Ahn, Gomez Have Early Lead in LA's Congressional Primary

Henrietta Brewer
April 6, 2017

Democrat Jimmy Gomez, 42, has taken the lead with 28% of the votes, according to the latest count from the county clerk. Filing all that paperwork and keeping the polls open from 7 AM to 8 PM cost the county an estimated $1,371,000 for the special election, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder. Most of the candidates never held elective office, with the exception of Gomez and former Los Angeles Unified School District board member Yolie Flores.

His likely opponent is former city planning commissioner Robert Lee Ahn, a fellow Democrat, who had 19 percent of the vote. As a result, he will have to run again against Ahn, who came in second with 18.99% of the ballots cast.

Gomez campaign consultant Parke Skelton says he expects the lead to keep growing. His family immigrated to Los Angeles from South Korea before he was born.

The race in California's 34th Congressional District is one of five special elections for the House of Representatives that are expected to take place over the next few months, when Georgia, Kansas, Montana, and SC will go to the polls.

The race for the seat, vacated by Becerra when he became California's attorney general, was a four-month sprint that attracted a whopping two dozen candidates.

Early returns for an open U.S. House seat in Southern California show two men far ahead in the huge pack of almost two dozen candidates. Ahn, an attorney and city planning commissioner, had raised the most funds in the field and had strong support in LA's Korean community.

The field is as diverse as the nation's most populous state.

Three main candidates ran on facets of the Sanders agenda: Arturo Carmona, Sanders' deputy political director during the presidential campaign; Wendy Carrillo, a labor activist and former journalist who spent several weeks protesting the Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock; and Kenneth Mejia, an accountant and Green Party candidate who said he quit the Democratic Party over its corrupt politics.

Elections being held Tuesday across the US feature a mayoral race with presidential overtones, a 23-person congressional primary highlighting Democratic Party rifts, a school board challenged for accommodating a transgender student, and referendums on leadership and police issues in the Missouri cities of St. Louis and Ferguson. Ahn would be the first Korean-American elected to the House.

The special election was prompted by the appointment of then-Rep.

The contest Tuesday in the strongly Democratic 34th Congressional District that includes downtown Los Angeles attracted 19 Democrats among a field of almost two dozen candidates.

Gomez's competitors, however, sought to frame him as the establishment candidate and the race morphed into a test of Sen. Bernie Sanders as an inspiration.

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