Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Politics: Lopez Does The Math In AD-51

The official results in my local Assembly District primary election from Tuesday June 4th have been released and Jimmie Gomez placed first with 9,868 votes (37.5%) and my friend (and openly gay Latino activistLuis Lopez placed second with 6,496 votes (24.7%). Arturo Chavez was close behind with 6,081 votes (23.1%). The new Top 2 primary in California forces only the Top 2 finishers in the June primary election to appear on the November general election, regardless of party and prohibits write-ins. This was a very close, tightly fought all-Democratic primary fight.

This leads to some important mathematical calculations in the general election which are very different from the mathematical considerations which dominated the primary election. In the primary election, the clear goal was to not only maximize your own vote but also to minimize the vote of your most dangerous opponent, which could be achieved by the same activity, or by having votes that do not go to you NOT go to your opponent. In the general election, every vote not for you is a vote for your opponent, it is a zero-sum game.

In AD-51, the candidate endorsed by the "establishment" is Gomez, who received the official nod of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. However, Lopez was born in the district and has been active in the district's politics for decades, serving on commissions and President of a Neighborhood Council that was in the district when it was the 45th Assembly District.

Clearly Hans Johnson, Lopez's campaign manager (and partner) is capable of doing the math, because he and campaign manager Miguel Cordova sees a route to victory in November by coalescing the 62.5% that did not vote for Gomez in the primary into general election support for Lopez. To that end, the recent announcement that Chavez is endorsing Lopez and strongly urging his voters to support him is key:

Our 51st District is my home. Here is where I have grown up, devoted my career in public service, and raised my family. These are very special neighborhoods, sustained by the hard work and aspirations of people who come from different backgrounds but share a love of our community.
Now, at a crucial moment in our city and our state, we need the best possible leadership in Sacramento. I am proud to endorse Luis Lopez to be our assembly member. Luis is a homegrown leader of the highest standards, a unifying and effective advocate from and for our communities, for healthcare, education, good jobs and workforce training, for parks and protection of our environment, for immigrant families and full equality under law.   
My own push for the legislature formally ends today. But the vision, vigor, and spirit of my effort carry on in the campaign of Luis Lopez. Together we stand, and together we go forward. I urge all of my supporters to devote their energy and financial support, their heart and soul and voice to his campaign. Working as one, we will ensure that Luis Lopez wins November 6th and is our next Assemblymember.
Of course, it's easier said than done to make sure that all of Chavez's support actually does turn out and vote for Lopez. Even if they did, that would only constitute 47.8% of the primary vote. So, then the question is, where are Richard Frieberg's voters going to go?

If Lopez does win in November, he could be part of the largest LGBT Legislative Caucus in history, with potentially NINE openly LGBT members of the California Assembly and Senate.
California and Maryland both currently have eight openly LGBT state legislators. While this is Christine Kehoe’s last year in the California State Senate due to term limits, the election of Susan Eggman (State Assembly, District 13) and Luis Lopez (State Assembly, District 51) in November would make California’s LGBT Caucus the largest ever. 
Also victorious in their California state legislative primaries last night were incumbents Tom Ammiano (State Assembly, District 17), Toni Atkins (State Assembly, District 78), Richard Gordon (State Assembly, District 24),Ricardo Lara (State Senate, District 33), Mark Leno (State Senate, District 11), John A. Pérez (State Assembly, District 53), and Cathleen Galgiani (pictured), who is currently in the State Assembly and running for State Senate, District 5.
One openly LGBT candidate who will not be joining the California Assembly is Torie Osborn, who placed a very close third in a hotly contested and controversial race in the 50th Assembly District which split the gay male and lesbian communities down the middle. The gay men were in general supporting straight ally  Assemblymember Betsy Butler (and Equality California  board member) while the lesbians were working for openly lesbian Osborn. The 51st assmebly district includes much of  "Boystown" (a.k.a. West Hollywood) as well as the People's Republic of Santa Monica ("Home of the Homeless!") as well as parts of Bel Air. There were four main candidates and " Let's do the results ended up with barely 1,000 votes separating the 1st finisher from the 4th finisher (Butler: 15,362; Mayor of Santa Monica Richard Bloom: 15,087; Osborn: 14,458; Republican Brady Torgan: 14,340). In fact, they are still counting the cotes, but it is unlikely that the Top 2 finishers will change. Note that the turnout in the 50th was almost twice what it was in the 51st. Openly gay Speaker of the Assembly John Perez poured money into this race to get Butler re-elected. She had decided to move into this district instead of staying in the district where her previous residence was (in the former AD-53, before redistricting) but that new district has far more Republicans than the new AD-50. Even, so, Butler may have a tough campaign ahead of her to overcome Bloom in November.

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