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Santa Monica Voters to Help Decide Hotly Contested Races Tuesday

Ben Allen for State Senate

Richard Bloom For State Assembly 2014
Richard Bloom for State Assemblymember 2014

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and MarkHarding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors BureauWhen one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors.

By Daniel Larios
Staff Writer

June 2, 2014 – Two former Santa Monica mayors and a school board member are top contenders in three primary races Tuesday, as voters in the bayside city help decide several hotly contested races.

Former mayor Bobby Shiver and former state senator Sheila Kuehl, both Santa Monica residents, will face each other for the 3rd District County Supervisor’s race, while former mayor Richard Bloom will be seeking reelection for the 50th Assembly District, with no serious opposition.

In one of the most closely watched state senate races in the nation, School Board member Ben Allen will be looking to replace Senator Ted Lieu as State Senator for the 26th district.

Voters in Santa Monica also will pick a new United States Congressman to replace stalwart Democrat Henry Waxman, who announced his retirement in January after four decades in Congress.

Other races include primary races for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General and Controller, which are expected to go to the incumbents.

“While offices of Governor are more high profile, local, state and federal races are much more interesting to observe, especially in an area like Santa Monica,” said Lance Blakesley, associate professor of political science at Loyola Marymount University.

3rd District County Supervisor Race

Sometimes called the “five little kings” because of the amount of power each wields in a post that often ended only with retirement, the County Board of Supervisors oversee Los Angeles County with its almost 10 million residents and $25 billion budget, which pays for vital social services.

Eight candidates are vying to replace County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky in a 3rd District race that pits two Santa Monica residents -- Shriver, a member of the Kennedy political dynasty, and Kuehl, a seasoned political veteran who was a powerful force in State politics.

Shriver, who has raised almost $2 million dollars before Tuesday’s election, has the major funds and name recognition, while Kuehl is counting on experience and the backing of the political establishment, including the LA County Democratic Party.

But Kuehl, who has raised around $1.2 million dollars, lags in fundraising far behind Shriver, who is using $1 million of his own money. (“Shriver Campaign Nears $2 Million Mark, with $1 Million in Personal Contributions” May 23, 2014)

West Hollywood Councilmember John Duran has raised more than $400,000, but he  has received major endorsements from popular County Supervisor Gloria Molina, the Los Angeles Times and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Any candidate winning more than 50 percent of the vote will win the seat. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters will face off in the November general election.

U.S. House Race

A crowded slate of 18 candidates is looking to replace Waxman in the 435-member House of Representatives.

Political observers expect former LA City Controller Wendy Greuel and state senator Ted Lieu, both Democrats, to be the top two vote-getters in the primary and meet in a one-on-one battle in November.

Like Kuehl, Lieu, who is a former assembly member and current State Senator, has legislative experience and the backing of the political establishment, gaining the endorsement of the California Democratic Party and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Greuel has name recognition after nearly becoming LA’s first female mayor.  She also has a hefty war chest and an impressive list of endorsements, including the backing of four former Santa Monica mayors, including Bloom. (“Congressional Fundraising Race Heats Up in Santa Monica District,” May 28, 2014)

Some pundits, however, are speculating that best selling author and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson has a shot due to her name recognition, celebrity endorsements and fundraising numbers. (“Candidates in Santa Monica Congressional District Release Finance Report,” April 18, 2014)

Radio show host and Democratic candidate Matt Miller, is also viewed as a contender after receiving the LA Times endorsement. His political resume includes serving as advisor to the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton administration.

State Senate Race

As Lieu seeks a post in the federal government, his state Senate seat will be up for grabs in a contest featuring seven Democrats and one independent candidate.

Political observers expect Allen, a Democrat, to be among the top two vote getters, with the second contender still undecided.

Among those also in the race are former assembly member Betsy Butler, Manhattan Beach Mayor Amy Howorth, and Sandra Fluke, whose candidacy has trained national attention on the race.

Fluke was in the political spotlight after conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” following her testimony in favor of birth control being included in health insurance plans.

Neither the State nor County Democratic clubs have made an endorsement in race. Several candidates have major names backing them.

On the local front, Allen received endorsements from the Santa Monica Democratic Club, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR), five of his six colleagues on the Board of Education, five Santa Monica City Council members and three former mayors of the city. 

Butler has the backing of Santa Monica’s firefighters union, Rent Control Board Chair Todd Flora and former Mayor Denny Zane. Flora and Zane also endorsed Allen.

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