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The Skinny – LA/California Politics (un)-Covered – June 6th Edition

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

By: Seth Jacobson

Our Predictions: 2022 LA Mayor, Council Races - California Congressional Winners and Losers and we follow the money. It's all about the Unions -and Special Interest PACs - Our special section: The Endangered Species - Incumbents. Newcomers to watch and that pesky county supervisors race in Los Angeles.

Our column last week ruffled some feathers in the campaign world. Our intel numbers on polls seemed to be validated by no denials from any campaign. And the recent New York Times article and Newsweek and Los Angeles Times polls show we broke the news first. We remain steadfast and committed to our sources. Could Caruso put it away in the primary? We don't believe it will happen, since there is still a large undecided, and the City’s Black vote is really motivated. But as the final week and weekend has worn on and the money has flowed, two things are clear about California and LA politics. Don’t piss off the unions, because they have nearly $10 million reasons to get back at you. And if it’s Saturday or Tuesday or Wednesday, Rick has dropped another $2mil into his campaign. The big spenders continue to be the Police, Unite Here!, AFL-CIO, SEIU and of course the Teachers union. As the slugfest continues, our team asked a LA-based media buying firm to let us know who is spending the most and what the numbers will look like - here is what they told us, the Caruso Campaign, Gavin Newsom, and the Native American Tribes will end up the biggest spenders going into the last week. They estimated that it will swell well over $50 million statewide.

It’s here. Our Campaign predictions.

Mr. Mayor? Maybe. We took our prediction and polled the same group of insiders and some ex-elected’s, and the predictions almost mirrored what the Skinny believes will be the outcome of the LA Mayor's race. We are calling a mayor’s race with Caruso (depending on the high absentees - that we found out are skewing to 55+ year olds) about 42%; Bass around 38% and a large percentage of voters that are just waiting out the primary. The votes cast on June 7 will be a coin toss, but we believe it will favor Bass, so she may close the gap a bit. In the no surprise category, Douglas Emmett Properties fellow billionaire dropped $250k into the anti-Bass campaign – Emmett has close ties to Caruso properties in the past, and it’s all about the billionaires after all. In the “were not sure why” column, we point out one contribution we found this week that we just don’t understand. A pair of Subway store owners in Bakersfield contributed to Kevin DeLeon’s campaign. We wonder if he is buying sandwiches on his drive to Sacramento to see what statewide office he might run for.

The LA City Council.: The three races to watch and the potential upset.

The upset.:

CD 13 - Longtime incumbent Mitch O’Ferrell is facing stiff opposition. The Unite Here union has spent heavily in the last two weeks, and the big surprise, strange bedfellows to the union, George Pla with the Cordoba Corporation, the guy that has made millions over the last decades building bridges and subways, has jumped in against O’Ferrell. Could this be payback for not supporting a project at City Hall? There will still be a runoff most likely with Hugo Soto-Martinez. It's a battle of the unions, the Carpenters and others spending over $150k to support O’Ferrell and Unite Here! spending a similar amount. On election night if Martinez squeezes out a lead, it may be over for Mr. O’Ferrell.

The nasty 9th: CD 9.

This seat, held for decades by Black politicians, has changed dramatically in recent years, with a growing Latino and Asian community in the district. But loyal Curren Price supporters are spending heavily to keep him in office. The Carpenters, AFL/CIO, and Unite Here! have all jumped in with hundreds of thousands. But Dulce Vasquez has the local grassroots support, and according to a tracking poll, is going to force a runoff. We will see, Curren has a touch in terms of getting the day-of vote in his favor.

The wealthy 11th. Longtime councilwoman Ruth Galanter used to say “it's the oddest district, you have some of the poorest areas in Venice and some of the richest in the entire city all in one district”. Ain't that the truth? With a whole lot of folks in the mix, we followed the money. And we think it will be a runoff between Traci Park and Greg Good. Park, has relied on her monied lawyer friends and Good, has gotten support from some long-time downtown special interests - Cordoba and unions. Whoever wins, this is a no-win situation, homelessness soaring and crazy community members that harass local staff. Enjoy retirement Mike.

The Fabulous 5th. CD 5, (or as some refer to it as - the Jewish district) retiring Paul Koretz, has left open the door for two likely runoff opponents. Katy Young Yaroslavsky (who wants to follow her family patriarch into the business), and newcomer Sam Yebri. They have both been honing their skills on how to deal with homelessness and raising lots of money. The Skinny would put Yaroslavsky on top coming out of the primary.

We chose to not address the other city races this time around, but expect that in the City Attorney’s race it will be Kevin James against Hydee Feldstein Soto, and we think former Councilmember Koretz will lead the pack for the Controller's race.

The Congressional Maps are Changing - The Endangered Species - Incumbents.

The Skinny predicts even with one possible loss for the Democrats and Republicans the status quo will prevail - although the 22nd District could surprise us all. BUT there will be a whole lot of new faces for the 117th congress. We have highlighted the races that will make the difference.

The evolving 49th.

Polling data we reviewed from a national organization shows the 49th District is probably the most likely Republican gain. Democrat Doug Levin, has raised nearly $3 million, has strong support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and is liked by his fellow members. But redistricting may be the ultimate issue that moves this seat. Biden is supposed to offer help to a couple Californians - we hope he chooses the 49th.

The re-match in the high-desert 27th. Guns optional. This long saga of back and forth between Christy Smith and incumbent Mike Garcia continues. The “Katie Hill” seat has been a desired win for the Democrats. Smith has all the endorsements and has raised a ton of money, the Skinny thinks she is old news to many. She recently tried a new strategy to refresh the campaign and make it about how Garcia is not right for the district. We think too little, too late. It will be a runoff, but we think it stays Republican.

The endangered Republican. The lonely 22nd. Well the incumbent David Valadeo was one of only 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Trump. Boy, was that brave in a marginal district that has leaned Republican and his hope was that by doing the right thing in California would pay off. He is being primaried and he has a really strong challenger in the state legislator, Rudy Salas. Groups that are aligned with Trump have been pouring money into the campaign, but neighbor and potential future Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy thinks the devil he knows is better than the devil itself. Those pesky Democrats. We think this seat has a chance of leaning Democrat. It will be Salas v. Valadeo in the primary.

Finally the lucky number 13. The 13th, a seat that was redistricted out from under incumbent Josh Harder, the hardest working fundraiser in the California Democratic Caucus. If he hasn't called you yet, then you're on his list. This seat will be fought out in the primary. With Assemblyman and former “mod-Dem” leader Adam Gray, (the establishment choice.), but so-called progressive Phil Arballo, and massive war chest and progressive fiends are making it an interesting race. Might be Democrat against Democrat in the run up to November. Which no one likes… but could be fun to watch. The skinny puts Arballo and Gray in the runoff pretty close to each other in the numbers.

The Best Job in Politics in California - LA County Supervisor. So Dobie Gillis alum, Sheila Kuehl is departing the Los Angeles Supervisorial seat that is the prize of California. The beautiful coastline, the wealthiest neighborhoods in Los Angeles and some parts of the San Fernando Valley. Perennial elected official Bob Hertzberg is raising a ton of money and has flooded the mail with over 15 pieces of mail, including one on “pets for Hetzberg” he has staked his campaign on a growing list of folks endorsing himEarly to the game and a fighter is West Hollywood City Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath. She earned the endorsements of the other 5 women county supervisors, and a bunch of other folks in the state and local community. She has been working at the grassroots level, and is not trying to meet Hertzberg piece for piece, and has strong support from local groups - women’s groups in particular. Late to the party and everybody's favorite State Senator, surfer and Malibu regular Henry Stern is in the mix. Stern barely in the State Senate for a full term jumped into what is likely the best job in politics - LA County Supervisor. The Skinny puts the runoff with Hertzberg vs Horvath. Should be an interesting match up.


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