The More Votes That Get Counted, The Better L.A. Results Are Getting

Last weekend the L.A. Times published a column by Steve Lopez, Another anemic election turnout. Why most people don’t vote, and what to do about it. Most people in L.A. don't vote and this month they overwhelmingly ignored primaries for mayor, council seats and various county, state-- like governor-- and congressional races. And the ones who do vote in L.A. primaries tend to be "older, whiter and sometimes more conservative." Lopez asked "why does this keep happening, even as it becomes easier to vote than to order a pizza, and even as festering issues such as homelessness drive demand for fixes? Lopez had a few suggestions, but the best one-- holding politicians who don't live up to their promises accountable-- just comes down to more voting. Another was civics lessons in schools. I like that idea but we had civics classes when I was a kid and I don't think they made me more likely to vote.

Younger people seem to find voting kind of pointless or, at best, incremental or even glacial in bringing about change. I saw this meme online yesterday. It's an alternative to voting:

I want to say a few more words about advertising after yesterday's brief discussion of political ads. I don't follow local races nearly as close as I watch federal or even state races. But, although I live a few blocks outside of district-13, I was barraged with political advertisements by City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, whose name is familiar to me and who has been in office since his old boss, Eric Garcetti, was elected mayor in 2012. What I didn't know until today: O'Farrell is openly gay and O'Farrell is the first Native American to be elected to the City Council. And O'Farrell is blamed for the sweep of homeless people from Echo Park Lake. Homelessness was the biggest issue in the campaign and O'Farrell was attacked by the other candidates for supporting the anti-campaign law. Defunding-- and even abolishing-- the police were also issues.

I don't watch a lot of TV but all spring every time I turned it on, there was an ad from O'Farrell's campaign deriding someone named Hugo (always articulated with a denigrating sneer). I didn't know much about O'Farrell other than his name and had no idea what he stood for and I had never heard of Hugo-- didn't even know his last name (Soto-Martinez)-- and had no idea of what he stood for either, except what I heard in the barrage of ads against him. The ads have him name recognition-- albeit just first name recognition-- and I got the idea that he was being attacked because he was <>the progressive alternative to O'Farrell<>. If I lived in that district, I would have voted for him.

Apparently, I wasn't alone. As of the latest count on Friday, he will definitely be in the runoff and, in fact, he is leading!

  • Hugo Soto-Martinez- 18,014 (40.1%)

  • Mitch O'Farrell- 14,386 (32.0%)

  • Kate Pynoos- 6,987 (14.5%)

Although City Councilman Mike Bonin attributes the progressive wins to a "progressive political earthquake," I suspect O'Farrell's ads backfiring had more to do with it than an electorate well-educated on the issues. That said, the late counted votes, are bringing good news to other progressives. The biggest news is that Karen Bass-- kind of a progressive-- has now overtaken Republican billionaire (pretending to be a Democrat) Rick Caruso and when you look at her votes plus the votes of the other candidates to Caruso's left, it looks like despite the millions of his own dollars Caruso used to try to brainwash low-info votes, he's not going to be mayor:

  • Karen Bass- 267,229 (42.9%)

  • Rick Caruso- 226,454 (36.3%)

  • Kevin de León- 48,525 (7.78%)

  • others- 13.0%

Before being elected to the City Councilman in 2012, Gil Cedillo had been in the state Assembly and the state Senate. His TV ads all emphasized that he had been endorsed by Bernie (in 2017, having been a Bernie delegate in 2016). He was challenged from the left by community activist Eunisses Hernandez who is beating him (as of Friday) 15,395 (53.5%) to 13,376 (46.4%).

Short version: Hugo Soto-Martinez, Eunisses Hernandez and Karen Bass are all to the left of their opponents and all came in second when the first batch of votes were tabulated but each moved to first place as as last-minute mail-in ballots (from procrastinators) were counted. L.A. seems to have gone woke! City controller candidate Kenneth Mejia, who has called for major reductions in police spending, was leading Councilman Paul Koretz by a 19-point margin. City attorney candidate Faisal Gill, who has promised not to enforce the city’s anti-camping ordinance, was maintaining his lead over former prosecutor Marina Torres. And civil rights lawyer Erin Darling had a five-point lead over developer-friendly Traci Park.

The L.A. Times noted that Mike Bonin, who didn't run for reelection and backed the more progressive candidates, "described the election as a repudiation of the California Apartment Association and the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which spent millions of dollars supporting their chosen candidates. In nearly every city contest where they committed significant sums, their favored candidates wound up in second place." Bonin also told The Times that "Campaign mailers don’t mean much anymore. Human contact with voters is what counts."