(April 29, 2007, updated) -- A mailing funded by donations from persons and entities presently unknown [update: information now available Monday a.m. from City Clerk, separate coverage coming] but listing the address of the LB Area Chamber of Commerce (which has endorsed candidate Ahmed Saafir in the race) has targeted conservative voters in LB's largely Democrat 6th Council district, featuring a photograph of Mr. Saafir (with a group children) standing alongside LB Police Chief Anthony Batts...although Chief Batts hasn't endorsed Mr. Saafir...or to our knowledge anyone in the race.
The Saafir campaign's web site doesn't claim Chief Batts has endorsed Mr. Saafir. A Saafir campaign staffer answering its HQ phone when we called didn't claim the Chief's endorsement. And Mr. Saafir himself didn't claim the Chief's endorsement in a telephone conversation with LBReport.com on the matter. Mr. Saafir said plainly that his campaign hadn't sent out materials with photographs of Chief Batts, period.
The mailing, which arrived at some 6th district addresses earlier this month, says it was sent by the "Long Beach Pro-Business PAC" [political action committee] and calls Mr. Saafir "the ONLY pro-Jobs, pro-Public Safety, Pro-Family Conservative for City Council."
The mailer sandpapers one candidate in the multi-candidate race, Al Austin, calling him "an ultra-Liberal Democrat"...although the 6th district is dominated by Democrat-registered voters. It cites a Press-Telegram editorial (an outlet that has endorsed Mr. Saafir) as saying Mr. Austin was handpicked by former 6th district incumbent (now Assemblywoman) Laura Richardson, adding "The Press-Telegram made it clear who [sic] Al Austin represents."
At the same, the mailer supporting Mr. Saafir includes a photo of Saafir alongside former LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill, a prominent Democrat...who was endorsed repeatedly by the PT.
Former Mayor O'Neill, along with O'Neill-appointed Harbor Commissioners Doris Topsy Elvord and Dr. Mike Walter, have endorsed Mr. Saafir, who was appointed to City Hall's Civil Service Commission by O'Neill.
Attempts to reach a Chamber spokesperson today (April 29), including messages left on VP Brandon Kline's cellphone, have thus far been unsuccessful. We'll report the Chamber's response when received. Revisit this page; click reload or refresh on your browser for updated text.
The Secretary of State's web site lists what appears to be a fairly recent ID number for the "Long Beach Pro-Business PAC"...but it doesn't indicate any contributions or expenditures in support of Mr. Saafir's candidacy or any candidate or measure thus far.
Mr. Austin, who is a business rep for a major public employee union (American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees) is endorsed by current LB Mayor Bob Foster, Council incumbents Suja Lowenthal and Patrick O'Donnell and has considerable support from organized labor.
The multi-candidate field in the winner-take-all race, coupled with the district's low number of registered voters and a possible low turnout, has made the race less than predictable. Candidates Lillian Parker, citing her local roots, and former 6th district candidate Dee Andrews (who nearly beat Richardson in an election contest several years ago) are among those also seeking the Council seat vacated by Richardson when she was elected to the Assembly in November.