Senator Richard Alarcon, who just won the 39th Assembly seat without contest two weeks ago, has made official his entry into the fight to represent L.A.’s District 7 in next year’s special election. Alarcon will be duking it out with Felipe Fuentes and, presumably, Cindy Montanez (who has announced but not yet filed).
Let’s review the drama.
Once upon a time in the nineties, both Cindy Montanez and Alex Padilla enjoyed the mentorship of Richard Alarcon, a political fixture of the Northeast San Fernando Valley.
That was before Alarcon encouraged his wife to run against Padilla for the City Council seat Alarcon had vacated in order to move on to the Senate. Padilla, who had managed the ’98 campaign that had delivered Alarcon his new Senate seat, was, understandably, peeved.
Padilla went on to win his City Council seat, and Alarcon went on to enjoy his two terms in the Senate. Montanez, meanwhile, represented much of the same Northeast Valley constituency as Padilla and Alarcon in her role as Assemblymember for the 39th district.
Things looked cozy in the San Fernando Valley for a time, but term limits have a way of turning even the most carefully crafted political detente upside down.
Alarcon and Montanez made a pact to trade seats in 2006, when both would be termed out of their respective legislative chambers. Logical enough, but what then of Alex Padilla? With Villaraigosa — not exactly a chum of Padilla’s — running the city, marinating in City Council for the indefinite future was an unlikely prospect for a rising star like Alex.
Padilla disrupted the Alarcon-Montanez arrangement, by running for Alarcon’s soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat. Then he disrupted it further, by winning.
On the evening of the June primary election when she conceded her defeat, Montanez, suddenly faced with a dearth of elective options, announced her intention to run for Padilla’s vacated Council seat.
Circumstances might have settled nicely at this point, with Padilla in the Senate, Alarcon in the Assembly, and Montanez a shoo-in for the Council, and with term limits in Sacramento years away. But after such a nasty primary tangle for SD20, there was absolutely no love any longer lost between Padilla and Montanez, and Padilla was not about to stay neutral in any contest to succeed him. Padilla’s Chief of Staff in the Council, Felipe Fuentes, filed papers for the upcoming special election. The race was looking to be a match-up of Fuentes versus Montanez for the City Council seat vacated by Padilla and once occupied by Richard Alarcon.
But that wasn’t quite interesting enough. Speculation abounded that Alarcon was not exactly satisfied with his fate for the next six years in the Assembly, and that his eyes were wandering in the direction of City Hall. The question of what is so much more appealing about representing Council District 7, a seat Alarcon had already occupied in the ’90s, than Assembly District 39, will make for good political chatterboxing. Regardless of his motivations, it’s now official: City Council District 7 will be the next clusterfucked battlefront in a long-standing and ever-more-complex squabble in the Valley among like-minded Democrats who once wore the same stripes.
And now there’s a brand new tidbit for political speculation: with the possibility of Alarcon going back to City Council, who’s starting to size up AD39?