A Latino legislator pulled out a tight victory in a traditionally Latino congressional district in Los Angeles in a battle with a Korean-American trying to become the sole “Korean voice in Congress.”
Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez will be sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives later this month after defeating public interest attorney and fellow Democrat Robert Lee Ahn in a special election in the 34th Congressional District.
Gomez, D-Eagle Rock, defeated Ahn, 60.12-39.88 percent, 19,761-13,108, according to semi-official results released Wednesday by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.
Many outstanding ballots remain to be counted, according to Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean C. Logan. An update on the ballot count will be released Friday, Logan said.
The results are tentatively scheduled to be certified on June 16, with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors scheduled to declare the results official on June 20, Logan said.
The special election was prompted by the appointment of then-Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, as attorney general, succeeding Kamala Harris, who was elected to the U.S. Senate. Becerra endorsed Gomez, who said he hopes to “continue to build an inclusive and diverse country that values people from all walks of life.”
Gomez said he ran “to fight” President Donald Trump.
“I’ve always believed that in times like these its important to run towards the fight and not away from it,” Gomez told City News Service.
“From expanding paid family leave, to leading the nation in the fight against climate change, we’ve demonstrated that progressive values are achievable. In Congress, I will work to build a new progressive coalition that puts our values first.”
Gomez concedes that the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, “was not perfect,” but he said he will fight to protect the gains made through the legislation. He has also called for immigration reform and vows to fight rollbacks by “climate change deniers.”
Gomez promised the district’s voters “that no matter what, I’ll put their values first.”
Gomez was born and raised in Southern California. He graduated from UCLA, then earned a master’s degree in public policy at Harvard University.
Gomez was the political director of the United Nurses Association of California and worked with several other unions, and also worked in the offices of then-Councilman Mike Feuer and then-Rep. Hilda Solis. He was elected to the Assembly in 2012, and re-elected in 2014 and 2016.
Gomez topped the 24-candidate field in the April 4 primary, collecting roughly 25 percent of the vote, with Ahn second with 22 percent. Because no candidate received a majority, Gomez and Ahn were forced into Tuesday’s runoff.
The district stretches roughly from Koreatown in the west to the Long Beach (710) Freeway in the east and from the Santa Monica (10) Freeway in the south to the Ventura (134) Freeway in the north. It includes downtown Los Angeles, the Westlake district, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights.
Ahn, a Korean American, was looking to break through in a traditionally Latino district, saying there has not been a “Korean voice in Congress” for two decades, “and never from the Democratic Party.” He painted himself as a political outsider not beholden to special interests.
A Los Angeles native, Ahn has a law degree from USC and once worked as a clerk for former District Attorney Ira Reiner before practicing law at a variety of Southland firms. He later joined his family’s real estate and asset- management business.
Ahn was appointed to the city’s Redistricting Commission in 2011 by then- Councilman Eric Garcetti, now L.A.’s mayor, who later appointed Ahn to the city Planning Commission. He vowed to fight efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to support investments in clean energy infrastructure, to resolve the nation’s immigration visa backlog and to push for “humane immigration reform.”
Gomez’s victory creates the need for a special election to fill his Assembly seat.
—City News Service