According to a new Los Angeles Times/Survey 360 conducted in mid-January, nearly 60% of Los Angeles City Council District 14 residents said that they would vote to recall controversy riddled City Councilman Kevin de Leon, showing a stunning turnaround in support in the last few months.
In October, De Leon, along with then-City President Nury Martinez, Councilman Gil Cedillo, and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, were found to have made multiple racist and racial comments following an audio leak of the four talking during a district realigning meeting in 2021. While many things were said, the most controversial part was when they began discussing a fellow Councilman who is white and openly gay, Mike Bonin. Specifically they talked about his black child and a picture with Bonin and his family in a Martin Luther King Jr. parade.
“Bonin thinks he’s f—ing black,” said Martinez in the audio, pointing out the picture. “He handled his young Black son as though he were an accessory. They’re raising him like a little White kid. I was like, this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”
Martinez then proceeded to use slurs against the eight-year-old child, saying in Spanish “Parece changuito” or in English, “He’s like a monkey.” Councilman de Leon then added, “Bonin handles the toddler like when Nury brings her little yard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag. Su negrito, like on the side.”
In addition to the racist words, the four were also heard plotting to reorganize Council lines to decrease the power of black Councilmembers and others in the city.
In the ensuing weeks, all four made multiple apologies, both Martinez and Herrera resigned and Cedillo decided to ride out the rest of his term until December as a lame duck Councilmember. However, calls for de Leon to resign came from the majority of Angelinos, as well as Mayor Eric Garcetti, Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), Governor Gavin Newsom, and President Joe Biden. Protests have also been constant against both de Leon and Cedillo, with protestors even appearing outside de Leon’s house non-stop.
However, de Leon has refused to resign, and has continued to cause chaos. Last month he instigated a fight with a protester, and despite having avoided many meetings, de Leon chose to attend his first meeting in two months to address a constituent problem, but caused such a scene that he had to leave after only 20 minutes inside City Hall. Another December appearance only lasted a few hours. His latest appearance earlier this month had him give his first speech since October, arguing against the Council from placing further restrictions on City Councilmembers under censure, which he has been for several months. In addition, more and more Councilmembers have been blatant in asking for him to resign.
Overall, de Leon’s star has quickly fallen in LA, with his last remaining bloc of support, from Latino voters, falling considerably in recent weeks. According to the poll, 51% of constituents said he should resign, with only 22% saying that he shouldn’t, and 27% either not knowing what to say or refusing to answer. Even worse for de Leon, in a question asking if they would vote to recall him today garnered 58% saying yes as opposed to only 25% saying no and 17% not knowing or refusing to say. 47% of voters also noted that having de Leon stay on the City Council has been more negative than positive for Latinos, with only 24% saying that it has been more positive than negative.
Questions over the descriptions of ‘Puts his own political self-interest ahead of the people he represents’, ‘Effective; gets things done ‘, ‘Cares about people like you’, ‘Has integrity and strong principles’, and ‘Honest and trustworthy’ also fared poorly for de Leon, with the Councilman only scoring a favorable very well/somewhat well percentage for the first description only. The rest were overwhelming against de Leon, with ‘Honest and trustworthy’ scoring a 50% not well/not well all percentage as opposed to only 24% saying it describes him very well/somewhat well.
Over half of de Leon’s constituents want him recalled, to resign
While the poll had a 50-50 gender split amongst survey takers, 51% were Latino, with 23% being white, 11% Asian, and 5% black. Registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans 61% to 13%, with the Liberal/Conservative gap coming in at 49%/18% amongst those polled. This shows that even the more traditional backs or de Leon are starting to pull away now, with Latinos and Democrats in particular drastically reducing their support for him.
Drew Lieberman, a Strategies 360 pollster, said, “It’s pretty clear. It’s hard to reach any conclusion other than that the last few months have been pretty difficult period for Kevin de León and frankly, it constitutes a disqualifying set of events for him in voters’ eyes, Across demographics, across ideology in this poll, these voters have soured on him, and they’re just sort of ready for him to go.”
Other pollsters concurred.
“This time last year, de Leon was a bastion for the Latino community in LA,” explained Maria Costa, a Los Angeles pollster who focuses on Latino communities, to the Globe on Tuesday. “De Leon, to put it mildly, has gotten a lot of flak in the past when he was in the Assembly and the Senate up in Sacramento. But he always held onto the Latino community after all the years he worked closely with them. He also generally held the Democratic party line. But after those comments in October and all these months of turmoil and protestors who just refuse to give up following him all over the city and a recall effort underway, many have had enough.”
“Some supporters have now sort of dug in on his side, but as you see in the poll, it is not nearly enough. He has no support left from black voters, and AAPI and white voter support has almost completely dried up. GOP supporters? None. I think even the elephants at the LA Zoo run from him. But now Democrats and Latinos are pulling away. The majority of people want him to resign or get recalled. Who knows how much longer he’ll stick this through. He claims that he is staying to serve the people, but that is really hard to do when those people just plain don’t want him to anymore.”
More polls on de Leon are expected in the future, with updated recall signature updates expected soon.
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