There's only a week until Election Day, and the contentious California Assembly District 50 race has ramped up several notches, with candidate Torie Osborn sending out a mailer that questions rival and Assemblywoman Betsy Butler's commitment to education. Butler's supporters are now aggressively coming to her defense.

The sparring in the competitive four-way race — Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom and gay Republican Brad Torgan are also candidates — has been ignited by a glossy Osborn mailer that describes Butler as a “carpetbagger and progressive pretender” who “over and over again … voted to cut billions in education funding.”


Kathryn Lybarger, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299, which represents University of California workers, hits back in a written statement given to L.A. Weekly:

The mischaracterization of Assemblywoman Butler's support of education was taken right out of Karl Rove's Republican playbook. This swift boat attack is false, misleading and says nothing about the fact that Republicans were responsible for the cuts in this budget and refused to let voters decide on additional revenues. Assemblywoman Butler has been the legislature's top educations ally.

Osborn's mailer also asks, “Why did Betsy Butler vote to cut funding for schools?” Osborn, a longtime gay rights and political activist, answers that question on the next page: “Because Betsy Butler thought she was appealing to Republicans.”

Butler has served two years in a more Republican district and moved into the very liberal Assembly District 50 after political districts were realigned last year.

But Butler supporter Mitra Moassessi, president of the Santa Monica College Faculty Association, slams back in a written statement:

Assemblywoman Butler stood up to Republicans and voted to protect our community colleges from devastating cuts that would have denied access to thousands of students to community college. Her continued progressive stance on education funding is why Assemblywoman Butler is endorsed by the Santa Monica Community College Faculty.

Allan Clark, president of California School Employees Association, adds,

This attack on Assemblywoman Butler's budget vote could not be farther from the truth. The Democratic budget was passed only after Republican leaders refused to put up one vote for a compromise budget, because the cuts weren't big enough.

Osborn defends herself with her own press statement:

Sacramento's latest budgets spell doom for local classrooms and for seniors. They've cut the fat. They've even cut the bones and muscles. Now, they're taking a knife to the arteries. If I'd been in the Assembly, I'd have stood up against these cuts and voted no. When we cut our schools and colleges, we hurt our children and bleed our future dry.

'The Republicans made me do it' sounds a lot like 'the dog ate my homework.' Voters are tired of excuses. We want Democrats who will fight for what we believe in, and not just cave in to tyranny of the minority.

Asked how she would balance the state budget, Osborn writes:

My plan to balance the budget is something I've talked about throughout this campaign — I am an advocate for revenue and budget reforms that close loopholes and unfair advantages for corporations and billionaires. If we can achieve revenue reform, we can adequately fund our government and invest in California's future.

Read the L.A. Weekly feature story, “Democratic War for L.A.'s Richest,” about one of the most intriguing races in California, in which the candidates are looking to represent one of the wealthiest, most liberal, whitest political districts in the country.

On June 5, voters will select the top two candidates, who will meet each other in the November general election.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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