Sacramento Blog Morning Report said this morning:
SD26 (Coast Los Angeles): The entrance of Vito Imbasciani into the race to succeed Ted Lieu (D-Twitter) made the race a lot more interesting. Before his entrance, former Assemblymember Betsy Butler (D) and Santa Monica-Malibu Unified board member Ben Allen (D). Oh, and add Sandra Fluke (D), who switched this morning, making me rewrite this long analysis. Fluke joins the race with Congresswoman Janice Hahn’s support, which signals that Hahn worked for the move to avoid a split of women votes between Fluke and Wendy Greuel.
Allen is a Berkeley-trained lawyer who lectures at UCLA Law and went to Harvard undergrad who has been on the school board since 2008. He can draw from the Santa Monica/Venice anti-Betsy crowd who are still very angry about the 2012 election, when Butler moved from the harder to win AD66 to seek AD50. The race got particularly nasty between Butler and strong supporters of Torie Osborn (D)–backed by Sheila Kuehl (D). Richard Bloom (D) largely stayed out of the fray and beat Butler by 1,700 votes in the runoff. An Allen-Butler faceoff alone would have been interesting.
Imbasciani is a Yale-trained urologist who happens to also be an openly gay veteran and government relations director for Kaiser Permanente in SoCal. That alone in a race with at least two attorneys would be interesting.
But, it gets more interesting because of other statewide politics. One of the hottest political issues in 2014 is the impending fight between trial lawyers and physicians over caps on medical malpractice awards for pain and suffering, established by a law signed by Jerry Brown in 1978. Consumer attorneys have found an initiative package that addresses their long MICRA beef with drug testing for physicians and a prescription database for some drugs., and have a compelling spokesperson and leader–Bob Pack, who lost two children to a drugged driver in 2003, and encountered the caps when it was found that a physician was negligent in overprescribing drugs.
In 2012, Consumer Attorneys spent handsomely on Betsy Butler through the California Alliance independent expenditure committee. Meanwhile, the Cooperative of American Physicians–a malpractice insurer–did the same for Richard Bloom. And, 2012 can just be seen as spring training for 2014.
This race will be over in June, and, should they play, will have to strike then. Let’s assume there is one Republican and the four Democrats (Allen, Butler, Fluke, and Imbasciani). A Republican would get 30% of the vote (Romney received 32.3%). That leaves 70% to be split among the Democrats and, with four legit candidates, it’s almost certain the race will be over in June (assuming there a legit Republican and only one). In AD50 (which is more solidly Democratic), we had three Dems and one Rep, and a two-Democrat face off in November was forced by a margin of 720 votes.
If the MICRA etc. initiative qualifies–very likely, it would be on the November ballot. As a deterrant show of force, opponents to the initiative reported the most on hand of any committee–$31.2 million–for the December 31 filing, and added another $1 million last week. Proponents can quickly raise significant money but are focused for now on gathering signatures by March 24.
Don’t be surprised if we had a pre-game show to November’s main event (MICRA fight) in the senate seat. Oh, and did I mention a fourth attorney–Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D)–might also jump in? Four attorneys and a doctor is a really good poker hand.
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