Race for Governor May Hold Key to Secession Turnout
by Howard Fine
Now that the Local Agency Formation Commission has placed the Valley secession measure on the Nov. 5 ballot, it’s time for the voter turnout strategists to get to work.
Unlike in a citywide election, where secession would have been the dominant issue, there’s going to be a complex interaction between a statewide gubernatorial race and a hot local issue. And it’s conceivable, though not likely, that the results of the secession vote could be impacted by who turns out to vote for the “up-ticket” statewide races on the ballot.
“If (Republican gubernatorial candidate) Bill Simon were to surge and bring large numbers of conservative voters to the polls, that could help the pro-secession vote,” said Harvey Englander, senior vice president with the MWW Group and a veteran campaign consultant. Conservative Valley voters have long been one of the core constituencies for secession.
But Englander and other campaign consultants said that’s unlikely. In fact, they argue, it’s far more likely that the statewide races will have little, if any impact on voter turnout for or against secession.
Far more important, they said, will be the ability of both sides in the secession battle to get their message out and sway people who would otherwise not vote to come to the polls. One factor to consider is that there will be dozens of candidates running for the new Valley city council seats, each one with their own grass-roots organization, Englander said.
While statewide races are likely to have minimal impact on the secession vote, the secession turnout itself could impact other races. A high turnout in favor of secession could have a significant impact on a proposed multi-billion dollar bond measure for the Los Angeles Unified School District to build new schools.
“If I were the school district, I would seriously consider taking a pass on the November election for the bond measure,” said local political consultant Richard Lichtenstein. “A heavy turnout in the Valley, which is notoriously conservative when it comes to bonds, could be enough to defeat the LAUSD bonds.”
While L.A. Mayor James Hahn and former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan were teaming up on the City Hall steps to fight secession last week, inside, councilmembers were deciding who would get to represent downtown.
Councilmembers Nick Pacheco and Jan Perry have been vying for that right in an increasingly intense struggle. And last week, the council’s five-member redistricting committee voted 3 to 2 to assign most of downtown to Pacheco’s district.
However, Perry supporters said they were encouraged because committee president Jack Weiss voted to keep downtown in Perry’s district. They think his support now tips the scale in their favor with the full City Council.
“We were delighted with Weiss’ vote,” said Carol Schatz, president and chief executive of the Central City Association.
Staff reporter Howard Fine can be reached by phone at (323) 549-5225, ext. 227, or by e-mail at