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Could Republicans decide the winner in the 15th Council District runoff?

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If loyalist voting outweighs independent voting among Democrats in the Harbor Area, it may fall on Harbor Area Republicans to save the district from the special interests trying to preserve the 15th District seat in the City of Los Angeles.

With the run-off election to fill the vacancy in Los Angeles City Council District 15 coming down to two Democrats, State Assembly member Warren Furitani and Los Angeles Police Officer Joe Buscaino, many Republicans and other non-Democrats are likely planning to stay home on January 17th, while many permanent absentee voters (PAV’s) are withholding their vote due to the lack of a conservative option.

There is no doubt that, while Buscaino was successful in taking the top spot in the November 8th primary, Furitani will have the advantage of having secured the official endorsement of the Democratic Party of Los Angeles County. With independent expenditures coming through the special interests who have been working with him both locally and in Sacramento, Furitani has started to promote himself as the true Democrat choice. Based on “zombie voting” frequently observed in the Democratic Party, a Republican boycott of the January 17th run-off election will likely allow Furitani to steal a victory.

“Zombie voting” occurs when a significant percentage of a voting constituency bases their voting decision solely on an endorsement from their party endorsement or that of a particular special interest, be it a union or politically-active organization. Most political parties use this strategy, and it was very effective against “yours truly” when the California Democratic Party was successful in getting their membership throughout the South Bay to literally vote for a dead incumbent legislator based solely on political party preference. Democrats throughout the harbor district were among those willing to obey a mailer (i.e. direction) from the Democratic Party, and Furitani is likely going to rely on a similar strategy.

Buscaino has enjoyed widespread appeal throughout the district, and can credit his success with support throughout the entire political spectrum from those who either know him personally or know his reputation of community service and youth program participation in every major community in the harbor district. Those Democrats that are familiar with this and have drawn a strong association to him will almost entirely stay strong in their support for Buscaino. What Furitani is banking on is that the percentage of Democrats who follow their party’s direction in choosing a candidate is higher than those who are independent enough to tell their political party when they are wrong by endorsing an establishment Democrat over a community-supported one.

What will most likely propel Buscaino over the top again and create the comfortable margin that will ensure no recounts or “funny business” from the Democratic Party will be the number of Republicans and other non-Democrats that make the decision to cast a vote in this election. When given the option between a highly-partisan Democratic state legislator, who has voted for nearly every job-killing bill and is obviously looking for his next stop as a career politician, and an LAPD Officer whose career has been nearly totally about public safety, youth mentorship and being accountable to the harbor communities, and is running for his first (and likely only) political office, the only challenge for harbor area Republicans is whether it is acceptable to vote for a “lesser of two evils” Democrat.

As one who does not want to have an establishment Democrat primarily supported by Mayor Villaraigosa and the Sacramento special interests as my city councilmember for as many as 12 long years, I hope local Republicans see how important their vote in the January 17th special election truly is!

Based on my last campaign, I am not nearly as confident in the Democratic Party membership majority’s ability to resist the “zombie voting” campaign strategy that will likely be promoted by Furitani and the party establishment as I am in the ability of Republicans in the district realizing that Joe Buscaino will be a much more approachable city councilmember for constituents of all political positions and concerns.

Having a city councilmember who is approachable, enthusiastic and a true advocate of the communities he serves is an essential reason why I will be continuing to work hard for the next 4 weeks to ensure fellow San Pedran Joe Buscaino is my next councilmember.

I hope my fellow Republicans throughout the 15th City Council District also see the importance of their turnout in this race. Whether we like it or not, the determination of which Democrat is selected to serve our community for the next year, and possible the next dozen years, has most likely fallen into our hands.

We can either allow the Democratic establishment to buy their next political office for their special interest advocate, or we can work with the community-focused Democrats trying to tell their party that they need to support local heroes within their registration who are independent advocates for everyone.

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