Saturday, November 22, 2014

SATURDAY POLITICS: Huizar-Molina Race For Los Angeles CD14 Heats Up

As you may recall, I live in Los Angeles City Council District 14 which is represented by Jose Huizar. Huizar is running for re-election in the March 3, 2015 primary and in this heavily Democratic region, winning that race basically would insure his position on the council until 2019 at least. I say "at least" because there is a movement to move municipal elections that typically happen in odd-numbered years (i.e. not in presidential or gubernatorial election years) and align them with those larger turnout elections. There are arguments both for and against this idea (for: having city and county races in the same year will mean that they will occur in the same time frame when people are thinking about other political races; against: the big money that dominates state and federal races will be used to swamp local concerns in local races).

However, Huizar is facing a strong challenge from Gloria Molina, the outgoing Los Angeles County Supervisor, who has been a political power center on the East Side of Los Angeles for decades, and at age 66 has decided to challenge an incumbent city councilman to get a job she held more than 30 years ago.

With the primary barely more than four months away, the two candidates are jockeying for endorsements and donations. On Thursday, both candidates (in addition to MadProfesssah) attended the endorsement meeting of the East Area Progressive Democrats in Eagle Rock, seeking that new club's endorsement. They were both greeted politely and asked probing questions by the audience, with Huizar getting a little testy when he admitted that the "municipal election schedule realignment" that he supports would end up in increasing the length of his own term in office. Molina announced her opposition to the plan, showing a keen awareness of her audience, because EAPD has come out strongly against the proposed plan to align the city's elections with the state's. In the end, though, neither candidate received the high threshold required for an official endorsement by the club.

Huizar has built a substantial lead in fundraising. In fact, he is approaching the record amount raised by any City Councilman in the history of Los Angeles, according to Downtown News columnist Jon Regardie:
This puts Huizar on a record-breaking path. I pored through the Ethics Commission’s online fundraising information, which has data on every city council election going back 11 years. In that time, the only person to raise more money during the primary was Antonio Villaraigosa, who scooped up $773,000 in 2003 when he beat incumbent Nick Pacheco. Of course, AnVil used that seat as a springboard to the mayor’s office two years later.  
Huizar is $38,000 short of the record, but still has more than four months until voters head to the polls in March. Curious fact: The next highest tally in a council primary was recorded by now-Mayor Eric Garcetti, who raised $683,000 for a win against Gary Slossberg in 2009. No, I don’t know who Gary Slossberg is either.
It's curious tat the two people to have raised more money than Huizar went on to become Mayor. Is that Huizar's ultimate plan? He is only 46-years-old now and the current Mayor will be termed out in 2021. Some people think the only reason Molina is running for City Council is to make a future bid for Mayor of Los Angeles more palatable. Maybe the people who are giving money to Huizar don't want to see that happen?

Anyway, I'm sure there will be twists and turns in this race as the March 3 date gets closer and closer.

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