Rice is more explicit: "Latinos have bent over backward not to take African American districts."
Another significant player in keeping L.A. politics less racialized than they could be is the labor movement, which has been a dominant force in many L.A. district elections. Over the last decade, union leaders have compiled a remarkable track record of persuading their members to vote economics rather than race.
Still, a demographic tide is a demographic tide. So it's particularly important that candidates of all races in the L.A. area have begun to win districts that aren't racially "theirs." The Assembly seat that Richardson won in November was held by Oropeza, just as the Senate seat that Oropeza captured then was occupied by the term-limited Alan Lowenthal, a white Jew. In San Bernardino in November, African American Democrat Wilmer Carter was an upset victor in an Assembly district that isn't heavily black and had been represented by a Latino.
The future political clout of the African American community may, in fact, partly depend on the ability of its candidates to win outside historically black areas because the number of predominantly black districts will continue to shrink. Carter's victory, and the early successes of the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, are provisionally hopeful signs.