October 11, 2012
By Xavier Higgs
In what may be a sleeper campaign, Councilman Chris Holden, the veteran Democrat from Pasadena, started the race for the newly drawn California 41st Assembly district as the heavy favorite.
He has the trappings of broad Democratic support, from the endorsements of party icons California State Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Karen Bass to the California Democratic Party. If elected, Holden would become the first African American state assemblyman from Pasadena.
According to Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, Dem. 44th district, “whenever you leave office you want to leave it in capable and strong hands. I think he is the right person. Chris understands local government and that’s a perspective Sacramento needs.”
Because of redistricting the winner of November’s election will inherit a portion of Portantino’s district.
The GOP nominee, Donna Lowe, isn’t getting such sterling reviews and the shape of this race has not changed in recent weeks. Lowe is an employee of SafeNet, Inc., a data and intellectual property protection company.
As a life-long Republican and a member of the Tea Party, Lowe is pro-business and anti-union. Michael Antonovich, and TeaPAC President Michael Alexander, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association are among area political leaders who have endorsed Lowe.
“My opponent and I are diametrically different on many issues,” says Holden. “That includes women’s issues, the environment, labor and jobs. I see the value in having a strong public sector that can support the safeguards necessary for business growth. I also think employees should have the opportunity to bargain for their benefits.”
Holden is not entirely alone. His campaign received nearly $187,405 in contributions between July and September of this year. Compared to Lowe’s $51,752. According to State reported fundraising records.
Holden, a veteran democrat, has served 23 years as a City of Pasadena councilmember and one term as mayor. Chris is the son of former Los Angeles City Councilman, Nate Holden who once represented Los Angeles' 10th District.
The elder Holden says, “Chris has had a heck of a career because he’s well trained. He is well prepared to tackle the issues and make some meaningful legislation. He really cares about serving people.”
Like his father Chris has been able to endure a scandal. His ex-wife Michelle was arrested July 2, 1998, and charged with unlawful sex acts with two minors. She copped a plea and was sentenced to three years' probation for having sex with her 15-year-old male baby-sitter.
Nevertheless, he has successfully served the citizens of Pasadena’s 3rd district, and was instrumental in expanding the Metro Gold Line connecting the region to Los Angeles. He is also a commissioner on the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority and an executive board member for the California Democratic Party. He owns CHMB Consulting, a real estate firm.
“Chris is a thoughtful person,” according Pasadena’s Mayor Bill Bogaard, who has known him for about 30 years. “He is measured in his approach to problems.”
The new 41st Assembly District was created by the 14-member California Citizens Redistricting Commission. It extends south to north including South Pasadena, Altadena, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, and extends east to Upland.
Democrats comprise of approximately 42 percent of the registered voters and republicans at 32 percent in the new 41st District.
Holden, at 6’8 is described as a very likable guy and a gentle giant. But his father adds, “Chris is very competitive. Like me when you push him against the wall he will fight back.”
Both are former athletes, Chris was a basketball player and his dad was a boxer.
Longtime friend Ishmael Trone says, Holden will be a “wonderful addition to the assembly.” “Chris always returns your calls. He’s attentive, He understands politics extremely well because he is the son of a legendary politician. Both are formable political opponents.”
Holden has been a fixture in Pasadena politics for decades, and Lowe must not only introduce herself to voters, but bring down Holden’s image in the process, an expensive task with little time before the elections.