CITYWIDE ¬ó The final election results are in, and Democrats Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom and Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-53) will be facing off in the general election in November.
According to the Los Angeles County Recorder¬ís Office, Butler edged out Bloom by under 150 votes to take the lead in the race for the 50th Assembly District, claiming 16,089 to his 15,947.
Brad Torgan, the lone Republican in the race, had trailed Democrat Torie Osborn as votes were being counted but ultimately pulled ahead of her by 72 votes.
The race was tight on election night and stayed that way as the final absentee and provisional ballots were counted. In the end, first and last place were separated by only 929 votes.
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is expected to declare the results official at their meeting today.
November is the first election guided by Proposition 14, a voter initiative from 2010 that sends on the top two vote-getters to the general election no matter their party orientation.
Proposition 14 also allows voters from any political party to vote for any of the candidates in the primary election. The idea was to allow more moderate voices into California politics.
It¬ís worked, said Allan Hoffenblum, a Los Angeles-based political consultant.
¬ìThese Republicans haven¬ít had so many phone calls asking for endorsements in their history,¬î Hoffenblum said, referring to Republicans in the Westside and San Fernando Valley, two dependably left-leaning areas.
Now, Butler and Bloom will have to find ways to reach out to voters on both sides of the aisle if either expects to bring home the seat in November.
Unlike Osborn, who leans far to the left, or Torgan, the most conservative of the bunch, Bloom and Butler both ran fairly centrist campaigns focusing on their respective records in elected office.
Bloom has served on the Santa Monica City Council for over a decade, something he will have to give up in order to run for Assembly. Butler currently represents the 53rd Assembly District, which includes Marina del Rey and some of the South Bay communities.
Now, both will have to find ways to differentiate themselves from their opponents without losing their original supporters, Hoffenblum said.
¬ìNeither Butler or Bloom now can get elected on their base demographic vote alone,¬î Hoffenblum said. ¬ìNow it depends which of the two candidates does the better job of appealing to cross voters without alienating their constituencies.¬î
For his part, Bloom hopes to tempt moderate Republicans and Democrats with his message of fiscal prudence.
¬ìI¬ím not trying to suggest that I¬ím anything other than who I am, a liberal Democrat, but I am suggesting to those who may have somewhat more conservative or moderate leanings that our long history of fiscal responsibility in this city is really the thing that Sacramento needs,¬î Bloom said.
Neither Butler nor Bloom have overflowing war chests with which to reach out to those voters walking into the general election.
Butler raised a lot more cash than Bloom during the primary run, with much of that funding coming from other political campaigns, unions and trial attorneys.
However, she also spent $625,592.32 between January and June 2012 compared to Bloom¬ís $180,707.76, so she only has $184,205.85 left in her campaign accounts, roughly twice Bloom¬ís cash-on-hand.
Sheer fundraising dominance won¬ít be enough to win, Hoffenblum said.
¬ìYou don¬ít have to outspend your opponent, just raise enough to get the message across,¬î Hoffenblum said. ¬ìWill (Bloom) have enough to get his message out?¬î
Bloom certainly thinks so.
¬ìI was outspent by the other candidates by a factor of three or four to one,¬î Bloom said. ¬ìWhile I would have liked to have more money to spend, we were able to work efficiently with the funds we did have and get our message out effectively.¬î