Democrats In Search Of A Candidate In Assembly Battleground; Is Betsy Butler The Answer?

Democrats are trying to piece together the statewide electoral jigsaw puzzle in an effort to win two-thirds majorities in the Assembly and the state Senate.

To get there, they'll have to win the battleground 66th Assembly District. The 66th runs from Palos Verdes to Manhattan Beach. Democrats have a super-thin registration advantage of 38-35. Factor in lower turnout for Dems, and it tilts Republican.

Worse for the Democrats, they don't yet have a candidate there. Hard to win without one of those. So what to do? Enter the Venice progressives...

Marta Evry, of the Venice for Change blog, has launched a petition urging Assemblywoman Betsy Butler to run:

We need you to stay in the South Bay and run in the new 66th Assembly District as the Democratic incumbent. Because without you in the race, the declared Tea Party candidate, Nathan Mintz, will certainly win.

No official response from Butler yet, but she seems to have other plans. The word is that she likes her odds in the 50th A.D. -- which runs from Malibu to West Hollywood and is overwhelmingly Democratic.

That race figures to be the best intra-party brawl this side of Berman/Sherman. Butler will be running against a fellow Democrat, Torie Osborn, who has been rounding up support for two years and seems to have no intention of backing down. Butler, meanwhile, has the backing of Speaker John Pérez, who has vowed to protect as many incumbents as he can.

So, the Democrats have too many candidates in the 50th and not enough in the 66th. Assuming Butler doesn't have a change of heart, who will they recruit in the South Bay?

There has been talk about Pat McOsker, the firefighter union leader who is running for the L.A. City Council out of San Pedro. As a labor guy, he might have a tough go in a right-leaning district. And in any case he has rebuffed the idea. "Pat is 100% committed to running for the L.A. City Council," said spokesman Dave Jacobson.

There's also been mention of Al Muratsuchi, a deputy attorney general and a Torrance Unified board member. (The district is 24% Asian, so that helps.) More outside-the-box, there's also Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin. He happens to be a Republican. But he's so moderate, and fared so poorly as a Republican in the recent Congressional primary, that he might just be persuaded to switch parties.

Over on the Republican side, Mintz is likely to get some company. The GOP is looking at this as one of their top pickup opportunities. They're likely to beat the bushes to find somebody with more experience.

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