By Daniel Larios
September 4, 2014 -- After three rounds of ballots, the Santa Monica Democratic Club endorsed Incumbent Kevin McKeown and Planning Commissioner Sue Himmelrich for Santa Monica City Council Wednesday night, nine weeks before the November general election.
The group’s endorsements will benefit candidates through its direct mail effort, telephone phone banking and door-knocking. They will also be able to use the club name in campaign literature.
Because the club is an affiliate of the Democratic Party, only registered Democrats were interviewed for possible endorsement.
Eight of the 14 Council candidates were eligible for endorsement. In addition to McKeown and Himmelrich, candidates seeking the club's endorsement were Planning Commissioner Richard McKinnon, Mayor Pam O’Connor, Planning Commissioner Jennifer Kennedy, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Phil Brock, former Lookout Columnist Frank Gruber and non-profit consultant Nick Boles.
Himmelrich was the only candidate in the first round of ballots to gain an endorsement from the club, managing to reach the 55 percent threshold needed.
“I'm exhilerated," Himmelrich told the Lookout Wednesday. "It's so much better than my recent experiences."
Himmelrich failed to win the endorsement of the Santa Monicans for Renters Rights at the powerful tenant group's convention last month. She also did not win the backing of the municipal employee's union, which represents 1,600 workers in Santa Monica.
Candidates Nick Boles, Phil Brock and Pam O'Connor -- who was absent from the meeting -- were knocked out of the first round, failing to gain the necessary 25 percent needed to advance.
In the second round of voting, McKeown joined Himmelrich when he gained 58 percent(57 total votes) of the vote to gain an endorsement.
"I took some of my time to endorse two other candidates because I think it's crucial in November that we elect a slow growth team that we can truly trust," McKeown told the Lookout, citing his endorsement of Himmelrich and Kennedy.
In that same round, Kennedy got 51, Gruber gained 24 total votes and McKinnon got 36.
The third round of voting yielded no endorsement, with none of the remaining three candidates cracking the 55 percent ceiling of the remaining 98 voters. The round saw Kennedy gaining 48 votes, McKinnon 31 votes.
The club also voted to endorse three candidates for four open seats on the Santa Monica College Board.
The club membership voted to endorse incumbents Louise Jaffe, Nancy Greenstein and Barry Snell during the first round of balloting, with no consensus on the following two rounds of ballots.
The third ballot was so close, the frontrunner, Maria Loya, missed the necessary 55 percent by only three votes.
The club unanimously endorsed incumbents Laurie Lieberman, Ralph Mechur and Oscar de la Torre, as well as Santa Monicans for Renter’s Rights (SMRR) Co-Chair Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein for the School Board race.
The club also unanimously voted to endorse the three unopposed candidates for Rent Control Board Nicole Phillis, Steve Duron and incumbent Todd Flora.
The club also voted to support Measure LC (City Council-backed airport initiative), Measure FS (Rent Control registration), and Measures H and HH (the transfer tax ballot measure and the companion advisory vote for affordable housing).
“The Santa Monica Democratic club is pleased to be able to give serious support for the candidates as they head into the November election and we’re honored to be able to give our endorsement,” said Jay Johnson, co-president of the Democratic Club.
Earlier this year, the Club endorsed former state senator Sheila Kuehl for county supervisor and Alex Padilla for secretary of state. They also endorsed Ted Lieu in the race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman. (“Santa Monica Democrats Back Kuehl for County Supervisor”, April 25, 2014)
The Club also endorsed School Board member Ben Allen for State Senate and former Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom for reelection to the Assembly.
The club has endorsed Jerry Brown for governor, Gavin Newsom for lieutenant governor, Kamala Harris for attorney general, John Chiang for treasurer, David Jones for insurance commissioner, Tom Torlakson for superintendent of public instruction and Jerome Horton for the district's seat on the Board of Equalization.
The group will not make an endorsement for the election of county sheriff, officials said.
The Santa Monica Democratic club is not the only official party representative board that has made endorsements in this election.
The Green Party of Los Angeles County endorsed former mayor Mike Feinstein two weeks ago.
"I am grateful for the Green Party's endorsement," said Feinstein. "Whatever your party, I believe most Santa Monicans take living green seriously, and realize that a healthy environment is the basis for a healthy economy and community."
Candidate Jon Mann is also a Green Party member. The Republican Party is not expected to make any endorsement for the local race.