Update: The final count, Huizar over Martinez, is 64.22 percent to 35.78 percent. 14,429 people voted in the race. Originally posted at 12:20 a.m.
Eighty-three percent of votes have been counted in the City Council District 14 election, and the people's choice is clear: Jose Huizar for another four years.
But the numbers are more extreme than most political watchers expected -- 65 percent to 35 percent.
How did a candidate with a militant right-hand man, a "Mean Girls" ranking of all power players in his district and a walk-in closet's worth of skeletons beat his well-funded opponent, reality star and local restauranteer Rudy Martinez, so thoroughly?
Well, aside from the obvious -- Huizar's an incumbent in change-resistant Los Angeles, and, with the help of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, raised over $400,000 to plaster his district head-to-toe in campaign paraphernalia -- Martinez just didn't have what it takes, and may have been too confident for his own good.
After speaking with hundreds of voters at our Eagle Rock exit poll today, we finally understand why. Though some were uninformed, many provided a thoughtful analysis as to why Huizar was the lesser of two evils.
1. Martinez was largely unfamiliar with the kind of city minutea we pay city politicians the big bucks to care about so we don't have to. At candidate forums, Martinez easily accused Huizar of misusing the CLARTS fund (following the lead of the L.A. media mafia), but in the end, had no idea what he'd do with the money himself.
2. Martinez promised he'd stick up for business at all turns, and scored a surefire vote from small-business owners for that. But he never really complemented his entrepreneurial side with a solid plan for covering the other fundamental concerns of city life. Huizar's a pothole politician, and it gets him places. Plus, he's got roots in dozens of community programs and orgs -- each of which host dozens of staffers and volunteers who showed him love at the polls.
3. Turns out lots of folks see
restaurant owners big-time businessmen/reality stars turned politicians as A-holes.
4. And they weren't buying his tears. Or the relentless smears. They just wanted someone they knew could run the city, even if Huizar does it like a predictable politician.
Some telling quotes from today:
"They're both about the same, but one's up to speed and the other isn't."
"Martinez ran a completely negative campaign, and never said anything about what he would do."
"We went to the debate, and he was unable to answer questions well. He also had a bad attitude."
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"It was a hard decision, but Huizar already knows people to get things moving."
There was also the foreshadowing fact that Martinez perceived both the El Sereno Youth Center and the Eagle Rock City Hall voting locations as his own strongholds -- when, in fact, we couldn't find a single one of his supporters at the former, and the latter was split evenly down the middle, even leaning slightly Huizar.
Out of touch, indeed. You tell us: How did Martinez tank this hard? And see also, "LA Weekly Exit Poll in Eagle Rock Shows Problems for Martinez."