Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media

Gov. Gavin Newsom called Los Angeles community organizer Isaac Bryan on Saturday morning to congratulate him for winning the 54th Assembly District special election.

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office reported that, as of Friday, May 21, Bryan was leading with 50.7% of counted ballots (21,388 votes) over his closest opponent, fellow Democrat Heather Hutt.

Hutt was trailing Bryan with 24.9% (10,489 votes).

Hutt served as the former state director for Kamala Harris when the current Vice President of the United States was California’s junior United States Senator.

Bryan’s projected victory – pending final certification by authorities – would push the California Legislative Black Caucus’s (CLBC) membership back up to 10.

The CLBC – the body of African American elected officials serving in the State Legislature – recently lost two members. In December, Gov. Newsom appointed former Assemblymember Shirley Weber, who represented the 79th District in the San Diego area, California’s 33rd Secretary of State. And last year after the general election, former state Sen. Holly J. Mitchell resigned to serve on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

The race Bryan won was announced after Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) won a special election to represent the 30th District in the upper house of the California Legislature, replacing Mitchell.

“The Governor called this morning. We really did this,” the 29-year-old Bryan posted on his Twitter account, expressing gratitude to Newsom for reaching out to him.

“My name is Isaac Bryan, but my friends call me Mr. Assemblymember- elect,” Bryan tweeted before that in a separate post on May 21.

Bryan’s commanding lead puts him comfortably above the 50-plus percentage mark required to avoid a runoff with Hutt.

The special election was held May 18. By the end of the night, Bryan had locked in 49.62% of the votes. Hutt’s tally stood at a distant second with 24.61% of the vote. None of the other four candidates in the race — Cheryl Turner, Dallas Fowler, Bernard Senter and Samuel Robert Morales — won more than 10% of the vote.

“Can’t wait to have you up here on the green carpet @CABlackCaucus,” Kamlager tweeted, congratulating Bryan and welcoming him as a state lawmaker and new member of the CLBC. Kamlager is vice chair of the CLBC.

Before Bryan’s win, the CLBC welcomed another member, Dr. Akilah Weber (D-La Jolla), who won her mother Shirley Weber’s former Assembly seat in another special election in April.

Bryan is the founding director of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Black Policy Project (BPP). The BPP is a research initiative housed within the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies.

The project says its primary focus is producing community-centered research that helps ignite policy change, serving as the bridge between Black scholarship generated at UCLA and the ideas that inform policymaking.

Bryan’s supporters praise him for leading efforts to pass Measure J in Los Angeles County. The ballot initiative now mandates LA County to dedicate no less than 10 % of its general fund to spending on racial equity programs, including investments in youth development, supportive housing, alternatives to incarceration, job training, small business development, and more.

U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA-37), Mitchell, and Kamlager all endorsed Bryan.


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