All eyes are on the race in Wisconsin today that could mean the end of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's time in office or the start of efforts in other GOP-led states to castrate labor unions. Further West, California Rep. Laura Richardson also is fighting for her political life.
Richardson has three strikes against her. The Black lawmaker has been in Congress only since 2007, when she won a special election to replace late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald. She has spent much of that time under a cloud of ethics inquiries about whether she received a special deal to refinance her house and allegations she used her office staff to perform campaign and personal duties.
As a result of redistricting, Richardson will face fellow House Rep. Janice Hahn, who has been endorsed by the Los Angeles Times. "Residents of the 44th District deserve a representative whose attention and energies will be spent fighting for them, not fending off inquiries and allegations," the editors wrote. According to a Politico report, Hahn is "the strong favorite" in the race.
In addition, California is implementing new "top two" primary rules under which all candidates regardless of party are on the same ballot and the top two vote getters have a rematch in November. In this case, Richardson and Hahn are the only two in the race, but being at the bottom of the two does not sound promising.
Richardson isn't the only Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) member facing a difficult primary. On June 26, New York Rep. Charles Rangel, besieged with his own ethics issues and a recent bout of poor health, will go up against state Sen. Adriano Espaillat. David Bositis, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies senior political analyst, says Espaillat is Rangel's "most serious competition ever."
He said, "I would never bet against Charlie. But Espaillat has a good record, is well regarded and has resources, and the district is a majority Hispanic district."
Two years ago Rep. Hansen Clarke ousted longtime Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, also known as the mother of disgraced former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. In August, Clarke could lose his seat to colleague Gary Peters, a Democrat and, like Clarke, considered a rising star.
Fellow Detroiter John Conyers, who has served in Congress for 47 years, is for the first time in almost as many years facing a real challenge and having to re-learn how to campaign and raise money. But while he fears for his political future, Bositis predicts that he'll be just fine.
"Clarke is in a district that's nowhere near as safe because it's a lot whiter," he said. "Detroit can no longer support two districts with large Black populations."
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(Photo: JOE SKIPPER/Landov)