Janice Hahn

U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn checks the video screen as election returns come in late Tuesday in her race for Los Angeles County supervisor. She faces a November runoff with Steve Napolitano. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Abby Sewell and David Zahniser
June 8, 2016

A political newcomer running for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors staged an election-night surprise, inching past several better-known and better-funded opponents and possibly securing a spot in the Nov. 8 runoff, according to initial results.

Darrell Park, a Democrat running to replace retiring Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, placed second behind Antonovich’s chief of staff, Kathryn Barger. Park, waging his first race for elected office, outperformed more seasoned politicians, including Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander.

Park, who runs a start-up and advises green energy companies, raised about $200,000, much less than the Republicans in the race.

“In this cynical time in our politics, everyone thinks it’s only big money that matters, and it’s not true,” he said.

Whether Park’s lead will hold is unclear. More than 570,000 provisional and late vote-by-mail ballots remained to be counted Wednesday countywide. Park finished just 417 votes ahead of the third-place finisher, Republican state Sen. Bob Huff. Barger, like Antonovich, is a Republican.

In the race for the seat being vacated by Supervisor Don Knabe, U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro), a former Los Angeles city councilwoman and the daughter of a popular former longtime supervisor, failed to secure the majority needed to win outright and is headed for a potentially bruising runoff with a Republican opponent, Steve Napolitano.

Bill Carrick, campaign manager for Barger, said the uncertainty leaves her campaign “a little bit in limbo” as they wait to see who she will be facing off against.

“I didn’t really have a clue about who would be contenders for the second place in the runoff, and here we are the next day and I still don’t have a clue,” he said.

Barger had been widely expected to land a runoff spot in the race for the 5th District, which stretches from the San Fernando Valley north to Palmdale and east to San Dimas. She had the support both of her boss and of powerful labor groups, including the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

Many had expected Englander to secure the second spot in the runoff. Though he raised more than $1 million and is well-known locally, he came in fifth, behind Huff and Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian.

“He punched below his weight, and I’m not sure why,” Jaime Regalado, professor emeritus of political science at Cal State L.A., said of Englander’s weak showing.

Early in the race, several rival candidates had joined forces to file a successful lawsuit over Englander’s proposed ballot designation as “Councilmember/Police Officer.”

They argued that the title would mislead voters into thinking Englander was a full-time cop, when he is a volunteer reserve officer.

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