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25th District — Ed Vincent
The third of three successive Senate districts that features a race between two Democratic Assembly members to succeed an outgoing Democratic incumbent brings us to the bottom of the barrel of the candidate pool. Veteran state Senator Teresa Hughes has been termed out of this inglewood–Gardena–South L.A. district, and the race to succeed her pits Inglewood-area Assemblyman (and former Inglewood mayor) Ed Vincent against Dick Floyd, a veteran assemblyman from a Carson–Long Beach district that isn’t in Hughes’ district at all. (Floyd has had to move into the Senate district.)
Vincent is one of the Assembly’s lesser lights; Floyd, increasingly, is its black hole. As the legislator from the district that’s home to Hollywood Park and its casino, Vincent carries the water of the gambling industry and, for good measure, Big Tobacco. The blustery and erratic Floyd carries some labor legislation, but often so clumsily that it doesn’t get through, as he did last session with his last-minute bill — ultimately vetoed by Davis — banning “big box” retailers, a serious issue, but one that needed airing and debate.
In a sense, this race is a kind of reverse image of the Kuehl-Knox contest — this one featuring two legislators you’d rather not have in Sacramento at all, that one featuring two you’d wish could both stay there forever. Still, we see one factor that tilts this race in Vincent’s favor: Almost alone among L.A.’s African-American elected officials, Vincent is actively promoting Latino political involvement and cultivating a whole generation of Latino political leaders within his district. In a time of increasing Balkanization, and pervasive insecurity within the black political elite, Vincent’s multiracialism is far-sighted and — sad to say — brave. It’s enough for us to endorse him, despite his manifest flaws.
27th District — Betty Karnette
Democratic incumbent Karnette is seeking a second term in this Long Beach–Harbor area–Palos Verdes district. This is a seat the Republicans still have designs on; chiefly for that reason, the moderate Karnette has our support.
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39th District – Tony Cardenas
Assemblyman Tony Cardenas has had a relatively unimpressive four years in Sacramento, perhaps because he’s been building a mini-TELACU (Latino L.A.’s ranking business-political machine) in his northeast San Fernando Valley district. With prompting from Richard Polanco, he got it into his head that he should run for speaker, an idea that his colleagues, fortunately, couldn’t get into their heads. He is, nonetheless, the best of the candidates in the 39th.
40th District — Bob Hertzberg
Hurricane Hertzberg continues to storm through Sacramento, a whirlwind of activity, affability, deal making and hugs. Earlier this year, he was elected speaker by an unprecedented unanimous vote. The Hertzberg speakership will certainly be more centrist than its Villaraigosa predecessor; we just hope Hertzberg realizes that absent pressure from the Legislature, the natural tendency of the governor is to do next to nothing about everything. Remember, Bob: The achievements of Davis’ first year — gun control, HMO regulations, affordable auto insurance — were forced on the Guv by you guys. Keep it up.
41st District — S. David Freeman
We mean no insult when we say that the field of candidates to succeed the term-limited Sheila Kuehl in this Santa Monica–to–West Valley district does not seem to include anyone who’s quite up to the standard that Kuehl has set. A first-rate legislator can still fall short of the Kuehl standard. What’s striking about the three main Democratic aspirants, however, is their utter experiential dissimilarity. Former Santa Monica City Council member Tony Vazquez, longtime Agoura Hills City Council member Fran Pavley, and DWP chief S. David Freeman are all mainstream Democrats, but they seem to come from different planets.
Tony Vazquez is a community activist who served on the Santa Monica City Council from 1990 to 1994, having been elected as part of the Santa Monicans for Renters Rights slate. He lost his seat in ’94 largely due to the opposition of the police, whom he’d estranged by criticizing their crack-down on non-white youth. Clearly the most progressive candidate in the current race, Vazquez has been endorsed by the County Federation of Labor and the Latino Legislative Caucus. His commitment to social-justice causes, however, is to some degree undercut by his inability to make a compelling, complex case on behalf of his beliefs. Or maybe we’ve just been spoiled by Sheila.
Fran Pavley, a middle school teacher who’s served four terms as mayor and council member of Agoura Hills, is a longtime environmental activist and has been a member of the California Coastal Commission since 1995. She’s won awards and endorsements from both the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters. She certainly brings sterling environmental credentials to the race, though her lack of familiarity with the kind of income-equity causes that Vazquez espouses is matched only by Vazquez’s lack of familiarity with some of the growth-control issues that she knows so well. The extent to which either of them is ready to represent all of this diverse urban-suburban-exurban district is not at all clear. Or maybe we’ve just been spoiled by Sheila.
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