DOWNTOWN — The Santa Monica Democratic Club and Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, the city’s leading political party, may support many of the same principles, but that doesn’t mean both groups will necessarily be rooting for the same local candidates this November.
The Democratic Club’s executive committee released its list of preferred candidates on Monday, revealing slates for both the City Council and school board races at odds with the slates SMRR voted to support earlier this month.
While a number of candidates won support from both groups, there were some notable differences in the groups’ preferences.
In the race for three, four-year council seats, the Democratic Club committee backed two candidates that SMRR is also supporting, Kevin McKeown and Ted Winterer. But the panel snubbed four-term City Council incumbent Pam O’Connor, whom SMRR backed, and frequent council challenger Linda Armstrong, for the remaining open seat.
The Democratic Club committee backed two candidates in the two-year race, Gleam Davis and Susan Hartley. In that race, SMRR voted to back Davis and City Councilman Terry O’Day.
For the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School Board race, the Democratic Club committee voted to back three of the same candidates that SMRR is supporting, but voted to support Patrick Cady instead of Laurie Lieberman for the fourth open seat.
The executive committee interviewed candidates interested in the group’s endorsement during the past two weeks. To win an endorsement recommendation, a candidate needed to receive support from at least 60 percent of the committee’s 14 members.
While significant, the committee’s recommendations are just the first step in the organization’s endorsement process. The Democratic Club’s full membership will have the chance to make final candidate endorsements at a meeting scheduled for Sept. 15. (Support from 60 percent of members is required to win an endorsement).
Historically, the committee has not always gotten its way.
In 2008, for example, the group’s leadership recommended endorsing Winterer, but he was unable to win the endorsement from the full organization.
Reached on Monday, Winterer said he hopes things play out differently this year.
“I’m once again honored and thrilled to have the support of the executive committee and I’m hopeful that this time it translates into an endorsement by the full membership,” he said.
McKeown added: “In a predominantly Democratic town, the support of the local Dem Club is especially meaningful, and I am grateful.”
Davis, who in 2006 won the club’s endorsement, said she was “very pleased and honored” to again receive a vote of confidence from the group’s executive committee.
She said she wasn’t surprised the club’s recommendations differed from SMRR’s list of approved candidates.
“The Democratic Club has a very independent point of view,” she said.
The group’s president, Jonathan Troen, could not be reached for comment.