Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, November 8, 2022


Page 1


L.A. Times, PAC, at Odds Over Contestants In Today’s Run-Off for LASC Judgeships


By a MetNews Staff Writer


(News and Analysis)

To be tested in today’s election for judicial offices is the efficacy of Los Angeles Times endorsements versus the power of money, with three candidates who are beneficiaries of financing by a left-of-center political action committee being pitted against contenders favored by the newspaper.

Three observers of elections for judgeships are predicting that the Times-backed candidates will win.

“Justice PAC By la Defensa, a Project of Tides Advocacy” has amassed $473,552 to promote the candidacies of Deputy Public Defender Anna Slotky Reitano (Office No. 60), Deputy Public Defender Elizabeth Lashley-Haynes (Office No. 67), Deputy Public Defender Holly L. Hancock      (Office No. 70), and private practitioner Carolyn “Jyoung” Park (Office No. 118). The four are jointly campaigning as the “Defenders of Justice.”

The Times has endorsed only one of those candidates: Hancock.

That newspaper has urged the election of three deputy district attorneys: Deputy District Attorney Abby Baron over Reitano, Fernanda Maria Barreto rather than Lashley-Haynes, and Melissa Hammond, not Park.

The significance of Times endorsements—once a major factor—had waned in recent years, with slate mailers playing a larger role. But the pandemic changed that; with a huge number of ballots being cast by mail or dropped in boxes before “election day,” there is no ideal time for slate mailers to arrive.

They could be received too soon to have an effect or after the recipient has voted.

In the primary, the Times-endorsed candidate either won outright or landed a place on the general election ballot.

Huebscher Comments

Political consultant Fred Huebscher, a specialist in slate mailers, said yesterday:

The November 2022 judicial election is very unique because for the most part, the candidates purchased space on a limited number of slate mailers or did not buy space at all.

“Moreover, I am struck by the lack of spending by any of the candidates. The only ‘big spender’ is Justice PAC by La Defensa, a Project of Tides Advocacy.”

Addressing the three races where the Times and the PAC are at odds, he provided these predictions:

Office 60

Abby Baron. Baron will win and would give her a 60-40% chance of winning. Baron’s name and her occupation will make the difference here more than her campaign which has concentrated on digital advertising and texting. Also, Baron’s surname is considered a Jewish surname by Jewish voters which is also added benefit. And she has been endorsed by the Political LA Times and the County Federation of Labor. Moreover, the Justice PAC’s poor use of its resources for Ms. Slotky Reitano has done very little to improve her chances. Also, Ms. Slotky Reitano’s name is a hinderance since “Slotky Reitano” is an unusual name and there are loads of voters who make a split second decision on a race voting based only on a candidate’s name and occupation. If she had run as “Anna Reitano” that would have improved her chances.

Office 67

Fernanda Barreto. Barreto should win and I give her a 55-45% chance of winning. Barreto will do very well with Latino voters which is a big advantage. However, in both the 9/21 recall election and the 6/22 primary election, Latinos were underrepresented in the electorate by about 10%/ Ms. Barreto’s occupation help as well. Ms. Barreto’s campaign expenditures have resulted in virtually no impact in the race—squandered on overhead. Ms. Barreto is also endorsed by the L.A. Times and County Federation of Labor. My comments about Justice PAC apply here as well.

Office 118

Melissa Hammond. Ms. Hammond will win and I give her an 80-20% chance of winning.

Other Races

There are three other judicial races on the ballot. Huebscher prognosticated Hancock’s victory over Deputy District Attorney Renee Yolande Chang, noting that “Hancock did extremely well in the primary, coming in first with almost 47% of the vote,” with Chang trailing by almost 15%.” He pointed to Hancock’s endorsement by the Times and the County Federation of Labor.

In the race for Office No. 90, he gave Deputy District Attorney Leslie Gutierrez a 10 percent edge over Deputy District Attorney Melissa Lyons, explaining that “[t]he Latino surname is a big advantage, but bad Latino turnout will lower her chances of winning.”

Huebscher said that Deputy Public Defender Patrick Hare “has a 70-30% chance of winning” over Deputy District Attorney Karen A. Brako in the contest for Office No. 151.

Pundit ‘X’

Pundit “X” remarked:

“I support all of the METNEWS endorsements.”

Those endorsements are: Baron, Barreto, Chang, Lyons, Hammond, and Hare.

The observer continued:

“Even better, I believe all of those we endorsed will win, except Rene Chang. Which is somewhat unfortunate, since she was the best of the entire field, in my opinion. If I am correct, Hare and Hancock will become the first deputy public defenders to win a LASC race since unification in 2000.”

That constitutes a prediction that all Times-backed candidates will win. The Times’s endorsements are the same as those of the METNEWS except for its preference for Hancock over Chang for Office No. 76.

Pundit ‘Y’

Another close observer of judicial elections also forecasts a victory for those endorsed by the Times, providing this analysis:

Seat 60Abby Baron

Though she’s run a pretty unspectacular campaign, she had enough solid support to do well in a crowded primary field and her opponent isn’t seen by many in the legal community as having Judicial temperament.

Seat 67Fernanda Barreto

A close one because her opponent has been so aggressive, but Barreto should be able to pull this out.

Seat 70Holly Hancock

Chang SHOULD win, but she all but gave up after the primary and her lack of a campaign will likely put the lesser qualified Hancock in robes.

Seat 90Melissa Lyons

Her opponent has no support except for a few police unions. Lyons has all of the endorsements and has racked up a real cross-section of support. She wins.

Seat 118Melissa Hammond

Park is dangerously unqualified. I think/hope that still matters.

Seat 151Patrick Hare

He didn’t run with the “dark money” Public Defenders group and he’s the only PD to receive a “Well Qualified” rating. The only way he doesn’t win is if women blindly vote for any woman on the ballot.

Financial Reports

The latest financial reports by the candidates’ respective committees shows that the candidate drawing the most financial support during the period from Jan. 1 to Oct. 22 was Baron ($172,548.90), and taking in the least was Lyons ($10,843.51).

Chang showed a negative amount in contributions during the period—that is, minus $227,952.63.

On Dec. 23, 2021, her committee received $200,000 from the candidate’s husband, Donald Scott Campbell, and $100,000 each from her parents, Jerry C. Chang and Yolande H. Chang, but on June 13, 2022, it returned $100,000 to Campbell and $75,000 each to the Changs. It appears that the total amount raised through Oct. 22 was $161,167.54.

Chang explained yesterday that “the money was returned to my parents and my spouse because we determined this large amount was unnecessary as we decided to focus on social media ads rather than physical slates.”

Amounts reported by the other candidates’ committees are:

Reitano, $94,735.66 (Office No. 60).

Barreto, $26,773.99; Lashley-Haynes,     $91,661.69 (Office No. 67).

Hancock, $117,805.51 (Office No. 70).

Gutierrez, $19,949.00 (Office No. 90).

Hammond $100,090.47; Park        $117,148.16 (Office No. 118).

Brako $25,223.00; Hare $72,630.00.

Republican Endorsements

The Republican Party of Los Angeles County yesterday announced its recommendations in judicial races, not restricting endorsements to members of its own party (as the Democratic Party does). It endorsed Baron, Barreto, Chang, Gutierrez or Lyons, Hammond, and Brako or Hare.

The county’s Democratic Party made its selections earlier. It supports Lashley-Haynes, Hancock, Lyons, and Hare.

Although Lyons and Hare are jointly endorsed with their rivals by the GOP, each can boast the approval of both the Democratic and Republican parties.


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