Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Doctor ousts Republican Rep. Dan Lungren in close congressional race

Congressman Dan Lungren.
Kitty Felde/KPCC

Republican Rep. Dan Lungren has lost his re-election bid to Democratic challenger Ami Bera in one of California's most hotly contested congressional contests.

Voters from the Sacramento suburbs ousted the veteran lawmaker in the race for the state's newly redrawn 7th Congressional District. This was the second attempt for Bera, a 45-year-old physician who failed to unseat Lungren two years ago.

The Associated Press called the race for Bera on Thursday. He defeated Lungren 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent.

Bera's win adds to Democratic gains in California's congressional races. The state's majority party benefited from an independent redistricting process that was in full effect for the first time this year.

Before the Nov. 6 election, California's congressional delegation had 33 Democrats, 19 Republicans and one vacancy in a Democratic district.


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As San Fernando turns: ousted council members end tenure on Monday

Former San Fernando City Councilman Mario Hernandez was officially recalled on Nov. 6, along with two other council colleagues.
Alice Walton/KPCC

Lost in the drama of the presidential contest and the fate of Prop 30 was the effort to recall three City Council members in the soap opera-tinged town of San Fernando.

Voters there responded to confessions of sexual affairs and political intrigue by ousting council members Brenda Esqueda, Mario F. Hernández, and Maribel De La Torre. Their last council meeting is Monday. (Hernandez stepped down in July, but his name remained on the recall ballot.)

Robert C. Gonzales was elected to replace Hernández and Joel Fajardor to take De La Torre's seat. The two newcomers inherit terms that end next year and they've already pulled papers to run for full terms in next March's election.

Hernandez late last year announced at a City Council meeting attended by his wife that he was involved in an affair with fellow council member De La Torre. 


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Assembly Speaker John Perez says Democrats won't exploit 'supermajority'

Assembly Speaker John Perez (left) and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (right) now have the power to override vetoes Governor Jerry Brown.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Now that Democrats officially control two-thirds of the California Legislature, Assembly Speaker John Perez is downplaying his party's power to raise taxes without Republican votes. 

“I’ve talked to a lot of the incoming members of the Assembly and I don’t see any of them moving forward on major tax proposals,” Perez said Thursday.

The Democrats' supermajority became official Wednesday when incumbent Republican Assemblyman Chris Norby conceded to Democratic challenger Sharon Quirk-Silva in a newly-drawn district in Orange County.

Democrats now officially wield a supermajority in both state legislative houses for the first time in 70 years. Aside from being able to unilaterally raise taxes, Democratic lawmakers also will be able to expedite bills and change legislative rules.

But the Assembly Speaker downplayed that new power Thursday:


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Gen-X kids of Central American immigrants look to increase political clout

Raul Claros is president and founder of the Latino Coalition of Los Angeles PAC.
Courtesy of Raul Claros

Despite its pan-Hispanic name, the Latino Coalition of Los Angeles PAC aims at increasing the local political power of Central American immigrants and their Generation X sons and daughters.

The group has endorsed Eric Garcetti for mayor; Garcetti's campaign sent out an e-mail blast announcing the endorsement last week. The coalition also endorses Ana E. Cubas, a naturalized Salvadoran immigrant, who is running for the City Council District 9 seat being vacated by Jan Perry. Cubas is a member of the group's advisory board.

The group coalesced in 2009 as Central American residents of the Pico-Union neighborhood tried to shrink boundaries that had been proposed for the expansion of Koreatown, coalition President Raul Claros said. The group then worked on the legislative redistricting, which re-drew political boundaries.

"That led us to form younger leadership," Claros said. "We have festivals, we have nonprofits, we have immigrant organizations, but we don't have anybody doing anything about politics."


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Bail stays at $1 million for LA County Assessor John Noguez

Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez remains in jail, unable to post his $1.16 million bail.
Photo by John Noguez via Flickr Creative Commons

Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez is staying put in jail for now.

A judge Wednesday refused to lower the assessor’s bail below $1.16 million. A month ago, Noguez’s bail was lowered from $1.38 million to its current amount to reflect the loss that Los Angeles County taxpayers suffered when the assessor allegedly lowered the assessed property values for campaign contributors. An attorney for Noguez has repeatedly told the court that his client is unable to post bail.

"If he were released I'm not certain he would return, he has a lot more to lose,” Judge Shelly Torrealba said at the bail hearing, according to the Los Angeles Times. "That is not a chance this court is willing to take."

The assessor, who is on paid leave from his job, is charged with 24 counts of bribery, perjury, conspiracy and misappropriation by a public officer. He has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors accuse Noguez of receiving $185,000 in bribes from tax consultant Ramin Salari in exchange for reducing the amount of property taxes paid by his clients. Also arrested in the case was Mark McNeil of the Major Appraisals Division. Both Salari and McNeil have posted bail.


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