Yesterday, voters in 12 states cast ballots on a number of issues and a number of races. The chattering class has focused mostly on the Arkansas battle royale between Senate incumbent Blanche Lincoln and her only-slightly-more-left-leaning challenger, Bill Halter. We’ve also seen lots of gossip on the sex scandal-laden gubernatorial primary in South Carolina, and pondered the matchups for high-stakes races in both Nevada and California.
Turnout was expected to be low in the Golden State, largely due to the lack of competition in Democratic races and the absence of off-the-chart controversial ballot measures. My polling place was hopping last night however, and I didn't see any people in the crowd wearing tricorn hats and breeches, so that’s encouraging. Should be interesting to see what the turnout gap was, or if there was much of one at all. Lately, I'm having a hard time buying the 'Dems are doomed' meme that the TradMed has been pushing. Anyhoo, some California result highlights, and a few thoughts on some of the other state/national contests are below the fold.
Jerry Brown secured 84% of Democratic votes, and will face former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (64% of GOP votes) for the California gubernatorial seat. Clicking the Buy It Now! button, Whitman dumped something like eleventy gabillion dollars of her own private cash stash into the campaign, setting a new primary record at $74 per vote.
For his part, political veteran Brown has already been Governor twice, and has held almost every other state office too at one time or another. He’s currently serving as the state attorney general. In a sane world Brown/Whitman is a race that shouldn’t even be close, but its kooky California, so look for it to be a scrap to the bitter end. I like Brown’s chances, but stranger things have happened: we gave you Ronald Reagan, ousted Gray Davis because he seemed wimpy, and let the Terminator set up a cigar smoking tent on the south side of the Capitol Building.
Palin endorsee Carly Fartorama (sorry, I think she stinks), having survived both cancer and her own flock of demonic sheep, is the Republican choice to face Babs Boxer for U.S. Senate. Fiorina took an estimated 57% of the GOP vote. Boxer had no credible challenge from the left, crushing primary challengers with more than 80% of the vote.
In Southern California’s 36th District, Democratic Rep. Jane Harman, a Blue Dog conservative, fended off a challenge from Marcy Winograd, co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Progressive Democrats of America. Shame.
Swankster Gavin Newsom took the primary for Lt. Governor, and will face Abel Maldonado (R) in the general. Newsome looks good on paper — green, gay friendly, and open to business — but there’s something about him I don’t like. Maybe it’s the mafia hair. I just want to dress him in a velour track suit. His record as mayor of San Fran is a little spotty, or so some trustworthy bay area friends tell me (I don’t follow him). He leaves many locals with the impression that he’s always looking to bigger and better things, and a stepping stone stint at the Statehouse feeds that impression. Newsom also has some propensity for grandstanding, which might come off oddly from the office of Lt. Governor. I’d wager that an average Californian doesn’t even know we have a Lt. Governor; much less that Maldonado (a moderate Schwarzenegger appointment) is the incumbent.
Orly ‘The Taint’ Taitz lost her bid to serve as California Secretary of State, earning only around 365k votes (which is still a frightening number of self-identified lunatics). Context: the Green Party candidate for Governor got a whopping 14,180 votes. The California GOP establishment is probably breathing a deep sigh of relief with the news of Orly’s loss. She makes Rand Paul look mainstream (and relatively harmless).
Kamala Harris (D) will face Republican Los Angeles County Dist. Attorney Steve Cooley for Attorney General. Harris, a District Attorney for San Francisco, overcame an aggressive — and expensive — primary challenge from former Facebook executive Chris Kelly (who dropped 12 million in personal cash). If successful, Harris will be the first woman, first Asian and first African American to serve in the state’s top law job.
Despite my super powerful vote, CA Proposition 14 passed:
Under the new measure, only the top two vote-getters in a primary election — regardless of their political party — will advance to a November runoff. Currently, the top vote-getter in each party advances to the fall campaign.
I guess I can appreciate the intent of this measure, which is to move the parties toward a reasonable center, but the net result of this flawed initiative will be to guarantee one-party races in some areas, and freeze out small parties. I’d rather see reform that involves instant runoff voting.
Gah! CA Proposition 15, the CALIFORNIA FAIR ELECTIONS ACT was defeated. Public funding of campaigns is probably the single most important step we can take in returning politics to governance, and stopping all the perpetual campaigning. This pilot program to provide public funding was a step in the right direction, and I believe that once Californians have a chance to see the advantages of publicly funded campaigns, we’ll see a big change in elections. Sadly, Proposition 15 will not provide that chance.
CA Proposition 16, a ballot measure entirely financed by PG&E (to the tune of $47,000,000) would have made it nearly impossible for public utilities like SMUD (local utility district) to expand into PG&E territory, and folks who wanted to create their own public-power agency would be almost unable to do so, because the measure would require local governments to get approval from a prohibitive two-thirds of their voters before changing their power provider. Fortunately, it was defeated in a 52/47 squeaker.
CA Proposition 17 was another misleading measure, this one bought and paid for by Mercury Insurance Group, the state’s third largest auto insurer. Thankfully, it looks like it was defeated 52/48. Too close for comfort.
Put forth as a promise to cut insurance premiums for drivers who have maintained continuous coverage, Prop. 17 is basically Mercury’s attempt to repeal a 1988 law, passed by voters, that protects California consumers from arbitrary insurance-rate hikes. If passed, it would’ve meant skyrocketing insurance rates for new drivers, and increased the number of uninsured drivers zipping about. Guess what? That ends up swelling rates for all Californians.
On the national scene, Bill Halter lost (ZOMG!) and it is a bitter pill for the progressive netroots to swallow. Halter enjoyed support and donations from organized labor and Left Blogistan in his bid to unseat the reviled Lincoln despite his not particularly progressive record. Seems to me, the left used the HALTER > BLANCHE, ergo HALTER = PROGRESSIVE formula. Honestly, I thought he had a chance to unseat Lincoln, but I didn’t pay much attention to this race, figuring it to be a GOP pick-up either way.
In Nevada, incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons was given the boot, and to the delight of Democrats everywhere, Teabagger favorite Sharron Angle will get a shot at ousting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
In South Carolina, palmetto passions may have brought about the need for a runoff between Republican state Rep. Nikki Haley (another of the Palin anointed) and Rep. Gresham Barrett for the GOP nomination to succeed Appalachian hiker and South American bone-daddy Gov. Mark Sanford.
In an even more bizarre turn of events, unheard of Democrat Alvin Greene pummeled Vic Rawl, and will now face Sen. Jim DeMint (R – Asshole) in November.
An unemployed military veteran who raised no funds and put up no campaign website shocked South Carolina’s Democratic Party leadership by capturing the nomination Tuesday to face Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint in November.
With nearly all precincts reporting, Alvin Greene, 32, commanded 59 percent of the vote against 41 percent for former four-term state lawmaker Vic Rawl, 64, who had raised about $186,000 and had to abruptly scrap a late-week fundraiser for the fall.
“As far as I know, he never showed up at anything. Vic Rawl has been campaigning everywhere from the time he filed,” she said.
Rawl said he was disappointed.
“I would’ve liked very much to be a candidate against Jim DeMint,” Rawl said, describing his sole primary rival as something of a mystery. “I never saw him. I’ve still never met him.”
Ain’t that America?