State Senate candidate and free-birth-control activist Sandra Fluke lost a key endorsement this week, as the Santa Monica Democratic Club endorsed local school board president and Harvard graduate Ben Allen instead as its candidate for the 26th district in the June 3 primary. Local party endorsements are often the key to winning state and local elections, because many voters rely on party mailings when deciding whom to support.
The Santa Monica club is particularly influential, as many leading politicians in West Los Angeles have their power base there. The Santa Monica endorsement “will benefit candidates through its direct mail effort, telephone phone banking and door-knocking. They will also be able to use the club name in campaign literature,” notes Daniel Larios of the Santa Monica Lookout, in reporting the club’s endorsements for 2014.
Allen has also racked up the lion’s share of local endorsements elsewhere. His supporters include local political veteran Zev Yaroslavsky, as well as celebrity radicals such as former State Senator Tom Hayden, one of the authors of the Port Huron Statement, which launched the New Left of the 1960s.
Fluke has a stronger national profile, built on her spat over birth control with radio host and award-winning children’s author Rush Limbaugh.
However, her focus on birth control has not resonated locally, where many residents agree with her views on health care and abortion but are more focused on bread-and-butter issues such as jobs and the economy
Fluke appeared as a guest on MSNBC’s The Cycle on Thursday, touting her candidacy as an example for women who might be reluctant to run for public office.
Fluke and the MSNBC panel were reacting to a survey released by American University that showed women are less likely than men to consider political careers in the U.S., and that the difference begin at a young age.
“Part of the problem is we still haven’t made progress on some of the barriers that keep women out. Things like affordable access to health care, because we are still disproportionately caretakers in our families, and that matters for a lot of employment areas, but it matters for elected office as well.”
Fluke, who has been outraised by Allen, also said that women do not have equal access to campaign funds.
The panelists asked Fluke about a recent article in the local Argonaut, declaring 2014 to be “the year of the woman in local politics.”
(The article failed to mention a single Republican woman running, or to note that in 2010 two prominent female Republicans, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, ran campaigns for statewide office.)
Fluke agreed with the host’s suggestion that “a lot of women candidates might get elected this time.”
There are several female candidates in the primary election for the 26th district among eight candidates–seven Democrats and one independent–overall. However, only the top two vote-winners will advance to the runoff.
Allen also enjoys the support of local businessman Bill Bloomfield, a former Republican who challenged Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) as an independent in 2012 and came within fewer than ten percentage points of defeating him. Bloomfield is devoting significant independent expenditures to supporting Allen’s campaign.
Fluke’s roster of national supporters and her strong name recognition may not be enough to prevail in June.