Will Betsy Butler’s Vote Kill Her Political Career?

In Assembly District 50, underdog Richard Bloom sees daylight

By Patrick Range McDonald

(From LA Weekly, Nov 1st 2012)

On June 27, far from Los Angeles in the state capital, Assemblywoman Betsy Butler refused to vote on a major reform of the byzantine California laws that give sex-pervert teachers and violent teachers a strong hand in fighting school districts that try to fire them. Butler, under pressure from the California Teachers Association, which has fought to maintain the intricate protections, never dreamed that her abstention from voting — which helped kill the law — would come back to haunt her.

Butler, running on Nov. 6 to represent one of the wealthiest voting districts in America — the Westside’s state Assembly District 50 — is in a political fistfight with a fellow Democrat, Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom, previously seen as the underdog.

“Betsy has been hurt by the mini-scandal,” says Jaime Regalado, a longtime political analyst. “Richard probably has more going for him.”

Butler is backed by the Democratic Party machine and its money — $1.3 million so far versus Bloom’s $507,000 — and enjoys endorsements from many Democratic honchos. But she’s made a series of missteps and found herself in the crosshairs of CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

It all started in late June, when she and three other Democrats on the state Assembly Education Committee — Mike Eng, Wilmer Amina Carter and Das Williams — refused to vote on SB 1530. The idea was to let the reform die, as the California Teachers Association wished.

The bill, authored by state senator Alex Padilla, D-L.A., would have allowed school districts to more easily fire teachers for committing physical abuse, sexual abuse or drug-related acts upon their students.

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