An article here in the Huffington Post last Saturday told about how Sandra Fluke had entered politics and was running for the State Senate in California, hoping to represent District 25. Ms Fluke, you may recall, is the then-law student (now attorney) who Rush Limbaugh repeatedly degraded for her daring to speak out about contraceptives on behalf of her friend who needed them for medical reasons, calling her a "slut," and basically comparing her to being a prostitute, among other whimsical things, ultimately causing him to lose many sponsors and forcing a semi-apology. It's taken me until now to write about the article, because honestly I just didn't care enough to get around to it. It simply registered really low on my Do-I-care-to-read-it Meter.
Wait, it's not because I don't care that Sandra Fluke is running for the State Assembly in California. It's because she's running in my district, and I've known she's running for the past six months. I've been getting campaign literature from her and her opponents for months, and the primary election was six weeks ago, and she finished in second place in the open-party race, qualifying for the general election. So, this was really, really old news to me. Hence, my not caring all that much to read the Big News that Ms. Fluke was running for office.
Initially, Sandra Fluke was reported to be interested in running for Congress, filing for the race to replace the retiring Henry Waxman. But when the sitting State Senator Ted Lieu announced for Congress, it drove away several other candidates, including Ms. Fluke. I can't speak for the others, but I think it was a wise decision on her part. She was a neophyte for a major office, and State Sen. Lieu has a strong organization -- and is fairly popular in the district. So, instead she re-considered her options and announced for the State Senate.
It oddly was an incredibly difficult primary for me to decide who to vote for. Everything I'd read about and heard from Sandra Fluke at the time of her "Limbaugh dust-up" seriously impressed me about the now-social justice attorney. The problem was that I actually personally knew and much-liked two of her opponents. One was Betsy Butler, the former member of the State Assembly who I'd written about several times on the Huffington Post (including here) before ever meeting her, concerning Big Business interests attempting to smear her, and it was those articles that led her to contact me, which started our friendly acquaintance. The other was Patric Verrone, the former president of the Writers Guild,who I was friendly with, as well, and had spent a bit of time with.
I am telling you the absolute truth that I didn't know who I was going to vote for until I got into the voting booth. I'd have been overjoyed with any of them being the candidate. There were several others on the ballot who I thought were pretty good, as well.
Her opponent in the general election is another Democrat (California has this idiotic law that allows such an stupid thing to happen), Ben Allen, a member of the Santa Monica school board. He's been painted in articles as having Republican and moderate financial support, but I think the articles do him a disservice without knowing more. It's a very Democratic district, and Republican financial support may come because they believe the other candidates are much too liberal for them, not because the person they're supporting is actually a closet conservative. I don't know a great deal about Ben Allen -- but I do know that you don't get elected to the Santa Monica school board (in fact, you don't get elected to anything in what is known as The People's Republic of Santa Monica...) being a conservative. Or not having progressive genes somewhere in your makeup, even if not in the forefront.
I have no idea what will happen in the general election. Ben Allen has experience running in elections. Sandra Fluke is running in her first. Mr. Allen has raised about $450,000. Ms. Fluke, who originally started out behind all of the other candidates in financial backing when everything started, now has got things running more smoothly and raised $500,000. Mr. Allen has strong awareness in his Santa Monica. Ms. Fluke has much strong awareness in the rest of the large district which covers several communities.
Probably the biggest question mark is how the women's vote impacts the turnout in November. That's Sandra Fluke's core constituency, given that she represent victims of domestic violence and human trafficking -- and has been endorsed by such groups as EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood, the California division of NOW, and Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who won the Roe v. Wade case. And given the recent Supreme Courts decisions on Hobby Lobby and removing the safety zones around abortion clinics, it will be interesting to see how that impacts voter turnout and issue focus.
Scott Lay analyzing California political races told the Chicago Sun-Times that “All national analyses right now are that the 2014 election is going to be largely decided by white women, particularly those between say 40 and 55.” If that holds true, then it could be a Fluke who gets elected in the California 26th. But I don't know.
The only thing I do know is that I won't need the national media telling me what's going on in her race. I'll just have to open my mailbox.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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