COMPTON — Mayor Aja Brown is withdrawing from the 44th Congressional District race, just one week after actress-turned political commentator Stacey Dash left the race.
Both were running to unseat U.S. Rep. Nanette Barragan, who is both well-funded and well-endorsed in the district, which is largely Democratic.
The district includes Compton, Watts, San Pedro and North Long Beach and several cities in the South Bay. The district is 10.23 percent Republican and 61.2 percent Democratic, according to the California Secretary of State’s office, which oversees elections in the state.
Both Brown and Dash cited family as the reason for dropping out the race.
In a statement, Brown revealed that she is expecting her first child with her husband of 14 years.
“I am excited and blessed to announce that my husband and I are expecting our first child,” Brown said. “We are overjoyed at the opportunity to become parents and look forward to starting our family. To date, one of my highest honors has been dedicating my time and life to serving my community. However, at this point in my life, my family commitments supersede my ability to expand my level of service.
“Today, I am announcing that I am withdrawing my candidacy to represent the 44th Congressional District. I am genuinely grateful for the outpouring of support for my candidacy after my initial announcement,” Brown added.
Brown surprised many last month when she announced her run for Congress, citing Dash as a “motivating” factor in her decision.
Dash said she was withdrawing due to the rigorous schedule of campaigning and the health and well-being of her family.
“After much prayer, introspection and discussions with my family, I am withdrawing my candidacy for California’s 44th Congressional District,” Dash said. “At this point, I believe that the overall bitterness surrounding our political process, participating in the rigors of campaigning and holding elected office would be detrimental to the health and well-being of my family.
“I would never want to betray the personal and spiritual principles I believe in most: that my God and my family come first,” Dash added.
Brown, a Democrat, and Dash, a Republican, will still remain on the ballot, along with Republican businesswoman Jazmina Saavedra of Long Beach.
Barragan said the departure of Brown and Dash from the race would have little impact on her campaign.
“We will continue to reach out to every voter to listen to their concerns and update them on my work in Washington to fight for access to health care, clean air and water, and safe schools,” Barragan said. “At a time when the Trump administration is attacking communities of color, rolling back environmental standards and wanting to arm teachers in schools, I must keep my focus on my constituents.
“It has been a great honor to represent this California district in Congress and I am asking the people in our community to support me once again. We are facing great challenges here at home and an awful president in the White House who has kept our communities and our values under constant assault. We must continue the fight for economic equality, environmental justice, and protections for our dreamers,” she added.
A veteran political strategist said the departure of Brown and Dash from the race won’t change anything.
“I don’t think the entrance of either Dash or Brown had any effect on the contours of that race in the first place,” said Charles Ellison, a principal of Washington, D.C.-based BE Strategy. “The incumbent, Rep. Barragan, looks fairly solid and is somewhat of a Democratic Party establishment favorite.
“Plus, it is a district that is overwhelming Latino, so I’m not sure if any black female candidates would have performed well. Barragan had already soundly defeated a black male candidate in her first election. Plus, both candidates were so polarizing and seemingly so fixated on the other that it wasn’t clear if they’d be that resonant or issue-focused on the campaign trail once it opened up.”
Barragan said she would formally kick off her re-election campaign with an event April 21.