Tuesday, July 24, 2012

AD50 Candidate Betsy Butler Loses 2nd Local Endorsement In Less Than A Week

AD50 Candidate Betsy Butler
Coming off an unexpected defeat at the West Hollywood/Beverly Hills Democratic Club endorsement meeting last week, Butler continued her losing streak on Sunday when Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom successfully prevented her from winning the coveted Santa Monica for Renters Rights (SMRR) endorsement.

As with the WeHo/Beverly Hills Club endorsement, Butler was widely expected to easily walk away with a win. During the AD50 primary, Bloom snubbed SMRR's endorsement meeting, claiming irregularities and lack of transparency in the endorsement process.

“After much thought, I have decided to not attend today’s SMRR meeting,” Bloom wrote in a March statement to the SMRR Executive Board, “I came to this decision out of disappointment with the lack of transparency and fairness that has preceded the meeting as it applies to all candidates for the 50th Assembly District race.”

SMRR voted to overwhelmingly to endorse Torie Osborn in the primary.  

Bloom's actions during the primary rankled the board's membership, creating a rift Bloom would have to work hard to overcome in the general election. Butler for her part was aided on Sunday by SMRR co-founder Dennis Zane, who helped the Assemblywoman work the packed room.

Bloom's campaign circulated a May 3rd letter from SMRR co-chairs Patricia Hoffman and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein condemning Butler for touting an endorsement from the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA), powerful rent control opponents who characterizes rent stabilization measures as "socialized housing", and laments it was unable to stop this "disease" from spreading throughout the state in the 1970's.

"We and our many members in Santa Monica were dismayed to receive your announcement of your recent endorsement by the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles in your quest for election to the California State Assembly," wrote Hoffman. "This endorsement and your apparent enthusiasm for it will certainly sow doubt and mistrust for your candidacy among the renter voters of Santa Monica, West Hollywood, and West Los Angeles."

In the end, SMRR's membership remained ambivalent and divided. Butler wasn't able to reach the 55% threshold needed to secure an endorsement.

"I just couldn't vote for someone who was proud of AAGLA's support," said one SMRR member who asked his name not be used. "If we endorsed Butler too, what does that say about us?"

On Monday night, Butler came dangerously close to losing the endorsement of the Stonewall Democratic club, but the vote was called off at the last minute and rescheduled when irregularities were discovered in the membership list.

Recent developments raise some interesting issues for the candidate. During the AD50 primary, Butler explained away her endorsement loses to Torie Osborn by claiming her opponent had unfairly packed clubs with paid memberships. But twin losses and a near miss for Butler in less than a week seems to have changed that narrative.

West Hollywood Mayor Jeffrey Prang, a Butler supporter, admitted to a West Hollywood blog that club stacking had nothing to do with Butler's poor performance at the West Hollywood/Beverly Hills Democratic club endorsement meeting.  “Richard Bloom is a known quantity, he has a lot of supporters and they worked hard.”

But thanks to Prang's motion to table the vote, Butler will get a third shot at the club's endorsement in August.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again.


  1. Marta, I honest to God don't know what your problem is with Betsy, but were you even AT the SMRR convention?

    You say Richard prevented HER from getting the SMRR endorsement? He's the Mayor of Santa Monica and has been endorsed by SMRR in every one of his Council races. SHE PREVENTED HIM from getting the SMRR endorsement!

    What's more, Assemblywoman Butler beat him in the raw vote, 101-90, in his own town, just 4 votes shy of securing the endorsement and a major coup.

    I love the TV show -- one of it's biggest fans. But your credibility is zippo due to this obsessed hatred.

    1. Hi Todd, thanks for commenting.

      I actually have no opinion on the AD50 election outcome since both candidates are Democrats.

      As far as your interpretation of events, I stand by my reporting, which is based on direct observation, as well as numerous interviews I've conducted with individuals familiar with SMRR's internal deliberations.

      At the end of the day, what matters isn't the vote totals, but that Butler was denied SMRR's endorsement. Bloom's campaign can use that, as well as AAGLA's endorsement of Butler, to his advantage. That's why this is a story worth reporting and commenting on.

  2. Marta,
    Thank you for your civil reply. Apologies that mine was a little raw, but to say you've been pretty brutal to Betsy throughout this race is putting it mildly. :)

    I'm someone internal to SMRR, and I'm telling you it's silly to think Richard was the "winner" by not getting the endorsement of his own organization of 14 years.

    Betsy was gonna win either of two ways: 1) By either securing "No endorsement," which happened, and 2) would have had a major coup by winning it against the City's 4-time endorsed sitting mayor. One would have to almost TRY not to see that this result favored Betsy.

    By the way, in addition to me and Denny, standing with Betsy as she spoke were progressive Councilmember Kevin McKeown, SMMUSD School Board Member Nimish Patel, and Unite!HERE Organizer Derek Smith.

    Again, love the show, thank you again for a thoughtful reply -- never contested the fact that this is news. It just shouldn't be akin to Faux News spin.

    Be well. I look forward to focusing with you on the people and issues for which we agree, which I'm sure are 90% or better!

    1. Todd,

      No problem, always happy to hear other's thoughts and to engage in productive dialogue.

    2. One more comment.......I get you're perspective on the endorsement process, the problem is it's almost impossible to explain that to voters. It's complicated, and frankly, they don't care. What they do care about, nominally I'd argue, is the endorsement itself - is it on the mailers or not?

      Strategically, it helps Bloom that Betsy didn't get SMRR's endorsement. I'm actually quite surprised he was able to pull that off, considering how badly he burned his bridges with the board during the primary.

  3. Replies
    1. Hi Ari, I see you're using a new sock puppet :)

    2. I was not trying to hide, yes this is Ari Ruiz. Great way to spit out some venom against Betsy. Unfortunately for you AD 50 voters don't trust you.

    3. Ari, you're always welcome here. Pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable.

  4. Regardless of whether you agree with Marta or not, she has a point of view. Since when do we as Dems try to shout someone down for speaking their mind. Ari- the language you use makes you look ugly, it's beneath you and I think you owe her an apology.

  5. Funny to make a claim about AD 50 voters when it seems like few people here are. It just so happens that I am an AD 50 voter, proud resident of West Hollywood, and I trust Marta just fine.