Assemblywoman Laura Richardson’s defeat of Sen. Jenny Oropeza in this week’s special congressional election was a victory for organized labor and a defeat for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. But it also tells a larger story about demographic shifts in Southern California and the slowed progress of the Latino voting tidal wave.
The race was an odd one for any number of reasons. Oropeza received nearly $500,000 in support from Indian tribes–with the vast majority of that money coming from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. That number eclipsed the total spending of the Richardson and Oropeza campaigns combined.
Meanwhile, Richardson ran with the backing of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the same group that led the opposition to Richardson’s Assembly campaign. The Federation spent $275,000 rallying voters, making phone calls and sending mail to their members urging them to vote for Richardson.
Labor’s backing of Richardson came only after the tribes announced support of Oropeza, despite the fact that Richardson had lobbied Speaker Fabian N