Wealthy, well-educated and covering prime real estate, Senate District 26 runs up the coast from Rancho Palos Verdes to Santa Monica and the edge of the San Fernando Valley, and is among the state’s most competitive legislative districts.
The challenge for whoever represents its 900,000 residents will be to provide a strong voice and not get lost in the sea of legislators in Sacramento constantly being whispered to — and funded by — special interests.
The next state senator will have to fight to keep the aerospace industry and Hollywood competitive while keeping his or her hands on legislation to protect the Pacific Coast and open land. The legislator’s voice must be independent and energetic because there is no shortage of issues plaguing the region, from job loss to traffic.
Eight candidates are vying for the seat of Sen. Ted Lieu, who is running for Congress.
More than $1 million has been raised in a district that is among the most expensive in the country in which to run a state legislative campaign.
Most all of the contenders have the credentials to take the seat, but only the top two will emerge from the June 3 primary to run in the general election on Nov. 4. It was difficult to narrow the strong field.
The Los Angeles News Group editorial board endorses Sandra Fluke and Ben Allen, in that order of preference. They, like all but one of the candidates, are Democrats.
Fluke is an attorney and women’s rights activist best known as the woman whom radio’s Rush Limbaugh called a slut — he later apologized — after she testified before Congress in favor of birth control. She may be young (she’s 33) and a first-time candidate for public office, but she has the spine and the know-how to take on Sacramento.
Her fast rise to national attention and the way she handled all the buzz was impressive. Even more impressive are her clear and thoughtful ideas on policy. If elected, she said she would focus on issues such as water conservation measures, easing congestion on Los Angeles’ Westside, expanding Hollywood tax credits, and coastal preservation.
Allen, a member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board, is a lawyer and lecturer at UCLA who boasts local roots in the district. Allen seeks to be a good financial steward of the state. He said he will use his experience making budget decisions at the school district to guide him on similar issues at the state level. He also supports tax incentives for the entertainment and renewable-energy industries. Both candidates see a need for deeper pension reforms.
The board was also impressed by Amy Howorth, the mayor of Manhattan Beach who is one of the frontrunners in the race. Like Allen, she stresses education and jobs but has experience serving in city office as well as on the Manhattan Beach school board. The Democrat opposes the high-speed rail project pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown and says she strongly supports tax incentives for Hollywood.
It was a tough call for the editorial board. Most of the candidates are formidable and that is a credit to the 26th Senate District.