Members of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party voted Wednesday to endorse former U.S. Secretary of Labor
They also threw their support behind Jeffrey Prang, a West Hollywood City Council member and special assistant in the county assessor's office, in the race for assessor.
But controversy arose over which candidate to back in an upcoming special election to fill the Los Angeles Unified School District board seat formerly held by Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, who died in December.
The party's endorsement committee recommended backing George McKenna, a retired senior administrator in the district, but the members — and a pair of high-profile elected officials who spoke at the meeting — were divided.
On the other side, County Supervisor
"This is a moment of intense dialogue, and we should allow that dialogue to continue....There should be no endorsement at this point in time," he said.
In the end, McKenna fell short of the 60% of votes needed to secure the endorsement.
The endorsements of Solis and Prang passed unanimously. Some spoke against endorsing Kuehl, saying there were other viable Democrats in the race, but she won 80% of the 100 votes cast.
Kuehl said of all the endorsements up for grabs in the race, the party's endorsement is "the most important one."
"Democrats, I love you," she told the members. "Thank you so much. It means a great deal to me."
The party did not make an endorsement in the race for sheriff.
The races are officially nonpartisan, but in a county where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1, the official imprimatur of the Democratic Party can carry weight with voters. It can also give the chosen candidates a boost in raising money and bring volunteers to their campaigns.
Candidates in competitive races often woo the delegates with personal phone calls and enlist political allies to help with their lobbying efforts ahead of the party vote. But in races with more than one strong Democratic contender, candidates can find it difficult to secure the 60% of votes needed to win the party's endorsement. In last year's race for the Los Angeles mayor's seat, no candidate secured enough votes to win the party endorsement in the primary election or the runoff between
In recent years there have been few competitive county races, making the party endorsement less important. But this year there are four open county seats in the upcoming election. Longtime Supervisors
Noguez — who won the Democratic Party endorsement in 2010 when he ran successfully for the assessor's seat — is fighting public corruption charges, and the Sheriff's Department is the subject of a federal investigation into abuse of inmates in the county jails.
Eight candidates have filed in the race for Yaroslavsky's seat, which includes West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Kuehl and