GOP vs. Tucker Legend: It’s Not Really a Contest

Times Staff Writer

Some of the people voting at Inglewood’s Warren Lane Elementary School knew they were about to make history by electing a dead man.

Others were apparently unaware of the death last month of Assemblyman Curtis Tucker.

And some said they were uncomfortable about the situation, but they certainly didn’t plan on voting for a Republican--dead or alive--in a race against a Democratic legend and political patriarch of Inglewood.

“Tucker’s machine has been operating for so many years,” said Joseph Essien, a resident of the middle-class East Inglewood neighborhood that served as the venerable Tucker’s political base since 1972. “I don’t see any point in not continuing the political structure he established.”


Essien compared Tucker to other legendary politicians who built political organizations or “machines,” a word that Essien said has a positive meaning in this context. He said he is a newcomer to Inglewood, but had heard a good deal about the assemblyman and was impressed by the number of Tucker signs that blanketed the district this year as in past election seasons.

Defeated GOP Contender

Tucker defeated Republican Michael Davis for his eighth resounding election victory and the first posthumous election of a legislator in California. The governor is expected to schedule a special election.

Despite news accounts of Tucker’s death and a well-attended funeral, several voters interviewed at the polling place in Tucker’s neighborhood appeared unaware of his death. They dutifully carried Democratic slate mailers that bore Tucker’s picture and gave no indication of anything out of the ordinary. Several voters were apparently taken aback when asked about voting for a deceased candidate, then hurriedly said they had indeed known of the assemblyman’s passing.


One voter, who declined to give her name, said: “The man’s dead; it don’t make no sense to vote for him.” But when asked if she thought Republican Mike Davis might stage an upset, she frowned and said: “I hope not.”

Lillian Carter said she had voted for Tucker in the past, but did not vote for either Assembly candidate Tuesday because she did not know “who would step in” to the vacant seat.

Cites Confusion

“There is some confusion out there,” said Inglewood Councilman Daniel Tabor, a precinct captain and potential candidate in the special election.

An informal survey outside the polling place also indicated that some voters thought that Tucker’s son, an announced candidate for the special election, would simply take over the seat.

“I’ll consider his son No. 1,” said Tommy Ford, who moved into Inglewood when Tucker was first elected 14 years ago. “Then I’ll check out the others.”

Another voter identified herself as a loyal Democrat but declined to give her name or disclose how she voted in the race. But she did say: “As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one man running.”