West Hollywood Mayor John Duran blew his top on Wednesday evening when a vote at the West Hollywood-Beverly Hills Democratic club didn't go the way he wanted.
Assembly candidate Torie Osborn had just won the club's endorsement in her bid to become the 50th Assembly District representative when Duran interrupted the club moderator's announcement. "We're not going to work for you, Torie!" said Duran. "This is bullsh*t!" He then stormed out of the meeting, but not before adding, "West Hollywood will remember, Torie."
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The exchanged was filmed by Marta Evry, who posted the video and a transcription on the site Venice For Change:
DURAN: You all come out to West Hollywood soon. We're not going to work for you, Torie! This is bullshit!
CLUB MODERATOR: Can we please come to order.....
DURAN: This is bullsh*t!
CLUB MODERATOR: Please come to order.
DURAN: (Pointing at Osborn) You divided our community. You divided our community.
CLUB MODERATOR: Will the meeting please come to order.
DURAN: West Hollywood will remember, Torie.
CLUB MEMBER: You get out-organized, you get out-organized... (unintelligible)
DURAN: I'm not being a misogynist, I'm working for a woman (indicates towards Butler) Wake up! They're not all lesbians!"
A spokesperson for Mayor Duran said that there were no immediate plans to release a statement about the incident, but in a tweet, Duran claimed Wednesday's vote was tainted by outsiders. "Weho Dem club! 40 out of town hacks invade mtg, rescind endorsement of Butler & Osborn, vote 4 no debate & endorse Osborn by 1 vote! Crap." Duran endorses incumbent Betsy Butler for the 50th Assembly District.
Club president Lillian Raffel told West Hollywood Patch that 45 new people had applied for membership on December 29, 2011 and paid for it with a single check. Those new members and their votes made a big difference in Wednesday's vote, since according to Raffel, the organization normally has about 35-40 active members. Patch notes that before Wednesday's vote, the club had originally planned to endorse both Osborn and Butler for candidates. In his outburst, Duran accused Osborn of pulling off a similar coup at a Malibu club just a few weeks ago.
Technically, Osborn's campaign organizers did everything by the book and justify the sleight of hand by pointing to Butler's Sacramento support, says Marta Evry. In an editorial for Venice For Change, Evry explained:
...the reality is Osborn's campaign and her supporters followed club rules to the letter. Most clubs have deadlines for registration (usually 30 days before an endorsement meeting), but almost none of them have residency or attendance requirements. And club treasurers happily deposit new member's checks - whether that check comes from a single supporter or individually, from the new members themselves.
On their part, Osborn's supporters say they had to move aggressively to seek the support of local clubs because of Sacramento's outside influence and interest in the race. Assembly Speaker John Perez publicly backs Butler, and reportedly secured forty-two out of the sixty-four delegate votes Butler received at the CDP's pre-endoresment meeting by "borrowing" them from assembly members in districts as far away as San Francisco and Riverside.
UPDATE: Both Torie Osborn and Mayor John Duran have officially responded to Wednesday's incident.
In a phone call to the Huffington Post, Osborn expressed dismay at Mayor Duran's use of obscenity in a public arena, saying that his outburst was just "sour grapes." With last night's vote, Osborn has won the endorsement of all eight democratic clubs in the Los Angeles area, which she claims is evidence of a growing grassroots movement of the young and unemployed who want change in California.
Osborn also defended her campaign's tactic to bring in new members to the clubs in Malibu and West Hollywood-Beverly Hills. "Every single club has different rules," explained Osborn, "and we've followed the rules. We've helped young people and people who can't afford membership join the club. Isn't the point to expand involvement?"
In an emailed statement, Mayor Duran defended his record as a "lifelong Democrat" and again expressed his disappointment at Wednesday's vote. In part, the statement said: "Torie Osborn’s campaign has said, 'It just is part of the tactics. People do it all the time.' To this, I respond: Americans are tired of politics as usual. These sorts of 'Tea Party' tactics are doing nothing but harming the good local Democrats that took time out of their evening to show up and have their say."
Mayor Duran then attempted to discredit Osborn's recently won endorsement. "Unfortunately, our club was overrun with outsiders and we were not able to make an endorsement through a fair and transparent process with an open and honest exchange of ideas," said Duran. "I would encourage West Hollywood and Beverly Hills Democrats to think twice before giving any credence to this ill-gotten endorsement."