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Thu May 24, 2012, 04:54 PM

Hayden's Hatchet Job and California's Hottest Assembly Race

Tom Hayden, who is now the Carey McWilliams fellow at The Nation, has weighed in on one of California's hottest Assembly races just before the June 5th primary. Unfortunately, Hayden's column is nothing more than a machine hatchet job which is both a disservice to California voters and the journalistic legacy of Mr. McWilliams.

Hayden opens his column by praising first-time candidate Torie Osborn (including a link to her campaign, a courtesy he does not extend to the other candidates mentioned), who was an aide to Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa and is the former girlfriend of termed-out Sheila Kuehl who represented much of the area for 14 years in the Assembly and Senate. Once anointed by the Kuehl-LA machine, Osborn and her supporters like Hayden have expressed an unseemly peevishness over those who question the wisdom of their choice.

Osborn tries to spin herself as a grassroots champion citing a number of local Democratic groups’ endorsements, but these endorsements often were bought or involved irregularities which caused one local commentator to ask “where are Torie Osborn’s ethics”. In addition, Democratic Party Vice-Chair Eric Bauman (who has not endorsed a candidate) finds Osborn’s spin as the grassroots champion to be “laughable” since Kuehl is the “ultimate insider” and Osborn’s camp is full of insiders. Even worse, the well-funded Osborn has buried the district in direct mail pieces, the second of which had the audacity to include a big warning label to ignore attacks against her by the “special interests”.

Ms. Osborn’s opponents include Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom who has strong progressive credentials and Assemblywoman Betsy Butler who was so feared by the likes of Anthem Blue Cross, AIG, BP and Philip Morris that they spent an unprecedented amount on a smear campaign to defeat her in the Democratic primary when she first ran and was elected two years ago.

I know both Bloom and Butler well and they are exactly the type of emerging young leaders that The Nation should want to promote. Instead, The Nation has become the platform for Hayden’s hatchet job against these two fine leaders. Hayden follows the Osborn talking point that anyone who disagrees with the machine’s anointed candidate must be a corrupt stooge of “special interests.”

Hayden simply dismisses Bloom as underfunded despite some significant endorsements, but then unleashes on Butler who under redistricting is the incumbent in the race. Prior to her election in 2010, Butler served in the Clinton administration and was a fundraiser for groups such as the California League of Conservation Voters, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Consumers Attorneys of California. Hayden reduces this to simply being a fundraiser, lamenting that this is “the modern way many young activists work their way up the ladder;” implying a lockstep system where top fundraisers are rewarded with legislative positions.

Elected positions, however, must be earned at the ballot box. That is what distinguishes Bloom and Butler from Osborn, as they have been chosen by voters and not just insiders and have an actual record of accomplishment. Osborn literally tries to gloss over this fact, as her first mailer was a vapid 16-page brochure entitled “Decades of Leadership” that included pretty glossy pictures of iconic historical events and leaders she had no association with.

Hayden also attacks Butler for moving into the district, as this is the first election with new districts drawn by the independent redistricting commission, omitting the fact that he used U-Haul for political purposes a few times himself. Other Osborn supporters whine with a sense of entitlement that she was in the race first (before the districts were even drawn), an argument that proved very persuasive for Mike Gravel’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Hayden closes with a smear that Butler is somehow a party stooge since she cannot name a hypothetical situation in which she would vote against party leadership. This point is silly because people join a party because they tend to agree with it and no one has a crystal ball to predict future disagreements. It is like asking someone to comment on future Laker roster changes before they occur.

What Hayden and other “Torieistas” need to recognize is that this seat does not belong to Sheila Kuehl, the LA political machine or any single group to give to Ms. Osborn. Instead, the seat belongs to the diverse population that makes up the 50th Assembly district who hopefully can do what The Nation has refused to do and that is see through the distortions and nasty attacks and pick a leader that can move the state forward.

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Reply Hayden's Hatchet Job and California's Hottest Assembly Race (Original post)
Bennet Kelley May 2012 OP
Rowdyboy May 2012 #1
eastladebra May 2012 #2
Bennet Kelley May 2012 #3
Jerl Liandri May 2012 #5
Bennet Kelley May 2012 #6
Jerl Liandri May 2012 #7
Bennet Kelley Jun 2012 #10
Bennet Kelley Jun 2012 #11
grantcart May 2012 #8
Bennet Kelley Jun 2012 #9
grantcart Jun 2012 #12
ellisonz May 2012 #4

Response to Bennet Kelley (Original post)

Thu May 24, 2012, 06:21 PM

1. Very odd to see Tom Hayden, the picture of 1960's radicalism considered the repressive establishment

and Sheila Kuehl, first openly gay member of the California house and later senate (aka the actress who played Zeldo Gilroy of Dobie Gillis fame) accused of crony politics because she's supporting an ex-girlfriend who's running for her old seat. Guess we'll see what the voters think when the primary occurs.

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Response to Bennet Kelley (Original post)

Thu May 24, 2012, 08:34 PM

2. I gotta say this....

First of all, the "Incumbent" Betsy Butler could have stayed in her redrawn district and helped to bring about a 2/3 voting block for the Democrats to be able to finally move Sacramento into a far better budget solution than we have had in years. I would have thought that her decision to remain in her district would have been much braver because she would be turning her district Blue.

Speaking of brave.... when the Speaker decided to persuade Betsy to move to AD 50, he had to ask others to drop out; which they did without a whimper. Torie on the other hand, was not even asked to step away..(well, it WAS suggested that she move North). Why? Because Torie will not buckle to the insiders. She is one who will stand up and work for AD 50. She is not interested in becoming a member of the ole' boys club. She is interested in helping her community.

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Response to Bennet Kelley (Original post)

Thu May 24, 2012, 09:20 PM

3. yeah yeah yeah

That's why she's backed by a team of insiders
that's why she has tons of money
that's why she stacked local dem clubs with new members who did not live in the community

yada yada yada


you keep believing she's an outsider, when she runs an insider campaign

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Response to Bennet Kelley (Reply #3)

Sun May 27, 2012, 11:14 PM

5. Wow, Bennet, that's really disingenuous

Someone with the legendary reputation of Torie Osborn is going to have a lot of prominent people backing her. But the strength of those individuals pales in comparison to the Sacramento machine.

Torie has a lot of money because she's raised the vast bulk of it from INDIVIDUALS in her district. Take a look at Betsy Butler. She has raised and spent more money than Torie in this race, and that vast majority of it isn't from people. It's from Sacramento politicians, PACs, and corporations like Anheuser-Busch and the Corrections Corporation of America.

Lastly, it's time for you and other Butler supporters to stop being so disingenuous about the Democratic Club endorsement processes. The vote at the Malibu Democratic Club was 41 for Torie, 12 for "no endorsement" and 5 for Betsy Butler. The vote at the Stonewall Democratic Club was 154-55. Those are embarrassing numbers, and trying to blame them on Osborn "stacking" the room is nothing but an attempt to draw attention away from Butler's embarrassing performances with grassroots Democrats. In addition to that, other organizations simply can't be influenced that way at all. The Santa Monica Democratic Club forbids the practice you're referring to, and Torie won it with somewhere around 77% of the vote. The Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley has a fixed membership, and Torie won that with somewhere around 65% of the vote.

Saying that Torie is running an "insider campaign" is Rovian and hypocritical. We all know what the Sacramento machine is doing for Butler in terms of money (nearly seven figures at this point). But for someone who is so outraged about "stacking dem clubs" you've somehow neglected to mention the 50 or so delegates that Sacramento politicians appointed to vote in AD-50 to secure the official state party endorsement for Butler.

Both sides played by the rules, so I'm not complaining. But what I can't abide is the utter hypocrisy that dominates this entry.

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Response to Jerl Liandri (Reply #5)

Mon May 28, 2012, 05:32 PM

6. If it walks like a duck . . . .

The sine qua non of TO's campaign is her relationship with Sheila Kuehl - a termed out Sacramento politician with a political apparatus due to her status as the first openly gay member of the Assembly and the support of the LA City Council with whom she worked. That is two major power blocs behind her - you can call it whatever you want but she's an insider. Had she been honest about this from the start I think people would not have had the negative reaction they now have.

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Response to Bennet Kelley (Reply #6)

Thu May 31, 2012, 06:22 PM

7. Wait, what?

Torie Osborn is an insider because she used to date a former State Senator and she has some LA City politicians supporting her, but Betsy Butler and Richard Bloom are the victims here, even though they're both currently in office and Butler has the support of the entire Sacramento establishment?

I'll tell you what an insider looks like, Bennet. An insider is someone like Betsy Butler, who has received only 100 or so contributions from within the district she's running for. A local outsider is someone like Torie Osborn, who has, in the reading I've done, received over 15 times that many. An insider is someone like Betsy Butler, who has received only about a hundred contributions of under $100. An outsider is someone who has funded her campaign through the 2,500 small donations of $100 that she has gotten.

And lastly, an insider is someone like Betsy Butler, who has received about $300,000 of her campaign cash from Sacramento. An outsider is someone like Torie Osborn, who has received less than $10,000.

So, your attempt to dismiss Torie as an insider while singing the praises of Betsy Butler is, frankly, pathetic. If you want to know who's outside and who's inside, don't worry about who used to sleep with whom many years ago. Follow the money instead.

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Response to Jerl Liandri (Reply #7)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 09:41 PM

10. you're missing the point

I don't dispute that Butler and to a lesser extent Bloom are insiders.

What I dispute, however, is Torie's claim to be an outsider. She has two powerful political machines behind her. It is unfortunate that she chose that as the theme for her campaign because (i) she did not have to do so and could have still run an effective campaign without it and (ii) because it is disingenuous. As the campaign has unfolded and her attack ads have unfurled, it appears that Tories has no hesitation when it comes to being disingenuous.

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Response to Bennet Kelley (Reply #3)

Thu May 31, 2012, 07:07 PM

8. Hey BK it appears that you are arguing with yourself.

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Response to grantcart (Reply #8)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 09:36 PM

9. really?

In that case - why did you respond?

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Response to Bennet Kelley (Reply #9)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 11:39 PM

12. you were responding to yourself


thought you might like to know that you posted in the wrong spot.

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Response to Bennet Kelley (Original post)

Thu May 24, 2012, 09:42 PM

4. Carey McWilliams is a name all liberals should know.

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