California 32nd District
Straight east from downtown Los Angeles on Interstate 10 is a string of suburbs that grew up in the 1940s and 1950s as white middle-class communities and today are a melting pot of immigrant groups that have achieved the American dream of home ownership and decent schools. The stucco houses were once filled with Midwest and East Coast migrants who discovered California during World War II. Now, they are more likely to be occupied by Mexican-American families who spread out from their original East Los Angeles base to blue-collar suburbs like El Monte, Baldwin Park, Azusa and West Covina. Chinese and other Asians are the majority in Monterey Park and 49% of the population in Rosemead. The late New York Times food maven R.W. Apple Jr. described “a memorable week in the gastronomic trenches” of the local Asian restaurant scene, and reported that “it is easier to buy bok choy than iceberg” in Monterey Park. Almost every neighborhood here is mixed, with people whose origins are in different continents and cultures. The relatively recent arrivals have upgraded neighborhoods, bringing in energy and money, the enthusiasm of the young and the community-spiritedness of the homeowner. There are busy shops with new signs, newly painted homes with carefully tended gardens, and neighborhoods filled with children. When blacks and Latinos were rioting in South Central and Hollywood in 1992, East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley were quiet and orderly. East Los Angeles broke through into pop culture in the 1987 film Born in East L.A., about a Mexican-American deported to Mexico. Some local officials of the 129,000-population community in unincorporated Los Angeles County want to incorporate as a city, but the proposal has failed three times.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 32nd Congressional District of California covers much of this territory. It includes part of East Los Angeles and a small part of Los Angeles, most of Monterey Park and all of Rosemead, El Monte, Baldwin Park, Azusa, West Covina and Covina. It is 64% Hispanic and 21% Asian—the second-highest Asian percentage (after the adjacent 29th District) in southern California. Forty-two percent of its residents are foreign born. Politically, the new Latinos and Asians have been up for grabs. In the early 1990s, Asians, dismayed that civic leaders seemed more interested in the complaints of rioters than in compensating the store owners whose property was destroyed, moved toward the Republicans. In the middle 1990s, Latinos, because of Republican-inspired immigration and welfare laws halting aid to legal immigrants, moved heavily toward the Democrats. Republicans Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom McClintock together won nearly half of the Latino vote in the 2003 recall of Gray Davis as governor, according to exit polls. George W. Bush got 37% here in the 2004 contest for president and Schwarzenegger got 42% in 2006. In 2008, the vote for Republican presidential nominee John McCain returned to a more conventional 30%, while Democrat Barack Obama cleaned up with 68%.