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California Assembly: Endorsements from civic leaders, pols and labor

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When it comes to gathering backers, candidates seem to have a preference for environmental and civic leaders, labor groups and elected officials -- or at least the Democrats who dominate Los Angeles-area campaigns do. Just look at this week’s sampling of endorsements in next year’s Assembly races:

-- Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Marina del Rey) scored endorsements from about a dozen environmental leaders, including actor Ed Begley Jr. and Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board. Not to be outdone, her main competitor for the newly drawn, Westside-based 50th Assembly District, activist Torie Osborn, signed up 75 “influential women leaders,” among them Becca Doten, treasurer of the Women’s Caucus of the California Democratic Party, and a slew of current and former lawmakers, including Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblywoman Julie Brownley (D-Santa Monica).

-- For the new 51st District, based in northeast Los Angeles, Assemblyman Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) added his name to the list of those backing labor leader Jimmy Gomez. Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) endorsed one of Gomez’s several competitors for the seat, Luis Lopez, who is president of L.A.'s East Area Planning Commission. Both candidates are Democrats.

-- In the San Fernando Valley’s new 46th District, charter school executive Brian C. Johnson, a Democrat, touted his endorsement by former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, a Republican known to break party ranks if he likes a candidate. One of Johnson’s several Democratic competitors, businesswoman Laurette Healey, added 20 “high-profile Valley leaders” to her list of supporters, among them Robert Cohen, president of the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce, and Krisna Crawford-Velasco, treasurer of Latino Democrats, San Fernando Valley.

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-- Former Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez announced two fellow Democrats will chair his bid to return to the Legislature’s lower house from the open seat in the 57th District, where Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Whittier) is termed out and is endorsing his son, Ian. The elected officials co-chairing the Bermudez campaign are Rep. Grace Napolitano of Norwalk and Assemblyman Tony Mendoza of Artesia.

-- California Democratic Party Secretary Reginald Jones-Sawyer added Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar) and the National Assn. of Letter Carriers Branch 24 to his supporters. This will be Jones-Sawyer’s second try for an Assembly seat in as many years, this time from the newly drawn 59th District in Los Angeles.

-- John Tran, former mayor of Rosemead and current member of the El Monte Union High School board, has received endorsements from three former El Monte police chiefs: Wayne C. Clayton, Bill Ankeny and Ken Weldon. Tran, a Democrat, is one of several likely candidates for the open 49th District seat, where Assemblyman Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park) is termed out.

On the Republican side, Lake Elsinore City Councilwoman Melissa Melendez has received backing from Assemblyman Jeff Gorrell (R-Camarillo). Melendez, a Navy veteran, is one of several candidates hoping to replace Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries (R-Riverside), who must step down because of term limits, in the 67th District.

-- Jean Merl


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