In my humble opinion, the once progressive LA Weekly sure seems to have a hard on for Assemblymember Betsy Butler in her 50th Assembly District race against Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom. And now it’s all about the gay vote swinging for Bloom, despite Butler’s years on the board of Equality California and her frontline fight against Prop 8 while Bloom was nowhere to be found.
Recently, the Weekly wrote a story entitled: “Will Betsy Butler’s Sex Pervert Vote Kill Her Political Career?” “Sex Pervert Vote?” Really? How totally tabloid.
What the Weekly is upset about is Butler’s abstention on a bill that would have made it easier to quickly fire teachers accused of sexual misconduct towards a student. (Butler explains her vote on SB 1530 here.) On Oct. 15, out LA County Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman explained the dynamics and politics behind that vote and how the smear attacks were being funded by big agri-business. But in the same piece, I asked why gay men would be so quick to support such a bill anyway, given the historical linking of homosexuality with predatory sexual perversion. That was the whole Religious Right argument in the antigay Briggs Initiative and even today, without the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in many states, a gay person can be fired in the blink of an eye and without appeal just for being gay.(APLA AIDS Walk founder Craig Miller slams Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom over city criteria for advertising. Photo by Greg Hernandez)
Nonetheless, the Weekly has persisted in not only battering Butler but is now strangely suggesting that the gay vote will go to Bloom, who has a very spare local record on LGBT rights and who was just publicly slammed from the stage at the APLA AIDS Walk by the very angry founder Craig Miller. The Weekly sided with Bloom over the issue of advertising on the city’s Big Blue buses.
But to support their tortured position that Butler’s political career might be in jeopardy, the Weekly cites
“longtime political analyst Jamie Regalado, who thought state Assemblywoman Betsy Butler had another major problem on her hands: The gay vote may go to rival Richard Bloom in the contentious Assembly District 50 race.
“They are totally turned off by her,” says Regalado, “and they are throwing their support behind Richard.”
During the primary, Butler and gay rights activist Torie Osborn had fought mightily, and Regalado believes that may come back to haunt the assemblywoman.
You see, Osborn, a lesbian and former boss of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, had solid backing from Westside gays and lesbians during the primary. Her supporters, says Regalado, regularly clashed with the Butler campaign, with Bloom staying out of the fray.
Bloom then outpaced Osborn and placed a close second behind Butler. Since he didn’t piss off the gays, Regalado’s logic goes, they’re much more comfortable voting for Bloom, a Democrat and Santa Monica mayor, than Butler in the runoff.
“Bloom doesn’t have a large swath of people who are against him,” says Regalado, “but Betsy does.”
Bloom supporter and former West Hollywood City Councilman Steve Martin, who’s gay, says that’s true.
A couple of things here. First of all, Jaime Regalado (not Jamie) is an expert in the Latino vote – NOT the gay vote. Google “Jaime Regalado – gays” and you will find him quoted twice in the LA Daily News about the Prop 8 vote in 2008. That’s it. BUT Google also notes that Regalado is on the Advisory Council for the Liberty Hill Foundation - the very same organization that former 50th AD candidate Torie Osborn headed for a number of years. The Weekly fails to disclose that Osborn was the executive director of Liberty Hill and that Regalado is on the Advisory Council – but at least one can now extrapolate how he got his information about the gay vote.
Additionally – the Weekly continues to quote Steve Martin, a gay attorney and current opinion writer for local online publications who spent nine contentious years on the West Hollywood City Council from 1994 to 2003, before being defeated by Abbe Land. He ran and lost again in 2007 and 2011. In his last race, the well-respected Renters Rights group the Coalition for Economic Survival accused Martin of misleading voters by using the CES logo without their permission. “CES has not now or ever endorsed Steve Martin for anything,” Gross said. “In fact, CES views Martin as a threat to rent control and tenants’ rights based on a long history of positions and action he has taken.”
If the Weekly wanted to cite a gay politico with more widespread credibility to buffet their apparent premise that the gay vote will go to Bloom – perhaps they should have asked Mike Bonin, the top candidate to replace his boss, gay LA City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, when Rosendahl retires. Both Rosendahl and Bonin were active Osborn supporters. Bonin does not appear to have yet made an endorsement in the 50th AD race but he could certainly give a more informed perspective than Regalado about whether he thinks gay voters will go for Bloom – and do it with full disclosure of his ties to Osborn.
Another curious citation to use against Butler is Republican political consultant Dan Schnur. The Weekly wrote:
Butler sent the Weekly a 333-word email in which she decries the “stripping away” of teacher protections in Padilla’s bill. Teachers currently are allowed a prolonged review and appeals process. It can take years to fire a teacher, even in an egregious case. Butler says she’ll introduce a law that’s more fair to teachers, adding that a child’s safety is her “top priority.”
Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, calls Butler’s slams at Padilla and LAUSD “the type of language that candidates use when they’re worried that an attack on them is having an impact.”
Dan Schnur – really? Some of us remember Schnur from the Gov. Pete Wilson/AB 101 veto days, or as Sen. John McCain’s communication guy when he ran against George W. Bush in 2000 or in 2008 when he was a regular political commentator on Jon Fleischman’s conservative “FlashReport” Blog. More recently, Schnur has been quoted by mainstream news outlets or written about the Romney campaign. So how did the Weekly frame the question to Schnur about the very Democratic 50th AD that elicited that kind of answer? Was it: “Will Betsy Butler’s Sex Pervert Vote Kill Her Political Career?”
With five days to go before the votes are finally cast on Nov. 6 – perhaps instead of relying on a political consultant who is not an expert on the gay vote, LGBT voters in the 50th AD might want to consider this question: who has done more good for the LGBT community – Butler or Bloom?