Buckle up California. The state Republican Party is flirting with complete irrelevancy this election. If the current returns hold, Democrats will control 2/3 of both the State Senate and the State Assembly, giving them complete freedom in Sacramento. The one lever that the Republican Party has held in California politics–especially after Prop. 25 (2010) lowered the threshold for passing a budget to a simple majority–is that a 2/3 vote is required to raise revenue. They may not have that lever any more.
There are 40 State Senators, and 27 votes (2/3*40=26.8) are required to pass a revenue increase. The Democrats already control 14 seats, and appear to be winning 14 more. There are no close contests here. Democrats should have the 2/3 supermajority required in the State Senate.
There are 80 Assembly members, and 54 votes (2/3*80=53.6) are required to pass a revenue increase. The Democrats appear to have won 54 seats. The two closest contests are AD-65 (Anaheim), where Sharon Quirk-Silva (D) leads Chris Norby (R) by just 1,004 votes, and AD-32 (Hanford), where Rudy Salas (D) leads Pedro Rios (R) by an even more minuscule 268 votes. Expect some lawsuits over the recount here, because right now 268 votes are all that stand between Republican relevance and Republican irrelevance.
Of course, all these numbers are provisional. That said, if the results hold after the various recounts, the Republican minority won’t even need to bother to show up in Sacramento. The Democrats won’t need them to do anything.
Update [11/8 at 5:00 PM]: Both Salas and Quirk Silva still lead. Salas’s margin is still at 268 votes. Quirk-Silva’s has gone up to 1,043 (up 39).
Update [11/13 at 11:30 AM]: Salas is now way ahead, having built a 2,500 vote lead. Given the low number of votes in the district, the difference is enough to move it off the Secretary of State’s “close contest” list. Quirk-Silva’s lead is now the smallest (at least in those contests where a Democrat is facing a Republican) at a little more than 2,200 votes.
Prop. 28 passed by a fairly wide margin (61-39), which means that legislators elected for the first time this fall will have twelve years total in the state legislature, divided however they see fit. People previously elected to the legislature still have to live by the old rules (6 yrs. max in the Assembly, 8 yrs. max in the Senate).
Prop. 29 narrowly lost (51-49). So no new cigarette taxes. As I noted before, I was ambivalent about this initiative, and it appears I wasn’t the only one.
Senator Dianne Feinstein cruised in her contest, winning 49% of the vote. She will face Elizabeth Emken (R), who got 12% of the vote, in the fall. The remaining 22 (!) candidates split (fairly evenly) the other 39% of the vote.
Taily Orly did pretty well for a fringe candidate–she came in fifth with 3.1% of the vote.
In the local congressional race, as expected Jerry McNerney (D) will face off against Ricky Gill (R). The results highlight the challenges that Gill faces in this race as the challenger. Gill has blanketed the district with signs and media. He has been aggressive, as he has to be, in getting his name out in front of the voters. McNerney, by contrast, has done very little campaigning. Wandering around town, I would say I see 60-75 Gill signs for every one McNerney sign. I get email constantly from Gill and basically nothing from McNerney. That said, McNerney got 48% of the vote to Gill’s 39%. (In San Joaquin County, the results were much closer: 49% for McNerney and 46% for Gill. In Contra Costa County, they weren’t: 53% McNerney and 30% Gill.) Incumbents, even weak incumbents, are hard to beat.
In more local election news, my property taxes will be going up soon as a local school bond passed (59-41). The money will go to building maintenance and upgrading other student resources.
Also, incumbent Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston beat the field with 41% of the vote. Her next closest rival, Anthony Silva, received 21% of the vote. The two will face off in November since neither received a majority of votes in the initial election. The Democratic-Republican vote split in the race was 55% Democratic and 38% Republican. (I don’t know the affiliation of Stevens who received 5% of the vote.) On the basis of this information, and nothing else, I’d guess Johnston wins re-election. If the city declares bankruptcy, though, who knows?
Today is the June “primary” in California. I put it in quotation marks because except for the presidency, we don’t really have primaries in California anymore. Thanks to Prop. 14, parties no longer get to pick their nominees for each office. Instead, we have a top two runoff system. The top two vote getters in each contest, regardless of party affiliation, will move on to the November election where voters will only get to choose between those two candidates.
I voted today. Actually I voted yesterday. I just dropped off my ballot today. I am registered permanent vote by mail, which means I receive my ballot in the mail and can send it back in the mail. I dropped it off at my polling place instead, though, since it is on my way to campus. (Unlike at least one of my colleagues, I didn’t have any issues doing so. I was disappointed that I didn’t get my “I voted” sticker like last election, though. Aren’t poll workers wonderful?)
I’m also registered as a Decline to State voter, so I didn’t get to vote in either of the presidential primaries. Neither party lets nominally non-partisan voters like me participate in their contests. Instead, I had to content myself with voting for all of the other federal, state, and local offices (Stockton has a mayoral election this year). I thought long and hard about voting for Orly Taitz (she of Birther fame) for Senate, just to demonstrate that the top two system would not necessarily result in more moderate candidates as its supports believed, but in the end I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I had to vote for someone serious.
In addition to the various offices, there were two ballot initiatives to vote on. I voted for Prop. 28, which would change how term limits work in California. Instead of being able to serve three terms in the Assembly and two in the State Senate, for a total of 14 years in the legislature, legislators could serve 12 years total, with no limits on how many terms can be served in either chamber (other than the maximum of 12 years total of course). My hope is that if it passes, it will make the Assembly a real part of the legislature again rather than the AA team it has become, and, in so doing, make the legislature stronger vis-a-vis the governor and interest groups.
I was ambivalent about Prop. 29, which would impose new cigarette taxes ($1 per pack), mostly for cancer research. I’m all for reducing smoking rates, and I think the evidence is persuasive that taxes like this can affect an individual’s behavior, but I’m not sure that the state (as opposed to the federal government, non-profits, or private industry) ought to be paying for the things Prop. 29 would pay for. Also, my guess is that the money raised will be raided by future legislatures and governors.
What about you? Did you vote?
- New ballot to greet voters in state’s June primary (sfgate.com)
- Will ‘birther’ Taitz be GOP Senate nominee? (totalbuzz.ocregister.com)
- The Initiative Dance Renewed (thepragmaticconservative.wordpress.com)