Out of a crowded field of 23 candidates, Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez and former LA city planning commissioner Robert Lee Ahn emerged as the top two candidates in yesterday’s election to fill the 34th Congressional District seat of Xavier Becerra, now California’s Attorney General. The two will now meet in a runoff election, scheduled for June 6.
Gomez, considered the favorite with many Democratic party endorsements including Becerra, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris and LA Mayor Gracetti, won 28.1 percent of the vote with 8,156 votes. Ahn, who drew heavy support from the Korean American community, won 19% with 5,504 votes.
The next highest vote-getters were housing advocate Maria Cabildo, who was endorsed by the Los Angeles Times and won 9.6% with 2,778 votes, followed by Sara Hernandez, former aide to Los Angeles City Council member Jose Huizar, won 5.3% with 1,525 votes…just 5 votes ahead of Arturo Carmona, a former Bernie Sanders staffer who won 5.2% with 1,520 votes. Wendy Carrillo, a young activist running for the first time, was close behind at 5% with 1,448 votes.
According to the LA Times, Gomez benefitted from his strong Democratic Party connection to get out voters. Ahn turned to the Korean American community for support, registering thousands of new voters excited about the possibility of electing a Korean American to Congress. Now Ahn and Gomez are getting ready for what could be an expensive general election in June. Both campaigns were quoted in the Times this morning:
Parke Skelton, a campaign consultant for Gomez, said the assemblyman’s lead in such a crowded field was “astonishing.”
“It’s a testament to the strong base of support in the district and a powerful grass-roots campaign,” Skelton said.
Darby Levin, a consultant for the Ahn campaign, said it was clear his candidate was moving on to the runoff.
“This is a mandate that politics as usual isn’t going to work anymore,” Levin said. “This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a victory for Jimmy.”
It was a disappointing result for those who wanted to see one of the many female candidates in the race break through, and for those who hoped one of the several Bernie Sanders-associated progressive candidates would grab a spot.
Windsor Square resident Carolyn Ramsay told the Buzz earlier this week that she was working as a fundraiser for Robert Ahn, who she’s known for years through board service on the Wilshire and Hollywood YMCAs.
“People who serve on Y boards tend to be very community-oriented, and Robert fits the mold,” said Ramsay. “He served on the City Redistricting Commission (appointed by then-Councilmember Eric Garcetti in 2011) and then the City Planning Commission (appointed by Mayor Garcetti.) Both posts are challenging in many ways. Robert has served well in part because of his diverse background in the private sector, but also because of his intelligent questions and even-tempered personality. He is a public interest lawyer who has also worked in his family’s real estate business. Although he was born and raised in Los Angeles and went to Harvard Westlake and USC Law School, he speaks fluent Korean. He has tremendous support from the Korean-American community and would be the only member of Congress (in either house) who is Korean-American. I’m supporting him because I know him and he’s a good guy who knows the city and district well and is smart enough to ask the right questions. It turns out he’s a great candidate, too, and has tremendous support from everyone who knows him well. I think he’ll be a great Congressman.”