A state assemblyman campaigning as a true progressive is up against a city official who distinguishes himself as “not a professional politician,” as the two Democrats contest a vacant US House seat in a special election in California tonight.
Voters are to choose a new member of the US House of Representatives in California’s 34th Congressional District which is mostly located in the city of Los Angeles.
State Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez and former Los Angeles City Planning Commissioner Robert Lee Ahn, both Democrats, are vying to replace former Rep. Xavier Becerra (D), who resigned after Governor Jerry Brown appointed him California attorney general.
Becerra held the seat for more than two decades.
Both Gomez and Ahn have each set themselves up as the true representative of the constituents in the 34th district – one of the poorest, immigrant-populated districts in the state with a large Hispanic population.
California’s primary system is known as “top two,” whereby the two top finishing candidates in a primary move on to the general election, regardless of their party affiliation. Gomez and Ahn beat out 21 other candidates in the primary, taking 25 percent and 22 percent of the vote respectively.
Gomez has aligned himself with “the resistance” movement against the Trump administration, while Ahn has cast himself as a “political outsider.”
Ahn has attacked Gomez as a “professional politician” and a “corporate Democrat” who has taken money from corporate interests.
“Special interests, big pharma, big bankers… it’s all payback time [for Gomez donors] on day one,” Ahn said during a recent debate, according to the Los Angeles Times. “On Day One, I owe the people of the 34th District and that’s it.”
On Tuesday, Ahn released a statement on Facebook, pitching himself as “not a professional politician.”
Gomez fought against the claims that he was a “career politician,” pointing to the endorsements he received from Becerra, Governor Brown, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the California Democratic Party, as well as other Democratic leaders and liberal groups.
“If I was so establishment, I don’t think our revolution would actually endorse me,” Gomez said during a debate. “If you want a litmus test, that’s a litmus test if you’re a progressive if you’re actually able to take on the status quo.”
If Ahn wins, he will be the first Korean-American member of Congress in 20 years, and only the second in history.
“I think our government should reflect the diversity of the electorate. To not have a single voice or a seat at the table is really unfortunate, and has to change,” Ahn said, according to NBC News. “With everything happening on the Korean peninsula, now more than ever we need to have a Korean-American voice in Congress to help build that bridge.”
Gomez, whose state Assembly district overlaps with the 34th Congressional district, is considered to be the frontrunner.
The polls opened Tuesday at 7:00am and close at 8:00pm.