Monthly Archives: November 2012

Soda Tax Advocates Undeterred by Election Defeats

The American Beverage Association spent $2.5 million fighting the soda tax initiatives in Richmond and El Monte. (Kristin Farr/KQED)

The American Beverage Association spent $2.5 million fighting the soda tax initiatives in Richmond and El Monte. (Kristin Farr/KQED)

In Tuesday’s election, Richmond voters may have flatly rejected a move to make sodas more expensive, but it seems Richmond city councilman Jeff Ritterman isn’t ready to end his campaign to tax sugary drinks.

“I’m thinking we should do ‘14 in ’14’ — try 14 cities in 2014,” Ritterman said on election night, even as early returns foreshadowed the tax measure’s failure. “Let’s make [the soda industry] fight it in 14 cities.”

That didn’t sound like an idea completely off the top of his head, so I called California Center for Public Health Advocacy and talked to Harold Goldstein. He is a passionate advocate about the health risks of sugar sweetened beverages. His agency is advising cities interested in implementing sugar-sweetened beverage taxes and sponsored two attempts at a statewide tax.

“The first time tobacco taxes were proposed, they lost by large margins, too.”

Goldstein wouldn’t say how many cities he’s working with now — only that in the next few years, “we’ll see a lot more of them.” He said municipalities haven’t been spooked by crushing soda tax defeats in Richmond and El Monte. More than 66 percent of voters in both cities had rejected the penny-per-ounce tax on businesses selling sugary drinks, a cost businesses had been expected to pass on to consumers. Continue reading

President Obama’s Re-Election Honeymoon (on Social Media) Continues, But For How Long?

One reaction on social media to President Obama’s re-election can be summed up by the popular meme at right.

(You’ve probably seen the president’s celebratory “Four More Years” photo everywhere on Facebook and Twitter. With more than four million “Likes,” it’s Facebook’s most-Liked photo ever. It’s been re-tweeted more than 790,000 times, the most RTs ever.)

Of course, President Obama was a social media star even before he was re-elected, and he’ll probably continue to generate a flood of Likes and RTs through the rest of his term. The Oxford Internet Institute found that the president would have defeated Mitt Romney handily if the election had been based on Twitter references. And on Thursday, the word “Obama” had been used in more than one million Tweets, according to the social search website Topsy.  Also trending Thursday on Twitter in the U.S. – “Karl Rove” and “GOP.” But not really in a good way.

But since the election, another term that’s probably more of a concern to the president has started to make its way onto social media:

Fiscal cliff.Continue reading

Video: President Obama Gets Weepy While Thanking Campaign Workers

He’s no John Boehner, but President Obama teared up pretty good while thanking campaign workers in Chicago yesterday. For those people who like Obama, it may strike them as the best speech of his entire campaign.

I try to picture myself when I was your age — and I first moved to Chicago at the age of 25 –and I had this vague inkling about making a difference. I didn’t really know how to do it. I didn’t have the structure. There wasn’t a presidential campaign at the time I could attach myself too. Ronald Reagan had just been re-elected and was incredibly popular. Continue reading

Too Close to Call! List of Still-Undecided Contests Across California

In this 2008 photo, workers sort California mail in ballots. (Justin Sullivan: Getty Images)

In this 2008 photo, workers sort California mail in ballots. (Justin Sullivan: Getty Images)

With estimates that for the first time vote-by-mail will exceed in-person voting in California, county voting officials are presumably working hard to get all votes counted. Counties are required to report their final results by December 7, and the secretary of state will certify the election by December 14.

In the meantime well over a million mail and provisional ballots are still being counted statewide.

Here are the races still too close to call:

Congressional Races

  • Bera v. Lungren (7th Congressional District): The political newsletter The Nooner reports that Bera is ahead by 182 votes with 193,000 uncounted ballots. Next update is Friday, 3pm.
  • Bilbray v. Peters (52nd Congressional District): Only a few hundred votes separate the San Diego candidates.
  • Ruiz v. Bono Mack (36th Congressional District): Ruiz is ahead, and local media have called the race for him. But Bono Mack has yet to concede.

Assembly Races

Continue reading

Turning ‘Purple’ — The Inland Empire’s Shifting Voter Demographics

By Steven Cuevas, KPCC Radio

Mark Takano (D), newly elected representative from the 41st Congressional District in the Inland Empire. (

Mark Takano (D), newly elected representative from the 41st Congressional District in the Inland Empire. (

California’s Congressional delegation will include about a dozen new faces next year. Redistricting and the state’s “Top Two” primary system led to an unusual number of competitive races, as well as a few upsets — and Democrats are the beneficiaries.

Of the state’s 53 Congressional districts, 34 are currently represented by Democrats. With Tuesday’s voting, at least one more seat will turn blue, while three other races still appear too close to call.

For starters, parts of the Inland Empire are looking a lot more purple — with areas once seen as Republican strongholds giving way to a wave of Democratic newcomers.

Early on election night, Mark Takano wasn’t yet ready to claim victory as returns showed him ahead of his Republican opponent in the newly drawn 41st Congressional District. “So let’s be patient,” he said, “luxuriate in the feeling we have now and be hopeful that change has come to Riverside.” Continue reading

What’s It Like For a Candidate to Be in a Really, Really Tight Election?

Dan Lungren and Ami Bera are locked in a tighter than tight race. (Photos: Republican Conference and Randy Bayne via Flickr)

Democrat Ami Bera is currently up by 184 votes over incumbent Republican Dan Lungren in the District 7 House Race. And while the outcome of that particular contest is not going to determine control of Congress or anything; and while you are, also, not exactly in the habit of ascribing actual human emotions to people running for office…

If you put yourself in the place of the two candidates beyond the remembrance of their depictions in campaign ads that interrupted “Here Comes Honey Boo,” you may eventually get to a place where you realize how, for the contestants, such a close race must really suck.

Which brings to mind a post we did two years back about the 2002 election for California State Controller, when Steve Westly beat Tom McClintock by roughly 17,000 votes out of 6.5 million cast. That’s a margin of .3 percent, and it resulted in the closest California election in memory. (The 2010 Kamala Harris-Steve Cooley attorney general race was almost as close.)

Here’s Scott Shafer’s interview with Steve Westly about what it was like emotionally to get snagged on this type of nailbiting vote count, and what the candidates who do face from a logistical standpoint.

“You’ve been running with every bit of energy you have for two years nonstop and you finally get to election day and your whole psyche is based on are you going to win or not, and then you realize you’re in a close race, and you watch into the wee hours of the morning. And in my case, they literally, county by county, dismissed the vote counters at midnight or one and they still had votes to count and it was still a tie. So you’re stuck… It dragged on for I believe 21 days, and it is a little nervewracking…”

Scott Shafer interviews Steve Westly:

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Quick Read: Romney Campaign: We Lost Florida

Though votes are still being tallied, President Obama is all but assured a victory in Florida because the lion’s share of the outstanding ballots come from Democratic-heavy counties. Obama leads Republican Mitt Romney by 55,825 votes — or 49.9 percent to 49.24 — but there just aren’t enough votes from Republican areas to allow the challenger to catch up.

Romney’s Florida campaign has acknowledged their candidate lost in Florida as well. Romney already conceded the national race after he lost the other battleground states.

Read more at:

Who Were the Big Winners and Losers in Frenzied Spending on State Initiatives?

By Lance Williams, California Watch

Molly Munger donated $44.1 million to pass Proposition 38, a measure to raise taxes for public education. The initiative failed.

Multimillionaire activists, big labor unions and major corporations combined to pump more than $363 million into political fights over 11 propositions on Tuesday’s state ballot, a California Watch analysis shows.

Prop. 38 backer Molly Munger. (neontommy/flickr)

Prop. 38 backer Molly Munger. (neontommy/flickr)

That’s about $20 in political spending for each of California’s 18.2 million registered voters.By law, state ballot initiatives are exempt from the tough donation limits that otherwise apply in California elections.

In contests over proposed tax increases, car insurance rates, criminal justice reforms and political spending by labor unions, donors with deep pockets took full advantage.

Forty-seven donors – individuals, companies and political committees – donated more than $1 million apiece on initiative campaigns, a review of campaign finance data provided by shows.

Seven donors each gave $11 million or more.

The unprecedented spending spree was a sign of just how far the 101-year-old California initiative process has strayed from its origins. In the beginning, initiatives were a Progressive-era reform devised to allow ordinary citizens to sidestep a legislative process controlled by monied special interests. Continue reading

ACLU, EFF Challenge Human Trafficking Proposition in Court

Getty Images

(AP and KQED) The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging California’s new voter-approved law to boost penalties for those convicted of human trafficking and increased monitoring of sex offenders.

Voters approved Proposition 35 on Tuesday with 81 percent of the vote.

In its lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the ACLU and the EFF argue that a provision of the measure restricts the First Amendment rights of registered sex offenders.

The initiative requires all registered sex offenders in California to provide the police with their email addresses, user names and Internet service providers. Continue reading

Quick Read: Thousands of Uncounted S.F. ballots

San Francisco still had almost 90,000 ballots left to be counted Wednesday afternoon, the city’s top election official said, which would likely mean days before the winner is known in the tight District Seven supervisor race and could potentially impact other outcomes.

More than 50,000 vote-by-mail ballots were turned in at polling places Tuesday, better than double the previous record, said John Arntz, the city’s elections chief.

Read more at: