Mayor Richard Bloom of Santa Monica was declared the winner in the 50th Assembly District this week by 1,300 votes after a several-week count of late and absentee ballots. The loser was Democrat Betsy Butler, a Sacramento liberal lobbyist supported almost entirely by Speaker John Perez and Capitol interest groups who poured nearly $2.5 million into her campaign.
The Speaker’s intervention led to the June primary defeat of popular LGBT leader and community activist Torie Osborn, who lost a four-way primary in which all candidates were separated by less than two percent of the vote. Osborn sparked a rarely seen activist campaign against the “Sacramento machine,” which was supported also by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former Sen. Sheila Kuehl and LA Councilman Bill Rosendahl. Osborn, a notable fund-raiser in her own right, spent over $800,000 in her effort.
Observers agree that if the Speaker had supported Osborn, or simply stayed out of the race, Osborn would have won in June, saving or redirecting over three million dollars to other Democratic campaigns or ballot measures.
The given reason for Butler’s moving into the Santa Monica-based district was that she couldn’t win in her former Marina Del Rey district because of redistricting. In fact, the Democrats won the old Butler seat by a wide margin.
Bloom, a pro-business moderate in the Santa Monica political spectrum, will be a liberal-progressive in Sacramento’s spectrum, with room and time to grow. As a longtime Santa Monica elected official, his supporters include many who expected him to be more responsive to local constituencies than Butler.