Compared to the slugfest in Council District 14, the race in District 8 has gotten relatively little attention. Bernard Parks is generally seen as a safe bet to win his third term.
But this one could be a sleeper. Forescee Hogan-Rowles picked up two endorsements last week from public employee groups. And now Parks' fundraisers are warning that labor plans to run an independent expenditure campaign against him.
“We have confirmed that the Union's [sic] are going to be running negative ad campaigns against Parks with their own I.E.,” wrote fundraiser Cindie Bassett in an e-mail to Parks supporters. “We will need to be diligent in raising money for the Councilman to counter-attack.”
Hogan-Rowles is the president of the Community Financial Resource Center and a former commissioner at the L.A. Department of Water and Power. She ran for the council office in 2003, finishing fourth in a field of five as Parks cruised to a resounding victory.
But Parks has lost a couple races since then, and Hogan-Rowles' campaign believes he is vulnerable.
“There's a great deal of dissatisfaction,” Hogan-Rowles said. “There's not much responsiveness to community needs and services.”
Parks holds a large fundraising advantage. In the latest report, Hogan-Rowles had raised just $17,000. But labor groups, which spent more than $8 million to defeat Parks in the supervisor's race, could dump several hundred thousand dollars into an independent campaign.
Parks has angered public employees by calling for layoffs and cuts to DWP pensions.
“I don't know where the hatred comes from,” said Bernard Parks Jr., the campaign spokesman. “I understand the disagreement on issues, but there's a certain venom attached to it which I can't understand.”
Parks Jr. rejected criticism of his father's handling of issues in the district, citing the recent approval of a new Fresh & Easy market as evidence of his attentiveness. But he said Parks is taking the challenge seriously.
“You gotta take everybody seriously,” he said. “We've made up our mind to run a campaign.”
One problem is that Parks' former campaign consultant, John Shallman, is suing him to collect a bill from the supervisor's race, which makes him unavailable. Shallman runs one of the top two campaign consulting firms in L.A. The other one — SG&A Campaigns — is working for Hogan-Rowles. Parks just hired Robert Kaplan as his campaign consultant within the last week.
The L.A. Democratic Party did not make an endorsement, which both sides claimed as a victory. Hogan-Rowles won 56% of the vote among the delegates, falling five votes short of the 60% threshold.
“He's having a tough go of it,” said Eric Bauman, chair of the L.A. Democratic Party. “She certainly offers quite a contrast to him. I wouldn't venture a guess about the outcome, but he's the most vulnerable he's ever been.”