Republicans struggle to win elections in LA County. Can Barger pull off a three-peat?

Jaclyn Cosgrove, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

As she seeks a third and final term as a Los Angeles County supervisor, Kathryn Barger and her supporters are touting her endorsements from unions, the Sierra Club and the local lobbying arm of Planned Parenthood, her concerns about climate change and her willingness to stand up to the NRA and former President Donald Trump.

It would be standard campaign fare for a Democrat, but Barger is a lifelong Republican — albeit one who laments her party's takeover by "a radical side."

Winning elections in heavily Democratic Los Angeles County is difficult at best for most Republicans, but Barger has won twice, boosted by generally moderate positions and a willingness to work with the four Democrats she serves with on the Board of Supervisors, three of whom have endorsed her.

The challenge has grown a bit steeper since redistricting in 2021 tilted the sprawling 5th District slightly less conservative. Some neighborhoods in the northwest San Fernando Valley were removed, while more liberal L.A. neighborhoods came in.

So as Barger faces off against four opponents, led by Assemblymember Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, she and her backers have emphasized her Planned Parenthood endorsement and moderate stances on issues that might appeal to Democratic or independent voters.

Holden, meanwhile, has claimed in campaign materials that Barger "supports Donald Trump's MAGA agenda" — which she denies — and has pointed to choices Barger has made that he said underscore her Republican values.


"His best bet is to actually tag her as a Trump Republican or a partisan Republican, even if it's not accurate in terms of her voting record — she does often vote with the other Democrats who are on the board — but it's a really good way to actually try to attack her because she's so well known in the whole district," said Christian Grose, academic director at the USC Schwarzenegger Institute.

Supervisor races are nonpartisan, meaning the political parties of candidates aren't listed on ballots. Instead, voters see only their job titles. The top two finishers will have a November runoff if no one receives more than 50% of the primary vote.

Barger, a county employee since the late 1980s, and Holden, who has held public office for about 35 years, are the best known candidates in the race. If Barger wins, this would be her final term because of term limits.

The other three are Burbank City Council member Konstantine Anthony, civic technologist and businessman Marlon Marroquin, and attorney and nonprofit leader Perry Goldberg, who has slammed Barger for trying to play both sides.


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