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Shriver, Three Incumbents Sweep to Victory

By Olin Ericksen and Susan Reines
Staff Writers

November 3 -- With a possible Bush victory casting a pall over election gatherings, Bobby Shriver and three incumbents were elected to fill four open seats on the City Council early Wednesday morning.

After one of the most expensive campaigns in Santa Monica history, little changed, with Shriver replacing incumbent Michael Feinstein and joining a minority on a council long dominated by the city’s powerful tenant’s group.

With all the precincts reporting, Shriver -- a member of the Kennedy family whose sudden foray into local politics grabbed the national spotlight -- finished a commanding first, with 20,309 votes, followed by Mayor Richard Bloom, with 14,575 votes.

Wrapping up the top four spots were Councilmen Herb Katz, a member of the Chamber of Commerce slate, who finished with 12,722 votes, and fellow incumbent Ken Genser, who along with Bloom was backed by the powerful Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights. Genser received 11,748 votes in his record fifth successful council bid.

SMRR candidate Patricia Hoffman finished fifth with 10,988 votes, followed by chamber candidate Matt Dinolfo, who finished a close sixth with 10,304 votes.

Feinstein, who failed to win the SMRR endorsement and was the target of numerous hit pieces, finished a distant ninth with 6,922 votes.

The final results -- which came in after 2:30 a.m. -- were greeted with mixed feelings at SMRR headquarters, with some leaders of the tenants group blaming Feinstein for siphoning off enough liberal votes from the SMRR ticket to pave the way for Katz’s fourth council victory.

Long before the votes were counted, volunteers dispersed from SMRR's campaign headquarters, where the mood was dampened by a possible Bush victory. (Photos by Phil Wayne)

Bloom and Genser said they were tired and happy, but disappointed Hoffman and fellow SMRR candidate Maria Loya, who finished seventh with 10,010, fell short of victory.

“I’m feeling very fatigued and very happy and very content,” Bloom said after 2:30 a.m. “I was in second place at this hour four years ago, and I’m in second place four years later. So I’m the epitome of consistency.”

“I’m tired,” said Genser, who was elected to a record fifth term on the seven-member council. “But there’s a lot of work ahead. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Genser said he was disappointed Hoffman and Loya weren’t elected but was looking forward to working with Shriver.

“I think he’s going to bring a new energy,” Genser said.

SMRR officials believe the results of the expensive campaign will have little impact on City policy.

“I think that on a policy level, it won’t be a dramatic difference,” said SMRR co-chair Dennis Zane. “I think that Bobby Shriver is going to agree with SMRR’s positions on most issues. "We have a lot more in common philosophically than the debate might have suggested,” Zane said.

Asked whether he was happy with SMRR’s performance, Zane replied, “We didn’t spend a million dollars, they did. They spent a million dollars and Feinstein got replaced.”

Unlike previous election-night gatherings, where energized campaign workers awaited the results, Tuesday’s parties fizzled out long before the first precinct counts began trickling in after 10 p.m. At the local union hall, SMRR campaign workers monitored the national results nd awaited the local outcomes, constantly refreshing the County Registrar’s web site in the hopes of getting new numbers.

SMRR workers and press watch national results outside union hall.

At Shriver’s election night party at the Fairmont Miramar, the dapper crowd dispersed even before results from a half dozen precincts were posted on the net. (see related story)

Tucked back in a corner of the Hotel Casa del Mar, Katz lounged with supporters, confident early returns would continue to project him as one of the winners of a hard-fought campaign.

For Katz, who raised nearly $80,000, election day was far from his mind.

"I went to work and had a massage," he said.

Katz said he felt good about early returns, but added that his campaign had not been without rough spots.

"This has probably been the most difficult election I've been in,” he said. “It's been very contentious, with people hitting people with negative ads."

The candidate who took the most hits, Michael Feinstein, said he "stopped by" to join Katz, who was surrounded by supporters, including chamber president Kathy Dodson, chamber political strategist Tom Larmore and Santa Monica College President Dr. Piedad F. Robertson.

"It's been a long campaign," said Feinstein. "I've walked a lot of precincts, and I thought tonight I should relax."

Feinstein, who had SMRR’s support in his two previous council victories, bemoaned the falling out which occurred at the group's convention in August, when he failed to win the SMRR endorsement.

"SMRR has been bought and sold in the last two years and become a carcass to be inhabited by people who wanted to be elected,” Feinstein said. “I never wanted to manipulate SMRR in order to win."

Feinstein said many of his supporters are still active in SMRR, which has dominated City government for nearly 25 years. He questioned whether the group would be able to pull together after the election.

"I'm not with SMRR tonight because nobody invited me,” Feinstein said. “If there is any peacemaking to be done and we want to put humpty dumpty back together, it's not going to be until after the election is over.”

Hinting at his own defeat, Feinstein said he was grateful for the eight years he was able to serve in Santa Monica.

Kathryn Morea, a chamber-backed candidate whose last-ditch advertising attempted to ride on the Shriver's coattails -- finished some 1,500 votes ahead of Feinstein.

The "Team for Change," composed of David Cole and Bill Bauer, combined for some 6,500 hundred votes.

Five other candidates -- two of whom dropped out of the race -- each received less than 2,900 votes.
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