Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Ben Allen Gears Up to Represent the 26th District

One day after easily dispatching a political opponent who burst on the national stage in dramatic fashion, Ben Allen was taking a break from the rigors of his state Senate campaign Wednesday - hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains with his father.

From the mountains of Topanga State Park, Allen gazed to the south and could see the great expanse of the 26th District he would soon represent in Sacramento.

"I can see a straight shot from my current vantage point on the trail to Palos Verdes," he said. "It's quite something."

The newly carved district stretches from Rancho Palos Verdes north through the coastal South Bay and Westside into Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.

Voters in the heavily Democratic district wanted no part of Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student and women's activist who just two years ago delivered a speech to the Democratic National Convention. Instead, they selected the local candidate who followed a more traditional path to the Senate, where he will replaced Sen. Ted Lieu.

Allen, a member of the Santa Monica-Malibu school board, collected a whopping 60.8 percent of the vote.

"I think I was able to tell a story about having roots in the district and a track record of success in private and public sectors," Allen said Wednesday. "I've been in Capitol Hill and I'm very involved in local government work in my own community. I had fantastic supporters. All sorts of different people from different walks of life and ideologies. I made it clear I'd be someone to represent everyone as best I could."

Fluke, a West Hollywood attorney, managed to raise slightly more that Allen - about $1.2 million - in direct campaign contributions. She gained national attention in 2012 when radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh called her a "slut" and a "prostitute" on the air, in response to a speech she made before Congress when she was a law student at Georgetown. She was advocating for birth control to be covered by health insurers affiliated with religious institutions.

While she benefited from support from feminist organizations and progressive interests, Allen was backed by the state's Democratic Party establishment.

On the first day of his post-election respite, Allen said he will now rest and regroup before beginning plans to build a staff and organize his Sacramento office. He wants to focus on strengthening the public education system and the state's transportation infrastructure while also improving coastal environmental safeguards.


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