In the city of Los Angeles, where more than one third of the voters are Latino, it’s disheartening that a Latino candidate didn’t make the runoff for mayor.
City Councilman Kevin de León only won 7.5% of the vote compared to Karen Bass with 37% and Rick Caruso with 42%, according to Los Angeles County data.
But the real loser is democracy. There are 5.6 million registered voters in Los Angeles County and an estimated 19% voted in the primary elections, according to USC’s Center for Inclusive Democracy.
What is behind the lack of voter participation?
Generally, turnout is always lower in primaries than in general elections.
Also, a NALEO Educational Fund poll in May found that a third of LA Latino voters said they do not know where to look for accurate information about voting at a vote center in Los Angeles. But the poll showed that 65% of the Latino voters polled were following very closely or somewhat closely the race for Los Angeles mayor.
The poll also found that Latino voters care about the same issues most Angelenos worry about and ranked the most important issues as homelessness 38%, the rising cost of living/inflation 34%, crime 28%, the lack of affordable housing 23% and jobs and the economy at 20%. Immigration reform polled at 12% and police reform at 9%.
In the poll, 62% said it is extremely important or important that Los Angeles have a Latino mayor.
Voters in Latino precincts showed more support to Caruso than for de León and Bass. In high-density Latino precincts 38% voted for Caruso compared with 29% for De Leon and 17% for Bass, according to the UCLA Latino Politics & Policy Initiative.
Caruso has taken the lead in the LA mayoral race and the answer may be quite simple – money.
The former Republican and billionaire running for elected office for the first time has spent an estimated $40 million in the election. He flooded local television with far more ads than any of his opponents.
Caruso created five slick Spanish-language television ads including ones targeting homelessness and crime. His campaign also did radio ads and at least 10 mailings that were Spanish or bilingual, according to campaign information filed with the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission.
Politics is always a game of money and Caruso’s ads hyping up the crime wave only stoke fears that often hurt people of color.
Is Caruso really going to buy this election using his “success” as a businessman the same way as Donald Trump? Well, we know how Trump turned out for Latinos.
Angelenos need to get behind Karen Bass, who served six years in the state Assembly and more than a decade in the U.S. House of Representatives. UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta and other Latino leaders gave Bass their support in the primary. Bass launched a Latino voter outreach campaign and event in April at Mariachi Plaza.
But she needs to do much more. We also expect her to make more firm and specific commitments to our community on the issues that matter from the economy to housing, police reform and immigrant rights.
In other races:
In the 42nd Congressional district, outgoing Long Beach Mayor Robert García received 45% of the vote and will face off against Republican John Briscoe, who received 29% of the vote. Cristina Garcia only received 13% of the vote.
The two candidates going into the runoff for Los Angeles County Sheriff are Alex Villanueva with 34% and Robert Luna with 24%.
In Los Angeles City Council races, Gil Cedillo bested Eunisses Hernandez, 54% to 46 % in the 1st District; and Monica Rodriguez crushed Elisa Avalos, 67% to 33% in the 7th District. It’s surprising that Curren D. Price Jr. defeated Dulce Vasquez, 66% to 33%, in the 9th City Council District, which is overwhelmingly Latino. Mitch O’Farrell will face off against Hugo Soto-Martinez in the 13th District, each won 37% and 35% of the vote, respectively.
As expected Alex Padilla won short-term and full-term election to the U.S. Senate.
In election primaries in Los Angeles city and county, candidates may win the office if they receive more than 50% of the vote, according to the election code. If they don’t, the top two vote getters advance to the general election in November.