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SMRR Campaign Mailer Raises Waves


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October 23, 2018 -- A campaign mailer sent by Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR) is deceiving voters by making it appear local Democrats oppose term limits, according to supporters of Measure TL.

The front of the mailer -- which shows a full-page image of the Democrat donkey mascot surfing a huge blue wave -- reads "Santa Monica Democrats are United."

The back shows pictures of the local candidates endorsed by the LA County Democratic Party, the Santa Monica Democratic Club and SMRR.
SMRR mailer

The mailer -- which reads "Santa Monica Democrats are catching a YUUUGE Blue Wave on November 6" -- is an effort to cash in on Santa Monica's overwhelmingly Democrat voting bloc during the hyper-charged national mid-term elections, SMRR officials said.

But next to the candidate pictures is a list of SMRR endorsements -- including its position urging voters to vote NO on term limits, which departs from the position of the local Democrat groups.

Last month, the Santa Monica Democratic Club voted to endorse the measure, while County Democrats took no position ("Santa Monica Democratic Club Makes Local Endorsements," September 28, 2018).

"This is dirty politics," said Mary Marlow, who heads the local political watchdog group Santa Monica Transparency Project and is the sponsor of measure TL. "I'm frankly surprised. I always thought SMRR was an ethical group."

Marlow notes that including the positions of other groups is a departure for SMRR, which has traditionally restricted their mailers to the group's position on the issues.

"They usually stand alone and say, 'We're SMRR' and this is what we stand for,'" Marlow said. "This is a deceptive attempt to defeat term limits."

Union Facts asks "Who's really running City Hall?"

SMRR officials disagree. They note that the mailer places SMRR's endorsements in a box with a different color.

"It's in a distinct box," said SMRR Co-chair Patricia Hoffman. "It's carefully demarcated in a separate box with a separate heading to differentiate the things we are not all in agreement on."

Hoffman said SMRR always sends a mailer every election to Democratic voters stressing the group's shared values.

"We've done it for at least 30 years," Hoffman said.

Jon Katz, presidency of the Santa Monica Democratic Club, said the mailer sows confusion about the club's support of term limits.

"Some people feel it's a little bit misleading and deceptive," he said. "We wanted to make our position clear."

The Club has posted a notice on its Facebook page clarifying its position and will send a mailer to voters stating its support of term limits, Katz said.

The SMRR mailer could have a significant impact on the fate of TL, which would limit Council members to three terms and is opposed by most of Santa Monica's political establishment.

SMRR -- which has been the most significant player in local politics for four decades -- carries considerable clout among Santa Monica voters, who are predominantly renters.

Candidates and issues endorsed by the group benefit from the its campaign literature and well-oiled political machine.

Although no committee has been created to oppose the measure, the TL campaign has limited money to spend ("Santa Monica Independent Campaigns Head into Elections with Small War Chests," October 9, 2018).

The ballot arguments in favor of term limits say they would bring new perspectives to a City Council whose members often serve "virtually lifelong" terms ("Ballot Arguments Underscore Key Differences Over Term Limits For Santa Monica Council," August 8, 2018).

Only two incumbents have failed to be reelected in the past 24 years, and two of the current councilmembers were initially appointed to fill vacancies created when longtime council members died in office.

Opponents of the measure argue that term limits would pave the way for "novice" elected officials beholden to the City bureaucracy.


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