In a crowded Democratic primary in Assembly District 53, Betsy Butler of Marina Del Rey prevailed over seven other candidates. Butler now faces Republican Nathan Mintz and the Green Party's Lisa Ann Green in the general election.
Butler served in President Bill Clinton's Commerce Department and on the California Film Commission, but her more recent work as a fundraiser for environmental groups and trial lawyers made her a target.
Groups like the Civil Justice Association knew Butler was the Democratic frontrunner and spent more than half a million dollars on mailers attacking her. Despite that, Butler won more than a quarter of the vote in a primary with eight candidates. Her nearest challenger James Lau won 17 percent.
The coastal 53rd district that stretches from the South Bay to Venice and Mar Vista has reliably elected Democrats. Termed-out incumbent Ted Lieu ran unsuccessfully for attorney general.
But this year, the Republican candidate is 26-year-old Nathan Mintz. The Stanford-educated aerospace engineer founded the South Bay Tea Party and scared off any potential opposition in the Republican primary. Mintz has been quietly raising money and preparing an aggressive campaign.