Kathryn Barger takes large lead, heads to runoff election for LA County Supervisor

- Kathryn Barger will compete in a November runoff election to replace Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, likely against entrepreneur Darrell Park.

Barger easily led the field of eight candidates vying for the seat in Tuesday's election, but she was well short of the 50 percent majority needed to win the Fifth District seat outright. Park and Sen. Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, were locked in a tight duel for the second spot, but Park held a roughly 400-vote lead.

It wasn't immediately known how many late or provisional ballots remained to be counted over the coming days and whether they might affect the race for second place. Only the top two vote-getters will move on to the November general election.

Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian settled in to fourth place. Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch Englander's narrow edge in campaign fundraising -- with $1.3 million to Barger's roughly $1.2 million -- did not seem to translate into
significant support in the hard-fought primary, as he finished in the middle of the pack, with Deputy District Attorney Elan Carr, Altadena Town Council member Billy Malone and real estate investor Rajpal Kahlon rounding out the field.

Antonovich -- who will have served the district for 36 years before being forced out by term limits at the end of this year -- had thrown his support behind Barger, his chief of staff. Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and former
Supervisor Gloria Molina also endorsed Barger, who had strong backing from unions representing sheriff's deputies and county firefighters, as well as the Service Employees International Union Local 721, which represents most county employees.

Carr and Huff were neck-and-neck in fundraising, with approximately $950,000 and $977,000 in their respective war chests. Najarian raised $505,000.

Park raised just $64,000, while the other two candidates did not submit filings or raised less than $10,000.

Kahlon challenged Antonovich in 2012 with little to no financial backing and picked up 20 percent of the vote as the only other candidate.

The 5th District includes the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys, along with a portion of the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys and foothills, an area widely viewed as more conservative than the balance of Los Angeles County.

But eligible voters will come from wide-ranging communities with diverse concerns, from Porter Ranch to Palmdale.

Though it is a non-partisan seat, Antonovich may be the most conservative of the five supervisors and the race for his and Supervisor Don Knabe's 4th District seats could significantly reconfigure the board's politics. Of the board's three liberal members, Kuehl and Hilda Solis aren't up for re-election yet and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas ran unopposed.

Five of the eight candidates are registered Republicans, while Kahlon, Malone and Park -- who has the endorsement of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party -- are Democrats.

Englander had touted his wide-ranging experience as an elected official, while Huff highlighted his ability to work across party lines to solve problems.

Carr ran on his crime-fighting background, but it is Barger, who has never held public office, who picked up endorsements from former District Attorneys Gil Garcetti, Steve Cooley and Robert Philibosian.

Barger cited her deep knowledge of county matters and highlighted the fact that she's not a career politician, while Najarian reminded voters of his work as board chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Association and record of creating jobs as mayor.

Politician or not, Barger garnered the backing of dozens of mayors, former mayors, council members and school district board members in the 5th District as well as from former Govs. George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson and
former Reps. David Dreier and Gary Miller.

Englander had a long list of high-profile supporters, including all but two of his fellow council members -- the holdouts were David Ryu and Paul Koretz. He also had the backing of City Attorney Mike Feuer, seven current or former Assembly members, including Mike Gatto, and former Rep. Buck McKeon, Rep. Brad Sherman and Secretary of State Alex Padilla. The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce also backed him.

U.S. Sen. John McCain was among Carr's supporters, who also include syndicated conservative radio show host Dennis Prager and a state police union. 

As for Najarian, he was the choice of the Los Angeles Times editorial board, former longtime Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and more than a dozen mayors, former mayors and council members in the district.

The unpredictable race could also upend the board in other ways. If front-runner Janice Hahn takes Knabe's seat and Barger wins the hotly contested 5th District post, the next board could be four-fifths women.

The Board of Supervisors controls a $28.5 billion budget -- larger than that of most states -- and provides services to more than 10 million residents in 88 cities and unincorporated areas.

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