LA WATCHDOG--When Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson announced in December that he was entering the race to succeed termed out County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, he was considered to be the “instant front runner” because of his name recognition, political connections, and ability to raise campaign funds, especially from real estate developers and public sector unions.
But since that time, his polling numbers dropped precipitously. This has caused Wesson to seriously consider dropping out of the race, a position supported by his family given his age (67), his health, and skeletons in the closet.
Underlying this downtrend is the pay-to-play corruption scandal involving Los Angeles City Hall that has occurred under Wesson’s watch. In November, the FBI raided the home and offices of Jose Huizar, a close ally of Wesson. And then in January, The Times disclosed that Wesson’s chief of staff and others were the subject of a search warrant “seeking information on bribery, extortion, and other possible crimes.” Wesson has also been identified as a witness in the on going investigation.
At the same time, two experienced African-American women have emerged as candidates, impacting Wesson’s polling numbers in this traditionally black district. Both former Los Angeles City Councilwomen Jan Perry and State Senator Holly Mitchell are very qualified, have name recognition, and have a cadre of loyal supporters.
Wesson is also having issues with the Latino community who outnumber African-American residents in Supervisor District Two. According to sources, Supervisor Hilda Solis has refused to endorse Wesson because she believes that a Latino would better represent and serve the community. This is also true for other local Latino politicians, including Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, and members of the State Assembly, the State Senate, and the Los Angeles City Council.
Wesson has not earned the endorsement of the four women Supervisors who want an all women County Board of Supervisors. They are concerned that his back room, arm twisting power politics will be disruptive. They also have issues with his overly favorable treatment of Councilman Jose Huizar when he was sued by his former chief of staff with whom he was having an extra marital affair.
Despite his full court press, Wesson was unable to obtain the endorsement of Mark Ridley-Thomas because of the significant push back from supporters of Perry and Mitchell. Furthermore, the four women Supervisors delivered an ultimatum to MRT not to endorse Wesson.
Wesson’s family is also concerned about his age and health as he has had several scares in the recent years. There are also issues about nepotism and the inappropriate use of City services as well as the family’s finances, including outstanding credit card debt, threatened foreclosures, the non-payment of bills, and other financial issues that are rumored to be festering.
Maybe it is time for Herb to hang up his cleats in November of 2020, serve as a high paid consultant to the real estate industry and public sector unions, enjoy his bourbon on the rocks (Pappy Van Winkle being his favorite), and enjoy his grandchildren.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. He can be reached at: [email protected].)