omg, the description of Betsy Butler is straight out of the dark ages. no need to read further than that.
By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
The battle to represent this doughnut hole in Los Angeles has grown increasingly intense. After all, whoever gets elected to California Assembly District 50, if they do a fairly decent job in the Sacramento statehouse, can expect very deep pockets to open as they seek higher offices. In short, victory in the new 50th is like holding a winning ticket to California's political lottery.
At 8 a.m. at a Santa Monica seasonal gourmet food shop called the Thyme Café & Market, Osborn, an energetic 61-year-old who moved to California in 1978 to run a feminist recording label for singer-songwriter Holly Near, can't help but start the day by ripping into her rival Butler.
"Betsy is like an automaton," says Osborn, a plainspoken gay woman with short blond hair and her trademark red-framed glasses. "She reads the [Democratic] party's positions on issues and just recites them."
The campaign has been rife with intra-party turmoil, marked by a very public freak-out in January by then–West Hollywood Mayor John Duran that landed on Huffington Post — he loudly and publicly called a clever campaign maneuver by Osborn "bullshit!" The hard-charging Duran, a close friend and gay supporter of Butler's, says, "In my circle of friends, a lot of people are asking whether Torie's ego is out of control. My only advice to Torie is to keep her ego in check. ... Just like I have to."
"I'm running against a pretty ruthless machine," Osborn insists, charging that powerful gay California Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and the California Democratic Party are spending an inordinate amount of time and money to elect Butler, who is largely politically indistinguishable from Osborn. "It's a machine that will misinform," Osborn says. "It's heartbreaking, since it's run by liberal Democrats."
Doug Herman, Pérez's political consultant, says Osborn and her supporters are simply "crying," but he refuses to discuss her accusations in any detail. "There's a bunch of rumors in every campaign," he says, "and to respond to a laundry list of them is crazy."
But Sacramento veteran Sheila Kuehl, who in 1994 became the first openly gay person elected to the California Legislature, and who has sided with Osborn, says, "People are trying to mask the fact that the Sacramento machine is going full-bore for Betsy."
One powerful endorsement for Butler comes from Equality California, the influential statewide gay-rights group on whose board Butler has served for six years. In addition to Butler's support for many gay candidates and issues over the years, Equality California cited the fact that she holds a perfect voting record on pro-LGBT issues in the Legislature.
This internecine war could be repeated in the fall. There's a decent chance that Butler and Osborn will face each other in the Nov. 6 runoff — unless one of the two male candidates, Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom or gay Republican attorney Brad Torgan, comes in second. That's because Californians approved an experimental election reform in which voters can cross party lines during the primaries to choose whomever they wish. The top two vote-getters — even if they're both Democrats or both Republicans — battle it out in November.
Douglas Johnson, a redistricting expert at Claremont McKenna College's Rose Institute, says registered voters in the 50th are 53 percent Democrat, 19 percent Republican and 23 percent "decline to state" or independents, most of them liberal.
Since political differences among the three Democratic candidates are essentially nonexistent — the exception is Torgan, a goateed Barry Goldwater conservative who wore a suit even at a Topanga meeting of people in camo pants or jeans — the election resembles a hot race for high school student body president. "This district is essentially overpopulated with financially well-off, liberal Democrats," says longtime Democratic strategist Bill Carrick. "It's less of an ideology contest and more of a personality contest."
Even though Osborn and Butler probably would vote identically — for gay rights, environmental protections and bills backed by labor unions — they are very different.
Butler, who is in her late 40s and came of age politically during the 1980s' Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush years, paid her dues in the political system by working for California state Sen. Lucy Killea, California Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy, U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston and President Bill Clinton.
"Politics is a team sport," Butler tells the Weekly, recalling the lessons she learned. "If you work well with others, you can be successful. If you can't, you won't."
The earlier anti–Vietnam War and feminist movements of the late '60s and early '70s informed Osborn's political life. After her gig at Holly Near's record label, Osborn was the first woman executive director of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, marching in the streets and against a slow-moving political establishment during the AIDS crisis.
"I was going to the hospital every night," Osborn recalls. "I was burying a friend every week." She later became executive director at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the liberal advocacy group Liberty Hill Foundation. Currently, she's a senior strategist for California Calls, a coalition of progressive organizations pushing for state government reform in Sacramento.
omg, the description of Betsy Butler is straight out of the dark ages. no need to read further than that.
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The voters are smarter then the average bear and they chose the two best candidates in incumbent Betsy Butler and longtime Santa Monica Councilman & Mayor Richard Bloom. Clearly the most articulate, thoughtful and experienced of the pack, Bloom's inclusion in the the top two only confirms his status as a top tier candidate. The bluster and static of other candidates was finally ignored and the delusion that Speaker John Perez is a political boss wasn't even believable. Either Butler or Bloom will serve the district well.
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Honestly, Los Angeles seems to have become one giant insane asylum.
The economy is in ruins, suffering is exploding in the city, and the Hollywood-types mouth liberal platitudes while acting in more elitist ways than slaveholders did at the height of slavery in the south.
What is utterly amazing is that the people who are suffering, the tiny sliver of non-government-employed middle class and the lower class people ALSO mouth the same idiotic liberal platitudes, and keep voting for the same liberal morons who have destroyed what was America's greatest state.
And please, let's note something here: with all the discussion of the gay credentials of the various people, less than 2 percent of the U.S. population is gay. (http://www.theatlantic.com/pol...
When what the rest of us are going through catches up with this crowd, they are going to think they've died and gone to hell. They have no clue that their money is going to dry up like a water plant in the desert.
I'm sorry but why isn't anyone talking the fact that Torie Osborn is backed by the LA City Hall Machine?
Interesting that you bring up Senator Fran Pavley. Let me quote her comment on Betsy Butler:
"Betsy's unmatched tenacity and commitment has ensured that California children will finally be adequately protected from dangerous chemicals. Betsy Butler is among our most effective fighters for consumers, our environment and our children."
Now even Torrie Osborn can't argue with those wise words from Senator Pavely.
If Sen. Pavley felt so strongly about Butler, why didn't she endorse her? Because she didn't. Instead, Butler has to resort to using quotes made years ago for a different election.
Au contraire, Ed, the fact that Pavley explicitly did not endorse in this race is a testament to the strength of Torie Osborn.
None of them are or have been Fran Pavley, who you all lost with this crazy redistricting, and who is now confronted with over 60% of her new district never having elected a Democrat. This mind-boggling new State Senate District 27 stretches from Magic Mountain through Simi Valley to the Santa Monica Mountains to Malibu, with little ole Topanga --- not rich, but mostly white -- at its eastern edge. As a longtime Topanga resident and actively involved, I have a suggestion to Westsiders: sure, pick one of the 3 Dems who will ultimately win in the 50th, but send money and support Fran's way ASAP! What happens in this race will have far greater impact for years to come on all of us who care about the health of our environment, the welfare of children and the future of public education. It's a race none of us can afford to lose.
If A.D. 50 is a new district, then it has no incumbent, and no candidate should be able to claim incumbency. Just sayin', Ed Buck.
Whatever the name of the district, Butler didn't live here until she decided to run here. Torie Osborn lives here and is a part of the political fabric in this district. I've been an active member of the Santa Monica Democratic Club for 28 years, and I wouldn't recognize Butler if she knocked on my door. I've worked with Torie Osborn in the women's movement, the fight against HIV/AIDS, and the peace with justice movement here in Los Angeles over the years. We encouraged her to run before the lines were even drawn. The Speaker is trying to slap down a grassroots movement, and the people will win in the end. Torie Osborn for Assembly!
Torie Osborn IS Assembly District 50. She's the ideal person to represent our beliefs and interests in Sacramento. Betsy Butler jumped in the race late and underestimated the free thinking of District 50's residents. We have a track record of electing leaders to the Assembly -- Julia Brownley, Sheila, Tom Hayden, etc. -- and we're not going to budge just because John Pérez thought Betsy would have a safer election here. In other words, AD50 just isn't that into Betsy.
Regarding Richard Bloom:
His Santa Monica support in this race is overestimated. He has a few signs up, but no one expects him to place in the top two. The fact that he has won reelection to the council is a non-issue. Incumbent city council members in SM are virtually guaranteed reelection and are notoriously difficult to unseat. Ask anyone in Santa Monica; it's common knowledge here that his candidacy for the Assembly is an effort to raise his profile and rise up out of the council, as his options (politically and professionally) becoming increasingly slim.Most important, Bloom failed to capture even a respectable percentage of votes at the Santa Monica Democratic Club endorsement meeting. Bloom, the audience's mayor, garnered only 9% of the 65-odd voting members, leading me to believe his only votes were his wife, his campaign manager and perhaps one or two friends. I, along with 77% of the membership, voted for Torie, who won the endorsement on the first vote. Keep in mind, this club has been endorsing Richard for the better part of two decades, and it dumped him because Torie's performance in the prior discussion was stellar and Richard tentatively supported the death penalty in certain circumstances (a petition to end the capital punishment was signed by almost everyone in the room before the meeting began).
PS AD50's influence will outlive that of the Speaker. Something to keep in mind.
RE: Dem Clubs
Torie Osborn bought 40 votes in EVERY SINGLE CLUB to secure the endorsement. Give me a break kid, you're new to politics and Torie seems the cool thing, I get it. But this district deserves someone like Betsy who has the experience.
PS. Can you pick up Torie's non-recyclable 16 page mailer?
Westladem, you should know what you're talking about before you post. You can't buy memberships to the Santa Monica Democratic Club for other people. The rules forbid it. Same with SMRR. Same with the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley, where the membership is fixed. The vote at the Stonewall Democratic Club was 154-55. Let me repeat that: 154-55. The vote at the Malibu Democratic club was 41-5. Butler has little support among grassroots Democrats. You can only go blaming that on Torie for so long.
Look, you're supporting Butler. Fair enough--there are plenty of good reasons for doing that. But that doesn't mean you should go spreading falsehoods about the support that Torie has received--which is also for very good reasons.
It is interesting how you speak about assembly district 50, as though it has existed since time began. It is brand new, just months old. So all of your crap about "We" in the 50th AD is bunk. Brownley, Shelia, Tom Hayden etc, never represented the 50-th AD. That said, I live in the new AD50. I am a gay progressive Democrat with a long history of activism and involvement. I'm voting for Betsy Butler. She is supported by the entire LGBT caucus, the Democratic party, and most of the LGBT community.
I'll take toxic free baby bottles over reams of wasted glossy paper any day. I'm voting for Betsy Butler because she has kept it all positive and focused on working for the public good while Torie has tried to divide progressive democrats.
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Great post about Torie: http://www.democraticundergrou...
Can someone explain to me those odd photos that are supposedly meant to compliment this article? WTF? And don't give me that art school confidential jive: Because it's art, you don't necessarily have to get it.
Wow. Leave it up to the LA Weekly to distill complicated issues in the race to a "catfight" between two women.
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It's funny, when I interview with Patrick for this article, it was clear from talking with him that he had a very specific narrative he wanted to write. It appears a month, and I don't know how many interviews later, that narrative didn't change one bit - that this race is just a cat fight between Betsy and Torie over a district full of over-privileged white people.
Here's an article that does a much better job of seeing the forest for the trees: http://www.thenation.com/artic...
The top-two primary is not an “an experimental election reform.” It’s in the California Constitution and it’s not scheduled to expire.
I'm voting for Betsy Butler because of what she has done. The other candidates tell you what they hope to do.
Honestly this is the saddest state of affairs for this race.
But honestly, can Torie Osborn stop sending me so much mail? I feel so sorry for the trees