Analyzing LA results so far: district attorney, social services funding, Latino voting bloc

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KCRW looks at early local elections results. As of Wednesday afternoon, LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas leads in the race against Grace Yoo for LA City Council District 10. It’s a seat currently held by Herb Wesson, who has been termed out of the seat. 

In the race for LA District Attorney, George Gascón has a lead over incumbent Jackie Lacey. Incidents of police brutality might have swayed the race between Gascón and Lacey, says Dan Schnur, USC politics and communications professor and a former Republican strategist. 

“If this election had been held in January rather than November, I suspect Jackie Lacey would've been reelected by a pretty safe margin,” Schnur says. “Politics doesn't happen in a vacuum, and the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the protests and demonstrations and racial reckoning that has occurred since then has really changed the conversation around criminal justice.”

Jan Perry, former member of the Los Angeles City Council, says much of the progressive movement in California is represented in the vote for district attorney. 

“It has been a long and steady cry and protest and outward expressions of concerns that have gone on for several years, not only in front of the Hall of Justice but on social media,” she says.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Measure J is posed to pass. It’s meant to put more county funds toward social service programs. Perry says proponents must scrutinize this process. That’s because of how much money will be used for operational and bureaucratic costs of rolling out the services. 

“People are going to have to be very vigilant. This had to be more than symbolic action that the Board of Supervisors took,” Perry says. “They’re going to have to be able to explain to the public how much it’s going to cost, and break it down so people’s expectations are aligned with the actions the elected officials take.”

In the race for Congressional District 25 in Santa Clarita, it appears that Christy Smith is winning, leading against Republican Mike Garcia. It's part of the region’s incremental Democratic shift, says Schnur.

“If Garcia does not come back — and of course he might — you’d have to look at this as a several month rental of a Congressional district that’s been trending blue over time,” he says. “It's becoming a friendlier and friendlier terf for Democrats.”

According to Fernando Guerra, Professor of Political Science at Loyola Marymount University, more Latinos voted in the 2020 election than ever before. And following President Trump’s win in Florida, conversations surrounding the Latino bloc have reemerged. 

According to Schnur, Latinos and other groups are not a homogenous bloc that votes the same. 

“It's like talking about human voters. There’s a lot of subgroups. There’s a lot of different individuals in communities within those groups. … Age and gender and income and educational levels and any number of other factors can lead people who happen to have the same racial or ethinc heritages … to dramatically different conclusions,” Schnur says.