' How Some LB Dems Shoved Independent-Minded Dem Schipske Out of State Senate Race

Perspective / Opinion

How Some LB Dems Shoved Independent-Minded Dem Schipske Out of State Senate Race

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(March 5, 2018, 8:10 a.m.) -- A few days ago, the CA Democratic Party effectively shoved former LB Councilwoman (2006-2014) and decades-long Democrat Gerrie Schipske out of the race to replace Republican state Senator Janet Nguyen in a district that includes a sizable chunk of SE LB and west-central OC. After what took place, Schipske chose not to pursue a campaign she'd waged on her own for the past six months, explaining that in early January, she had developed a blood clot in her right eye that seriously affected her vision. "The process to treat this problem requires a series of painful procedures, and there is no promise of a full recovery. This medical condition has made campaigning difficult in recent weeks...I used to think I could do it all, but at this point, it's best for me to end my campaign in order to devote more time to taking care of myself."

A number of outlets (who'd paid little attention to Schipske's campaign for half a year) highlighted her exit and missed what we think is the bigger story. For those familiar with the stealthful way some Dems used the Party's machinery to undermine Bernie Sanders, what took place won't be a surprise.

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Ms. Schipske was on track to win the CA Dem Party's endorsement, a key milestone because it would allow Schipske to access CA Dem Party money and resources. To get the endorsement, she needed a specified percentage of endorsement votes a few weeks ago from local Dems but (what a coincidence) just enough local Dems voted "no endorsement" to stymie her endorsement by one vote. That maneuver required Schipske to seek the Party's endorsement which required 60% support in an endorsement caucus at the CA Dem Convention in San Diego Feb. 23-25.

Two days before the Convention opened, on Feb. 21 a press release flew into local media mailboxes announcing that an actively practicing OC lawyer and familiar Dem Party name, Tom Umberg (who's sought, won and lost previous OC races), popped up to enter the race. Among those endorsing Umberg's pop-up candidacy were (what a coincidence) former LB Mayor Bob Foster and former state Senator Betty Karnette.

Of course Umberg's entry drained support for Schipske below the 60% level she needed for the Party's endorsement (leaving neither candidate endorsed.) Three days later, Schipske exited the race.

The net result leaves SE LB voters with likely two choices later this year: incumbent OC Republican Nguyen who voted for SB 35 (that reduced local-control, enabled housing density developer-directed "streamlining" and erased key public CEQA-rights) and voted for SB 562 (in 2015 that facilitated the LB downtown-desired Taj Mahal LB Civic Center transaction) OR OC Democrat Umberg with no record of which we're aware of opposing either of these two bills in real time. We know of no record by Umberg of opposing in real time any of CA Dem leadership's 2017 enacted legislation including the SB 1 gas tax hike (that LB Mayor Garcia sent Sac'to a letter to support.)

In 2008, then-Councilwoman Schipske defied then-Mayor Foster by refusing to agree to a parcel property tax ballot measure (requiring Foster and the tax hike's proponents to gain voter approval by a 2/3 margin which they failed to do.) In 2013, then-Councilwoman Schipske defied Foster by dissenting on the costly Civic Center Taj Mahal that then-Mayor Foster and then-Vice Mayor Robert Garcia supported. And also in 2013, then-Councilwoman Schipske proposed City Hall reforms that would (1) ban campaign contributions by contractors and others with business before the Council and (2) require disclosure of Councilmembers' emails that (at that time) evaded Public Record disclosure if officeholders used a non-City Hall website, email domain or social network. With Foster presiding, the entire City Council sat silent (including then-Vice Mayor Garcia) refusing to second Schipske's motion to discuss her proposed reforms in a Council committee, effectively killing it.

When asked in early 2014 by a reporter for the now-defunct LB Register what his role was in a well-funded "independent committee" that popped up to support Robert Garcia for Mayor (against several competing candidates including Schipske), Foster famously replied: "you don't see my name on it." In contrast, Foster's name was undeniably visible on the release endorsing the pop-up candidacy that derailed Schipske.

LBREPORT.com has had our differences with Ms. Schipske. She didn't like our coverage when we reported that she hadn't opposed JetBlue's desire for international operations at LB Airport (which she has since done.) We wish she'd distanced herself from Dems who stuck with Hillary Clinton (who included Garcia, who penned a slobbering political love-letter to anticipated President-Elect Clinton hours before her campaign's election night train wreck. LBREPORT.com coverage here.)

But at the end of the day, Gerrie Schipske's reform-minded independence that we admired on key LB-impacting issues proved intolerable for some LB Dems. It's been difficult to confirm the names of Dems who voted "no endorsement" or otherwise helped derail Schipske's candidacy; when we confirm them, we'll report them; we think you have a right to know who they are.

In our opinion, Long Beach will not be better off for what they did.

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