BY LEILONI DE GRUY
PHOTO BY Shon Smith for D’Angelo’s Photos
Los Angeles Wave

Experts say key backing from county supervisor and organized labor gives longtime Inglewood politician an edge in March balloting.

With endorsements this week from Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and some of the Southland’s largest labor organizations, Assemblyman Curren Price received a jump start in what may be a hotly contested race for a vacant state Senate seat.

“Curren Price brings unequaled skill and experience creating opportunity for his constituents to this campaign for state Senate,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who resigned the 26th District Senate seat earlier this month, said on Monday. “Curren understands the needs of working people and shares their desire to earn a living to support their families. He knows the importance of quality of life for the people of this district and the state of California, and will work tirelessly to create the jobs and opportunities they need to succeed.”

Elated by the endorsement, Price vowed to work with the supervisor on health care issues facing the South Los Angeles region if elected. However, he said, “the central focus of my campaign is an all-out effort to preserve jobs in this time of recession and create new, sustainable employment opportunities that pay living wages. I will also fight to create local infrastructure improvements that can serve as a catalyst for community-based economic development projects,” he said. “I plan to work closely with small business owners to give them greater interaction with state government on procurement opportunities.”

This focus has attracted the attention of L.A. labor unions, which endorsed Ridley-Thomas in his successful run for supervisor. On Dec. 16, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s Committee on Political Education announced it were endorsing Price. The organization represents over 350 labor unions and 845,000 workers.

“As the economy gets worse, we need leaders who will fight for working men and women,” said Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. “Assemblymember Price is one of those leaders, so his unanimous endorsement by workers to represent the 26th State Senate District comes as no surprise. He has walked the picket line with hotel workers as they fought for living wages and stood up against Wal-Mart as they tried to move into Inglewood to do nothing but offer poverty wages despite their ability to reap millions in profits.”

In addition, he received the endorsement of Service Employees International Union, which is comprised of over 700,000 members statewide.

Price is expected to face off against fellow Assemblyman Mike Davis, D-Los Angeles. Davis was not available for comment, but according to a spokesperson for the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office, he is the only other candidate thus far to have requested candidate filing materials. Culver City school board member Saundra Davis has also said she is considering running.

Candidates seeking to file petition forms instead of the filing fee will need to do so by Jan. 26. Those seeking to pay the $1,162.08 filing fee have until Feb. 9.