Miguel Contreras and Maria Elena Durazo


Behold the rightful successors to Tom and Jane as the First Couple of the L.A. Left — the Labor-Left, more particularly. In 1998, Hotel and Restaurant Employees chief Durazo helped her members win groundbreaking contracts for L.A.-area service-sector workers — contracts that provided housekeepers with a 36 percent raise and guaranteed members in trouble with the INS a right-of-return to their old jobs. In 1998, County AFL-CIO chief Contreras, who's assembled the most potent political operation in the state, helped the Democrats win a November sweep and started work on an unprecedented, countywide organizing operation. Together, they've kept up the momentum for L.A.'s “living-wage” movement, pressuring elected officials and developers to eliminate poverty-level wages in Los Angeles. This is one nuclear family that can ruin the right's day. (Harold Meyerson)


photography by SLOBODAN DIMITROV (left) and JENAFER GILLINGHAM (right)





Antonio Villaraigosa


Just yesterday, or so it seems, Antonio Villaraigosa was an organizer for United Teachers of Los Angeles and president of the Southern California ACLU. Today, through the miracle of term limits and a serious case of political smarts, he's Speaker of the California Assembly — in which capacity, he's restored state benefits for legal immigrants, helped the UC teaching assistants in their bid to form a union, and smashed the Republicans in November's election. Tomorrow — more precisely, in 2001 — he may well follow in the footsteps of Tom Bradley, assembling a multiracial, progressive coalition in a bid to become L.A.'s next mayor. (Harold Meyerson)

photography by JOE BUISSINK