In a day of whirlwind, punch-and-counter punch endorsements, Democratic Assemblymember Monique Limon hours ago changed political course, suddenly issuing a formal statement of support for Cathy Murillo in the Santa Barbara mayor's race.
“After assessing the political landscape I’ve decided to endorse Cathy Murillo," Limon said, in a release that came from the Murillo campaign. "The decision does not come lightly as there are a number of respected community leaders in the race but it is done knowing Cathy shares important values that will drive policy decisions for the future of Santa Barbara,”
Coming from Santa Barbara's most high-energy politician, it wasn't exactly the most ringing and wholehearted endorsement in the history of American politics. That's no surprise, however, given that Monique, in wading into the mayor's race, did exactly what she said she had no plans to do just 48 hours earlier. On Monday, noting that Murillo Democratic rivals Hal Conklin and Bendy White both have supported her previously, Limon told Newsmakers that, “It’s hard to come out against someone who’s supported you. As of now, I’m not jumping in."
As of then, indeed.
Monique's move was (let us pray) the final shoe to drop on a day when three high-profile, political influencers tugged at the loyalties of the liberal precincts of local politics. The whiplash of successive endorsements in the space of six hours, - Rep. Salud Carbajal (Murillo) for breakfast; the Santa Barbara Independent (Hal Conklin) at lunch and Limon (Murillo) in time for supper - left unsettled the issue of who on the left has the best chance and most cred to shut down the upset bid of Republican Frank Hotchkiss to become the next mayor.
The Indy's pick of Conklin was something of a surprise, and gave a jolt of energy to a campaign that has been adrift. The Salud and Monique pronouncements for Cathy are notable, but not altogether unexpected; neither of them would have been elected without the strong organizational efforts of the local Democratic party, and their chits just got called in.
Three quick takeaways as the dust begins to settle:
Frank won the day. In the broadest strokes, the political dynamic of the race today is one Republican against two Democrats, advantage Hotchkiss. He can double down on the clear message to his base that he is the only conservative who can block the Liberal Hordes Howling at the city gates; neither Murillo nor Conklin can make the reverse case - that only they can prevent a Trumpista Tea Party Takeover in the birthplace of the environmental movement - as cleanly.
The Indy endorsement is huge for Hal and, coupled with the backing of the Capps family, boosts him upward into what potentially could settle into a three-way contest; Murillo's big-name endorsements tactically took some juice out of Hal's big day, but in the end the backing of two establishment politicians may mean more to insiders and less to folks with Actual Lives, than does the blessing of an alternative paper they already trust for weekly tips on eating, drinking and the band lineup at Soho.
Young Latino leaders. The symbolic image of Carbajal and Limon standing with Murillo sends a powerful message about political fault lines of ethnicity, age and income that seldom have been addressed in the race for mayor. In this off-year election, the universe of voters is expected to be whiter, older, wealthier and more Republican than the city as a whole; Latinos and Hispanics are likely to represent only a small sliver of voters on Nov. 7, but they constitute more than one-third of the city's population; and are all but certain to become more crucial in future elections.
Angel and Bendy are running out of time. Standings, sample sizes and margins of error aside, the Newsmakers Poll shook up the campaign for mayor by injecting a blast of urgency into progressives who were surprised and feel threatened by Frank's strong showing. Angel Martinez's 'message of executive experience has resonated among some business types and Funk Zone millennials and Bendy remains the clearest voice for neighborhood preservation. But all of a sudden, it's Survivor Time and undecideds are starting to kick contestants off the island, so Martinez and White need to start punching through in a way they have not yet done.
Ugg update. Martinez resigned his seat on the board of directors of Deckers Outdoor Corp. a few days ago, effectively severing his last formal connection to the Goleta-based company he led as CEO and President for years.
We were the first local news organization to report last month that Martinez had given up his post as Chairman of the Board of Deckers amid an outbreak of corporate warfare that involved an attack on him and the incumbent management by Marcato Capital Management, a hedge fund investor in the company.
Now Marcato has sued Deckers over the makeup of the board, which you can read all about here, a strategic move that led Martinez to split. Here's what he answered via email when we asked him about the latest news.
"The only significance is that my campaign is heating up and we are going into high gear. And given all the effort currently required to be an effective Board member, in light of the (investor) activist issues, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to stand for renomination, given that I won’t be able to devote 100% of my focus either that or the campaign if I try to do both.
My original plan, btw, was to resign from the Deckers board at the end of May. But this new line of work I’ve been engaging in is taking a great deal more time than I anticipated!"
(A note to subscribers: We updated posts several times today in an effort to keep up with breaking developments as they happened. In the process, we may have inadvertently resent you emails you'd received earlier. Apologies for duplications).
Images: Cathy Murillo; Frank Hotchkiss; Monique Limon; Angel Martinez.
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