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Tue, Mar

Labor’s Love Lost

LOS ANGELES

REALITY POLITICS, LA COUNTY STYLE--Election campaigns contain a bit of Shakespearean drama as they deal with many aspects of human nature, but the fractured headline of this piece refers not to Shakespeare’s play but the question labor faces because of an unusual outcome in a Los Angeles County supervisorial race. 

In the Fifth Supervisorial District overseen by Republican Michael Antonovich for 36 years, most political experts thought that Antonovich’s successor would be a Republican. Labor agreed and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and public employee unions stacked dollars behind their preferred Republican candidate, Kathryn Barger, Antonovich’s Chief of Staff. So much mail was sent out on behalf of Barger by the unions that she could direct her campaign cash to buying expensive Los Angeles television. 

Barger finished first on primary day. The surprise was who probably finished second and made the run-off. 

While five fairly well-known Republicans were vying for the seat, one Democrat also was invited to the debates because he was endorsed by the LA Democratic Party. On Election Day, Democrat Darrell Park grabbed the second spot—for now at least. He only leads Republican state senator Bob Huff by 417 votes with all the precincts counted, but there are outstanding ballots. 

Labor backed Barger because they worked with her during her stint with Antonovich creating compensation packages among other things. 

During a debate for supervisor, the five Republicans and one Democrat were asked how they would handle their responsibilities given that there would probably be four liberal Democrats on the five-member board serving with the winner of the Fifth District. The Republicans all gave an answer along the lines that they can work across the aisle. When it was Park’s turn he said, ‘If I win there will be five liberal Democrats on the Board of Supervisors.’ 

What is labor going to do if Park holds onto the second spot? 

Much media attention has been focused on business’ decision to search out moderate Democrats in hopes of coming up with an acceptable alternative to a liberal Democrat in races certain to be won by a Democrat. In LA, labor attempted the reverse, looking for a Republican they could work with. 

Labor wasn’t the only one that attempted to make a pragmatic decision. Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the most liberal supervisor on the board also backed Barger, as did Barger’s boss, Antonovich. 

Now labor faces the possibility that a Democrat more to their liking is in the finals. Rusty Hicks, head of the labor federation told the Los Angeles Times that it was too soon to decide whether the federation would change horses for the November election. 

As for candidate Park, his good fortune could put him in a position of honorificabilitudinitatibus, a term meaning “the state of being able to achieve honors,” the longest word Shakespeare ever used, which appears in the play, Love’s Labour’s Lost.

 

(Joel Fox is Editor of Fox & Hounds … where this piece was first posted … and President of the Small Business Action Committee.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.