For the 4th time since 2014, Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) will go against former Assemblyman Steve Fox (D) for the 36th Assembly district seat.
The incumbent Lackey ended the night with 56.6% of the vote. Fox managed to get second place with 15.9% of the vote, surprising many Democrats who expected the nomination to fall to fellow Democratic challenger Johnathon Ervin who garnered less than half of Fox’s total with 7.2%. Both Lackey and Fox celebrated their victories, while also affirming that the battle isn’t over until November.
“I am deeply moved by the expression of confidence from the communities of the 36th District,” said Fox in a statement following his surprise second place finish. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am immensely grateful to the family, friends, and loyal supporters who so generously contributed their time and effort to our campaign. November 2020 election is approaching, we will keep in touch so we can continue working.”
Lackey and Fox have been dueling in the district in every election since the 36th district was redrawn eight years ago. In 2012 Fox had only faced Lackey in the primary election, but in every year since they have faced each other. In 2012 Fox won, but in 2014 Lackey won. In each year since Lackey has defended his position, although Fox has garnered more and more total votes each subsequent election, even coming within a few points of winning in 2018.
However Fox has lost many supporters due to sexual harassment claims in the last couple of years. All but official party support had been thrown behind Ervin, including an endorsement from Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and union backing from groups like the AFL-CIO and the SEIU. But a large turnout for Fox in this LA-San Bernardino-Kern County district led to a lot of name recognition votes for Fox.
“His name means a lot to people there,” explained political consultant Anne Thompson. “Business people in the district brought together $300,000 for Fox in funding, and that’s why he won by so much despite being so controversial. Everyone thought Ervin had a chance. But then Fox suddenly had a quick kick into his campaign, and as we’ve seen, it made a huge difference.”
“Money won out for Fox on Tuesday. But now he faces the only Republican Assemblyman left in LA County, who is also very popular. If it was anyone else but Lackey, Fox would have already been the presumptive winner. But now he goes in as a Democrat with a lot of harassment issues who may not win over many of the middle ground voters.”
Lackey and Fox will face each other next in the general election in November.