Even tape-recorded evidence of his racist remarks against his own constituents can’t keep a Los Angeles politician from running for re-election. Hey, at least he’s not running for president from a prison cell. Here is what’s happening.
In October of 2021, Los Angeles city councilman Kevin de León hunkered down with a few of his colleagues to talk about the city’s problems.
Also present were fellow councilmember Gil Cedillo, council president Nury Martinez, and Ron Herrera, County Labor Federation president.
Someone in the room with them, whether one of the group or someone else, decided to record that conversation.
And then, as these things tend to do in the age of the internet, that recording was “leaked” on Reddit in 2022.
The contents of the recording were shocking and sent L.A. and the nation into a frenzy over what the elected officials had been saying about their own constituents.
Verbal Attacks on Multiple Ethnicities
Much of the talk centered around how they could shift the balance of power throughout the city.
In particular, the group batted around ideas for how they could limit the influence black voters had on elections while boosting the Hispanic vote.
The group even identified a foe in their fight, with de León nothing that L.A. District Attorney George Gascón is “with the blacks.”
But de León didn’t limit his attacks to one ethnic group. When the conversation turned to Mexican immigrants in the Koreatown district of Los Angeles, de León referred to them as “short, dark people.”
The aftermath of the Reddit posting wasn’t pretty for anyone involved. There were immediate protests and calls for the politicians to resign, for one thing.
Resignation Turns to Hope of Re-Election
And that’s exactly what happened with some of those who were in that racist conversation. Both Martinez and Herrera resigned from their positions.
Cedillo and de León made public apologies, but they stayed on the council and steadfastly refused to resign.
Cedillo even ran for re-election last fall, but voters told him where to stick it. He was tossed out on his ear at the end of his term.
Now, it’s de León’s turn to test the waters and see if he can hold onto voter support more successfully than Cedillo did.
Citing the success he’s had in cleaning up parks and public spaces, as well as making progress in fixing the city’s homeless issues, de León is running for re-election this fall.
Is He Underestimating Voter’s Memories?
The evidence shows he’s going to have a long climb ahead of him, though.
Not only did Cedillo get bounced from office, but protestors greeted de León’s own return to the office after two months away following the scandal.
And, as of late September, The Hill reports that finance filings show there are ten other candidates who have thrown their hat into the ring for de León’s seat.
So, has enough time passed for voters’ wounds to heal, or is de León destined to follow Cedillo out the door? We’ll have to wait until November for the answer.
At the very least, voters looking for a candidate with guts have to admire de León’s nerve.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ringo Chiu