With 100% of precincts reporting, the race for the 50th Assembly District ended with an upset, with community organizer Torie Osborn ending up in third place, and the Democratic Mayor of Santa Monica, Richard Bloom and Democratic Assemblywoman Betsy Butler surviving the June primary - only to face each other again in November.
Butler squeaked into first place by only 102 votes.
Her boss, Assembly Speaker John Perez, spent over a million dollars to get Butler those votes. But while he was busy waging a war against Torie Osborn in AD50, he lost the war for AD66, and ultimately the 2/3rds majority Democrats desperately needed to break Republican obstruction in Sacramento.
Let me explain.
The Democratic candidate in AD66, Al Muratsuchi, came in first against his Republican opponents and will face off against millionaire Republican Craig Huey in the fall. But while good news for Democrats in the short-run, the numbers look dismal for Muratsuchi in November.
With 100% of precincts reporting,Muratsuchi garnered 22,000 votes while his Republican opponents Huey and Nathan Mintz combined received nearly 33,000 votes. Mintz will certainly endorse Huey, so expect Republican voters to fall in line for the general election.
That's a hell of an enthusiasm gap to overcome.
Muratsuchi received virturally no support from Sacramento even as Perez publicly declared the Santa Monica/West Hollywood race his top priority, securing the California Democratic Party endorsement for Butler at the February convention, then directing or pressuring Assembly members, Sacramento unions, and PACS to dump over a million dollars into the safe blue seat.
What that means in real-world terms is that while Sacramento squandered it's resources in AD50, there was nothing left over to help South Bay activists register voters or build any infrastructure to get out the vote. It's a deficit that, even if corrected now, will haunt the district through the fall.
What remains to be seen is if Perez will bother to correct that deficit at all. In fact, it's far more likely he will continue this destructive pattern into the general election.
Victory in November isn't assured for Butler. By all accounts, she proved to be a terrible campaigner in the AD50 race, relying almost entirely on Sacramento's largess to get her through the June primary. It's anyone's guess as to how she will do against Bloom, who has the advantage of real - not manufactured - incumbency in the district.
As Sacramento contemplates even more draconian cuts to education, healthcare, social services and environmental protection, the legacy of these two races will be a stunning indictment of Assembly Speaker John Perez's lack of leadership.