Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Open Congressional seat in Long Beach pits longtime lawmaker against businessman

Republican candidate Gary DeLong at his campaign headquarters.

Democrat Alan Lowenthal does some door-to-door campaigning on the final weekend before the election.


There’s an open Congressional seat in Long Beach. A Republican businessman is running as a fiscal conservative against a longtime local Democratic lawmaker. 

The 47th district, which straddles the line between L.A. and Orange Counties, is majority Democratic, but the GOP candidate has raised much more money.  Both men say the race will be decided by the large block of voters who don’t claim either party.

On Saturday morning, State Senator Alan Lowenthal was going door to door, looking for Democrats, but targeting independents.  His advantage is in Long Beach. Lowenthal says voters know him and his record. "They know who I stand for."

Telecom executive Gary DeLong has the edge in the Orange County/Republican part of the district, but he’s also going after that 26 percent of voters here who decline to pick a party. DeLong says he will join the “Problem Solving Block” if voters send him to Washington.

"They have 92 members of Congress that are signed up to work together, Republicans and Democrats," he says. DeLong also has ties to Long Beach:  he's served on the city council there since 2006.

The presidential race has had a spillover effect on the race.  There are lots of Romney signs on front lawns in Belmont Shore, fewer Obama signs.  Lowenthal says after the first presidential debate, male voters in Orange County "who didn’t really know me, ‘cause I’m an L.A. County guy, kind of deserted the President and deserted me, too and moved to Romney at that moment."

Lowenthal says he was "shocked" at how quickly voters opinions could fluctuate.  He says his race has stabilized.  

Both men received help from the national parties — DeLong got $80,000 for cable TV ads; Lowenthal got staff and data support.
Both complain the so-called experts inside the Beltway don’t "get" Southern California. DeLong told the GOP to stop driving a truck around town with his name on a big sign. He says Long Beach voters are concerned about the environment and would blame him for the pollution. 

  

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Asian-American community aims to demonstrate political power

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Nine Asian American organizations are partnering for a rally in downtown L.A. Saturday that is intended to demonstrate the community's growing political influence.

Clarissa Woo, Director of Policy Advocacy for the American Civil Liberties Union, says the purpose of the rally is “to highlight the importance of Asian American and Pacific Islanders to get out and vote.”  

Woo notes the AAPI community will play an important role this year's election.

“The AAPI community is the fastest growing community group in California," she says. "Asian-American voters have jumped over 33 percent since 2000, and APIs make up over 15 percent of the state’s population. The AAPI population, therefore, is a key voting bloc that remains largely untapped in terms of political power."

However, Woo also says that turnout rates among the AAPI community are lower than the average voting population. “I think that there is a strong need for bilingual cultural access for the community. Things are a bit daunting so it’s just overcoming all of that information,” Woo says. She adds that the ballot propositions may be difficult for those with language barriers to understand.

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The fight for LA district attorney: 2 approaches to criminal justice

Los Angeles County District Attorney race, Jackie Lacey, Alan Jackson

Mae Ryan/KPCC; votealanjackson.com

Chief Deputy D.A. Jackie Lacey and Deputy D.A. Alan Jackson are competing to succeed Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, who has elected not to run for another term.

More than half a century ago, tens of thousands of African-Americans fled places like Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas and poured into South Los Angeles.  Jackie Lacey’s parents were among them.

“My parents Addie and Louis came from the south," Lacey says. "They migrated here in the '50s to get away from racism.”

Her father cleaned vacant lots for the City of L.A.  Her mother was a seamstress. Raised in L.A.'s Crenshaw District, Lacey was the first in her family to attend college, and graduated from USC Law School.

In 28 years as a prosecutor, one case stands out for Lacey. And it reeked of the racism her parents sought to escape. Lacey prosecuted the first hate crime murder in L.A. County — against two Nazi Lowriders who beat a homeless black man to death in 1995.

“I remember just always feeling on guard, always on edge, never really wanting my back to them," Lacey recalls.  "Most criminals are foolish, or baffoonish. These men were evil."

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Bloomberg's PAC spends $2.5 million against Democratic Congressman Joe Baca

Mayor Bloomberg And Islanders Owner Announce Plan For Team To Play In Brooklyn

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has launched a political action committee that is pouring big sums of cash into races around the country, including an Inland Empire Congressional contest.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a busy man these days.  But before Hurricane Sandy hit, he launched a political action committee that has dropped $2.5 million on last minute ads and mailers in an Inland Empire Congressional race. 

Bloomberg’s political action committee, Independence USA, started spending money in Southern California a week ago, with $65 thousand on mailers supporting Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod. She’s trying to unseat a fellow Democrat, incumbent Congressman Joe Baca in Ontario.

Day by day, more PAC money arrived. And then this week, more than $2.3 million for TV ads was reported by Bloomberg’s PAC to the Federal Election Commission.

The ad accuses Baca of siding with polluters and voting for a "dirty water bill." That bill was a GOP measure the League of Conservation Voters described as a “blatant assault” on the Clean Water Act. It passed the House, including a vote from Baca, but died in the Senate.

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CA court: Arizona group doesn't have to reveal $11 million donation details [UPDATED]

California supreme court

Steve Rhodes/Flickr (by cc-nc-nd)

The California Supreme Court is the next stop for a battle over the release of information about an $11 million donation from an Arizona group to proposition 30 and proposition 32 on the November 2012 state ballot.

A California Appeals court in Sacramento refused Friday to compel an Arizona group that donated $11 million to two California ballot proposition campaigns to submit to an audit. 

UPDATE: The Fair Political Practices Commission has appealed the case to California’s Supreme Court, which has asked both sides to submit briefs this weekend. A decision could come Sunday or Monday.

It’s the latest twist in a legal battle over whether Arizona-based Americans for Responsible Leadership should have disclosed the names of donors who gave money to a campaign fighting Prop 30 — Gov. Brown’s tax initiative — and in support of Prop 32 — a ban on payroll deductions for political contributions.

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission wants to see documents about the donation to determine if donors knew that the money was earmarked for a specific campaign. If they knew, California law requires their names be disclosed.

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