Deputy City Controller Barbara Friedman was officially declared the Democratic nominee Tuesday in the June 4 special election for the vacant 46th Assembly District seat and will be heavily favored to win the office in a runoff July 30.
Friedman, 41, defeated Chief Deputy City Atty. John Emerson, 37, by 31 votes out of more than 20,000 cast to pick a successor to former Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Mike Roos, a Democrat who resigned in March. Friedman had 3,427 votes to Emerson's 3,396 among a field of 12 Democrats.
At the conclusion of the semiofficial count a week ago, Friedman led Emerson by 114 votes. Emerson, who said he would not contest the outcome, closed the margin by 83 votes during the counting of more than 2,000 absentee ballots Tuesday morning.
"I congratulate Barbara Friedman and her supporters on a tremendous effort and feel absolutely no regrets," Emerson said in a telephone interview. "I will resist the temptation to second-guess 31 votes."
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 13, 1991 Home Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Column 6 Metro Desk 2 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
Assembly race--The Times in its Wednesday editions transposed the party affiliations of two candidates vying for the vacant 46th Assembly District seat. Elizabeth Nakano, 65, is a member of the Peace and Freedom Party; Michael Benedict Everling, 36, is a Libertarian.
Friedman commended Emerson for running "a great campaign," adding, "I'm going to look forward to working with all the candidates for a Democratic victory on July 30th."
Fifteen candidates competed in the special election that drew extraordinary attention from the region's most powerful political organizations as well as campaign funds and volunteer help from throughout Greater Los Angeles.
In the July 30 runoff, Friedman will face Republican Geoff Church, 28, an investment banker and stockbroker; Libertarian Elizabeth Nakano, 65, a retired county social worker, and Michael Benedict Everling, 36, a title company officer and member of the Peace and Freedom Party. Church, Nakano and Everling all were unopposed for nominations of their parties.
With several of the Democrats openly appealing for Republican votes and claiming endorsements of some prominent Republicans, Church ran eighth with 1,316 votes.
Because registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 58% to 28%, Friedman is expected to win the runoff without difficulty. Roos left the Assembly after 14 years to become chief executive of Los Angeles Educational Alliance for Restructuring Now, a new privately funded organization that is attempting to reform local schools. There is persistent speculation that Roos may run for mayor of Los Angeles in 1993.
The 46th District runs from the edge of downtown Los Angeles through Mid-Wilshire to Western Avenue and from Pico Boulevard on the south to Griffith Park on the north, incorporating Silver Lake, most of Los Feliz and eastern Hollywood.
The racially and ethnically diverse district, the magnet for recent immigrants from Asia and Latin American, often is compared to New York City's Lower East Side during the great immigrant influx of a century ago. The district has one of Los Angeles' highest crime rates and the demand for social services far exceeds availability, candidates said during the campaign.
The irony is that the two leading vote-getters, Friedman and Emerson, were Anglos in a district that many observers believe is ideally suited to minority representation. The 46th District is about 50% Latino and more than 20% Asian. The only Latino candidate, Kathleen Torres, ran seventh. Three candidates--T. S. Chung, Joselyn Geaga Yap and Keith Umemoto--competed for the Asian vote. Chung ran third, Yap fourth and Umemoto sixth, compiling nearly 6,000 votes among them.
Had a minority candidate captured the seat, the federal Voting Rights Act would have made it difficult for the Legislature to radically alter the district's boundaries in this year's reapportionment. With an Anglo succeeding Roos, however, the 46th District will be susceptible to drastic rearranging or even elimination because all the surrounding districts need to pick up population to meet one-person, one-vote requirements.
The election also featured a strong race by Bob Burke, who sought to become the first openly gay candidate to be elected to the Legislature. Burke ran fifth with 1,828 votes.
"Bob's campaign must be seen as a milestone for the gay and lesbian community and signals our political maturation," said Ryan Nakagawa, co-chair of MECLA, the Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles, a gay and lesbian political organization. "Bob has shown the political mainstream that an openly gay candidate can wage a viable campaign."
Going into the June 4 voting, the 46th District had one of the worst voter turnout records of any of the state's 80 Assembly districts. But the final figures released by the city clerk Tuesday indicate that 34.4% of registered voters cast ballots, nearly twice the overall rate across Los Angeles.