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SMRR Endorsees Rarely Lose in Santa Monica Elections

Phil Brock For Council 2014

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Michael Feinstein for Santa Monica City Council 2014Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors BureauWhen one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors.

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

July 31, 2014 -- Election Day in Santa Monica is three months away, but the results could be settled this Sunday when the powerful political group Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) makes its endorsements at the convention taking place at John Adams Middle School.

A SMRR endorsement does not guarantee a candidate will win in November, but earning the group’s backing means a victory is highly likely.

In the past 10 years, 77 percent of the City Council endorsees and 80 percent of the Santa Monica-Malibu school board picks were elected. Also during that period, only one non-SMRR endorsee has won a seat on the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees. The same goes for the Rent Control Board.

It does not matter if a candidate wins an endorsement outright at the convention or earns the backing from the group’s steering committee (a candidate winning SMRR support this way cannot campaign as a SMRR endorsee, but the person’s name and photo still appear on the group’s campaign literature). When SMRR supports a candidate, the person usually wins.

The worst November showing for SMRR since 2004 was in 2004 when only two of its four endorsees won in the council contest. Ken Genser and Richard Bloom were elected with SMRR’s backing. But not among the top four vote-getters who won seats were SMRR endorsees Maria Loya and Patricia Hoffman.

Incumbent Herb Katz and then-political newcomer Bobby Shriver won seats on the council that year without the support of SMRR.

Also in 2004, incumbent Margaret Quinonez surprisingly did not receive SMRR’s backing for the college board, but she was elected in November. Malibu resident Kathy Wisnicki won a seat on the SMMUSD board also as a non-SMRR candidate.

Two years later, SMRR was back on its game as it swept all the races except for council. Bob Holbrook, who has been elected every four years since 1990 without SMRR support, managed to squeak by endorsee Gleam Davis.

SMRR was also nearly perfect in the 2008 election. This time, the exception was highly unusual. Robert Kronovet, a Republican and landlord, won a seat on the rent board. Many political observers were shocked.

Kronovet was unable to repeat the feat when he ran for re-election four years later. His bid for council in 2010 was also not successful.

The 2010 election was an unusual one because five council seats were on the line. There was a regular election for three four-year seats and another one for two two-year seats. Running in the two-seat election were Gleam Davis and Terry O’Day, who had recently been appointed to fill seats on the dais after the deaths of Katz and Genser.

O’Day and Davis won their contest with SMRR’s backing. In the three-seat race, Kevin McKeown and Pam O’Connor were elected to their fourth and fifth terms, respectively. But slow-growth champion Ted Winterer finished fourth behind Holbrook.

Also in 2010, Nimish Patel became the first non-SMRR endorsee in six years to win a seat on the SMMUSD board. Incumbent Barry Snell, who had won as an endorsee four years earlier, was not able to repeat his victory even with SMRR support.

Two years later, SMRR was finally perfect. All the candidates for local elections in 2012 celebrated victories in November.

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