California Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D) is projected to advance to the runoff in the race to replace former Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Park Police chief insists tear gas wasn’t used despite reports| Energy headquarters to reopen next week OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump official violated ethics rules in seeking EPA job for relative, watchdog finds| Trump administration aims to buy uranium for reserve ‘as soon as possible,’ official says| 18 states fight conservative think tank effort to freeze fue 18 states fight conservative think tank effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards MORE (D-Calif.), with former Los Angeles city planning commissioner Robert Lee Ahn (D) finishing in second place in the district’s crowded “jungle primary.”
With 100 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday morning, Gomez had 28 percent while Ahn had 19 percent, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.
A jungle primary places all candidates in a single field regardless of party, with a 50 percent threshold set to avoid a runoff. Since no candidate received 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will compete in a runoff scheduled for June 6.
Gomez went into Tuesday’s jungle primary as the front-runner and was one of 24 candidates to compete for the reliably Democratic, heavily Latino district based in Los Angeles.
He received a groundswell of support from high-profile lawmakers in the state including Becerra, now the state’s attorney general; Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), whom Becerra succeeded; and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D).
Gomez’s competitors, however, sought to frame him as the establishment candidate, and the race morphed into a test of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE’s (I-Vt.) movement from the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. Candidates played up their progressive credentials and aligned themselves closely with Sanders, who defeated Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE by a few points in the district. But the progressive icon stayed on the sidelines and didn’t endorse a candidate in the run-up to Tuesday’s primary.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Gomez said at a party at his campaign office late Tuesday that Ahn will probably be able to raise a lot of money, but Ahn’s “message and his credentials will probably fall flat.”
“I’m going to make a play for every community, every neighborhood, every single vote,” Gomez added.
“When we first announced our candidacy, not many people gave me a chance,” Ahn told the newspaper in a phone interview, calling Gomez a “professional politician.”
“I think that politics as usual is not working for this country. We’ll let the people decide,” Ahn added.
Ahn, a lawyer and businessman, has strong ties to the district’s large Korean-American community. He demonstrated strong fundraising leading up to the primary, though nearly half of his contributions reportedly came from self-funding.
Other contenders in the special election include former Sanders deputy political director Arturo Carmona, labor activist Wendy Carrillo, former public school teacher Sara Hernandez and Maria Cabildo, a low-income housing developer backed by the Los Angeles Times editorial board.
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