From ContraCostaTimes.com, Eric Bradley, Staff Writer, 5 Jan 2012.
LONG BEACH, CA – The United Farm Workers of America on Thursday endorsed Assemblyman Ricardo Lara for the newly drawn, Long Beach-anchored 33rd State Senate District.
The nod to Lara’s candidacy from the UFW, which was co-founded by Cesar Chavez, is another signal that political powers are lining up to deliver a desired result – a Latino installed in a seat where the ethnic group is 51 percent of the voting population.
Lara, a first-term Bell Gardens Democrat, stepped aside in 2008 in a race against current Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, and is now an ally of Perez and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Political consultant Allan Hoffenblum expects an easy path to victory for Lara.
“It was drawn specifically to favor a Latino,” said Hoffenblum, who co-edits the nonpartisan elections guide the California Target Book. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he just walks into the seat.”
Democrats make up 57.7 percent of voters in the 33rd District. Only 17.2 percent are registered Republicans.
“It is an honor to receive the endorsement of the UFW, an organization that has inspired me since I was a child to fight for equality and justice for all workers,” Lara said in a statement.
“Their support has energized my commitment to the working families I represent every day in Sacramento and will keep me accountable to countless others whose hard work puts food on all of our tables.”
The 33rd Senate District includes most of Long Beach and portions of Lakewood, along with Signal Hill, Vernon, Huntington Park, Maywood, Bell, Cudahy, Bell Gardens, South Gate, Lynwood, Paramount, Walnut Park and Florence-Graham.
Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, was an early competitor against Lara for the state Senate seat.
But Lowenthal, who served on Long Beach City Council and the Long Beach Unified School District, in November bowed out two weeks after Lara entered the race by announcing she would seek re-election in the 70th Assembly District.
That move muted the nascent campaigns for the seat by Patrick O’Donnell and Gerrie Schipske, both of whom are Long Beach City Council members.
Neither O’Donnell nor Schipske returned calls this week regarding their intentions for the race.