Represent!

Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Elections 2014: Robert Garcia, Damon Dunn headed to Long Beach mayoral runoff

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Vice Mayor Robert Garcia and businessman and real estate investor Damon Dunn emerged early Wednesday as the top two candidates headed for a June 3 runoff to become mayor of Long Beach.

They fought off State Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, who has high name recognition in the city. She finished third.

Garcia had been endorsed by departing Mayor Bob Foster and the Press-Telegram newspaper. He received 25.4 percent of the vote.  If elected in June, the college professor and member of the California Coastal Commission would become, at 36, the city's youngest, first Latino and first openly gay mayor.

Dunn, 38, built his wealth developing drug stores. The onetime candidate for California Secretary of State pulled in 22.3 percent of the mayoral primary vote. He self-financed much of his campaign. Dunn was endorsed by the Long Beach Jobs Political Action Committee, which is affiliated with the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. If elected, Dunn would become the city's first African-American mayor.

Neither candidate, however, would be Long Beach's first non-white mayor. Eunice Sato, a Japanese-American, led the city from 1980-82 when being mayor was not yet a full-time position.

The city of Long Beach, is California's seventh largest and home to some 462,000 residents. About 40,500 people cast ballots in the mayoral primary — roughly 14 percent of the city's registered voters.

Party backgrounds

The mayor's race is non-partisan and appropriately, both candidates have spent time in both parties.

Garcia was president of Long Beach Young Republicans while in college at Cal State Long Beach. He said he was nonpartisan for a while before registering Democratic in 2007.

Dunn ran for Secretary of State on the Republican state ticket in 2010, but was previously a Democrat. Now he is affiliated with no political party.

Born in Peru

Garcia was born in Lima, Peru. He came to the United States with his family on a visa, and they immediately began the process of obtaining permanent residency and citizenship through the Regan-era amnesty program. He took the oath of citizenship in the early 1990s, Garcia said.

Brief NFL career

Texas-born Dunn, a onetime captain of the Stanford football team, also played for four NFL teams: Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets and Jacksonville Cougars.

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