Attorney Nanette Barragan, who recently quit the Hermosa Beach City Council and moved to San Pedro to run for a House seat in next year's election, has made much of her roots in the working-class, heavily minority district she now seeks to represent.
Raised in the Carson area the 11th child of Mexican immigrants who struggled to make ends meet while living in a small, crowded home, Barragan, a Democrat, worked her way through college and law school. Now, she says she is running for Congress because "I want the same opportunities for all of the little boys and girls who are growing up in houses like the one in which I grew up."
On Wednesday, the campaign of a Barragan competitor, state Sen. Isadore Hall (D-Compton), used a video in an online ad aimed at discrediting Barragan.
Taken from a YouTube page posted when Barragan was running for the Hermosa Beach council two years ago, the video shows her proclaiming, "My dream of buying a home in Hermosa came true five years ago. ... I love Hermosa Beach. ... I want to give something back to our community."
"This video showcases two polar opposite candidates," said Hall campaign consultant Dave Jacobson. "Just two years ago, Ms. Barragan claimed her 'dream was to buy a home in the affluent ocean-front community of Hermosa Beach,' ... which couldn't be more starkly different from the communities of the 44th District."
Hall, Jacobson added, "never left his community" and served as a school board member and city councilman in Compton before his election to the state Legislature.
Barragan, in a statement released by her campaign, dismissed Hall's video ad: "I'm used to special interest politicians trying to shout me down. I'm going to stay focused on issues like education, jobs and our environment. The issues that matter to you. Because that's what you deserve."
Barragan campaign manager Michael Trujillo indicated that her campaign is digging into Hall's record in the Legislature to try to find ammunition.
"A lot of people in the district dream about the beach," Trujillo said. "I only know one person whose American dream was to go to Sacramento to do the bidding of big oil and big tobacco."
The congressional district, currently represented by Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro), who is running for county supervisor next year, includes San Pedro, Wilmington, Carson, Compton, South Gate and Walnut Park, among other communities. Democrats outnumber Republicans in registration, 62% to 11%.
Several other candidates have thrown their hats into the ring, but most observers expect the race to come down to a contest between Hall and Barragan.