Los Angeles voters slept right through the election last week. Newsweek noticed, putting Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa, beaming in a suit and tie with the Malibu surf in the background, on the cover. But the headline, “Latino Power,” suggests the East Coast–based magazine just woke up from at least a decadelong slumber of its own. We hate to dump on Newsweek when it’s down, but California has a long line of Latino officeholders, from Speaker of the Assembly Fabian Nuñez to Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. The major breakthrough in the Latino vote came not last week but in 1991, when Gloria Molina became the first Latino elected to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors in nearly 100 years. It’s been a decade since Latinos became the biggest ethnic group in Los Angeles. And if Villaraigosa had been elected four years ago — without the support of Valley whites and South L.A.’s African-Americans, a case could be made for the power of L.A.’s Latino electorate. But this time Villaraigosa won in most demographics. This time he is an L.A. mayor who just happens to be Latino — albeit L.A.’s first Latino mayor in a century. We can’t expect Newsweek to keep track of our recent history, demographic trends, or even current slate of public officials, but the city is now 48 percent Latino, 31 percent white, 11 percent Asian and 10 percent black. We applaud the good sense of an editor sitting in New York who thought the outcome of the mayor’s race in the nation’s second-largest city worthy of a cover. But we’ll take a wild guess and assume the idea of “Latino Power” was a ploy by that out-of-touch editor, more prone to gimmicks than thoughtful analysis, to increase market share among Latino readers, at least for a week. Latino power is nothing new, Newsweek. And we can’t help but wonder whether, in an election where only 30 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot, the outcome says little about voters’ power, whether it’s blue, gray, black, green or brown.

LA Weekly