres Sanchez. Sanchez, a funeral director, will challenge Hastings in the Democratic primary where he presumably will be crushed.

Two Maryland races are heating up significantly. The race for Maryland’s 4th Congressional district between Corporate Shill Al Wynn and Donna Edwards is moving along swimingly with both sides trading pointed barbs and rhetoric. Al Wynn is now an unabashed war critic after having voted against war funding for the first time this month. His about face is striking given the cozy corporate collusion and whoring he had no problem with before he was almost defeated by Donna last September.

Lastly, the first television ad was run in the race for Baltimore Mayor as Incumbent Mayor Sheila Dixon announced the kick-off of her campaign for Mayor and her push to take Baltimore to the next level. With a campaign account upwards of $ 1 million and the most professional city administration in history, she is the odds on favorite in this contest for a full four year term as Mayor. Accomplished and detail oriented, Mrs. Dixon has made her presence felt in Baltimore and is coming to grips with its intractable budgetary and crime problems.



Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa assimilated by Hillary




By BETH FOUHY, Associated Press Writer
12:14 PM PDT, May 29, 2007

NEW YORK — Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton has won the endorsement of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a rising star in national Democratic politics and one of the nation’s top Hispanic elected officials.

Villaraigosa was set to announce his endorsement Wednesday, joining Clinton at a campaign rally at the University of California-Los Angeles, two Democrats familiar with the planned endorsement told The Associated Press.

They spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the official announcement.

Clinton campaign officials have actively sought Villaraigosa’s backing, even enlisting former President Clinton recently to woo Villaraigosa over dinner at a tony New York steak house.

A popular figure in the nation’s second-largest city, analysts expect Villaraigosa to have a promising future in national politics or in statewide office in California. He is widely popular among Hispanic voters, who make up an increasingly large percentage of Democratic voters in California and many other states. In 2004, 21 percent of California voters were Hispanic, according to exit polls there.

Villaraigosa’s endorsement of Clinton is not unexpected; he lavished praise on the New York senator at a campaign event in Los Angeles in March, calling her campaign “fighting for a brighter and cleaner future for all our children.” And last month, his top political consultant, Ace Smith, joined the Clinton campaign as its California director.


Valerie McDonald and Gerrie Schipske announce for Millender-McDonald seat


Diane Watson

Valerie McDonald, daughter of the late Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald announced her candidacy for Congress this week.   Ms. McDonald enters this race with the endorsement of Los Angeles Congresswoman Diane Watson pictured above.   I normally like Diane Watson’s judgement and votes, but she also defended the morally bankrupt New Orleans Congressman “Dollar Bill” Jefferson, which, leaves me cold. Rep. Watson’s endorsement shatters the fragile consensus achieved by former Congressman and Lieutenent Governor Mervyn Dymally, one of the last godfathers of California Black Politics, to support Assemblywoman Laura Richardson, a Millender-McDonald protege for this race.   No racial group having a majority makes the jockeying for support crucial. 

As usual, we ain’t united.  Into the rift steps Long Beach City Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, a former congressional candidate in another adjoining seat.  Her website quotes her saying, “This special election is not about left, right or center. And it must not be about the ethnicity of the candidates. This special election must be about addressing the concerns and circumstances of those who live here.” BALONEY,Baby.  This special election ain’t bout but one thing: RACE.  Let’s not kid ourselves and lose perspective.  

“Errbody” got somebody.  Now the Asian community needs to put somebody forward and it will really be interesting.

More Congressional Black Caucus news


HAT TIP: DC’S Political Report, MyDD

The New York Times has an update on the special election in California’s 37th Congressional District vacated by the late Juanita Millender-McDonald. Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally, one of the godfathers of California black politics and a former holder of this seat, has endorsed his colleague, Laura Richardson. The black political class has begun to rally round sistah Laura and she has been endorsed by Carson City Councilman Isadore Hall as well. Thangs are looking up for a hold on this seat for the CBC.

In other news, it looks as if there is some movement in the federal investigation against corporate whore “Dollar Bill” Jefferson of $90,000 in the freezer fame. I hope they throw his damn ass in the same cell as Duke Cunningham.

Matt Stoller of MyDD has a report about Charlie Rangel and Artur Davis selling out Labor and the Black Diaspora on Trade. Rangel is one of the House Big Dawgs as Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Artur Davis, is a Junior Member serving his third term in Congress. He is the chief recruiter for the DLC and recruits pro-free trade Democrats to betray the pro-Labor constituency of the Democratic Party. He is also a corporate whore, a flack for the pro-Israel-bomb-them-back-to-the-stoneage-Lobby, and a supporter of Barack Obama. His betrayal of the black consensus is crystal clear. His support of Obama raises more questions then it answers.


Race is on for Millender-McDonald seat


 HAT TIP: Long Beach Press Telegram By Gene Maddaus

As soon as Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald is laid to rest today, the race to succeed her in Congress will begin in earnest.

State Assemblywoman Laura Richardson is expected to formally jump into the race this afternoon, while state Sen. Jenny Oropeza plans to make her announcement Wednesday. Both are Democrats.

Though Oropeza is considered by many to be the favorite, she is likely to face strong opposition from black leaders who are intent on holding on to an African-American seat in Congress.

“Without a doubt, the powers that be will make an effort to maintain that seat as an African-American seat,” said Gardena City Councilman Steve Bradford. “There’s plenty of viable African-Americans who can step in and fill that seat.”

Millender-McDonald was one of four black members of California’s congressional delegation. When she was elected 11 years ago, her district was 33.6 percent black. Since then, the black population has fallen sharply, to 22.7 percent today.

The district includes Compton, Carson, most of Long Beach and parts of Los Angeles. Nearly half the population – 47.6 percent – is Latino.

“I don’t think the 37th is going to be an African-American district for much longer,” said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a politics professor at USC. “I think it’s going to be Latino.”

Still, the demographic advantage does not guarantee the seat to a Latino candidate. Latinos make up a smaller percentage of the electorate than of the general population. But it does present a challenge to black candidates.

At the California Democratic Party Convention in San Diego over the weekend, state Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton) said he would meet potential candidates either Friday or Saturday in an effort to narrow the field.

“We’re going to see if we can come up with a consensus,” said Dymally, who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus. “Several candidates have indicated an interest. They all can’t win.”

Aside from Richardson, the potential black candidates who have been mentioned most frequently are Compton Councilman Isadore Hall and Millender-McDonald’s daughter, Valerie McDonald.

At the convention, Hall said he expected to make a decision within a week.

“I think that (the 37th District) being an African-American seat is very important,” Hall said. “We don’t want to lose a member on that caucus.”

Hall also said that McDonald, who has worked on her mother’s AIDS walks for many years, could be a formidable candidate.

Carson Councilman Mike Gipson, who is not running for the seat, said, “We just want someone we can go to, like we’ve had in the past.”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has set a June 26 primary election. The top Democrat in the field – who could get only a fraction of the total vote – will advance to the general election on Aug. 21 and will almost certainly win, given the overwhelmingly Democratic registration in the district.

In addition to Oropeza, at least one other Latino candidate, Long Beach 7th District Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga, is considering a run.

Limiting the number of black candidates in the race would avoid splitting the black vote. In the interviews he will conduct later this week, Dymally said he would be looking for candidates with strong financial support and a good organization around them.

Dymally said there is a danger in using race as a factor in endorsements, but others said the purpose of the meetings is to help elect a black candidate.

“I think it is a priority for the Congressional Black Caucus as well as the state Legislative Black Caucus,” Gipson said. “There’s going to be a strong, concerted effort to ensure that this seat remains an African-American seat.”

The 37th District is not alone in losing black voters. Rep. Maxine Waters’ adjacent 35th Congressional District is more than half Latino, with the black population dropping below 30 percent. Rep. Diane Watson’s 33rd District is more evenly mixed, but is also less than 30 percent black.

Some expect that when the boundaries are redrawn in 2011, a segment of black voters in Millender-McDonald’s district will be transferred to Waters’ district to shore up her base. So even if a black candidate wins the seat this year, he or she could face a tough primary challenge from a Latino at some point in the next decade.

“They’re going to be losing a seat under any circumstance,” Jeffe said. “It’s a mirror of reality. It does decrease the black representation, but the black percentage of the population isn’t growing either.”

Rep. Juanita Millender McDonald D-CA 1938-2007


Juanita Millender-McDonald

Congresswoman Juanita Millender McDonald of Carson California has died of colon and liver cancer.   Mrs. Millender McDonald, a former Carson City Councilwoman, California Assemblywoman, and teacher represented California’ s racially diverse 37th Congressional District for 10 years beginning in 1997 after defeating the wife of former Congressman Tucker who went down in a public corruption probe earlier that year.

Mrs. Millender McDonald had a reputation as politically progressive and forward thinking.   Unafraid to lead, she was the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse John Kerry in 2004 and she led a sit in the offices of Former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, an unapoligetic reationary hostile to African Americans who attempted to block the nomination of former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley Braun to an Ambassadorship in New Zealand.  

The Congresswoman also had another side.  She was a very high strung and abusive boss who, according to The Washington Post, “Several former staffers — some who quit and some who were fired over the past few years — report that the congresswoman is difficult to work for because she demeans staff and rarely seems pleased with their work. All asked for anonymity for fear of reprisals.

She once fired an aide for — among other issues — leaving a box of candy on her chair, said a source. Her No. 1 rule, the ex-aides say, is that aides can never walk in front of her. The sources also say she is unusually egotistical — even for a politician — and insists that staffers tout her accomplishments in news releases and other materials.”

Mrs. Millender McDonald’s diverse congressional district may change hands and the Congressional Black Caucus might lose a member.   Mrs. Millender McDonald’s congressional district is only 25% African American according to the last census and more than 43% Latino.    Latina State Senator Jenny Oropeza, has been identified by the Los Angeles Times as the leading contender in the special election.  All of the usual African American suspects are all politicians over 72.  State Senator Ed Vincent is 73, Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Burke, a former Congresswoman is 75, and Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally, also a former Congressman is 81.  In short, ain’t none of them likely to run.

African Americans likely to take a serious look at running for this seat include  Compton Mayor Eric PerrodinLos Angeles Councilmembers Jan Perry, and Bernard Parks and state Assemblywoman Laura Richardson.    Whatever happens, this district will be represented by a good progressive democrat and the people will lose nothing.  Expect the winner of Nancy Pelosi’s endorsement to be the odds on favorite in this district.