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Congressional Black Caucus backs Laura Richardson in 44th District

November 23, 2011 |  1:14 pm

Underscoring the racial overtones of an intra-party fight for a new Los Angeles County congressional district, the Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday endorsed Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach).

Richardson, who is black, is seeking reelection from the 44th District, which runs from the L.A. harbor area to South Gate. Although heavily Latino, the district is one of three in the area that was drawn earlier this year, under federal voting-rights law, to be favorable to the election of an African American.

But Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro), who is white and whose home was drawn into the new district, is running there, along with another African American, Assemblyman Isadore Hall (D-Compton). Hahn's  decision to run in the district after her current, largely coastal district was decimated in the redrawing of political maps, has caused upset in the African American community. Many blacks supported her in previous elections but are loathe to see African American representation drop, as it would if Hahn wins the seat next year.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus include Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), long an influential force in the black community, and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), who won her seat last year when Diane Watson retired. Waters, Bass and Richardson are the only African American representatives from the Los Angeles area. The other black House member from California is Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), also a member of the caucus.

The caucus chairman, Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), said, “I have no greater partner in pursuing the issues important to our caucus and community than" Richardson. He added that she "has been a constant leader in the Black Caucus, fighting for job creation and to strengthen our economy."

Hahn, meanwhile, continued to rack up support from others. This week, she added the Los Angeles Professional Managers Assn. to her endorsements list.

-- Jean Merl