special election Sept. 13th to succeed Mike Gordon

Filing closed Monday for the special election Tuesday, September 13th, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Assemblyman Mike Gordon in the 53rd Assembly District.

Voters — at least the few who show up — will find six candidates on their “open primary” ballot September 13th.

The “open primary” means that voters can vote for any of the six candidates, regardless of the party registration of the voter.

Republicans — should they wish — can vote for the single Democrat or single Peace and Freedom Party candidate on the ballot.

Democrats — should they choose — can vote for any of the five non-Democrats on the ballot.

If any of the six candidates fails to get 50 percent plus one vote cast September 13th, then there will be a runoff Tuesday, November 8th. On the ballot will be:

– Democrat Ted Lieu;

– Peace and Freedom candidate James Smith; and

– the Republican who got the largest number of votes in the September 13th primary from among the four Republicans on ballot — Mary Jo Ford, Greg Hill, Paul Nowatka and Paul Whitehead.

Normally, one would say that one Democrat has a great chance to win against four Republicans who will split the Republican vote.

But Lieu faces a big problem in the Tuesday, September 13th, “open primary” — turnout, or more accurately, lack of turnout.

Special elections have low turnouts even in the best of times, but this one, coming as it does a week after Labor Day, poses real problems for the candidates.

In the six-week runup to the election, when candidates can be expected to really rev up their campaigns, voters will be off trying to grab the last rays of their summer vacations.

Parents can be expected to be more interested in getting their kids ready to go back to school than they are getting themselves to an election booth.

Democrat Lieu might actually get more votes in a November runoff connected to a state election than he does running as the only Democrat in the September 13th primary.

But Lieu’s real problem is to get Democrats out to vote in the primary. Traditionally, Republicans can be counted on to vote and Democrats can be expected to stay home in such elections.

Election officials are already predicting a low turnout for the September 13th primary.

It could be interesting if the four Republicans talk up enough interest in the primary, get Republicans to the polls and a Republican wins this race outright in a primary that draws only 15 to 20 percent of the registered voters.

Stranger things have happened before.

KNOCKING LA RAZA — A letter writer this week wants The Argonaut to do some big-time investigation to find out if Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has cut his ties to La Raza.

The Latino organization says its goals are to promote education among Latinos and to use politics to improve the position of Latinos in our society.

The letter writer asks us two questions — has the mayor cut his ties to La Raza and has he “denounced” the Latino group?

Our question to the letter writer is:

“Why would Villaraigosa want to do either of those two things?”

We suspect Villaraigosa doesn’t plan to quit the Democrat Party or denounce Democrats either — a position that our letter writer, from the tone of his letter, would probably support.

Don’t expect the mayor to cut his ties with La Raza and shift to spending his time listening to John and Ken over at KFI.

WATERSIDE PROJECT — The messy reconstruction job over at the Waterside Marina Shopping Center continues to disrupt lives.

This week the U.S. Postal Service announced that Thursday and Friday access to the Marina Post Office will be available only through “the back door.”

With such limited parking on the Admiralty Way side of the Post Office, we suspect a lot of postal customers will be joining us and will be avoiding the Postal Service until the front door reopens.

We join with those who lament the loss of all those trees at the shopping center. Sad to see the big tree trunks being hauled away.

LINCOLN BLVD. MESS II — Of course even getting to the Marina Post Office is getting harder these days as Caltrans continues its construction project on Lincoln Boulevard in the Marina area.

Just as the shopping center owners have promised, “You’ll love the center when it’s finished,” Caltrans officials are no doubt telling grumbling callers that when the Lincoln Boulevard widening is finished, traffic will flow much better than it did earlier.

Hmm. Don’t bet on it.

DAVID SHAW — Local journalists have a lot to say this week about the passing of David Shaw, longtime critic down at the little downtown daily.

What amazes those of us in the weekly newspaper biz is how much freedom Shaw had. We are talking about the time and funding his newspaper gave him.

Years ago, when we had our only one-on-one meeting with Shaw, he was writing four or five stories for the little downtown daily a year.

Sometime later, the buzz in the industry was that The Times was tightening its belt — this was before the sale to Tribune Co. — and was asking its reporters to submit at least one article a month.

We recall all of this as we try to get five or six articles together this morning so we can have a newspaper for readers this week.

As for our two-hour lunch with Shaw, we recall we got the invitation because Shaw was writing a lengthy piece on local newspapers.

Unaccustomed as we were to two-hour lunches, we somehow survived Shaw’s grilling.

When the Shaw piece was published, we rushed to see what he had to say about us and The Argonaut.

Not a word.

Apparently, even after two hours, Shaw couldn’t find anything sufficiently stimulating about The Argonaut to include in his article.

Let’s face it. In the great scheme of things, we are pretty dull, grinding out each week as we do such stuff as the weekly crime report, agenda items of meetings so locals can attend, and long — too often too long — reports of neighborhood meetings.

Not exactly what they give out Pulitzers for.

Even if we could never afford one of Shaw’s $1,000 restaurant dinners, we did enjoy his food and wine reviews of them.

He was a wonderful, prolific writer and as an editor we can’t help but admire his great ability to fill a lot of space in the newspaper.

Each week as we approach our coming issue, we fantasize how nice it must be to have a 100-inch or 200-inch story just sitting there, ready to be dropped in.

We’d like to dream on, but we have to get back to our latest e-mail from the Elks and their latest wonderful community service project.

If only they could line up their officers each week for a photo without one of them in the photo seeming to have elk horns growing out of his or her head.

Bet David Shaw never had to worry about such things.

He was one of a kind and we will miss him.

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