Club Endorses Genser, Bloom; Shriver Falls Short
By Jorge Casuso
September 3 – Ignoring the recommendations of its
leadership, Santa Monica Democratic Club members voted Tuesday to
endorse City Council incumbents Ken Genser and Richard Bloom, but
rejected Bobby Shriver, a member of the Kennedy clan.
Shriver, along with challenger Ted Winterer, an author of a ballot
measure that would curb most commercial development in the city,
failed to win the necessary 60 percent of the vote in the three
ballots allowed under the club’s bylaws.
Julie Lopez Dad, a former Planning Commissioner who chairs the
steering committee that recommended endorsing Shriver, Genser and
Winterer, called the club’s decision not to endorse Sen. Ted
Kennedy’s nephew “ludicrous.”
“It is ludicrous that the Democratic Club did not endorse
a candidate whose Democratic credentials outshine those of all the
rest of us, who is committed to solving our societal problems of
the unhoused, who listens to all residents and actively seeks ways
to address their concerns, who questions City staff on issues rather
than accepting standardized answers, and who is deeply committed
to and is living Democratic values,” Dad said.
Last month the committee voted to recommend endorsing Genser, who
along with Bloom is backed by Santa Monicans for Renters’
Rights (SMRR); Shriver, who is backed by SMRR’s opposition
and Winterer, an independent candidate who failed to win the powerful
tenants group’s nod.
Bloom, Dad said, was viewed by the steering committee as too pro-development,
a charge the incumbent adamantly denies, telling the members Tuesday
that he is for “slow and responsible development.”
Tuesday’s vote was the result of a strong showing by longtime
SMRR members and leaders who also have long been members of the
club, Dad said.
“Not receiving the endorsement of the Santa Monica Democratic
Club was the result of the heavy SMRR component, which we are glad
we have, in the Club,” Dad said referring to Shriver’s
“A large part of the SMRR members were concerned about protecting
the endorsements for the SMRR-endorsed candidates,” she said.
“Another part of the group, the anti-RIFT part, certainly
did not intend to vote for Bobby since he has not taken a position
(their position) on the initiative.”
Following SMRR’s lead, the club voted to only endorse two
candidates – Genser and Bloom – in the race for four
open council seats. The tenant group’s decision marked the
first time it left two seats unendorsed in its 30-year history.
If Shriver, who did not seek the SMRR endorsement, likely failed
to win the club’s backing because he has the support of the
tenant group’s foes, including the Chamber of Commerce, Winterer
failed to win the necessary votes in large part due to his position
on Prop T.
While SMRR members voted not to take a position on the initiative,
which would cap most commercial development in the city at 75,000
square feet a year for 15 years, many of the tenant group’s
leaders oppose the measure on the November 4 ballot.
Also seeking the club’s endorsement in the race for four
open council seats were challengers Susan J. Hartley, Herbert Silverstein
and Michael Kovac and Mayor Herb Katz, who was unable to attend
Jerry Rubin, who took part in the candidate presentations, removed
himself from the race for the club’s endorsement and members
to back Hartley.
“It’s really time for change,” Rubin told the
crowd. “Vote for Susan Hartley. Forget about voting for me.
You need a woman on the ticket and someone representing change.”
Pam O’Connor is currently the only woman on the seven-member
The council endorsement wasn’t the only closely watched vote.
In the race for three four-year seats on the School Board the club
voted to endorse incumbents Jose Escarce and Maria Leon Vazquez,
as well as newcomer Ben Allen, who, as in the SMRR convention, garnered
the most votes.
Escarce -- who was endorsed by SMRR’s steering committee
after falling one-vote short at the group’s convention --
squeezed in on the club’s second ballot after once again falling
one vote short of the necessary 60 percent.
The club, by acclimation, also voted to endorse incumbent Ralph
Mechur, who is running unopposed in the race to complete the final
two years of an appointed four-year term.
In addition, the club Tuesday also voted to endorse incumbents
Margaret Q. Quiñónez-Pérez, Susan Aminoff and
Rob Rader in the race for three seats on the College Board.
It also endorsed Joel C. Koury and Christopher Braun in the race
for two open seats on the Rent Control Board.
As a result, the club's slate will exactly mirror the SMRR slate
for local candidate races on the November ballot.
The club will weigh in on Prop T, as well as a $295 million Santa
Monica College bond and a proposed update to Santa Monica's Utility
Users tax (UUT), at a meeting September 10.
The winning candidates and measures will appear on the club’s
slate card and their literature will be available at the group’s
campaign headquarters, which is expected to draw a large volunteer
force and party backers who support Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential
The County Democratic Party is expected to make its endorsements
– which don’t always mirror the club’s –
on September 9.
Both endorsements are expected to be important in an election that
promises to draw a record number of voters to the polls for a hotly
contested Presidential race and the highly divisive Prop T, also
known as the Residents’ Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT).