Early election returns in the 69th Assembly District race show small business owner Josh Lowenthal taking a seemingly decisive lead over Al Austin, a Long Beach City Council member.

Lowenthal has so far claimed 60% of the vote, or 33,041 votes, while Austin has 40% (22,163 votes).

Both candidates in this open seat are Democrats. Al Austin is a labor organizer who has spent the last decade representing the 8th District on the Long Beach City Council. In contrast, Josh Lowenthal is a son of U.S. Representative Alan Lowenthal and a member of one of the most politically connected Long Beach families, but he has no political experience himself beyond a failed 2018 state Assembly race in Orange County.

After redistricting, the 69th now includes virtually all of Long Beach as well as Signal Hill and portions of Carson.

Austin and Lowenthal talked about many of the same issues during the campaign, including reducing homelessness, creating good jobs and reducing gun violence.

Lowenthal far out-raised Austin during the race, raising nearly $1.4 million this year in campaign contributions, according to the California Secretary of State’s office. That was nearly than six times that of Austin’s campaign, which brought in $240,000. This allowed Lowenthal’s campaign to spend a little more than $1 million during 2022, about four times that of Austin’s campaign.

Lowenthal also picked up far more endorsements than Austin, including retiring Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, who currently represents Long Beach in the state Assembly, Rep. Lowenthal, state Sen. Lena Gonzalez, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Long Beach City Council members Cindy Allen, Roberto Uranga and Mary Zendejas, among others.

Long Beach City Council Member Stacy Mungo endorsed Austin, as did a variety of Carson officials, including Mayor Lulu Davis-Holmes, and longtime Signal Hill Councilmember Edward Wilson.

Voter turnout in the district was 13% going into Election Day, according to the firm Political Data Intelligence.

For up-to-date election results, visit lbpost.com/elections.

Editor’s note: This story was updated Wednesday, Nov. 9 with up-to-date vote tallies.

Anthony Pignataro is an investigative reporter and editor for the Long Beach Post. He has close to three decades of experience in journalism leading numerous investigations and long-form journalism projects for the OC Weekly and other publications. He joined the Post in May 2021.