Photo from Bray-Ali campaign
This is what it looks like when a first-time candidate for the City Council unexpectedly forces a longtime incumbent into a runoff, then implodes two weeks before the election.
On Wednesday, LAist posted an article with detailed research and screenshots of comments that candidate Joe Bray-Ali had made in racist online forums and forums that shamed trans people and fat people.
On Thursday, City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell withdrew his endorsement of Bray-Ali. O'Farrell's original endorsement, essentially calling for the defeat of a colleague on the City Council horseshoe, had been a big deal for Bray-Ali.
Later Thursday, the Los Angeles Times opinion page withdrew its endorsement of Bray-Ali, saying the paper had re-interviewed Bray-Ali that day and could no longer support him. "The revelations are so deeply disturbing — raising serious questions about both his judgment and his character — that... for the first time in recent memory, the editorial board is officially rescinding its endorsement."
Also Thursday, City Council President Herb Wesson called on Bray-Ali to withdraw from the race entirely. He was joined by six members of the City Council.
Bray-Ali fessed up that the online comments were his and he apologized, saying they were basically the indiscretions of a younger guy. "No one wants anyone running for public office to say things like that…I didn’t know what I was talking about, frankly,” he told KPCC.
Last week Bray-Ali had apologized for an earlier video that chided "Mexicans" for honking their horns too loud in his neighborhood. He explained that the video was a question for Gustavo Arellano's satirical column "Ask a Mexican."
The City Council race is in the 1st district, covering part of the Eastside, and could have been expected to be a hard-fought contest where the shady world of opposition research campaign operatives would be a factor. Bray-Ali and his supporters are finding out that when there is stuff to find, it will usually be found. The runoff is May 16.
I, for one, am fully accountable for my past actions and rather than be an apologist or try and deny, I take ownership of the past and the lessons learned. I believe I am a better person for it. I'm not perfect. Certainly my opponent is not. We wouldn't be here in a runoff if our constituents felt served and quite honestly I would not have been inspired to run. I want to focus on serving the most vulnerable in our district.
I am running against a do-nothing council member who turns his back on his constituents in need, votes for gentrification and then claims otherwise, lies about his campaign contributions from Chevron while doing nothing about the AllenCo well poisoning families in his district, and traffic fatalities rose 40%, and violent crimes have increased 69%. I'm happy to speak with any reporter or voter about the content and context of any comment I've made online. I made these comments due to my search for understanding, so I will continue this campaign in that spirit, allowing for all open dialogue.
He also made a Facebook Live appearance to explain himself.