Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Butler picks up LGBT legislative caucus endorsement in heated LA Assembly race

The state Legislative LGBT Caucus has issued an endorsement of straight Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Marina Del Rey) in a hotly contested race for an LA Assembly seat next year.

The news was announced today (Wednesday, November 23) amid the Thanksgiving travel rush and marks an apparent reversal in the caucus members’ thinking about the group’s stance in the race.

Just two weeks ago openly gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) had told the Bay Area Reporter that the caucus would not make an endorsement in the race for the newly drawn 50th Assembly District out of deference to lesbian candidate Torie Osborn.

Leno himself had endorsed Osborn, a former executive director of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, but switched to Butler once she jumped into the race. The lawmaker’s decision to seek the seat centered in Santa Monica and West Hollywood has infuriated Osborn’s camp, which contends Butler is carpet-bagging into the seat.

Despite her having to move into the new district, Butler argues she is the incumbent in the race because her current 53rd Assembly District boundaries overlap with a portion of West Los Angeles included in the new district. Now Butler and Osborn have been fiercely competing for the support of LGBT voters in the district and donors throughout the state.

A spokeswoman for the current caucus chair, lesbian state Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), who is pictured at right, had told the B.A.R. last week that despite the fact all seven members of the LGBT caucus have endorsed their legislative colleague Butler in the race, they were “individual ones” and “there was not a caucus endorsement.”

But Butler’s campaign website since launching earlier this fall had listed the Legislative LGBT Caucus among her endorsers. Sometime over the last seven days the caucus decided to make it official.

“It was no surprise that the Legislative LGBT Caucus offered our unanimous support to Betsy Butler,” stated Leno in a news release issued by Butler’s campaign. “Betsy has been an unflinching advocate for LGBT Californians during her time in the Assembly and throughout her career. She is a steadfast champion for equal rights and we need her as an ally in the Legislature.”

Kehoe is quoted as saying that the caucus is “proud” to back Butler because “there is no better choice for the LGBT community than Betsy Butler. Betsy has spent decades supporting us and now it is time for us to stand with her.”

The caucus is at odds with two of its former members on whom to back in the race, which also includes Democratic Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom. Lesbian former state Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg and lesbian former state Senator Sheila Kuehl, who once dated Osborn, have backed her bid for public office.

The women were among seven current and former state elected leaders endorsing Osborn that her campaign touted in a press release sent out Monday, November 21. The one current legislator included was Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), who is termed out of office next year.

The release noted that Goldberg announced her endorsement after an advisory committee interviewed candidates and unanimously recommended Osborn to receive Goldberg’s endorsement. It is an apparent dig at Equality California, whose political action committee recently came under fire for endorsing Butler without interviewing the lawmaker or the other candidates in the race.

Goldberg stated she is supporting Osborn due to her leadership skills, experience, and “sheer energy and drive.”

“She is the right candidate to serve the residents of California’s new, open 50th Assembly district, and continue its proud tradition of sending true progressive leaders to Sacramento,” stated Goldberg.

— Matthew S. Bajko, November 23, 2011 @ 3:13 pm PST
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