More than 200 people have signed an online petition started by a Venice political organizer pledging campaign support for state Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-California), if she runs in the new 66th Assembly District against tea party candidate Nathan Mintz.
Butler, , currently represents the 53rd Assembly District that was recently . Petition organizer Marta Evry said Tuesday that she started the online signature-gathering effort after learning that Butler was considering moving to run in the newly created 50th Assembly District that includes Malibu and Santa Monica.
Democratic candidate Torie Osborn has already set up a campaign for the 50th Assembly District and has received , Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, who represents the current 41st Assembly District that includes Santa Monica, and Sheila Kuehl, who was the 41st Assembly District representative from 1994 to 2000.
Osborn has raised about $300,000 for her campaign that she launched in late 2010. Her campaign also announced Tuesday that it has received the endorsement of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 18, a powerful union that represents more than 8,000 workers.
Evry, who is a delegate to the California Democratic Party, said she supports both candidates, but wants Butler to run in the 66th District, which includes Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Rancho Palos Verdes, to keep it Democratic.
"The bottom line is there's no Democratic Assembly candidate right now who has the name recognition Betsy Butler does in the South Bay. If she leaves, the district will very likely be represented by Nathan Mintz," Evry said. "So I wanted to find a positive, proactive way to demonstrate to our assemblywoman that she has significant grassroots support in the South Bay. I've been really gratified by the response the petition has received."
Mintz has already started his campaign for the 66th Assembly District and announced Tuesday that he has received the endorsement of the Los Angeles County Lincoln Clubs Board of Governors. The new 66th District has only a three-point Democratic advantage among registered voters and is a top target for Republicans in 2012. Mintz won every city south of Los Angeles International Airport in his 2010 race against Butler.
Butler's current Marina del Rey residence is in the new 62nd Assembly District that was redrawn as a heavily Democratic majority-minority district that stretches from Venice, Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey eastward to Inglewood and Hawthorne. The district already is represented by Democrat Steve Bradford.
Democratic Assembly leader John Perez has stated the party's preference that incumbents not run against incumbents, Evry said.
Evry noted that Democrats are only two seats away from having the two-thirds majority in the state Assembly needed to pass legislation without Republican support.
"All this gridlock in Sacramento is primarily because we don't have a two-thirds majority in the state Legislature," Evry said. "If Betsy goes up to the 50th and wins and we don't have a viable candidate in the 66th District, we'll go backwards."
A message left for Butler on Tuesday afternoon was not immediately returned.
Evry said she hopes Butler considers the petition before deciding where to move and considers her constituents in the equation.
"She's making these plans to preserve her career, but she's not really taking into account that she's a public servant," Evry said. "It's not just her decision and her decision will affect a lot of people."
Evry said her name was the first on the petition and if Butler runs in the 66th District Evry said she would use her experience running phone banks for President Barack Obama's campaign in 2008 to help Butler.
"She's a very reliable, liberal Democratic vote," Evry said. "I'd rather have that down in the 66th than I would a member of the tea party."