Prop. 28 Wins Big
California voters want their state lawmakers to spend more time in one legislative house or the other and less time in office overall. Californians passed — in a big way — Prop. 28 — which tweaks the state’s term limits law.
Proposition 28 limits lawmakers to 12 years, two shorter than under the current system, but lets them spend all that time in one house or the other.
Lawmakers are now limited to eight years — two terms in the State Senate, and six years — three terms in the Assembly.
The good government groups that sponsored the measure argued the new system should give lawmakers more time to learn their jobs.
“What Prop. 28 lets legislators do is stop jumping immediately into a campaign for their next office, as soon as they’re elected. It lets them take time to gain the expertise to become proficient at both the issues and how to work in the legislature,” Trudy Schafer, Program Director with the League of Women Voters, said.
Prop 28 supporters outspent opponents by almost three to one. Maplight reported much of the money for the No on 28 campaign came from out of state.
Prop. 29: Too Close to Call
California voters appear to be split on whether to add a new tax to tobacco products. The money would go to cancer research and smoking prevention. The campaign between supporters and tobacco companies was a high profile one.
Supporters of Prop 29 had a popular spokesman: seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong. They also had the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Association, and doctors groups pushing the measure.
Early polls showed a vast majority of Californians in favor of the proposition, and advocates were confident. But then tobacco companies weighed in with a massive ad campaign on TV and by mail. The ads said Prop 29 would create a new government bureaucracy, with little accountability. By late May, the ads had done their job: polls showed support for Prop. 29 had plummeted.
Tobacco companies spent nearly $49 million to fight Prop 29. In contrast, supporters raised about $12.3 million.
California used to have one of the highest tobacco taxes in the nation. But since the state last raised them in 1998, California’s rate has fallen to 33rd.
San Joaquin Valley, 9th Congressional District
In the San Joaquin Valley, GOP challenger Ricky Gill handily defeated his Republican rival and will face incumbent Democrat Jerry McNerney in November for the 9th Congressional District seat.
National Republicans have pegged the agricultural district as a possible turnover to gain them a house seat.
The redrawn 9th congressional district includes Stockton – a city with high unemployment and foreclosure rates that’s now considering bankruptcy.
Last night Gill told his supporters that McNerney doesn’t understand the new district and shouldn’t represent it. “And if you believe this community can do a lot better, if you believe we have a brighter future, if you believe our potential has yet to be realized in this community, in this valley, in this Delta — you have signed up for the Ricky Gill train and we are going to victory.,” Gill told his supporters Tuesday evening.
The general election could get expensive — Gill has already raised $1.4 million, even more than incumbent McNerney.
Central Valley, Congressional District 10
In the Central Valley’s 10th Congressional district, incumbent Republican Congressman Jeff Denham easily won a slot on the November ballot. And -farmworker-turned-astronaut Jose Hernandez, a Democrat, beat out independent Chad Condit, son of former Congressman Gary Condit. Hernandez, who has the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says he knows voters in the largely rural district are looking for a moderate — for someone to cut through partisan bickering in Washington:
” I’m smart enough to know that one party alone can’t do it,” said Hernandez. “It takes both parties to work together. We’ve both got to move to the middle, work across the table, for the benefit of America . That’s what we have to do.”
Immigration and health care are likely to be hot topics as Hernandez and Denham face off in the general election.
San Diego, Congressional District 52
The 52nd congressional district in San Diego will be a closely watched race in November. It’s one of a handful of districts that was previously a safe Republican seat and is now up for grabs by either party. Democrat Scott Peters came in second to incumbent Republican Brian Bilbray last night, winning the right to challenge him in November.
“Look Brian’s been in congress a total of 12 years,” said Peters. “He’s trying to pretend like he’s a reformer, like he’s never seen the inside of the building but he’s got a lot to answer for, for a congress that is really broken.”
Peters, former president of the San Diego city council, committed more than a million dollars of his own money to win a spot in the November run-off for a congressional seat. He is positioning himself as a moderate who can appeal across party lines to make government work.
Pension Reform in San Diego and San Jose
Voters in San Diego and San Jose overwhelmingly approved ballot measures to overhaul their cities’ pension systems. Despite widespread voter support, unions in both cities have vowed to try to block the measure in court.
Both cities have faced rapidly mounting pension costs that strained budgets. Measure B in San Jose increases employee contributions to their pension funds and offers new hires a stripped-down retirement plan. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed says it can serve as a model.
“It will give other cities hope,” said Reed. “I’ve talked to many mayors around the country. Cities large and small have problems. Skyrocketing costs are draining services and this will give them hope that if they go to the voters, the voters are going to be supportive.”
In San Diego Proposition B eliminates pensions for most new city workers and implements a five-year pay freeze on current employees.