In one of the bigger upsets in state politics in this year’s midterms, Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, who co-authored the legislation to extend and expand California’s film and TV tax credit, is trailing his opponent, Patty Lopez, another Democrat who apparently spent little money and is little known in state politics.
Even Lopez said in an interview that she was surprised by the result. With 100% of precincts reporting, uncertified results showed her with a 182-vote lead over Bocanegra.
“Whatever the result is, I am happy,” she said, having run a campaign that focused on education, including cuts to after-school programs and the need for better pathways to higher education and careers. The parent of four daughters, Lopez was community representative for the North Valley Occupational center for 12 years until 2012.
Bocanegra and Assemblyman Mike Gatto co-authored AB1839, legislation that expanded the state’s film and TV incentive program to $330 million per year.
Lopez said that she supported the legislation, and would like to pursue additional incentives that cover more companies and workers.
She credited her lead in the vote to being well known in the community as a volunteer and organizer. But she also said she emphasized the message about improving education. “Right now we are spending a lot of money on jails, not schools. It’s not fair.” Her website says she is a member of a number of educational organizations including StudentsFirst, the school reform organization founded by Michelle Rhee that has been at odds with teachers’ unions.
“The film industry is important, but it also is important to educate people so they can go on to these jobs,” she said.
The district represents Pacoima, Sylmar, Mission Hills, San Fernando, Tujunga and parts of North Hollywood. A spokesman for Bocanengra did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Lopez said that she had not spoken to him or heard from his campaign.