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Dems Spurn Shriver, Back SMRR Slate

By Jorge Casuso

August 27 -- In endorsements that could carry extra clout during a hotly contested presidential race, the local Democratic Club Wednesday night snubbed a member of the Kennedy family, while boosting the hopes of a slate that already has won the support of key groups.

Bobby Shriver, the nephew of President John F. Kennedy and U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, failed to make the endorsement ballot after questions arose about his lack of involvement in local politics and his ties to a conservative political consultant.

Instead, the group threw its support behind Mayor Richard Bloom, Council member Ken Genser, former school board president Patricia Hoffman and Pico neighborhood activist Maria Loya. Loya defeated Matteo Dinolfo on a second ballot after receiving the necessary 60 percent of the votes.

As was the case with Shriver, incumbent Councilman Herb Katz failed to win the 20 percent of the votes needed to make the ballot. Sixty-five club members cast ballots in the race for council endorsement.

The four endorsed candidates already have the support of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, whose well-oiled political organization and hefty war chest guarantees thousands of tenant votes, and the Coalition to Support the Living Wage, which guarantees an army of union workers.

While the Democratic Club may not raise money or send out mailers on the slate’s behalf, its nod is a valuable kudo the candidates can tout in their campaign literature. And during what promises to be a large turnout at the polls, that could prove to be a major advantage, club officials said.

“There has been a lot of pent up energy for two years, and now people finally have an outlet to make a change,” said Democratic Club President Julie Lopez Dad. “At the local level, the incumbents have a problem because there is a certain amount of unrest about policies” at the national level.

“There is a wish to make changes,” Lopez Dad said. “We’ve been really fortunate in this city that the City Council is in synch with the community, so some will be able to retain their seats.”

The club, Lopez Dad said, has not yet decided whether it will raise money and send out mailers on behalf of its slate, as it has in the past.

“We are in the process of making decisions,” Lopez Dad said. “We don’t know whether we will do anything at all.”

That’s because the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), requires groups such as the Democratic Club to file with the Federal Government if contributions and expenditures exceed $1,000 and the money is used to support a national candidate, Lopez Dad said.

Because effective campaign literature usually ties local candidates to national races, the club would have to make a federal filing if it shows Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry or California Senator Barbara Boxer on its campaign literature.

“The value is putting the national candidate” on the literature, Lopez Dad said. But “you don’t want the scrutiny of the feds. It’s a lot more complex.”

Shriver -- who is the brother-in-law of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- entered the local political fray after the City began enforcing its hedge laws, citing hundreds of angry homeowners, including Shriver. On Wednesday, his newcomer status hurt his bid for the group’s nod.

“He’s new to the people, and it’s not that being new is a bad thing, but people aren’t confident enough or know enough about what his issues are,” said Lopez Dad.

Also derailing Shriver’s bid was a question about his ties to Colleen McAndrews, a local attorney and political consultant who has worked on conservative causes.

McAndrews who worked for the campaign against the local living wage and has received about $9,000 from the Chamber of Commerce’s Issues Committee, helped Shriver file his candidacy papers.

“He has a connection to people whom many in our club see as having worked against us on progressive issues,” Lopez Dad said. McAndrews “has worked on things that are diametrically opposed to our group.”

When the question came up, (Shriver) didn’t say she was working for him,” Lopez Dad said. “He said that she’s a friend and neighbor and he likes to work with people” who hold other beliefs and opinions.

Shriver can still win the endorsement of the County Democratic Party, which placed Dinolfo on its local slate two years ago.

In other endorsements, the club backed Rob Rader and M. Douglas Willis in the race for three open seats on the College Board, spurning incumbent Margaret Quinones and Susan Aminoff, both of whom failed to win the necessary 60 percent of the votes in three rounds of balloting.

Rader, Willis and Aminoff won the SMRR backing earlier this month.

In the race for three seats on the School Board, the Democratic Club backed incumbent Maria Leon-Vazquez and Kathy Wisnicki, Malibu's only hope for representation. School Board President Jose Escarce fell short of the 60 percent needed.

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