The race for Sen. Carol Liu’s seat was long suspected to be a nasty and expensive showdown between Democratic rivals Mike Gatto and Anthony Portantino, current and former assemblymen, respectively.
Then veteran Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who is termed out next year, announced he would run.
While the 25th District leans Democratic, and includes other lesser-known candidates, the Republican supervisor is exceedingly well known across the foothills, having been elected to the board in 1980 . He was first elected to the Los Angeles County Community College District Board of Trustees – in 1969 – the same year as Gov. Jerry Brown.
The Democratic Party’s early concerns about holding the Senate seat have manifested in a new opposition-research website that paints Antonovich as too conservative on social and environmental issues. It also lists various supposed ethical lapses (showing favor to certain lobbyists, overseas trips and questionable contributions), along with sections on “inappropriate emails” and “head-scratching decisions.”
“When a longtime supervisor jumps into a race for partisan office, voters often don’t know their real record because the board is not covered broadly,” Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman said by phone. The “party believes voters in L.A. should know just how partisan and just how conservative Mike Antonovich is and that’s why we are behind this effort.”
The party may also be employing the line of attack to try to muscle Antonovich out of the race because they would far rather see a same-party run-off, and to reassure their donors that the situation is under control. Regardless, Antonovich’s Rocklin-based consultant said the supervisor has looked through the website and isn’t worried about its content, much of which has been documented in news reports over the decades.
“No voter is paying attention to any of this nonsense,” Dave Gilliard said. “Mike Antonovich has been around a long time, and he’s not going to be intimidated by a website.”