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Republican Landlord Could Make History

By Jorge Casuso

November 26 – Republican Robert Kronovet is poised to become the first candidate opposed by Santa Monica’s powerful tenants group to win a seat on the 30-year-old Rent Control Board, according to the latest vote count.

The tally of absentee and provisional ballots released by the Los Angeles County Registrar on Monday gave Kronovet an eight-vote lead over Christopher Braun -- 14,921 to 14,913.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Kronovet said. “We always felt we were going to win. It’s exciting.”

Incumbent Board Chair Joel Koury, who along with Braun was backed by Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) -- cruised to an easy victory with 22,285 votes.

But Kronovet -- who had three strikes against him as a landlord, real estate broker and Republican -- would be the winner if the trend in absentee ballots continues.

The absentee count on November 5, the day after the election, showed Kronovet ahead of Braun in the absentee count by more than 600 votes.

Despite falling behind by 576 votes when the ballots cast at the polls were counted, Kronovet has made up the margin with the absentee ballots counted after election day.

And there are more to count before the registrar certifies the results on December 2.

“We anticipate the final count being ahead by 300 votes,” said Kronovet, who chairs the board of the Pico Improvement District. “Every vote counts.”

While rent board challengers who oppose SMRR have been little more than long shots or sacrificial lambs, Kronovet mounted a serious challenge, running a professional campaign out of an office in his real estate firm on Pico.

He also counted on the support of Santa Monica’s Republican Women’s Club, whose members volunteered, helping the only Republican candidate on the local November 4 ballot get out the vote.

“We worked on this for a year,” Kronovet said. “We didn’t do this haphazardly.”

November’s election was Kronovet’s second bid for a rent board seat in two years, falling 5,000 votes short of the third-place finisher.

While other rent board members in the past have been landlords – most notably Planning Commissioner Jay Johnson – none has ever won a seat without the backing of SMRR, the powerful tenants group that has controlled City Hall for most of the past three decades.

If Kronovet hangs on, he will be the only successful candidate for a seat on the Rent, School or College boards in the past two elections to win without SMRR’s backing.

That a Republican candidate in a City that is only 14 percent Republican would win a seat that always has been considered a shoo-in for the liberal tenants group would make the victory even more impressive.

 

“We’re cautiously optimistic.” Robert Kronovet

 

 

“Every vote counts.”

 

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