By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
This didn’t sit very well with L.A.’s African-American elected officials. Normally, the political leadership of black L.A. — like the political leadership of Latino, Jewish, Asian and what-have-you L.A. — can’t concur on the time of day. But Riordan’s big-money intervention on behalf of Hayes, against incumbent Barbara Boudreaux, unified that leadership as never before. It was a touching expression of solidarity: An injury to one African-American incumbent, apparently, was an injury to all African-American incumbents.
Just in the past two weeks, black elected officials who have never been close to Boudreaux or particularly involved in school-board politics have written her some hefty checks: $10,000 a pop from the PACs of Congressman Julian Dixon and state legislators Kevin Murray, Rod Wright and Ed Vincent; $50,000 from a PAC of Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Boudreaux’s campaign mailers invariably showed the candidate flanked by County Supervisor Yvonne Burke, Waters, Dixon, Wright and a gaggle of Murrays (father, daughter and son). Boudreaux ended up trying to recast the election as a referendum on L.A.’s black leadership — not a contest over who would better serve the city’s schoolchildren.
African-American political leadership is understandably antsy these days: L.A.’s black population is declining, and long-safe districts are becoming less so. The notion that money from outside the community could fund an insurgency merely fueled a growing anxiety about waning political power. (Never mind that most of these incumbents get substantial contributions from many of these same outsider sources.) If this race is any indication, much of the black political class is increasingly succumbing to a "circle the wagons" mentality that has genuine — but genuinely limited — political appeal. By contrast, Hayes (and Rice and Thigpenn) points the way to a more sustainable political future for the African-American community, as part of a multiracial, class-based coalition. The oddity of this election is that a suddenly street-smart Dick Riordan cast his lot with these raffish visionaries.
The other oddity of this election is that, for the first time since Miguel Contreras took the helm at the County Federation of Labor in 1996, the unions lost a race they should have won. The 14th Council District, where longtime Councilman Richard Alatorre is stepping down, is the kind of working-class, heavily Latino terrain where labor usually runs wild. The Fed put on one of its customary mobilizations, with hundreds of union members walking precincts. But on this Tuesday, the Fed came up short: Its candidate, campaign consultant Victor Griego, narrowly lost to Assistant District Attorney Nick Pacheco.
The chief problem here was candidate recruitment: Griego, whom the Fed didn’t endorse until after the primary, was probably the least impressive labor-backed candidate in years. A secondary problem was the Fed’s own campaign, which bizarrely spent $30,000 on T-shirts inscribed with union slogans rather than on more mailings or phone banks.
If the Fed is losing its touch, does that mean that the deftest political hand in town belongs to . . . Richard Riordan? Who’da thunk it?Research assistance by Sara Dunn.