California 37 Special Election: Richardson elected, CBC keeps seat


Hat Tip CQ Politics

State Rep. Laura Richardson and state Sen. Jenny Oropeza, both Democrats, jumped out way ahead of the rest of the 17-candidate field in early results from Tuesday’s special election in California’s 37th Congressional District.

Richardson and Oropeza had been regarded as the front-running candidates throughout the special election campaign to succeed the late Democratic Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald, who died of cancer April 22.

The early count — posted by Los Angeles County election authorities shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST) — included only ballots cast by absentee voters and those participating under California’s early voting rules.

But barring dramatically different results from votes cast at the polls Tuesday, the winner of the battle between Richardson and Oropeza will claim the Democratic nomination — and almost certain victory in the likely Aug. 21 runoff for the seat.

Tuesday’s primary had all 11 Democrats, four Republicans and two alternative-party candidates running on a single ballot, and that crowd of candidates made it unlikely that no single one would garner the majority vote needed to win outright and avoid a runoff.

But the runoff would be a contest between each party’s top vote-getter — and the 37th District, dominated by the city of Long Beach, is a Democratic Party stronghold in which Hispanics and African-Americans make up most of the population.

The advantage that the Democratic nominee will have was signaled by the early returns. Richardson led with 33 percent to 30 percent for Oropeza and 11 percent for the late congresswoman’s daughter, Valerie McDonald. The leading Republican candidate in the early voting, police sergeant and Iraq war veteran John M. Kanaley, had 10 percent of the vote.

The contest between Richardson, who is black, and Oropeza, who is Hispanic, had strong ethnic overtones. Hispanics make up more than 40 percent of the district’s population, but they make up a smaller share of the voting electorate. Blacks make up a quarter of the population, and many black activists have cited Millender-McDonald, an African-American, in calling for continued black representation in the district.

LAURA RICHARDSON       DEM                                11,027    37.76
   JENNY OROPEZA          DEM                                 9,144    31.31
   VALERIE MC DONALD      DEM                                 2,743     9.39
   JOHN M KANALEY         REP                                 2,230     7.64
   PETER MATHEWS          DEM                                 1,031     3.53
   TERI RAMIREZ           REP                                   560     1.92
   DANIEL A BREZENOFF     GR                                    352     1.21
   JEFFREY LEAVITT        REP                                   345     1.18
   L J “LJ” GUILLORY      REP                                   334     1.14
   ED WILSON              DEM                                   334     1.14
   HERB PETERS            LIB                                   315     1.08
   GEORGE A PARMER JR     DEM                                   220     0.75
   LEE DAVIS              DEM                                   181     0.62
   JEFFREY S PRICE        DEM                                   128     0.44
   BILL F GRISOLIA        DEM                                   125     0.43
   FELICIA FORD           DEM                                   109     0.37
   MERVIN EVANS           DEM                                    26     0.09
TOTAL PRECINCTS        334            PRECINCTS REPORTING       334   100.00 



Election Day


Today is Election Day, Children.   The ladies of California’s  37th Congressional District-Laura Richardson, Jenny Oropeza, and Valerie McDonald face off against each other to see who will win the Democratic Primary and subsequently, this seat.   Laura Richardson’s labor allies are involved in serious and well-funded member to member election contact on her behalf and the Indian Tribes are funding Oropeza’s voter contact program.   Tonight we’ll see who’s been most effective.  

Another wrinkle has been added in this race by the sharp elbow Richardson gave Oropeza for taking off and missing votes during her liver cancer treatment.   Most folk think that was a low blow and yet another foot inserted into the mouth of the leading African American candidate in this race.  

I will be pulling a late night tonight to blog as this race develops.  

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.



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.”