Levine pulls endorsement of former staffer

Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, has dismissed his chief of staff, Stuart Waldman, and pulled his endorsement of Waldman in the race to succeed him. Instead, Levine is backing the candidacy of Bob Blumenfeld, the district director of powerful San Fernando Valley Congressman Howard Berman.

In a letter to Waldman dated May 31, Levine writes, “This is to inform you, effective immediately, that I am withdrawing my endorsement of your candidacy in the 40th District State Assembly Democratic Primary Election scheduled for June 2008. Please remove any references to my actual or implied endorsement from all of your election materials, including your Web site, without delay.

“I am sorry is has come to this, but I feel I have no other choice.”

Waldman responded with a letter of his own, which included a Blumenfeld walk piece that already featured Levine’s endorsement of Blumenfeld, and took issue with the implication of Levine’s May 31 letter.

“You are, of course, implying that I have forced you to withdraw your support of me due to my actions, as of May 31, 2007, and I understand that you have spoken to several of our mutual friends and indicated that you were still supporting me up until the day before yesterday, May 30, 2007, while you have told others, both in the San Fernando Valley and Sacramento, that you pulled my endorsement weeks ago.

“What is the true story, Lloyd?”

Waldman notes Blumenfeld’s mailer was “printed at a union printer, so it had to have been made the week of May 14, 2007, or earlier, as you and I both know the lead times required to prepare a union printed mailer can be significant. Keep in mind that I left the office on May 10, 2007, when you, to my surprise, dismissed me. I would be happy to provide a detailed timeline of these events to you if this would jog your recollection.”

In an interview Friday, Waldman said he feels betrayed by his former boss. “Part of my agreement to come work for him was that he was going to endorse me,” says Waldman. Waldman was Levine’s chief of staff for more than five years.
Levine did not return calls seeking comment for this story.

Blumenfeld, who has worked for Berman in D.C. and served as his district director since 2000, said he has had Levine’s endorsement for more than a week. “The 25th was around the time that I got it,” Blumenfeld said in a telephone interview.

Blumenfeld also confirmed that his Assembly race will be run by political consultant Larry Levine, Assemblyman Levine’s father.

Lloyd Levine’s abrupt about-face has led to speculation that he was pressured by Berman to pull his support of Waldman.

When asked if he thought Levine’s change of heart was part of a deal that would lead to Berman backing Levine in his Senate race against Fran Pavley, he said, “I would be surprised if Howard Berman didn’t endorse Lloyd Levine for Senate.”
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