A Close LA City Council Race

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

There is an election in Los Angeles next week that feels a little old fashioned. It features a Democrat versus a Republican and all indications are the race will be close.

In a state dominated by the Democratic Party with statewide elections often seeing the Democratic candidate wining by 20 points or more, in the liberal city of Los Angeles a Republican-Democratic close election is something to take notice.

Los Angeles’ 12th council district in the northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley has been safely Republican for a long time. The only Republican sitting on the City Council comes from the 12th District.

That could change with next Tuesday’s election.
Democratic registration has picked up and surged well ahead of Republican registration in the 12th district as it has across California. The council seat became available when the elected incumbent resigned.

Now Democrat Loraine Lundquist is facing off with Republican John Lee. You are made aware of those party associations on multiple flyers that are sent out to support or oppose the candidates.

The partisan differences don’t often come up with the candidates when they meet at forums. After all, a city council seat is officially non-partisan.

But Independent Expenditure funded mailings have no trouble throwing party identifications around.

On one mailing, attention is paid to REPUBLICAN JOHN LEE in deep red letters. In fact, every time Lee is mentioned on the mailing the party ID is attached to his name. You would assume his first name is Republican.

An attack piece against Lundquist shows a rally behind a big banner with the words DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA. The flyer also contains a quote for the LA branch of that group that’s notes that Lundquist’s “highest priority” is bringing a Green New Deal to Los Angeles.

Of course, there are stories behind these Independent Expenditure efforts. In the case of the attack on Lundquist and the Green New Deal, the mailing is funded by Department of Water and Power workers’ union that doesn’t like that part of the deal would close down some natural gas plants costing union jobs.

On the issues, the candidates generally support their red and blue corners with Lee opposing taxes, Lunquist supporting spending while Lee’s top issue is police and public safety and Lundquist’s lead issue is the environment.

Given the advantage of Democratic registration, 44% Democratic, 24% Republican, Lundquist’s strategy is to get Democrats to the polls. Mailers to Democrats have emphasized her party ties and endorsements by Democratic Party elected officials.

Yet, there is still a streak of conservatism in the 12th district. The primary election for this seat was on the ballot at the same time as Measure EE, the school parcel tax that went down to defeat. The tax measure overwhelming was turned down by district voters by over 70%.

In a Democratic city, to see a hotly contested political battle between a Democrat and a Republican feels different—and refreshing.

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