Sandra Fluke May Have Met Her Match

Free-birth-control advocate Sandra Fluke began her campaign for the California State Senate after something of an anticlimax. She had intended to run for the congressional seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). Party elders, however, intervened, and she decided to set her sights on state office, declaring instead for the State Senate seat currently held by Democrat Ted Lieu, who is one of the contenders to succeed Waxman.

While Fluke has been able to capitalize on her national profile, she may have met her match in the form of Ben Allen, a Harvard graduate who is president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education and teaches law at UCLA. Allen has something of the local political pedigree and profile that Fluke lacks. A quick glance at their endorsements suggests Fluke's support comes from national figures, while Allen is backed by prominent locals.

The key endorsement may come from State Sen. Lieu, who has not yet endorsed. Allen, however, already boasts support from local political icon Zev Yaroslavsky, who is retiring this year after four decades in local politics. That has helped Allen build momentum--and a sizable war chest, which at last report represented the largest fundraising haul among any of the eight candidates in the 26th District (seven are Democrats and one is an independent).

On name recognition alone, Fluke stands a good chance of making the general election after the June 3 "jungle" primary. Yet her focus has largely been on women's issues, and the only local issue on which she has commend is the state's water crisis (her answer: better conservation). Allen has focused on education and jobs, playing up his experience and his familiarity with local concerns. Fluke will find him a formidable threat in November.

Photo: Allen campaign website

This article has been updated to reflect the fact that State Sen. Lieu has not yet endorsed as of 5/16/2014.


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