Deborah Says Das Pressed Her to Quit the Race, Calls Dem Party Tactics Shameful
By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers
In a private email, SB mayoral candidate Deborah Schwartz told key supporters over the weekend that Supervisor and local Democratic honcho Das Williams urged her to drop out the race and back incumbent Cathy Murillo -- then asked if the party could "offer" her something in return.
What Das says
Williams, in a text message, acknowledged meeting with Schwartz about the mayor's race, but took issue with her characterization of the conversation.
"I was not heavy-handed," Das said."You may remember that I helped get her on the Planning Commission and worked very hard for her (previous unsuccessful bid for) election to City Council.
She said she responded by calling Das and castigating him for failing to call out, as a de facto leader of the party, what she sees as reprehensible behavior by some Dem insiders and their allies. Among her concerns:
"Slanderous" attacks on Nina Johnson, the longtime City Hall staffer who is challenging Harmon in District 6, which she said have included formal complaints by party apparatchiks about errors in her campaign finance reports, picketing at an open event she held to meet voters and an effort to get Dem Women to withdraw its earlier endorsement of Johnson for being "anti-Democratic."
"Outrageous" comments by former party chair Daraka Larimore-Hall on the SB Talks podcast, in which he insulted Schwartz, Sneddon and school board member Laura Capps -- all Democrats -- in addition to demeaning mayoral candidate James Joyce III - a loyal Democrat -- for having challenged party-endorsed candidates at various times.
A "threatening Google text message" that she, Schwartz, has received, which she connected to the "desperation" of some party leaders about Murillo losing, and which she said she has forwarded to the Santa Barbara Police Department: "I am watching my safety," she said.
Schwartz also noted that even if, hypothetically, she did drop out and endorse Murillo, her backers would not follow her, given that her entire campaign has been premised on the need for change in culture and operations of City Hall under the mayor's leadership.
"My supporters would never vote for Cathy Murillo," she said.
Seven days is an eternity in politics (although, to be sure, it's a, um, shorter eternity in an all-mail election in which many ballots already have been cast. But we digress), and things can change quickly - but one week out, here is our totally unscientific, fact-free view of where things stand, according to the book maintained by Las Vegas bureau correspondent Tony (Little Tuna) Tagliatelle.
1-Randy Rowse. The sudden outbreak of Democratic in-fighting and sturm und drang underscores his campaign message about the corrosive effect partisanship has had on City Hall, and the latest e-blast by Dem chair Darcel Elliott, linking him by not-very-sly innuendo to Donald Trump, highlights the desperation with which Team Cathy views his campaign.
2-Cathy Murillo. In a low-information local election, don't underestimate the importance and effectiveness of the squadrons of volunteer precinct walkers the Dem Party turns out every weekend for its candidates, and don't forget that campaigning door-to-door is what Happy Cathy does best, certainly far better than governing.
3-James Joyce. The collegiate track man has all the momentum in the race as it heads to the final stretch but from where we're watching up in the nosebleed seats, it looks like he waited too long to turn on the burners, and simply has too much ground to make up. Whatever happens, however, he's established himself as a player on the local political scene.
4-Deborah Schwartz. Deborah thought the mayors race would be all about policy, not power-brokering. She declined to identify by name any of the Democratic Party "core group" she says created a toxic political atmosphere, but here's a wild guess at who would lead off such a list: Das, Darcel and Daraka.
5-Mark Whitehurst. Nice full-page ad in his own newspaper.
6-Matt Kilrain. Leads the field in appearances in police reports.
Don't forget to vote.