From In These Times: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/13257/torie_osborn_crashes_the_party
The spirited California Assembly candidate battles the Democratic establishment.
BY Steve Early
May 24, 2012
In 2008, thousands of Obama campaign volunteers got fired up about electoral politics in a way they hadn’t been before. Four years later, some are now running for office themselves. But few have made a bigger splash in local Democratic circles than former In These Times staffer Torie Osborn, a nationally-known advocate for gay and lesbian rights and other progressive causes. Her insurgent campaign for a California Assembly seat has roiled the waters of Los Angeles-area liberalism and bucked the legislative leadership in Sacramento, which is circling the wagons around her main opponent.
If Santa Monica-based Osborn beats Assemblywoman Betsy Butler in the newly-created 50th Assembly district—either on June 5 or in a November general election run-off—her victory over the party establishment will be a Left Coast monument to what might have been possible, in more places, if Obama’s campaign organization (or the Democratic Party) had been serious about grassroots movement building. “There could have been 100, or even 1,000 Torie Osborns, who came out of the network of energized people trying to change American politics in 2008,” says California political consultant Paul Kumar, an admirer of Osborn’s “extraordinary campaign organization.”
Given her strong resume as a community organizer, non-profit organization leader, and influential advisor to several Los Angeles mayors, it’s been surprising to some that Osborn’s well-funded first-time bid for public office wasn’t welcomed by Assembly Speaker John Pérez and other Democratic legislators. After helping to launch this magazine as a founding staff member in the mid-1970s, she played leadership roles in the National Organization for Women, a pioneering Los Angeles clinic for HIV/AIDS sufferers, and the national Gay and Lesbian Task Force that mobilized hundreds of thousands of civil rights marchers in Washington in 1993. While serving as director of Liberty Hill Foundation, and later with United Way, she helped channel millions of dollars from well-heeled Hollywooders into Los Angeles neighborhood projects dealing with gang violence, low-income housing, and environmental issues. Osborn’s latest work, with California Calls, has focused on boosting voter registration in the state and building a coalition to end “loopholes for giant corporate property owners and the requirement of a two-thirds supermajority vote by legislators to increase taxes.”
As San Francisco lawyer and Democratic Party activist Paul Hogarth noted in a February 2012 post on the Bay Area political blog Beyond Chron, California’s just-completed redistricting process has given “Democrats an historic opportunity to pick up seats in November— and win a two-thirds majority that would make Republicans irrelevant.” Instead, Hogarth charged, “[Speaker] Pérez has diverted resources from competitive ‘swing districts’ and is instead meddling into Democratic primary fights in deep-blue seats” so he can “consolidate control at the expense of everything else.” The chances of the Democrats gaining the necessary two additional seats in both houses of the legislature has decreased, as a result.
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