Party primaries are in many respects tougher campaigns than general elections, because they often feature two candidates with similar records and policy positions. That forces people to take sides, knowing that if their candidate loses they will need later to make up with the winner.
That is what's happening lately in the 23rd Senate District, where Democrat Fran Pavley won a contested primary against incumbent Assemblyman Lloyd Levine. In that race, organized labor largely sided with Levine, as did the West Los Angeles political machine of Rep. Howard Berman.
These days, those people who were foes in May are trying to make nice in September.
Pavley, who had been a classroom teacher for 28 years before being elected to the Assembly in 2000, had felt particularly slighted when the union to which she paid dues for nearly three decades -- the California Teachers Association -- backed her opponent in the primary.
Now the union has begun the process of making amends, sending a $7,200 contribution to Pavley's campaign account -- even though she is running in a district so stacked with Democratic voters she is virtually a shoo-in for victory in November. That contribution followed another $7,200 check that came from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.
Yesterday, Rep. Berman joined in, making a $2,000 contribution to Pavley from his congressional campaign account.
It's not clear whether Pavley's hurt feelings -- if she in fact had any -- can be salved with money. Still, the contributions will likely help strengthen her standing when, as is likely, she becomes a freshman senator next year. She ended the primary campaign with a balance of more than $200,000 in her campaign account and has taken in more than $25,000 since then. In addition, she proved herself to be a very capable fund-raiser during the primary campaign by tapping into a substantial number of individual contributors who reside in the affluent district.
Add all those together, and Pavley becomes someone to whom incoming Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will turn to help finance Senate campaigns and provide resources for other political endeavors.