By: Daily Breeze
It’s a testament to the liberal-leaning and affluent coastal California Senate District 26 that both candidates, Ben Allen and Sandra Fluke, are bright, young and promising aspiring legislators, already stars in their own right.
But it’s the focus on the district that gives Ben Allen the edge. This editorial board endorses Allen for the 26th Senate District.
Both candidates are Democrats and align along similar issues, including tax credits to spur growth and the extension of Proposition 30, a tax to fund education.
Allen bills himself as the candidate who knows the local terrain and has gotten the backing of many local established politicians.
Fluke, best known as the woman who radio’s Rush Limbaugh called “a slut” — he later apologized — after she testified before Congress in favor of birth control, is a women’s rights advocate who is coming into the system from the outside.
Although Fluke downplays that experience, she hasn’t been afraid to invoke it to pull in donor dollars in a race where she clearly has more name recognition than Allen, who has followed a traditional path to climbing the political ladder.
Fluke is clear, reasoned and a strong fighter on big picture issues like reproductive rights and early childhood education, but what this region is desperately in need of is somebody who more intimately knows the community and has gotten into the nitty gritty of some tough regional issues. Allen has.
Traffic woes, environmental protections, and local control funding for schools all promise to play prominently over the coming years in the region.
Allen, a Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board member and an attorney and lecturer at UCLA law school, has spent the last years focusing on local education, helping make some tough fiscal decisions in the district.
That experience will serve him well in the Legislature.
He shows a certain flexibility and willingness to compromise on tough issues. There will be plenty in the coming years as Gov. Jerry Brown pushes forward on a $68 billion high-speed rail project. Meanwhile, looming pension debts continue to strain the budget.
Allen’s biggest challenge is also his biggest strength. He shows a clear ability to compromise but that should not preclude him taking a strong position when it’s warranted.
During an editorial board meeting, Allen did not take a strong stand on the high-speed rail. That’s too bad. There are just too many wishy-washy Democrats in California now who are playing it safe.
Still, this editorial board believes he has the political roots and knowledge of the region and its issues to be a strong representative for a district that stretches from Hollywood to the Palos Verdes Peninsula and includes most of the coastal South Bay.
At the same time, this board recognizes Fluke and her potential to be a force in California.
In no way should she shrink from the political scene, but, instead, she needs to build up a stronger connection with the community she seeks to represent.
For now, Allen is best positioned to represent California Senate District 26.