Long Beach Councilman Austin Is IN State Senate Race, Enters With Endorsements Of LB Council Incumbents Andrews, Price And Supernaw; Voters In Roughly Half Of LB (And Beyond) Will Decide Between Austin, Fellow Dem Council Incumbent Gonzalez (Backed By Mayor Garcia, Councilman Richardson And Exited Incumbent Lara) Or Four S.E. L.A. County Electeds is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Jan. 7, 2019, 12:35 p.m.) -- Councilman Al Austin announced this morning (Jan. 7) that he is IN the race for the state Senate seat vacated by now-Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. It's a gutsy political move by Austin, since it will put him in a head to head battle with Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez who entered the race in December with the endorsements of LB Mayor Robert Garcia and exiting state Senate incumbent Lara.

In a release this morning, Austin (who represents LB's 8th Council district stretching from Los Cerritos to NLB at South St.) announced he the endorsements of Vice Mayor Dee Andrews, Councilmembers Suzie Price and Daryl Supernaw, and stated:

"I'm proud of the work I've done throughout this region and I'm running for State Senate to take that experience to Sacramento to continue bringing together community members, unions, and local small businesses to get results that improve economic opportunities for all residents."

Austin also listed as endorsers former LB Vice Mayors Doris Topsy-Elvord (6th dist.) and Val Lerch (9th dist.), LB Airport Advisory Commissioner Wayne Chaney and former state Senator Betty Karnette. In his campaign release, Austin stated:

I am excited to continue to improve the quality of life here in the 33rd Senate District...This is our opportunity to have a leader in Sacramento who will be strong on the issues of transportation, economic development, and the future of our families. And do that all while increasing transparency in government and protecting taxpayer dollars from being wasted.

Austin's campaign release cites his work on [release text] "the I-710 Corridor Project, the Climate Action Planning Framework, and regional approaches that address homelessness."

Austin is familiar with Sacramento as chair of the Council's State Legislation Committee, on which Gonzalez is also a member, and works for a public employee union (AFSCME.) However he angered other organized labor reps by voting against "Claudia's Law," a LB hotel workers ordinance that Gonzalez supported (resulting in a union-backed petition-initiated measure that passed in November.) Gonzalez has signaled this may become an issue in the coming campaign by naming as her "campaign chair" Councilman Rex Richardson who voted with Gonzalez on Claudia's law and has skirmished with now Austin-endorser Price on some Council issues, including Claudia's Law. Richardson and Price are speculated Mayoral candidates if Mayor Garcia exits for another opportunity. LB Councilman Roberto Uranga, who has strong organized labor ties, has also endorsed Gonzalez.



The bottom line: roughly half of LB (the largest city in the state Senate district) will have an opportunity to choose between the two LB Council incumbents and four officeholders from smaller L.A. County cities (Leticia Vasquez-Wilson (former Lynwood Mayor, now member of Central Basin Municipal Water District governing board), Ana Maria Quintana (Bell City Councilmember), Ali Saleh (Bell City Councilmember), Jose Solache (Lynwood City Councilmember.)

For some LB voters, the political squabbles between Council incumbents Austin and Gonzalez may be a distinction without a difference, since they're both Dems and, despite division on the Council vote on Claudia's Law, LB's Council incumbents tend to vote in unison on most major matters, and usually consistent with the desires of Mayor Garcia.


As reported last year by, Councilman Austin began seriously pursuing the state Senate seat in the second half of 2017 when it was due to open in 2020 (by expiration of incumbent Lara's term) or possibly sooner if Lara won the 2018 Insurance Commissioner race. Austin, who was re-elected to a second Council term in 2016, raised funds to pursue the Sacramento opportunity and as of June 2018, his state Senate committee reported roughly $14,000 cash on hand.

However that was before LB voters approved LB Charter Amendment BBB in November 2018 that now gives Austin the chance to seek a third LB Council term in 2020 without a write-in requirement (an opportunity still open to him if he doesn't prevail in the state Senate race.)

Speculation swirled over whether Austin would remain in the race despite the Garcia-Lara backed Gonzalez candidacy...and this morning's release answered the question affirmatively.



What the Austin-Gonzalez political battle portends for LB City Council actions in the coming months is a bit like an Irish wake: "remains to be seen."

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