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Some Surprising Results in Crowded Election for State Senate, U.S. House

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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

June 5, 2014 -- Results of the primary election to determine the representative for Santa Monica and nearby areas in the State Senate show big money support from outside interests did not guarantee votes.

Also, a crowded Democratic field in the contest to succeed Henry Waxman in the U.S. House might have doomed one favored hopeful.

Santa Monica-Malibu school board member Ben Allen topped the eight-person contest for the 26th Senate District with 21.82 percent of the vote.

In the November General Election, Allen will face runner-up Sandra Fluke (19.7 percent), an attorney who gained national fame when conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” two years ago for her advocacy of health insurance coverage for birth control.

Allen’s campaign was third in spending with $361,000, according to filings that cover through May 17, while Fluke placed second with $373,000.

But Allen benefited from an independent campaign on his behalf by Republican-turned-independent Bill Bloomfield of at least $586,000. No independent expenditures were made in support of Fluke.

Although Bloomfield’s money might have factored into Allen’s win, independent expenditures didn't necessarily translate into success.

Pro-business interests spent more than $227,000 on Manhattan Beach Mayor Amy Howorth, who placed fifth (15.49 percent). Medical-focused groups spent more than $510,000 on sixth-place Vito Imbasciani (4.43 percent).

Howorth led all candidates in total spending through May 17 with $533,558 ($200,000 of it her own money). Imbasciani, who is the State surgeon of the California Army National Guard, was a lighter spender with $240,000, including $60,000 coming from himself.

Attorney Seth Stodder was the lowest spender in the race with $34,000, and placed third with 17.47 percent. His high ranking was likely due to being a registered independent and the only non-Democrat in the race.

Former Assemblymember Betsy Butler finished fourth in the contest with 16.67 percent. Her campaign spent $232,000 and she was helped by $40,000 in independent expenditures from the Peace Officers Research Association of California and another $1,110 from Torrance police union.

Butler was also the only candidate to be a negative target for independent expenditures. The pro-business interests that supported Howorth and medical groups that supported Imbasciani combined for nearly $200,000 to campaign against Butler.

Rounding out the results were television writer Patric Verrone with 2.99 percent and attorney Barbi Appelquist with 1.43 percent.

Republican Tops Waxman-Successor Hopefuls

An unexpected name was at the top of the results list for the 18 candidates attempting to fill the U.S. House seat being vacated by Henry Waxman after nearly 40 years in office. Republican Elan Carr was the top vote-getter with 21.49 percent.

While some Republican optimists are taking Carr’s performance as a sign residents of the 33rd Congressional District, which includes Santa Monica, are ready for GOP representation, he most likely benefited from Democrats splitting their votes.

State Sen. Ted Lieu topped all Democrats with 19.05 percent. He will face Carr in November and be favored in the heavily Democratic district.

Former L.A. City Councilmember Wendy Greuel, who many political observers expected would be Lieu’s opponent in November, placed third with 16.77 percent.

Other candidates receiving support above 1 percent were independent author Marianne Williamson (12.95 percent), Democratic radio host Matt Miller (11.97 percent), Republican attorney Lily Gilani (7 percent), Democratic attorney Barbara Mulvaney (2.33 percent) and Republican environmental health advocate Kevin Mottus (1.41 percent).

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