On politics in the Golden State

Category: Laura Richarson

Janice Hahn wins 44th Congressional District

Janice Hahn

With all voter precincts reporting, Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn beat fellow Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson in a newly drawn district that runs north from the Port of Los Angeles through several working-class, strongly minority communities, preliminary election returns show.

Hahn, elected to Congress a little more than a year ago in a special election, saw her largely coastal turf carved up in last year’s remapping, and her San Pedro home ended up in the new 44th District. Richardson, a five-year veteran of the House, moved into the district from Long Beach to challenge Hahn.

Hahn bested Richardson by 20 points in the June primary. She won by the same margin in Tuesday's election, election results show. Richardson, who had won tough races before, predicted that a bigger fall turnout would help close the gap.

FULL RESULTS: California races

Richardson was reprimanded and fined after a House Ethics Committee investigation concluded she had improperly pressured members of her congressional staff to do campaign work.  She had trouble raising money and had substantial turnover in her congressional staff and campaign leadership. 

Race was a factor in the contest. African American leaders believed it could be won by a black candidate, such as Richardson. Some were shocked when Hahn, who is white, ran against her rather than the more senior Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), who got much of Hahn’s turf in the redistricting.

Richardson is one of four black House members from California. Some African American leaders supported her, not wanting to see the number drop. Hahn, whose father was deeply admired among the area’s black residents, drew support from others who said she would do a better job.


Munger’s Proposition 38 fails, according to AP

Prop. 40, on state Senate districts, passes, per AP

Proposition 36 on three-strikes law passes, AP says

-- Jean Merl

Photo: Rep. Janice Hahn is congratulated by L.A. City Councilman Joe Busciano early Tuesday evening at Ports O' Call Restaurant as early election returns come in. Source: Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times.

Jerry Brown, California Democrats appear to be big winners in election

PHOTOS: California voters head to polls

Gov. Jerry Brown’s $6-billion-a-year tax initiative to rescue California schools and the state's finances appeared to squeak by with a victory early Wednesday, and Democrats' grip on Sacramento tightened as the party crept toward winning a super-majority in both houses of the Legislature.

Tuesday's election also brought an end to the three-decade-long congressional career of Rep. Howard Berman, who early Wednesday morning conceded defeat in his political slugfest against fellow Democrat Brad Sherman in the San Fernando Valley.

The bitter contest between Sherman and Berman, awash in more than $13 million in campaign spending by the candidates and independent political groups, was triggered when California's newly drawn political boundaries put the two incumbents in the same district.

"I congratulate Brad. ... I will do whatever I can to ensure a cooperative and orderly transition," Berman said in a concise concession statement early Wednesday.

FULL RESULTS: California races

In a similar high-profile mash-up between Democrats, Rep. Janice Hahn of San Pedro was cruising to an easy win against Rep. Laura Richardson of Long Beach in a newly drawn district that includes many minority, working-class communities, election results showed.

Among other closely watched races for California House seats, Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Oak Park) narrowly defeated state Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Moorpark) in Ventura County, and Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) bested former Republican Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, according to results with all voter precincts reporting in those districts.

California's senior U.S. senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, won an easy reelection victory over nonprofit executive Elizabeth Emken, her underfunded, little-known Republican challenger.

PHOTOS: California voters head to polls

The governor woke up Wednesday as one of the biggest apparent victors in Tuesday’s election, however.

Facing well-funded opposition, Brown campaigned heavily for Proposition 30 as a way to restore fiscal sanity to Sacramento and to stave off deep cuts to public schools and universities. The initiative calls for a quarter-cent increase to sales taxes for four years and a seven-year tax hike on California’s highest earners.

Californians have not approved a statewide tax increase since 2004.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected a competing measure bankrolled by millionaire civil rights lawyer Molly Munger -- Proposition 38 – which would have increased income taxes for most Californians to raise funds primarily for schools and early childhood education.

In one of the highest-profile state ballot measures, labor unions appeared to defeat Proposition 32, which would have reduced their political influence by barring unions from using paycheck deductions for political purposes.

Californians also soured on a measure to abolish the death penalty -– Proposition 34 -- which was trailing badly with most of the voter precincts reporting Wednesday morning.

Other law-and-order measures were greeting more warmly. Voters favored Proposition 36, which would change the three-strikes sentencing law so offenders whose third strikes were minor, nonviolent crimes could no longer be given 25 years to life in prison.

Voters also supported Proposition 35, which promoted increased punishment for sex trafficking of a minor. Both led by wide margins with most ballots counted.

With most ballots tallied across California, initiatives to label genetically engineered foods and change state law to create a new car insurance discount appeared headed for defeat.

One of the biggest surprises of the election was the Democrats' strong showing in legislative races. Democrats appear on the verge of winning a two-thirds majority in the state Senate and Assembly, enough to approve tax measures without Republican support.

In Los Angeles County, veteran prosecutor Jackie Lacey became the county's first female and first African American district attorney after defeating Deputy Dist. Atty. Alan Jackson. Jackson conceded early Wednesday morning.

Lacey, 55, touted herself as the only candidate with the experience to run the office. She had the support of her boss, Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, who is retiring after three terms.

Los Angeles County voters also approved a local measure requiring adult film actors to wear condoms. With most precincts reporting, a measure to fund transportation projects by extending a countywide sales-tax increase for an additional 30 years remained just shy of the two-thirds vote required for approval.

Some races remained too close to call, including the San Diego congressional race between Rep. Brian P. Bilbray (R-Carlsbad) and Democrat Scott Peters, a San Diego environmental attorney. In the Coachella Valley, Democratic emergency room doctor Raul Ruiz was leading Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Palm Springs) with just under two-thirds of precincts reporting early Wednesday morning.


Munger’s Proposition 38 fails, according to AP

Prop. 40, on state Senate districts, passes, per AP

Proposition 36 on three-strikes law passes, AP says

-- Phil Willon

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown addresses supporters of Proposition 30 and 32 at the Sheraton Hotel in Sacramento Tuesday. Source: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Slate mailer misidentifies Laura Richardson as a Republican

Deceptive paid slate mailers inevitably pop up in the final days before an election, implying an endorsement where there is none or offering a recommendation on a ballot measure that is  counter to  the position of a  voter’s political party.

But the one sent out  over the weekend by former L.A. Councilman Nate Holden, labeling Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson a Republican, is just plain false.

Richardson is running against fellow Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn in a newly configured district that runs from San Pedro north to South Gate and Lynwood and includes many minority, working-class Democrats.

Richardson  spokeswoman Jasmyne Cannick said both the campaign and congressional offices have been swamped with voters calling to  complain about the mailer, which she called “just wrong and misleading.” 

The mailer lists several offices, ballot style, with recommendations.  Under “United States Representative, 44th District,”  it lists Hahn as a Democrat and Richardson as a Republican and has a check next to Hahn’s name, recommending her to voters.

“This is the kind of dirty politics that illustrates desperation and frustration coming out of the Hahn camp just days before the election,”  Cannick said.

Hahn spokesman Dave Jacobson said the campaign had nothing to do with  the false party label.  It had paid for a place on the mailer but “that was it,” Jacobson said.  “Laura needs to take this up with Nate Holden because our campaign had nothing to do with how she was listed.”

Holden said the error was  unintended and he regretted it.

He said he has remained neutral in the race, even though he once worked for Hahn’s father, the late county Supervisor Kenneth Hahn.

Dozens of campaign consultants, former and current officeholders and others sell space on “slates” sent to voters in the weeks and days leading up to an election.  Most are targeted for specific groups of voters, such as  union households or women; it is not unusual, for example, for a Democrat to pay to be on a slate mailer aimed at Republicans in hopes of getting support from opposite-party voters.

Holden said this slate mailer was sent only to Democrats.


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Photos: Rep. Laura Richardson, left. Credit: Lawrence Jackson / Associated Press

Rep. Janice Hahn, right. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times



House Ethics Committee urges reprimand for Rep. Laura Richardson


WASHINGTON -- The House Ethics Committee has recommended that Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach) be reprimanded for pressuring her congressional staff to work on her political campaign, dealing a severe blow to her reelection bid, The Times is reporting on Politics Now.

Times Staff Writer Richard Simon reports that the House is expected to vote as early as Thursday on the rare punishment of one of its members for violating standards of conduct. Richardson also faces a $10,000 fine.

You can read the report here.

Photo: The House Ethics Committee recommended Wednesday that Rep. Laura Richardson, right, face punishment for a violation of campaign conduct. Credit: Bret Hartman / For the Times

Hahn-Richardson congressional primary just the first round

Congresswoman Janice Hahn greets a supporter during an election party at the Ports O'Call restaurant

With just two candidates on the primary ballot for a newly drawn Los Angeles County congressional seat, the only real question that Tuesday's voting would settle was how wide a margin separated Democratic Reps. Janice Hahn and Laura Richardson as they head into the November general election.

With about half of the precincts reporting, Hahn, of San Pedro, was besting Richardson, who recently moved into the district from Long Beach, by 20 points.

The 44th Congressional District, which stretches northeast from San Pedro to Lynwood and South Gate, is strongly Democratic. It was created, under the federal Voting Rights Act, to help ensure the election of an African American, including Richardson. But the independent citizens commission that redrew the state's political maps last year put the home of Hahn, who is white, into the district and she decided to seek reelection there.

LIVE RESULTS: California primary

Hahn, who served on the L.A. City Council, won a special election to Congress just last year. Richardson won her congressional seat in a hard-fought special election in 2007. She was dogged by investigations into her personal finances while she was in the state Assembly and now faces a House Ethics Committee investigation into whether she illegally used her congressional staff members to perform campaign work.

The largely blue-collar minority district -- Latinos make up the biggest group -- also includes Carson and Compton and features one of the few races in the state in which the November field was set even before the primary.


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-- Jean Merl

 Photo: Rep. Janice Hahn greets a supporter during an election party at the Ports O'Call restaurant Tuesday in San Pedro. Credit: Bret Hartman / For The Times

Janice Hahn adds another African American endorsement


Rep. Janice Hahn of San Pedro has racked up another endorsement from an African American civic leader, her campaign announced Wednesday. 

"Sweet" Alice Harris, a longtime Watts activist, is backing Hahn, who is white and competing for a newly drawn congressional district seat with fellow Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson, who is black.

Race became an issue early in the contest because the  seat, which runs north from the L.A. Harbor area through Lynwood and South Gate, was drawn under the federal Voting Rights Act to foster the election of an African American.

When Hahn, whose home was placed into the new 44th Congressional District last year by the independent commission that redrew the state’s political maps, announced for the seat, she was blasted as a "traitor" by one black activist.  Many others initially stayed on the sidelines.

But in the intervening months, political consultant Basil Kimbrew, the activist who called Hahn a traitor, recanted and now endorses her.  Several other prominent blacks also have swung to Hahn’s side, including Assemblyman Isadore Hall, who dropped out of the congressional race to seek reelection to the Legislature.  Among the others are the Rev. Cecil "Chip" Murray, retired pastor of the First A.M.E. Church in Los Angeles, and Jimmie Woods Gray, past chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party.

Hahn’s father, the late longtime county Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, was beloved in the city’s African American community and Janice Hahn, as a member of the L.A. City Council, represented the Los Angeles city communities that now lie within the congressional district, including parts of South Los  Angeles and Harbor Gateway.

Richardson also has African American endorsements, including those of Democratic Los Angeles area Reps. Maxine Waters and Karen Bass and former California Lt. Gov. Mervyn Dymally.  Richardson is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly improperly requiring congressional staffers to do campaign work; she has denied the accusations.


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Photos: Laura Richardson, left, and Janice Hahn. Credits: Associated Press, left, and Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times




L.A. County labor federation picks its candidates

U.S. Rep. Laura Richardson, left, and Rep. Janice Hahn

The  influential Los Angeles County Federation of Labor  on Tuesday announced its endorsements in  this year's congressional and legislative elections--support that can be crucial in hotly contested races.

The AFL-CIO-affiliated federation, the second-largest in the country, represents more than 300 local unions.  It has several avenues for helping its endorsed candidates, including communicating its choices to members, spending money independently to support or oppose candidates  and providing  volunteers to walk precincts and call voters.

Several of this year's congressional and legislative races are featuring intraparty fights in strongly Democratic districts, where the federation's backing is likely to count most. The endorsements  include one for Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro), who is competing with Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach) for a newly drawn House seat.

But in the area's hottest congressional race to date--in which Democratic Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard L. Berman are vying for a newly drawn district in the San Fernando Valley--the federation  could not agree on a candidate.

Among the several Assembly races with at least two Democratic contenders, the federation endorsed the following candidates:

Richard Alarcon for AD 39, Adrin Nazarian for AD 46, Betsy Butler for AD 50, Jimmy Gomez for AD 51, Reginald Jones-Sawyer for AD 59 and Anthony Rendon for AD 63.

Candidates seeking an endorsement were required to pass muster with three separate federation groups.

"We expect politicians to stand up for working men and women across Los Angeles County," Maria Elena Durazo, the federation's top executive, said in a statement announcing the endorsements.

Under the state's new elections system, at least some of these intraparty fights are likely to last into the fall  because the top two finishers in the June primary will advance to the general election,  not the top finisher from each party, as before.  In addition,  candidates are running in new districts, drawn for the first time by an independent citizens commission  without regard to party registration or  incumbents' homes.

The federation has also made endorsements in several upcoming races for local offices.


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--Jean Merl

Photo: Rep. Janice Hahn, right, won the county Federation of Labor endorsement over Rep. Laura Richardson. Credit: Associated Press, Los Angeles Times















Hahn, Richardson report campaign debts

Democratic Reps. Janice Hahn and Laura Richardson, battling for the same newly drawn congressional district in southeast Los Angeles County, both have campaign debts bigger than their war chests, reports filed Tuesday showed.

According to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Hahn, of San Pedro, raised $74,538 from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. Thanks to earlier fundraising for the race, she ended the three-month period with $75,861 in the bank but reported owing $156,583. 

A campaign spokesman said that nearly all of that debt is from the special election Hahn won last summer to replace Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), who resigned to head a Washington think tank.

Richardson, of Long Beach, raised $103,016 during the three-month period and had $132,357 cash on hand going into the new year.  But she also reported debts totaling $437,983.

Reports were due to the FEC on Tuesday.

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Central Valley congressional race draws another candidate

Chamber of Commerce executive John Hernandez, a Democrat, said Tuesday he will run  for the open seat in the newly drawn 21st Congressional District in the Central Valley.

Hernandez heads the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and describes himself as a “pro-small-business candidate.”  Assemblyman David Valadao (R-Hanford) also is running for the seat,  and former state Sen. Dean Florez was said to be considering joining the race.

In the Los Angeles area’s newly drawn 44th Congressional District,  Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro) continued to rake in endorsements from other elected officials  in her contest with Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach).  Hahn recently announced backing from  Rep. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek), Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti.

And in the newly drawn, open 47th Congressional District, Long Beach City Councilman Gary DeLong, a Republican, announced that he has been endorsed by Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens.  Among others running in the Democratic-leaning district are former Republican Rep. Steven T. Kuykendall of Long Beach and  state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach).


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-- Jean Merl


Some Democrats win a nearly clear path to state party backing

Some Democrats in intraparty fights for seats in Congress or the Legislature this year got a boost from local “pre-endorsement” conferences over the weekend that help position them for advantage in competing for the California Democratic Party’s endorsement.

The biggest winners in the conferences were those who got at least 70% of the vote in their respective conferences — including Rep. Janice Hahn of San Pedro, who is competing with Rep. Laura Richardson of Long Beach for the newly drawn 44th Congressional District seat in southeast Los Angeles County.

Other area Democratic congressional candidates in competitive races who reached or surpassed that threshold were Rep. Linda Sanchez of Lakewood, who is vying with state Sen. Ron Calderon of Montebello for the newly drawn 38th District  in the San Gabriel Valley and Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett, who is running for the open 26th District seat in an area with a slight Democratic registration edge.

The rules for winning the state party’s endorsement at next month’s convention in San Diego are complicated, and the high threshold is important because it allows candidates who crossed it to be voted on via consent calendar. Candidates who received more than 50% of the pre-convention votes but less than 70% will also be considered for endorsements at the convention but face a somewhat trickier pathway.

Rep. Brad Sherman, who is competing with Rep. Howard Berman for the newly drawn 30th District in the San Fernando Valley, won 54% of the vote to Berman’s 36%.

In some intraparty battles in Assembly races, Pasadena Councilman Chris Holden, running in the newly drawn 41st District; state party official Reginald Jones-Sawyer, in a crowded contest for the the 59th District in South Los Angeles; and Montebello school board member Edwin Chau, running for the open 49th District in the San Gabriel Valley, all polled above 70%.

Winning a chance for the party endorsement at the convention were Assemblywoman Betsy Butler of Marina del Rey, who is running against community activist Torie Osborn and Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom for the newly drawn 50th District on the West Side. Others include union official Jimmy Gomez for the East Side’s 51st District and former Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez for the 57th District in eastern Los Angeles County. Among Bermudez’ competitors for the open seat is legislative aide Ian Calderon, part of a prominent San Gabriel Valley-based political family.

With the new wrinkles in this year’s elections — changed political districts and a “top two” primary system that is likely to pit two competitors from the same party against each other in several general election contests — the party’s endorsement could be crucial. The party can provide financial and other campaign support to its chosen candidates, and those candidates can claim party backing in intraparty fall elections, which could be key in strongly Democratic districts.


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