Gomez won 28.14 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s relatively low-turnout primary election. Ahn, whose campaign worked hard and early to turn out the district’s Korean voters (the 34th encompasses Koreatown), saw that pay off with 18.99 percent of the vote. Early during Tuesday’s count, when vote-by-mail ballots were tallied, Ahn actually enjoyed a small lead.
But the rest of the balloting reflected the dominance of Latino voters, and candidates, in the 34th district. Latino Democrats won 37.59 percent of the remaining votes, led by Maria Cabildo, who had won the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times. Arturo Carmona and Wendy Carrillo, two veterans of the Bernie Sanders campaign, won a combined 10.24 percent of the vote, and Carmona had been on track to do better before a series of social media posts by former female co-workers accused him of harassment and general arrogance.
In an interview with The Post, Carmona denied those charges, but they effectively snuffed out the chance of a pure “Berniecrat” victory in the 34th. Sanders narrowly won the district in last year’s Democratic presidential primary, and Carmona and Carrillo both ran as political outsiders who would bring new, young progressive leadership to Congress.
Yet with a few exceptions, like an endorsement from Carmona from the Sanders-boosting National Nurses United, major progressive organizations stayed out of the race. Gomez, who briefly worked on the Hill, impressed Latino members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; in Sacramento, he’d expanded paid family leave and advocated for single-payer health care.
While Ahn held a small fundraising advantage heading into Tuesday, Democrats watching the race expect Latino voters to consolidate behind Gomez and send him to Congress. The district’s population is 65.4 percent Hispanic, and 19.4 percent Asian. Turnout is also expected to be low in June, as it will mark the third election of 2017 for the district’s voters — municipal elections, which gave Mayor Eric Garcetti a new four-year term, just happened in March.
And a victory by Gomez would kick off a special election for his Assembly seat, which several of the runners-up from Tuesday may use their enhanced profiles to seek.