The elephants among us

Echo Park resident Laine Wagenseller doesn’t consider himself all that different from his neighbors until he passes the intersection of Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Boulevard on Friday afternoons. That’s when liberals and lefties gather on a weekly basis to ask passing motorists to honk their horns against the war and hand out socialist newspapers and materials. “I know I’m outnumbered,” said Wagenseller, a 41-year-old, home-owning, dog-loving, “die-hard” Republican.

An Echo Park Republican? How is that possible in a neighborhood once dubbed “Red Gulch” or “Red Hill”, because of a large population of communists and socialists, and where Obama bumper stickers are slapped on the back of nearly every Prius and veggie-powered Mercedes diesel. If registered Democrats in Los Angeles County outnumber Republicans by more than 2-to-1, you can imagine that Wagenseller is part of an even far smaller political world here in the heavily Democratic Eastside.

For the most part Wagenseller’s party affiliation does not come up with neighbors. But there are other reminders of his unique political preferences. During primary elections, for example, Waggenseller says he never has to wait in line to cast his ballot in the lone Republican voting booth at his polling place at Logan Street Elementary School.

Despite his party’s difficulties and setbacks, Waggenseller, who voted for John McCain last November and George Bush in the two previous presidential elections, said he’s “not an embarrassed Republican.” He also notes that he’s not totally alone. The 23-year-old who lives across the street with his Democratic parents is also a member of the GOP. “So, there are two of us.”

In addition, as it turns, out the spokesman for the California GOP, Hector Barajas, also hails from Echo Park.

Another Echo Park Republican, a Latina who grew up in the neighborhood and didn’t want her name revealed, said not only are most of her neighbors Democrats but so is her husband. When she went to cast her ballot for McCain last November, her husband kidded her by saying: “Aren’t you afraid they are going to throwing tomatoes at you?”

She laughed it off. But this GOP supporter said she will eventually get even with her Democratic husband. She is certain that their daughter is a teenage Republican.

Top photo from PAWaterCooler.com
Bottom photo from the Republican Party of Los Angeles County.

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