By Nick Diamantides
Incumbent United States Congresswoman Laura Richardson won a landslide victory in the June 8 Primary Election. Richardson, who represents the residents of California’s 37th Congressional District, received 19,667 votes, or 67.67 percent of the vote, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office.
Richardson’s leading opponent, Peter Mathews, came in second with 5,252 votes, or 18.07 percent of the vote. Lee Davis received 2,432 votes, or 8.37 percent of the vote. Terrance Ponchak received 1,711 votes, or 5.89 percent of the vote.
In November, Richardson, who is a Democrat, will square off against Republican Star Parker, who ran unopposed and received 8,413 votes.
Richardson and her supporters gathered at Phil Trani’s Restaurant in Bixby Knolls Tuesday night to monitor election results. Even before the final numbers were tallied, it was obvious that she would win. “We are successful for several reasons,” she said. “One is because I have excellent staff and they are taking care of people. That’s the bottom line. That’s what public service is all about.”
The congresswoman also praised her team of supporters. “In order to be successful, you need to have people get the word out about what is going on,” she said. “And finally, it is particularly gratifying to see that the voters are speaking. It’s time-out for all the nasty articles and horrible things that are being said, and it’s time for the voters to judge us on our work. That’s what is happening right now.”
Speaking from her campaign headquarters, Davis seemed to be taking her defeat in stride. “I want to congratulate Laura Richardson. The voters have gone to the polls, and we must respect their choice,” she said. “I still feel that I am the best of the four candidates because I am a community activist, but right now it’s too early to say whether I will run again in two years.”
Davis said she was planning to meet with her campaign manager to discuss the 2010 campaign. “We worked really, really hard,” she said. “We have to look at what we might have done incorrectly.”
Ponchak also seemed to be taking his defeat in stride. In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, he said: “I want to congratulate Laura Richardson on her victory and thank my friends, neighbors and those who cast their votes or otherwise supported my candidacy.” He noted that he entered the election in order to protect the community from the consequences of incorrect governmental decisions. “I hope the spirit of that idea will live on,” he added. “ I appreciate knowing there are others like me out there who are willing to exercise their rights, including free speech, when public modes of communications are silent.”
Mathews did not immediately return phone messages left for him by the Signal Tribune.
Late Tuesday night, as her margin of victory steadily increased, Richardson thanked the approximately 75 enthusiastic supporters gathered at Phil Trani’s for all they had done to ensure her victory. “But the work is not done,” she added. “I do have a Republican opponent, and we are going to start up again, walking and making the phone calls.”
She explained that now that she has won the primary, she is counting on her supporters to help her win the election in November. “Then we will go on for two more years doing what we have been doing,” she said. At that point, she was interrupted by loud applause. “It’s not about winning an election,” she stressed. “It’s about having the desire to serve and help people.”
Richardson added that she is very happy to see support from a broad range of ethnic groups, and she praised her staff for the work they do in assisting constituents who are having trouble with one of more of the various federal agencies. “In our office, we help everybody and that’s why we have such diversity in our supporters,” she said. “We work hard because we have a district that has tremendous needs, but given the right resources it can do really well.”
Alluding to the scandals that threatened to put an end to her political career during the past two-and-a-half years, Richardson said it is obvious that the voters were not swayed by all the negative publicity she had received. “I have my own personal challenges in life,” she said. “But life is about movement. It doesn’t stand still.”