Last night, Assemblymember Paul Krekorian won the election to replace Wendy Greuel as the next councilmember of Los Angeles City Council District 2. The contest was a run-off between him and Christine Essel who had received the second highest number of votes in the special election two months ago. With his previous local school board experience and strong environmental record in the Assembly (a three year average of 98%), Krekorian won the endorsement of our sister organization, the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters.

The election results were consistent throughout the evening. Krekorian started with a double digit lead (over 2,000 votes) in the absentee ballots. Match that with a low voter turnout of just 15.35% and Essel had an enormous uphill battle to climb at the ballot box. In the end, it didn’t happen for her. All ballots were counted before midnight with Krekorian winning 57% of the vote.

A few interesting things to note about this race:

1) Krekorian had more name ID than any other candidate going into the primary.  Combine that with his having a strong campaign network and fundraising capacity because of his re-election last year, and it’s easy to understand the advantages he had going into the race, especially against the many lesser known and lesser funded contenders in the primary. Special elections tend to favor sitting elected officials for these very reasons.

2) Despite Krekorian’s established fundraising base, Essel raised more than twice as much money than all of her opponents combined in the primary. She also outspent Krekorian in the run-off by almost $350,000. In this instance, the money spent wasn’t enough to compensate for the natural advantages of Krekorian’s name ID and campaign infrastructure. The lesson here is that it’s not about having the most money but having enough money, which Krekorian apparently had.

3) Krekorian’s victory means there will be another special election needed to replace his vacant Assembly seat as this election cascade continues. Rumors of potential candidates had come up long before this election settled, which included Mike Gatto who works with Former Assemblymember Dario Frommer and political consultant Paul Mitchell. These rumors will be put to the test in short order. In the mean time, it’s always fun to anticipate surprises. Will Chris Essel run for Krekorian’s Assembly seat, or will history demonstrate its power to repeat itself when a more organized sitting local elected official decides to make a run for the Assembly? Political junkies should be looking forward to it.

Posted on December 9, 2009


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