Tag Archives: Emanuel Pleitez

Calitics Endorsement: CA-32

In 2007, Calitics watched as Laura Richardson ran a nasty, race-baiting campaign in a special election in CA-37, emphasizing that the seat “should be held by someone from our community” and using what amounts to an identity politics wedge to carry her to victory.  We found that distasteful, and hoped that Democrats in future campaigns would not resort to such dirty politics.  When the race to replace Hilda Solis in CA-32 began, we thought the candidates, nominally progressive Democrats, would highlight their policy positions and positive attributes instead of using divisive tactics.  The major candidates, Board of Equalization member Judy Chu, State Sen. Gil Cedillo and former Obama transition official Emanuel Pleitez, all espoused generally progressive ideas throughout the campaign.  But then again, so did Richardson, and we do believe that, at some level, how you campaign does dictate how you govern.

Therefore, we have been extremely disappointed in Gil Cedillo’s divisive and often false attacks on his rivals.  He started his campaign talking about “our community” and “our people”, clearly attempting to play upon a Latino/Asian divide inside the district, which has a larger Hispanic population (which is an odd tactic for someone like Cedillo, who has never represented anyone from the 32nd district, to take).  Cedillo’s blatantly false mailers against Judy Chu during the race, attempting to blame her for the economic crisis by associating her with unrelated headlines and claiming that “Politicians like Judy Chu give tax breaks to their big corporate contributors,” when as a BoE member she merely returned tax refunds owed corporations, were bad enough.  But the mailer against Emanuel Pleitez, using Facebook images to build a false narrative of Pleitez as a drunken womanizer who hangs around with non-Hispanic women (a deliberate effort – we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this mailer only went to Hispanic women) and throws “gang signs” (actually that’s the sign for Voto Latino, an organization for which Pleitez was a past board member), goes beyond the pale.  This slandering, not only of Pleitez but of women in general, as if appearing in a picture at a bar connotes being a slut, goes well beyond what should be expected of a public official, and certainly beneath someone asking to be given a promotion and sent to Washington.

Calitics was generally comfortable with giving no official endorsement on this race until the events of the past couple weeks.  We find Dr. Chu to be a progressive leader and Pleitez to have a significant amount of knowledge and energy, and Cedillo has been a past champion on significant issues like immigration.  But the events of the past couple weeks have forced us to end our silence.  Our somewhat unusual endorsement for voters in CA-32 is to vote for ANY DEMOCRAT BUT GIL CEDILLO.  The behavior he has displayed in this campaign should be rejected, not rewarded.

CA-32 Gil Cedillo take note: Voto Latino is not a “gang”

I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles County, in the district formerly represented by now Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.  Like me, 60 percent of the residents of Congressional District 32 are Latino.  That didn’t stop my mother and I both from voting for a Chinese-American, Judy Chu, when she ran and re-ran for Monterey Park City Council in the 80s and 90s.  Nor, by the way, did it stop then-Assemblymember and Latina Hilda Solis from endorsing her.

Today there’s a pitched battle to fill Solis’ very large shoes, with Judy Chu, currently serving on the state Board of Equalization, running against State Senator Gil Cedillo.  Cedillo’s main point of persuasion for voters seems to be that since the 32nd district is a Latino district, as a Latino he is better suited to represent it.

Unfortunately for the Cedillo campaign, however, he’s not the only candidate in the race with that qualification.  Emanuel Pleitez, a 26 year-old Mexican/Salvadoran-American who served on Obama’s Treasury Department Transition Team, though trailing in third place, is apparently close enough on Cedillo’s tails to find himself the target of a vicious piece of attack mail.  The message of the mail piece: Pleitez is a “party animal.”  The evidence: Pictures on Facebook.

It’s no longer necessary at this point to further describe how innocent these pictures actually were; Calitics and The Hill have already done a great job of it.  However, given Cedillo’s primary qualification for office, it’s worth pointing out another detail his attack piece got wrong.

In the mailer, Cedillo accuses Pleitez of “flashing gang signs — and then posting the pictures on the internet.”  It then goes on to ask rhetorically, “Doesn’t he know about the lives and neighborhoods that have been destroyed by the gangs?”

If Cedillo knew the movement behind Latino political empowerment a bit better, he may have recognized that the woman standing next to Pleitez in one of those photos is Rosario Dawson, star of ‘Rent’ and ’25th Hour’ and founder of Voto Latino.  The “gang signs” the two of them are “flashing” are a ‘V’ and an ‘L,’ as in, ‘Voto Latino.’  Voto Latino’s mission is to empower Latino communities like CD-32 by getting out the vote and promoting civic engagement.  Admirably, Pleitez served on the organization’s Board of Directors.

Perhaps failing to recognize the hand gestures for what they were was a simple oversight by an ignorant communications staffer.  But eagerly jumping to the conclusion that Pleitez was endorsing gang activity on Facebook at the expense of families in the 32nd district was a reckless and malicious ploy to attract cheap votes.

The tragedy is that Cedillo has been nothing short of heroic in California in his numerous fights in the State Legislature on behalf of undocumented immigrants.  But in an all-too-typical phenomenon among politicians, the integrity that inspired him to take on these principled fights in the State Capitol have evaporated on the campaign trail.

The good news is, desperate attacks like these tend to backfire.  Unfortunately, they tend to turn people away from important elections in the process.  Senator Cedillo should bear both of these facts in mind next time he decides to go negative on his opponents.

Pleitez Campaign Responds To Cedillo Mailer

Jeremy Cohen, the Communications Director for Pleitez for Congress, sends along a comment to me about the negative mailer sent by Gil Cedillo’s campaign:

Emanuel is running for Congress because people here are being severely affected by the economic crisis.  It’s sad that the Cedillo campaign wants to surf Facebook while families are being kicked out of their home and people are losing their jobs.

We also think it’s unethical that his campaign would use the photos of these women for a political smear without any form of consent.  Many of them are highly educated professionals — teachers, non-profit directors, nurses — who would be horrified to find that their picture had been mailed to tens of thousands of voters.  Cedillo is not only smearing the name of Emanuel, but defaming dozens of women who have no involvement with the campaign.

Seems to me that Gil Cedillo probably did Pleitez a favor here.  As this story an the controversy around it grows, Pleitez has an opportunity to increase his name ID and deliver his message to more voters.  And Cedillo comes off looking really, really bad.

See also this comment.  Cedillo’s people knew exactly what they’re doing by using pictures of Pleitez with non-Latina women.

CA-32: Two Weeks Out

The League of Women Voters sponsored a forum in Baldwin Park last night for candidates in the May 19 special election to replace Hilda Solis in the Congress.  The two front-runners in the race, Gil Cedillo and Judy Chu, emphasized their strengths.

Cedillo said he has had about 80 of his bills signed into law and said he has worked with the governor to save 25,000 jobs. Chu told the audience that she was proud to have the endorsement “of everybody in the family” of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who held the congressional seat until her cabinet appointment this year.

At the forum at Baldwin Park’s Julia McNeill Senior Center, many of the candidates agreed on some issues, including the need for immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship, eliminating tax loopholes for corporations using offshore accounts to shelter income and the need to reform education, especially regarding the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Calitician and Judy Chu netroots advisor Todd Beeton has more at his Twitter feed.

With two weeks to go, the signals I’m getting suggest that Gil Cedillo is nervous.  The massive unforced error of those negative Emanuel Pleitez mailers makes me believe that Cedillo fears Pleitez is capturing a good bit of the Hispanic vote.  The earlier negative mailers on Judy Chu showed a similar lack of substance (attacking someone for returning tax refunds OWED?).  Negative mailers don’t inspire turnout, they suppress it.  And the May 19 election will already feature low turnout.  Which magnifies the importance of GOTV, and with the Democratic Party and key labor groups having endorsed Chu, I would probably be throwing the kitchen sink at everybody in the race myself if I were Cedillo.

What I’d prefer to hear about, instead of who endorsed whom and such and such negative attack, are concerns of the local area.  El Monte is crashing.  The city made 60% of its tax revenue off of the auto dealerships that lined the city, and with the demise of the auto industry throwing auto sales off the cliff, revenue has shrunk.  Many cities with clusters of dealerships will soon face the same problem.  What can be done at the federal level to diversify the local economy, and shouldn’t the efforts to revive the economy in auto manufacturing states like Michigan extend to cities with a proliferation of car lots like El Monte?  If anyone from the campaigns is reading, maybe we can get an answer to that.

Cedillo goes strong negative…on Emanuel Pleitez

(This story has now been covered by The Hill. We have also posted a comment from the Pleitez campaign. Welcome to all the new readers! – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

(full disclosure: I serve as the the Political Director of the Los Angeles County Young Democrats, which overwhelmingly endorsed Gil Cedillo for the CA-32 Congressional seat.  In what follows, as well as anything else I write or have ever written about this race or any other issue, the opinions written here are strictly my own personal views, and do not reflect the official views of any organization I am involved with in any official capacity.)

The CA-32 race is getting personal.  Gil Cedillo’s campaign has already gotten some criticism for the use of unrelated headlines in a mailer against Judy Chu, and now Cedillo has gone negative against the other candidate in the race with a shot at viability: Emanuel Pleitez, the 26-year-old former employee of the Obama-Biden Treasury Department transition team.

Now before I continue with the mailer itself, which is the heart of this story, I should first point out the initial implications that I perceive about Cedillo’s campaign going negative on Pleitez: by my view, it’s not a good sign for the campaign.  If the campaign is spending money, energy and political capital in attacking someone who was supposed to be a minor candidate and who has raised about a quarter of the money that Cedillo’s campaign has, it would indicate that Cedillo’s team is afraid that Pleitez is drawing a larger share than expected of the demographic that Cedillo would need to beat Judy Chu, and I don’t view it as a positive sign for Cedillo’s campaign that it’s having to use negative mailers to shore up its other flank.

But let’s get to the mailer itself, which you can see front and back at these links:

Edit by Brian for space…see the flip.

link one

link two

link three

link four

The basic point the campaign is trying to make, of course, is that Emanuel is too wild and immature to run for Congress.  And Cedillo has a strong case to make based on his maturity and his extensive experience as a legislator.  And yes, there are a few wild photos from the bunch that the campaign selected.  But I’ll bet a lot of those are innocuous photos that were taken out of context.  For instance, a lot of the pictures on there are shots of Pleitez with various women, often not even in a party setting–obviously designed to convey the impression that Pleitez is a womanizer.

Well, here’s the problem.  I’m one of the least rowdy 26-year-olds I know.  And yet, if someone wanted to troll through the photos of me on Facebook to portray me as an immature womanizer party animal, it would certainly be possible.  I’ve been in a committed relationship for a 2 1/2 years now.  But still, there’s a picture there of me with one of my blogger friends, who happens to be a female my age.  There’s also one of me with a friend whom I’ve known since my freshman year of college when we were in UCLA’s Regents Scholar Society–also an attractive woman my age.  And yet, if you wanted to take those and other pictures out of context and claim that you’re “missing a lot of women” if you haven’t seen my Facebook page…well, I guess nothing prevents you–outside of a sense of honesty or decency, both of which seem to be missing in this case.  I imagine that a lot of this site’s readers are my friends on Facebook.  Why not have a blast and put together an attack mailer against me?

The text of the mailer is also relatively amusing–“even nerdy guys want to look cool”?  The hilarity of that is only exceeded by the Spanish translation of “nerdy”: socialmente ineptos.

I don’t know what Gil Cedillo was doing for entertainment when he was in his mid-twenties.  But what I do know is that whatever it was, it wasn’t documented through the use of digital cameras and social networking.  At the risk of sounding like Thomas Friedman, I was just talking with one of my students a couple of days ago about what impact social media would have on future elections from the “scandal” perspective–i.e., what if there were photos of any presidential candidate’s youthful indiscretions on Facebook?  It’s one thing to hear tell of it–it’s quite another to see the actual physical evidence.  And I suppose that question has been answered just a few days later.  And if you’re a young person contemplating a run for office, it should send just a little bit of a shiver down your spine.  Your elder opponents’ actions at your age–even if they’re just five or ten years older–aren’t a matter of public record.  But in the age of Facebook and Myspace, yours are–and no matter how innocent you may think your photos are, you need to think about the worst possible way they could be used against you–because that’s probably what’s going to happen.

Bottom line: the fact that Gil Cedillo’s campaign feels the need to use social media to commit character assassination on a lesser-known opponent is disheartening.  Gil Cedillo is a strong progressive legislator with a long career track record.  His campaign team consists of people I know who are dedicated to progressive causes.  And the negative mailers sent on the campaign’s behalf are, in my view, not worthy of Senator Cedillo or his campaign leaders.  This is really a low blow, and smacks of desperation to have to resort to this.

CA-32: Calitics Interviews Emanuel Pleitez

The CA-32 race to replace Labor Secretary has less than six weeks to go until the primary.  We know about the two major candidates; Board of Equalization member Judy Chu (not to be confused with Betty Chu, who will appear directly above her on the ballot and surely cause some errors among voters) and State Senator Gil Cedillo, whose extreme spending of campaign contributions on shopping, meals and lavish hotels made the LA Times this weekend and caused a stir.

Somewhat less remarked-upon has been the candidacy of Emanuel Pleitez, a product of East Los Angeles and Woodrow Wilson High School, who matriculated at Stanford, joined the advisory board of Voto Latino (a group that encourages voter registration and engagement for the Latino community), worked for Democratic lawmakers like Antonio Villaraigosa, Tom Daschle and Hillary Clinton, and worked on the Obama transition team at the Treasury Department.  On Friday I had the opportunity to chat with Pleitez about his life experiences, the financial crisis, housing policy and a host of other issues.  A paraphrase of that conversation follows.

(As a side note, this story about one of the volunteers on the campaign, who traveled all the way from Santiago, Chile to work on it, is pretty amazing.)

Calitics: Tell me about your experiences that have brought you to this run for Congress.

Emanuel Pleitez: You know, after college and working in the private sector at Goldman Sachs, I was able to travel a lot.  And I think visiting 27 countries gave me a new perspective on what the challenges are out there in the world.  When I would go to South Africa or India, China, Brazil, I would visit the universities, and the slums, and see their struggles, and it really made me think about the issues of global poverty.  I even drove a taxicab in Myanmar!  And what I took away from all that is that the best way to create change is to start in your own backyard.  And that’s what we’re doing in this campaign.

Calitics: So how are things going?

EP: Well, we have 25 full-time staff working every day.  And our main focus is door-to-door, face-to-face contact.  We’re out canvassing every day.  A lot of people tell me that they think we’re the only candidate in the race, because we’re the only one they see.  So we feel pretty good about our position.

Calitics: Now, you worked on the transition in the Treasury Department, and one central concern that a lot of people have had with Treasury is the lack of staffed positions at the undersecretary level, and the belief that Tim Geithner has basically had to go it alone over there.  How should people look at the transition’s performance in that respect?

EP: I agree with that criticism of Treasury.  I had nothing to do with personnel, I worked in other departments.  But there are many reasons for the lack of senior staff, and I wouldn’t discount the ability and importance of the career civil servants working in the Department, who are doing a fantastic job.

Calitics: This week, the Congressional Oversight Panel released a preliminary report on the TARP program and Treasury’s performance, and they were highly critical of the lack of transparency and clarity over some of these programs, as well as a lack of accountability for the big banks.  How would you assess the various programs offered to this point?

EP: I don’t have all the details of the COP report.  My inclination is to defend Secretary Geithner, but I want people to be critical.  I think what he’s trying to do is return confidence to the markets and get credit flowing again, and we’re seeing signs that the plans are starting to work.

Calitics: How would you approach the situation with the banks.  Would you just recapitalize them forever, or seek a Swedish-style receivership or a liquidation of the insolvent firms?

EP: I would consider a receivership, but I wouldn’t make that the first thing on the table because of the expense involved and the danger to the markets.  But clearly, recapitalization alone won’t work, that’s just making capital disappear.

Calitics: What’s the biggest problem in the economy that we’re facing at this point?

EP: The biggest problem is the foreclosures right now.  Some of them are in rural districts are suburbs and they’re second, third and fourth homes, but for families in urban districts like mine, a foreclosure means the loss of everything you’ve got.

Calitics: Would you support bankruptcy judges being able to modify the terms of a primary loan for borrowers?  Isn’t there a problem with modifying securitized loans, in that the people holding the securities that have been modified can sue the loan servicers for illegally changing the terms of the security?

EP: That is a problem.  But as I understand it, cram-down is more of a threat to incentivize loan modifications and keep people in their homes.  Which is what we have to do.  Investors will get hurt anyway if the loan forecloses.  Somehow, the lenders and the investors and the home-owners have to come to an accommodation, and in that process the primary goal should be keeping people in their homes.  I wasn’t initially open to principal write-downs, but I am more so now, because we’re seeing that the interest-only modifications are not working, and people are being forced into foreclosure just a few months later.

Calitics: What are some of the other challenges facing the economy that you want to deal with in Congress.

EP: Obviously, we still need major stimulus to save jobs and transition into a new economic future.  A large part of my district is at or near the poverty rate, and we need help in these tough economic times.  I expect another trillion dollars to be spent by the government.  In my district, we need investments in public transportation and clean energy programs to reduce emissions and create manufacturing jobs.  There’s a program here called “La Causa,” which targets the high school dropout rate, and gets those kids into vocational programs for green jobs, whether it’s solar panel installation or something like that, so that they can be prepared for the 21st century economy.  We need more of that.  And we need investment in education, because any dollars spent get the greatest return in education.

Calitics: Do you plan on joining any ideological caucus in Congress?

EP: I haven’t really given it much thought, but I don’t think so.  I think all political is local, and I’d rather focus on helping my local community and responding to the concerns of my district.  Maybe I’ll join the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, that should be safe for me.  (Laughs.)

Calitics: Well, thank you for talking to us today.

EP: Thank you.

Campaign News: CA-32, CA-10, CA-48

Through a series of vacancies and some early action, California has suddenly become ground zero for Congressional elections.  Here’s the latest news on some of the races.

• CA-32: The special election for Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis’ seat will coincide with the statewide special election on May 19th.  The major candidates, Board of Equalization member Judy Chu, State Sen. Gil Cedillo and Obama transition official Emanuel Pleitez, actually met in a forum last week sponsored by the Southwest Voter Registration Project,  and the Latino Professional Network.  I didn’t learn about it until a press release popped up in my inbox from Cedillo’s press flack touting “Cedillo is Victorious in First Debate”.  Seeking a somewhat less biased opinion, I struggled to find a news report until coming across this in the Whittier Daily News.

Immigration issues dominated the agenda when three of the leading Democratic candidates to replace new Labor Secretary Hilda Solis met face to face for the first time at a forum Thursday night.

“Today I met with the president … I could have said anything … what I said was, ‘Mr. President, please stop the raids. Please stop the raids now,’ ” Cedillo said of a meeting with Barack Obama during the president’s town hall meeting in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Cedillo is known for repeatedly introducing legislation to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses, but he said that his legacy goes far beyond: “In 11 years of the legislature … I have written 80 bills signed by three governors. I have fought to defend immigrants, because I believe it is the right thing to do.”

Chu discussed being raised by an immigrant mother in South Central Los Angeles, fighting against an English- only movement in Monterey Park, and pushing legislation in Sacramento to protect outdoor migrant workers and require contracts negotiated in a certain language to be printed in that language.

“I support bills that will bring justice to immigrants. Many times immigrants do not have a voice in the political system, and it is up to us, who are in elected positions, to be able to speak up for them,” she said.

Pleitez, too, was born to an immigrant mother, who crossed the border from Mexico while pregnant with him. He said his childhood growing up at the “mercy of the generosity of the people of my community” in back rooms and back garages of neighbors created a debt that he owes to the district.

“I was able to move on to Stanford University, Goldman Sachs … but I will never forget … this debt that I have,” he said.

“I will leverage my youth to organize around the country … to really pass immigration reform.”

This was the last scheduled debate where every major candidate has committed to attend, and judging from the article, observers found little differentiation between the candidates on the issues.  Cedillo vowed not to vote for any health care system that didn’t include immigrants “regardless of immigration status,” but given the audience I would expect that kind of rigidity.  I hope there will be a wider range of issues discussed in a public way, and as I have in the past I invite all the candidates to share their views here on Calitics.  We should have at least one response in the coming weeks.  Meanwhile, PowerPAC, a new group targeted at youth of color which aided President Obama in California and across the nation last year, endorsed Gil Cedillo.  He also received the endorsement today of former Assemblyman Ed Chavez.

• CA-10: The field is still assembling after last week’s announcement that Ellen Tauscher will leave Congress to work on arms control policy in the State Department.  While Sen. Mark DeSaulnier has not formally announced, such an announcement is expected.  In the meantime, Adriel Hampton, a municipal investigator for the San Francisco City Attorney’s office, is among the first to formally announce.  Hampton clearly seeks to leverage social media and Web 2.0 (he has a Ning site, in addition to Facebook and Twitter) to create buzz for his outside-the-establishment campaign.  Hopefully he’ll pop up around here as well.  I’m not seeing a lot of substance behind the “hey kids, let’s put on a Government 2.0 show” announcement, but I’m sure that will come.  Perhaps others can fill in the missing pieces here. (Actually, Robert did, below.

Meanwhile, the Yacht Party still must believe that this seat holds the same demographics as it did when it was represented by a Republican in 1996, because they continue to trot out names to contest the seat.  Melanie Morgan is touting someone.  Yes, Spocko’s Melanie Morgan.

Conservative activist, author and former radio talk show host Melanie Morgan sent an e-mail yesterday saying she’s “squealing like a schoolgirl” to announce that Catherine Moy – executive director of the Move America Forward group of which Morgan is chairwoman; co-author with Morgan of “American Mourning;” and a Fairfield City Council member – will run in the special election to succeed Rep. Ellen Tauscher, assuming Tauscher is confirmed to a high-ranking State Department post.

“The conservative counter-insurgency has begun, and I’m going to do everything in my power to get Cat elected,” Morgan wrote. “Cat has terrific name recognition in the area, a devoted following and she is entirely capable of running this race and winning it – as a rock-solid conservative who has never voted to raise a single tax, and has a solid record on national defense working relentlessly with the largest pro-troops grassroots organization in the country.”

I don’t think Morgan knows what the word “counter-insurgency” means.  Will she be seeking out groups inside the district to reconcile differences and win hearts and minds with a movement of primary resistance?

Other Republican names are floating out there, but the one that brings a smile to my face is tom Del Beccaro, Vice Chairman of the Yacht Party and recent founder of a PAC dedicated to stopping the Fairness Doctrine, which has already been stopped by a full vote in the US Senate.

• CA-48: It takes two years to run for Congress at the least, if not multiple cycles.  So I appreciate Irvine City Councilwoman Beth Krom’s kickoff in CA-48 to unseat John Campbell, bringing 300 people to Shady Canyon for the affair.  Both Steve Young (the most recent candidate in the district) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez enthusiastically endorsed Krom’s candidacy, so expect the field to clear.  It’s quixotic, but we need more windmill-tilters taking back red districts.

CA-32: Cedillo Masses a Volunteer Army In El Monte

The San Gabriel Valley is a unique area.  Within 5 minutes of Gil Cedillo’s campaign kickoff for Congress yesterday in El Monte, I visited a 200 year-old Spanish mission, and a Pho shop in Alhambra where I was the only guy in there who didn’t speak Cantonese.  This is a series of highly homogeneous communities, which doesn’t have the same media, doesn’t have the same leadership, and doesn’t even speak the same language.

However, it’s a demographic reality that the district is over 60% Latino while being about 18% Asian.  This is an urban, middle-class Hispanic district.  And while Gil Cedillo doesn’t represent it in the State Senate, he drew a lot of support to his initial campaign event yesterday.  Close to 400 people packed a storefront in El Monte to get started on the campaign.  Before there’s even a date set for the primary election (though everyone assumes it will be folded into the May 19 special election), yesterday Cedillo supporters were out canvassing the district.

But first, there were a series of speeches and endorsements.  Cedillo will have the backing of the Latino political establishment in the area.  The big news yesterday was that Rep. Xavier Becerra, of the neighboring district of CA-31, was out to endorse.  He joins the local county supervisor Gloria Molina, the local city councilman Ed Reyes (a small part of the district includes LA City), former Rep. Esteban Torres, and several other councilmembers and local politicos in giving their endorsement to Cedillo.  Molina even intimated that Congressional Hispanic Caucus support would be coming.  There was some not-all-that-subtle rhetoric about “our community” and “our people.”  It’s clear that this is a replay of the CA-37 special election, where Laura Richardson pushed an African-American/Hispanic divide.  With Cedillo’s main competition being Judy Chu, there’s definitely going to be some of that Hispanic/Asian divide in this race, though I imagine it will be more respectful that Richardson’s toxicity.  

What complicates this is that Chu received the Cal Labor Fed endorsement and actually has support from a few Latino lawmakers of her own.  Cedillo was sure to tout his 100% labor scorecard in his short address.  In the rest, he talked about a campaign of faith and hope, strength and leadership.  He called the San Gabriel Valley “a slice of America,” where families come to buy a home, raise children, and get an education.  And he talked about the need to make the economy work for those families, with a particular emphasis on health care (he mentioned how great it would be to build a hospital with the stimulus money – even though I’m pretty sure that won’t be something the stimulus can do).  Cedillo is at his best when talking about immigration.  His tireless support for the California version of the DREAM Act, to allow undocumented students to attend college and be eligible for financial aid, has earned him a sterling reputation among young people, many of whom were there volunteering yesterday.

I don’t know how many of those young people are eligible to vote, however, and in particular, eligible in that district.  Cedillo will have no shortage of volunteers, but he doesn’t completely have a voting base inside the district, having never represented it.  Outside of Molina, the endorsees are not by and large from the population centers of the district, either.  The other factor in this race is Emanuel Pleitez, who liveblogged at FDL yesterday.  He is a local, with a small but strong group of former Obama organizers working with him.  If you look at this strictly on the level of identity politics, having Pleitez in the race probably helps Judy Chu a bit.  The big question, of course, is who is going to turn out their voters.

Hilda Solis Confirmed As Labor Secretary – Race for CA-32 Begins

Minutes ago, the US Senate confirmed Hilda Solis by an 80-17 vote to be the Secretary of Labor.  This is a big victory for progressives to fight conservative obstructionism and get a real friend to the labor movement in a top position in Barack Obama’s cabinet.  It was an unnecessarily long fight, but this is a great resolution.  In addition, with Solis having authored the Green Jobs Act, she will undoubtedly be a force for making sure jobs in the alternative energy sector are good union jobs that pay a living wage.

This also means that there will shortly, perhaps as soon as tomorrow, be a vacancy in the 32nd District seat.  There are three main candidates for the seat thus far, all of whom have already begun campaigning.

Judy Chu is currently on the Board of Equalization.  While a Chinese-American running for a seat that is majority Latino, Chu has the support of the California Federation of Labor, which typically cleans up in these kinds of special elections.  That alone makes her the favorite IMO.

Gil Cedillo is a State Senator in the adjoining district, and so he represents very few of these constituents.  He has been strong on issues around immigration in particular, and will certainly be formidable in this race.

Emanuel Pleitez worked in the Obama transition team on the Treasury Department.  The fact that Treasury has practically no senior officers staffing it save for Tim Geithner, over a month after the inauguration, doesn’t really speak well to Pleitez’ transition capabilities.  But he apparently has the most robust campaign apparatus in the district thus far (with 17 volunteer full-time staff members), and he was born and raised in the district.

We invite every single one of them to interact with us on Calitics.

The most likely scenario is that either the primary or the general election gets folded into the May 19 special election.  Gov. Schwarzenegger has 14 calendar days to set the schedule.

Solis Finally Gets A Committee Vote Tomorrow

Good news: Hilda Solis will get a long-awaited confirmation vote to be the Secretary of Labor tomorrow in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.  The hold-up was ridiculous, based on “confusion” on Solis’ stand on the Employee Free Choice Act, when it was extremely clear where she stood (in full support), and even more clear that as a legislative issue she would have little to do with the legislation until it was enacted.  Earlier in the day, Think Progress noted that the right wing was attempting to Daschle-ize Solis for completely bogus reasons:

In the wake of Daschle’s departure, the right-wing is gunning for another Cabinet victim – Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), the nominee for Labor Secretary. The Heritage Foundation writes, “Hilda Solis: The Next Tom Daschle?”

According to The Hill, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) “has questioned whether Solis had done lobbying work while she was both a House member and an official at a pro-labor group, American Rights at Work” (ARW) […]

As for the “conflict of interest” that the right wing is highlighting? Solis wasn’t paid for her activities with ARW, and as the Washington Independent pointed out, her role was well-known and ceremonial:

“What would be the charge? Either that she participated in lobbying by being a leader with ARW, or that she erred by originally not mentioning this job in her disclosure documents. Two reasons this might not work: Solis’ role in ARW was well-known and ceremonial (it’s on their Website), and no congressman has hinted that he/she would file a complaint that could make a splash but not be deemed frivolous and politically motivated.”

This is typical right-wing obstructionism designed to score political points.  Let’s hope Solis is confirmed be a wide margin tomorrow.  It’s beyond ridiculous.

Related: CA-32 candidate Emanuel Pleitez, one of at least three to declare for Solis’ seat, has some good thoughts about the culpability of credit rating agencies in the financial meltdown.