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Challengers for Santa Monica City Council Lead Fundraising Race


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By Jorge Casuso

September 27, 2018 -- Two challengers in the November 6 race for Santa Monica City Council have far outraised incumbents, with Ashley Powell easily topping the list with more than $63,000 in contributions.

The three incumbents -- Sue Himmelrich, Kevin McKeown and Pam O'Connor -- have raised approximately $38,000 in total, according to campaign finance disclosure statements submitted by Thursday's deadline.

Powell reported raising $63,393 from 211 contributors, 25 of them from Santa Monica, including former Mayor Nat Trives who gave the maximum $340 under local campaign finance law.

Challenger Greg Morena is running a distant second in the fundraising race, with $28,727.50 in contributions to date.

Of his 31 contributors, 12 are from Santa Monica, including Assemblymember Richard Bloom, who donated the maximum $340.

Unlike Powell, Morena has the backing of the Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR), the city's most powerful political organization, and Santa Monica Forward, a pro-growth independent committee funded by developers ("SMRR Endorses McKeown, Himmelrich, Morena for City Council," July 30, 2018).

Incumbent Sue Himmelrich, who also has the support of SMRR, reported a total of $25,940.72 in contributions during the filing period, almost all in the form of a personal $25,000 loan to her campaign.

The only contributor listed in Himmelrich's statement is Mary Marlow, her co-sponsor for the term limits measure on the November ballot, who gave the campaign the maximum $340.

Himmelrich had reported contributing a total of $165,000 to her campaign the previous filing period, which covers January 1 to June 30, to pay loans she had made to her 2014 campaign.

Incumbent Kevin McKeown, who is running for a sixth four-year term, raised $10,830 from 55 contributors, 47 of them from Santa Monica.

McKeown has come under fire from slow-growth residents after opposing Measure LV in 2016, which would have restricted development, and receiving the backing of Santa Monica Forward earlier this month ("Santa Monica Forward Endorses Two Incumbents, Challenger," September 17, 2018).

McKeown said most of his contributors remain local residents, including those who gave less than $100 and as a result are not listed in the itemized filings.

In his email, McKeown -- who with Morena and Himmelrich was endorsed by SMRR -- listed the titles of the eight non-local contributors, most of them tied to progressive political causes.

"Of all the donations $100 or more, there are only those eight donations from out of town, and 46 from individual Santa Monica residents," McKeown wrote. "No corporate money. No developers."

"No other candidate has ever matched my percentage of resident support," he wrote in an email to his supporters.

Among McKeown's out-of-town contributors is Kurt Peterson, the organizing director and co-president of Unite HERE Local 11, the hotel and restaurant workers union, who donated $340.

McKeown's local donors included Mayor Ted Winterer and Marlow, who heads the Santa Monica Transparency Project, a local political watchdog group.

Incumbent Pam O'Connor raised $1,535 from five contributors, including Assemblymember Bloom.

O'Connor, who is running for a record seventh term, has the backing of Santa Monica Forward. She did not seek the SMRR endorsement.

Challlengers Geoffrey Neri and Scott Bellomo did not submit disclosure statements, which are required when candidates plan to raise or spend at least $1,000 in a one-year period.


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