By Jason Islas
September 6, 2012 -- Local Democrats have teamed up with a grassroots group that campaigns for President Barack Obama to open shop Thursday on Santa Monica's pricey Third Street Promenade.
The space on the third floor of the building at 1408 Third Street will serve as the Westside headquarters for the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club (PPDC) and also will be used by Organizing for America (OFA), which will share the cost.
“We did not set out to find a place on the Promenade,” said Adam Wolman, PPDC's vice president of communications. “We were phenomenally lucky."
The trick, he said, was to find a place that had been vacant for a while, then it is easier to get a short-term lease.
But officials said that the organization was paying market-rate rent.
Wolman did say that this time around, it was “hard to find a place that we could afford,” he didn't know how much the organization was spending on the location, adding that it helped to have OFA share the cost.
“Having the Organizing for America people in the same space is incredibly convenient,” Wolman said. “Our volunteers can work directly with the grassroots democratic team. The goal is to get as many people as possible excited about volunteering."
A campaign official for OFA said that PPDC “have been great allies,” referring to the work the two organizations did together in the 2008 presidential election, when the club's Westside Headquarters was at Wilshire Boulevard and Ninth Street.
But, as far as the PPDC is concerned, they will also use this location as a base to advocate for certain measures on the ballot and candidates for local offices that may not fall so clearly along partisan lines.
Notable local Democrats, including Representative Henry Waxman, LA City Council member Eric Garcetti Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom, are expected to attend a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday.
Assembly member Betsy Butler, who is facing Bloom in a runoff to represent State Assembly District 50, also was invited but declined because she is in Charolette, North Carolina for the Democratic National Convention, PPDC officials said.
PPDC has voted not to endorse either candidate. Wolman said that the list of official endorsements was not available at press time.
But why set up a shop in Santa Monica, a city widely known for its strong Democratic leaning?
Wolman said that the enthusiasm in Santa Monica is always very strong, adding that last election year, it was one of the top performing field offices in the country.
“People here tend to be more energized and active,” he said, adding that that enthusiasm can be harnessed to reach out to other states that may not be so clearly Democratic.