Could politics have played a role in this act of vandalism? (photo by Brandon Wise)

NOMA — Republicans are rumored to exist in the liberal bastion of Santa Monica, and this week strong evidence surfaced that supports this theory.

Devout Democrat and dog walker David Mayhan was out for a stroll Thursday morning when he spotted something strange and unsettling at the corner of 18th Street and Carlyle Avenue. Someone used blue painter’s tape to cover up the “le” so that the street sign read “Carly,” as in Republican Carly Fiorina. At least that’s what first popped into Mayhan’s head.

“I took a double take,” he told the Daily Press. “I thought, ‘I’ve never heard of that street before.’”

For those who don’t know, Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, is in a heated battle with U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a staunch Dem who is in the fight of her life to retain her seat. A recent survey showed the Grand Old Party’s Fiorina leading by two points.

Mayhan spotted the alteration to the street sign the morning following a spirited debate between Fiorina and Boxer in which the two traded barbs with Boxer’s trademark combativeness on display from the opening moments as she reminded viewers that Fiorina was fired from her job at Hewlett-Packard in 2005 by the company’s board, which was unhappy with its stock performance. Fiorina fought back, calling Boxer “one of the most bitterly partisan members” of the U.S. Senate who was long on words but short on action.

Could it be that the growing animosity between both candidates has spilled onto Santa Monica’s streets?

City Attorney Marsha Moutrie said not matter the motive for the sign alteration, it was an act of vandalism, not free speech because it involved city property.

A maintenance crew was made aware of the vandalism and was expected to remove the tape.

While unsure of the motive, Mayhan said the neighborhood near the sign has many homes that receive the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, papers that some characterize as being conservative and liberal, respectively.

“There were more red Wall Street Journals than blue New York Times,” Mayhan said.

According to voter registration records, there are 9,621 Republicans in Santa Monica compared to 32,044 Democrats and 13,623 voters who declined to state.

Given those figures, it is quite possible that a Republican was behind the vandalism. However, no suspects have been identified.

Mayhan said he was concerned about the sign in part because he is a Democrat, but more so because he was worried about visitors from out of town getting lost.

“And what about emergency responders?” he said.

kevinh@www.smdp.com

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