Field set at 24 candidates in race to succeed Xavier Becerra in Congress

The official list of candidates seeking to replace former Rep. Xavier Becerra in Congress includes 23 candidates who will appear on the ballot and another candidate who has qualified as a write-in.

Becerra, now attorney general, resigned from Congress to fill the vacancy created when Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Speculation as to who will prevail in an already crowded race to replace Becerra has been building.

The final, certified list of candidates released by Secretary of State Alex Padilla includes 19 Democrats, a Republican, a Green Party candidate, a Libertarian and an independent. The write-in candidate, Michelle “Hope” Walker is also a Democrat.

A special election primary in the district, which covers much of L.A.’s downtown, Koreatown and Eastside, will be held April 4. If no single candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, a general election runoff is scheduled for June 6.

Here are the candidates:

• Robert Lee Ahn, 41, Democrat: An attorney and former Los Angeles city planning commissioner appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti. Ahn was born and raised in Los Angeles after his parents immigrated from South Korea. Ahn resigned from the planning commission Feb. 1.

• Vanessa Aramayo, 39, Democrat: A public affairs consultant and stay-at-home mom who was the former executive director for the California Partnership, a statewide group focused on economic justice. Aramayo has also worked as a staffer in the Assembly and Congress and was born to immigrant parents in Glendale.

• Maria Cabildo, 49, Democrat: A longtime Boyle Heights activist who now serves as director of homeless initiatives for the L.A. County Community Development Commission. The daughter of immigrants, she helped co-found the East Los Angeles Community Corp., a nonprofit focused on economic development and housing.

• Alejandra Campoverdi, 37, Democrat: A former Obama White House staffer who also briefly worked for the Los Angeles Times, leaving in July. A graduate of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Campoverdi was raised by her mother in Santa Monica.

• Arturo Carmona, 38, Democrat: Former deputy political director for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign who most recently worked for Latino digital startup network Mitú. Carmona was born in Downey but spent several years as a child living with his parents in Mexico.

• Wendy Carrillo, 36, Democrat: A labor activist and former journalist and radio personality who was an early Sanders supporter and spent several weeks at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. Brought to the U.S. illegally from El Salvador as a child, she later became a citizen and recently spoke about her experience at the Women’s March on Washington.

• Ricardo De La Fuente, 27, Democrat: A businessman who helps run his family’s real estate and land development business and most recently served as campaign director for his father’s failed presidential campaign. Born in San Diego, De La Fuente recently moved to downtown Los Angeles.

• Adrienne Nicole Edwards, 29, Democrat: A housing counselor and community organizer who ran against Becerra twice, most recently in 2016, when she received 23% of the vote.

• Yolie Flores, 54, Democrat: A former Los Angeles Unified School District board member with a degree in social work who now helps run the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, an education nonprofit. She was born in El Paso to Mexican immigrant parents and raised in Huntington Park.

• Melissa “Sharkie” Garza, 38, Democrat: A filmmaker and producer who owns her own company. Born and raised in Orange County, Garza has a master of fine arts from Chapman University.

• Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, 42, Democrat: First elected in 2012, Gomez is a former political director for the United Nurses Assns. of California, organizer for labor union AFSCME and teacher. A Harvard graduate whose parents and siblings are Mexican immigrants, Gomez grew up mostly in Riverside.

• Sara Hernandez, 33, Democrat: Former downtown director for L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar who until recently was executive director of Coro Southern California, a public affairs institute. Raised in Salinas, Calif., Hernandez worked for a time as a teacher and launched a nonprofit that helps students obtain scholarships to elite private schools.

• Steven Mac, 35, Democrat: Deputy district attorney for L.A. County and a former military intelligence officer who serves in the Army Reserve. Raised mostly in South Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley, Mac’s parents are ethnic Chinese immigrants who fled Vietnam in the 1970s.

• Angela E. McArdle, 33, Libertarian: A paralegal who works with foreclosure and tenant cases. A graduate of Biola University, McArdle grew up in Texas and Southern California.

• Kenneth Mejia, 26, Green Party: A certified public accountant who became a registered voter last year so he could vote for Sanders in the presidential primary. Raised mostly by his mother, a nurse and Filipino immigrant, Mejia ran as a Democratic write-in candidate against Becerra in June.

• Sandra Mendoza, 48, Democrat: A program manager at the Los Angeles city clerk’s office who previously worked in the garment industry and as a union organizer. Mendoza came to the U.S. illegally from El Salvador as an unaccompanied minor and later became a citizen. She ran against Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) in 2014 and 2016.

• Raymond Meza, 32, Democrat: Union organizer for SEIU Local 721 who helped lead the “Fight for $15” minimum wage campaign in California. He was raised in Montecito Heights, mostly by his mother.

• William “Rodriguez” Morrison, 54, Republican: An apartment building manager and perennial candidate who has run for L.A. City Council, the state Senate and L.A. mayor.

• Mark Edward Padilla, 52, no party preference: An administrator at an immigration law firm and former Catholic school teacher who sits on the board of an anti-abortion rights “crisis pregnancy center” in Montebello.

• Armando Sotomayor, Democrat: A community volunteer who lives in Carson and whose work is mostly focused in Long Beach. A former Republican who ran as a Democrat last year against Isadore Hall and Nanette Barragán in the 44th Congressional District primary, finishing in third place before endorsing Barragán.

• Richard Joseph Sullivan, Democrat: An attorney who received his law degree from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.

• Tracy Van Houten, 34, Democrat: An aerospace engineer for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she worked on the Mars Curiosity rover. A graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, she’s a mother of two and a longtime resident of Pasadena.

• Michelle “Hope” Walker, 45, Democrat: A comedian and activist who qualified as a write-in candidate on March 21. Walker ran as an independent presidential candidate last year but was not on California’s ballot. She also previously ran for Assembly in 2014.

• Tenaya Wallace, 42, Democrat: A strategist who specializes in public education campaigns for businesses and nonprofits. Born in Los Angeles, Wallace now lives in Silver Lake.

Candidates who have dropped out:

• Alex Poulton, 30, Democrat: A data analyst for a medical company who formerly worked in film production.

Candidates who did not complete filing requirements:

• Jason Ahn, Democrat: A physician who is currently a National Clinician Scholar at UCLA. Ahn directed a documentary called “Divided Families” about the impact of the Korean War.

• Keith Kirkwood, 33, Democrat: A businessman and former model who serves on the Mid City West Community Council, part of Los Angeles’ network of neighborhood councils.

• Karl Siganporia, 28, Republican: An attorney who lives in San Jose, Siganporia explored a run as a Democrat in the 33rd Congressional District in 2014. He dropped out to run as a write-in candidate against Rep. Brad Sherman later that year.

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christine.maiduc@latimes.com

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UPDATES:

March 22, 5:20 p.m.: This article was updated with Walker’s write-in candidacy.

March 21, 7:30 a.m.: This article was updated with Edwards’ age and the date of Ahn’s resignation from the L.A. City Planning Commission.

Feb. 15, 5:15 p.m.: This article was updated with the official list of certified candidates.

Feb. 10, 4:35 p.m.: This article was updated with the latest candidate count after the filing deadline.

Feb. 7, 12:35 p.m.: This article was updated to add Jason Ahn and Mark Edward Padilla.

Feb. 1, 10:11 a.m.: This article was updated to include Edwards’ entry into the race.

Jan. 27, 4:29 p.m.: This article was updated to include De La Fuente’s entry into the race.

Jan. 25, 4:26 p.m.: This article was updated to include the special election dates.

Jan. 24, 5:50 p.m.: This article was updated to clarify that Yolie Flores has a degree in social work.

This article was originally published on Jan. 24 at 11:15 a.m.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Wallace is a former employee of the city of Santa Monica.

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