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Team for Change Goes from Trio to Duo

By Jorge Casuso

September 28 – Kathryn Morea has dropped out of the “Team for Change” slate amidst fears her presence could take votes away from the Chamber of Commerce ticket of which she is also a part.

Morea, who launched her campaign as part of the team -- which includes challengers Bill Bauer and David Cole -- made her decision two weeks after winning the business group’s coveted endorsement.

“It wasn’t any one thing that pushed me over the edge,” said Morea, a neighborhood activist who has worked on preferential parking issues. “It was probably mutual. I understand over the last couple of days there was a desire to more formally separate.”

Morea said being part of the team was “more difficult” than what she expected and that the fear her presence on two slates could split the challengers’ votes in an effort to unseat three Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) incumbents was “legitimate and logical.”

Cole and Bauer -- who failed to win the chamber’s endorsement -- said the business group sent a clear signal that they would have trouble supporting Morea if she stuck with the team.

“The chamber seems to be taking a hands-on approach,” Bauer said. “Indications were that the Chamber PAC (Political Action Committee) would not distribute Morea's literature and that their support for her and fundraising efforts would be hampered if this association continued.”

Morea dismisses charges she was pressured to drop from the slate. “It wasn’t like the chamber put a gun to my head,” she said.

Chamber officials said they discouraged Morea from running on a slate that could siphon votes from the group’s ticket and help SMRR, which faces stiff competition after controlling City government for the better part of a quarter century.

“Obviously our concern is to minimize the number of candidates our voters might appeal to,” said Tom Larmore, a member of the Chamber’s Political Action Committee. “It was her (Morea’s decision) and I expressed the concern that running with David and Bill could create a split in the votes.

“The chamber board endorsed who they thought were the four strongest candidates,” said Larmore. “It sounds like they (Bauer and Cole) will continue, and so be it.”

Bauer, a local political columnist, and Cole, who made an unsuccessful bid for the council four years ago, have vowed to keep their campaign on track and already have removed Morea’s name from their banners and lawn signs.

“I don’t really care if we take votes away from the chamber slate,” Bauer said. “I think of them as competition, just like SMRR.

"We've been saying from the beginning that we were free and independent thinkers and not in the pocket of big business, special interests or labor groups," said Bauer. “I’m not a quitter and neither is Dave.”

"Morea's endorsement presented conflicts with our 'residents first' message. Persons close to the Chamber PAC had also asked David and I to 'tone it down' and 'lay low and don't campaign' so as to not draw votes from their slate of candidates, advice we certainly don't intend to follow."

The Team for Change was formed with a vision that the residents of Santa Monica need elected leaders who aren't obligated to special interest groups, as are most of the leading candidates and incumbents, the team said in a statement released Monday.

"Clearly the Chamber is handling its endorsements as a slate and Kathryn is free to run her campaign as part of that slate,” Cole said. “Bill and I wish her well. We will conduct our campaign as we always envisioned it... and we are not going away or laying down. The two of us will campaign right up until November second."

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