Onward, with gratitude: Leano reflects on Assembly campaign

Claremont City Council member Jed Leano finished fourth in last week’s Super Tuesday Democratic primary election, in which he had been vying to represent District 41 in the California Assembly. Courier photo/Peter Weinberger

by Mick Rhodes | editor@claremont-courier.com

Though it didn’t end as he’d hoped, six year Claremont City Council member Jed Leano is nonetheless grateful for the lessons learned and coalitions built during his yearlong campaign to represent District 41 in the California Assembly.

“It was amazing,” Leano said about the campaign. “It was remarkably beautiful.”

Leano finished fourth in last week’s Super Tuesday Democrat primary election, which was won by John Harabedian, who will face Republican Michelle Del Rosario Martinez in the November 5 general election.

“It was such a beautiful experience because of two things that I’m really proud of: it was from the beginning until the very end driven by this very deep seated mission of addressing housing affordability and homelessness,” Leano said. “And in addition to that, as a Council member here in Claremont, and regional representative on government agencies, I had a network of allies and supporters when the campaign started. And as it got underway, I never envisioned that we would be able to put together such a wide network of allies statewide who believed in our mission.”

Leano admitted waking up to the news that he’d finished fourth was tough.

“I’m obviously disappointed by it,” he said. “Wednesday morning was really an awful morning to wake up and confront the situation. However, Wednesday evening I had dinner with my campaign team, and we went through the data at the campaign with a lot more clear view of everything, and we realized how we had overperformed everything we had thought we could accomplish in this race.”

He’s also been buoyed by the many notes of support he’s received since.

“The last several days I have been truly unable to keep up with all of the messages — either by text, by email, or by phone call — of people who have been so supportive and uplifting, thanking me for running, thanking me for running on the issues that I ran on,” he said. “And for running the kind of campaign that we ran that was issues focused, mission driven, and its core, about the problems in California, not about any one person.”

After the early morning tally made it clear he would not prevail, Leano dropped his young son off at Condit Elementary School then called Harabedian to congratulate him.

“We talked about some shared goals that we have, wanting to work together on some issues. And I look forward to that.”

Leano said he is proud he ran a clean race, devoid of the negative campaigning prevalent in many statewide contests.

“I made my campaign about the issues I believe in and my qualifications and my ideas,” he said. “And at the end of the campaign, every person I ran against was grateful for that. Certainly we saw a lot of other races devolved into personal issues and conversations about personality that certainly just do nothing to help people’s lives here.

“So I’m just glad that that was how our campaign went, and that’s validated by those beautiful conversations I had with all the candidates.”

Leano ticked off numerous positives that emerged from the primary competition.

“In fact, we actually overperformed every metric that we had in mind,” he said. “We raised more money [Leano’s contributions totaled $330,000. Harabedian raised $1.36 million.], we won more endorsements, and when you look at the raw totals, we totally outperformed the resources that were available to us.”

“I’m really proud of the votes that we got, but also the width of the coalition.”

Leano said the data his team compiled over the course of the election proves his core issues of housing affordability and homelessness are winning messages.

“Shortly after we got into the race it was very clear that every candidate in this race and other races around us were taking the issues that we made central to our campaign, and they became central to everyone else’s,” he said. “And so, what we know is that we were able to elevate a message that just badly needed elevating.”

Leano’s not thinking too much about his next steps at the moment, other than to focus on his Claremont City Council duties, where he has been serving since 2018.

He’ll also be advocating for a new regulation authored by Our Future LA to “functionally replace” Measure H, the LA County quarter-cent sales tax measure to fund homeless services and prevention that was passed by voters on March 7, 2017. The as of yet unnamed initiative is currently gathering signatures in order to be placed on the November ballot.

“I want to personally do everything I can to help it succeed, because it’s an excellent plan and it needs to pass here in LA County,” he said. “I want to be able to do what I can to leverage the alliances I’ve built in the Assembly campaign, and hopefully turn those into a resource for this ballot measure.”

Assembly District 41 is comprised of some 13 cities stretching from La Cañada Flintridge to the west, east to Rancho Cucamonga, up to Wrightwood and out to the high desert town of Phelan, and several unincorporated areas of LA and San Bernardino counties. Spending time in and learning about all these disparate locales was eye opening in many respects, Leano said.

“It gave me appreciation for how different a lot of communities are, but it also reminded me how lucky I am to live in Claremont, and to have a son here in our schools, and to have a home here where my family can plant some roots long-term. We are just so blessed and fortunate to be from this place. Spending time in a lot of other communities only reinforced what I already knew.”

Leano’s second council term is up in December 2026. He hasn’t yet decided if he will run again.

“I don’t know, and frankly I haven’t thought about it.” Leano said. “I’ve needed some time just to recover from the overwhelming experience. Running for state Assembly is an exponentially heavier lift than running for City Council. And so I haven’t really thought about that.”

For now, he is enjoying some downtime at home for the first time in quite a while.

“Saturday and Sunday I spent the entire day with my wife and my son, and I don’t remember the last time I did that. It was really beautiful,” Leano said.

The Council member concluded our interview by reiterating the Assembly campaign’s positive takeaways, with an ever so slight nod to what his future may hold.

“I would just like to give my most heartfelt gratitude to everyone who supported us,” he said. “There was not a single day that went by when we were not blessed with the enthusiastic support of our backers. And receiving that was always really uplifting. And I’m so excited about continuing to lift up those issues and that mission that united this campaign. Because even though we were unsuccessful in this specific campaign, those issues will continue and need leadership. And we’re going to continue to provide that.”


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