Poli 103A California PoliticsThe Battle of Los Angeles II: Old and New Rainbows
Rainbows and the Politics of Race • Tom Bradley’s Rainbow • The End of the Rainbow • The Riots and Their Backlash • Rainbows within Rainbows • New Immigrant Coalitions
Los Angeles City Coalitions:Tom Bradley’s Rainbow • After losing to Sam Yorty in 1969, Tom Bradley defeated him in the 1973 mayor’s race. Black voters, Jews, and other Westside liberals coalesced behind Bradley. • The rainbow coalition was based on the common goals of activist government and political inclusion, rather than any class solidarity.
Los Angeles City Coalitions:Tom Bradley’s Rainbow • The “senior partners” in the coalition were blacks and Jews. • The percentage of city commission appointments going to blacks rose from 6% under Yorty to 20% in 1991, and affirmative action expanded opportunity in jobs like police and fire departments. • Jewish commission appointments rose from 9% under Yorty to 36% in 1991.
Los Angeles City Coalitions:Tom Bradley’s Rainbow • The “junior partners” in the coalition were Latinos and Asians. • By 1991, Latinos made up 16% of commission members and Asian Americans made up 13%, both up from negligible numbers under Yorty. • Both groups also increase their proportions of city jobs.
Los Angeles City Coalitions:Tom Bradley’s Rainbow • The coalition fractured over growth. • In order to gain financial support for his runs for the governorship in ’82 and ’86, Bradley became more closely tied to downtown developers. Leveraged growth to pay for making LA a “world class city.” • This led to challenges from the Westside (Zev Yaroslavsky’s 1986 Prop. U) and the black community (Nate Holden in 1989).
The End of the Rainbow:The Riots and Their Backlash • After a Ventura Co jury found four LAPD officers not guilty of beating black motorist Rodney King, violence swept LA from April 29-May 2, 1992. • Most of those arrested were black and recent Central American immigrants. • 50 people died, 1000 structures burned, and $450 million in damage was done.
The End of the Rainbow:The Riots and Their Backlash • The rioting and increasing crime rates further divided the Bradley coalition. • 2500 Korean American merchants lost their businesses, and many didn’t support Mike Woo in 1993 mayor’s race. • Growth in Jewish law-and-order conservatism, especially among those who moved to the Valley. Woo only got a narrow majority of the Jewish vote.
The End of the Rainbow:The Riots and Their Backlash • Richard Riordan’s election in 1993 brought an end to the rainbow coalition. • Riordan was an investment banker who had become one of LA’s leading philanthropists. • A political moderate, he was pro-choice, tough on crime, and promised to be fiscally conservative.
Rainbows within Rainbows • LA’s Jewish community has split into Valley moderates, Westside liberals, and conservative Iranian immigrants. • Black leadership split between Mark Ridley-Thomas and Maxine Waters. • Latino splits between poorer, more recent immigrants with ties to service labor (Molinistas) and middle class with ties to business (Eastside PRI)
Rainbows within Rainbows • In the 2001 mayoral race, the growth machine and conservatives sat on the sidelines as Steve Soboroff, Riordan’s protégé, failed to make the run-off. • Jimmy Hahn narrowly defeated Antonio Villaraigosa to win, claiming 59% of white voters, 80% of blacks, 18% of Latinos, and 65% of Asians.
Return of the Rainbow? • In 2005, Antonio Villaraigosa revenged his defeat, winning the mayor’s race because: • He erased his deficit in the Valley, where Hahn had fought a move for Valley secession • He split the black vote, which went 4-1 for Hahn in 2001 • He continued to capture about 80% of Latino voters.
Discussion Questions • How likely is it that LA will elect a mayor who is not Latino in the near future? What conditions might bring this about?