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Morning Brief: 2020 Politics — The Year In Review

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State Senator Holly Mitchell meeting with supporters at her election night watch party the evening of California's 2020 Primary Elections on March 3rd 2020. Shot by Annie Lesser for LAist/KPCC Annie Lesser for LAist/Annie Lesser for LAist/KPCC
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This week, we’ll be looking back at our coverage of 2020, one of the strangest, most difficult years through which many of us have ever lived. Reporting on it was hard, and at times painful. But amid the tragedy of the coronavirus, there were some bright spots. We’ll start by looking at L.A.’s biggest political stories of the year.

2020 was a year unlike any other. The past 51 weeks brought a contentious presidential election amid the coronavirus pandemic, and a breakthrough moment for social justice protests. Meanwhile, the virus’ economic fallout decimated state and local government budgets.

In Los Angeles County, voter turnout rose to roughly 76%, nearly equaling the 2008 election of President Barack Obama. From the District Attorney’s office to Measure J and the City Council, progressive campaigns had a great year in L.A.

The big questions going forward: How will Los Angeles resolve a historic financial crisis without laying off hundreds of workers? And will elected leaders fulfill promises to overhaul policing, and invest in supportive services instead of law enforcement in disadvantaged communities? A new group of progressive City Councilmembers will undoubtedly play a role.

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2020 Politics: Year In Review

Is LA County Heading For A Confusing March 3 Primary? Voters Face This Gauntlet Of Changes
Leading up to the primary elections on March 3, voters in L.A. County struggled to navigate a gauntlet of changes to how they cast their ballots, including new locations and technology. (Read the story)

The Scramble To Fix Los Angeles Voting Before November (And What Went Wrong)
Officials were right to be concerned; L.A. County’s new voting system was supposed to make elections more accessible, but instead, many voters in the primaries faced long wait times — sometimes in excess of three hours — caused by technical problems that marred the system's debut. (Read the story)

How Political Campaigns Are Happening In The Age of Coronavirus
The pandemic meant that even in the most competitive races, candidates couldn’t have in-person contact with volunteers, donors or potential voters. So, they had to get creative. (Read the story)

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George Floyd's Death Is One Of Many Reasons LA Activists Are Pushing For A 'People's Budget'
A coalition of community groups and activists helmed by Black Lives Matter-L.A. pushed for deep cuts in funding for the Los Angeles Police Department in favor of investment in social workers, housing, public transportation, health care and other services. (Read the story)

City Council Votes To Slash LAPD Budget By $150 Million
In response to protests that saw hundreds of thousands of Angelenos take to the streets, demanding justice for Black people killed at the hands of police following the death of George Floyd, the L.A. City Council cut $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department's $1.8 billion operating budget. The vote also included plans to reinvest the funds in marginalized communities. (Read the story)

How Nithya Raman And Other Progressive Campaigns Beat The LA Establishment — And What's Next
The November election brought historic wins for L.A.’s most progressive, who were victorious in races for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, City Council and District Attorney's office. Voters also adopted a ballot measure to amend the county charter and shift funds from the budget — including the sheriff's department — to community programs and jail diversion. (Read the story)

Four Lessons From The Southern California House Seats Republicans Reclaimed In 2020
After a Blue Wave hit SoCal in 2018, Republicans this year celebrated victories in four seats — and across the country, the GOP pulled off surprise gains in a year when Democrats were predicted to expand their House majority. (Read the story)

LA's Alex Padilla Appointed US Senator. First Latino To Represent California In Senate
After months of speculation about a successor to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris — and pressure from a handful of activist groups — Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed his longtime political ally, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, to represent California in the U.S. Senate. (Read the story)

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The FBI's Sweeping LA City Hall Corruption Investigation
While still a sitting member of the L.A. City Council, Jose Huizar was arrested by federal agents, later facing a 34-count indictment. Allegations against Huizar included the acceptance of bribes in the form of villas in Las Vegas, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, escort services, payments to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit, trips on private jets and more. The ongoing investigation soon swept up more city hall employees, as well as major national and international developers. (Read the story)

Garcetti Issues Rare Veto, Rejecting City Council's Plan For Spending Money Cut From LAPD Budget
Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the L.A. City Council’s plan to distribute $88.8 million to a range of projects does “not meet the demands of the moment or the call of history.” He said the council should go back to the drawing board and prioritize investing in solutions for racial justice, income inequality, jobs in vulnerable communities and more. (Read the story)


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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft, and check LAist.com for updates on these stories and more. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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