Author Archives: Jon Brooks

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

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: 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:

London Breed Defeats Christina Olague in District 5

San Francisco has released the updated unofficial results from its latest round of ranked-voice voting tabulations, putting supervisorial candidate London Breed at 56 percent of the vote in District 5. That should preclude further ranked-choice rounds and make Breed the winner.

Olague campaign consultant Enrique Pearce has already told the Chronicle that “barring some sort of miracle, London Breed is going to be the next supervisor for District Five.” The Examiner, SF Weekly and ABC News have crowned Breed the winner,  not to mention her campaign’s Facebook page.

Christina Olague, no longer District 5's supervisor

You will recall, naturally, how l’affaire Mirkarimi insinuated itself into this race. Olague was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to replace Mirkarimi after he won election as sheriff. Then, well, you remember the rest.
(For the love of God please don’t make us recap it again.)

But long story short: Olague was one of four supervisors to defy Ed Lee and vote not to remove Mirkarimi on an official misconduct charge related to a domestic violence incident between him and his wife. Lee did not withdraw his endorsement of Olague but he was plenty mad, and some of his political allies took aim at the erstwhile recipient of the mayor’s largesse. There was talk of a recall, and the Chronicle reported that Tony Winnicker, a Lee advisor and former press secretary, sent Olague a text that said, “As your constituent, you disgust me. You are the most ungrateful and dishonorable person ever to serve on the board. You should resign in disgrace.”

Anti-domestic violence advocates also released an 11th-hour attack ad against Olague criticizing her for her vote against removing  Mirkarimi from office. That couldn’t have helped. Continue reading

Democrat McNerney Beats Newcomer Gill, Wins 4th Term in Congress

by Tara Siler

Rep. Jerry McNerney

Democrat Jerry McNerney’s victory in the 9th Congressional District comes despite predictions that his San Joaquin Valley race with newcomer Ricky Gill might be a toss-up.

By the time Gill called McNerney and conceded defeat early Wednesday morning, most people had already left the Democratic celebration. McNerney’s staff erupted in cheers and lit cigars.

In 2010, McNerney’s re-election took days to determine as results came in, and he said the early call from Gill was a relief.

“I was hoping I wouldn’t be waiting another two or three days for the results and its pretty decisive now. The voters have spoken and I appreciate that and the confidence they’ve given me and I want nothing more than to serve this community and do the best I can to make a difference in people’s lives.”

“I think he’s been very good to the community he comes back to,” said Laurie Mitnik, a substitute teacher from Stockton. “His door is open to people who want to talk to him. He’s very approachable.”

McNerney continues to have his work cut out for him. Stockton’s unemployment rate is more than 13 percent, the city recently declared bankruptcy and crime is soaring. McNerney said he plans to hit the ground running.

“I will not hold back,” said McNerney. “If I can find a grant, I will help my constituents get that grant. I want to bring federal dollars back to my district because we need it here.”

Throughout the campaign McNerney fought Gill’s depiction of him as a carpetbagger who moved to Stockton from Pleasanton because his district was redrawn. McNerney countered that his 25- year old challenger had far too little experience.

Outside conservative groups spent some $3 million to unseat McNerney. Unsuccessfully.

Video: Karl Rove Stages Mini-Revolt on Fox News Over Ohio Call

President Obama won the swingingest of all states last night, Ohio, possessor electoral votes so important that New York Times polling guru Nate Silver had written that it had a 50 percent chance of deciding the election.

As the night shaped up, the state was so critical to any hopes Mitt Romney had of staying in the hunt, that Fox News analyst and Republican mastermind Karl Rove engaged in a public display of wishful thinking after the network called the election for Obama based on the projection that he would win Ohio. Rove actually staged a mini-revolt on-air by challenging Fox’s decision to put the state in the Obama column. He claimed that with just 74 percent of Ohio precincts tallied and Obama’s lead narrowing, it was too early to make a determination one way or the other, as there were too many votes to be counted in the Republican suburbs of Hamilton County. “As they’ve started to come in, they’ve narrowed that margin dramatically,” Rove said.

“I’m going to ask you a straight-out question,” said anchor Chris Wallace. “Do you believe Ohio is settled?”

“No I don’t,” said Rove, who went on to explain there were still more “big chunks” of the Republican vote left to count.


Continue reading

Live Blog Preview: For First Time in Memory, A Dozen California House Races in Play

Twenty-term incumbent Pete Stark has a well developed get-outo-the-vote operation, but his opponent, Eric Swalwell, is capitalizing on Stark's reported negative attributes. (Photo: Cy Musiker)

It's been a rough re-election season for longtime incumbent Pete Stark. (Cy Musiker: KQED)

At one time, Nancy Pelosi eagerly lay in wait to retake her House speakership this election cycle. But it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. The U.S. Congressional generic ballot shows Democrats and Republicans are neck and neck, but the GOP currently holds a 50-seat advantage. The Democrats would have to gain 25 seats to take control.

Complicating things this year in California: redistricting completed by a citizens commission instead of the Democratic-controlled legislature that used to gerrymander their own; and the new “Top Two” primary system — which sent the two candidates with the most votes in the primary to the November election regardless of party affiliation. These changes have put a dozen seats in play, a far greater number than usual.

Tuesday night, KQED will follow what are expected to be the closest House races in California. They are:

Dan Lungren (R) vs. Ami Bera (D): 7th Congressional District

A rematch in what’s considered to be one of the tightest races in the country. KQED’s Tara Siler has been following the race. She reports:

Democrats really see an opportunity here to pick off a conservative Republican, and an incumbent at that. It’s attracted a lot of money, and it’s one of the most expensive races in the country. And a lot of it is being thrown at Lungren by these outside groups.

So much has been thrown at Lungren, in fact, that Lungren is now ahead of his party in calling for campaign finance reform. Continue reading

Live Blog Preview: 9 Key U.S. Senate Races; Final Polls

Tonight we’ll be live blogging presidential results, U.S. Senate races, hotly contested House seats in California, propositions, select State Assembly results, and local contests around the Bay Area. Here’s a look at some races that could tip the balance between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate. Also see our presidential race live blog preview.

Senate in session, 1999. (CSPAN)

The Democrats currently hold a 53-47 advantage in the U.S. Senate, and conventional wisdom is they are going to maintain their majority after today’s election. And by conventional wisdom I mean that New York Times polling whiz Nate Silver (whom some people put more stock in than the metal silver, at this point), says there’s a 95.3 percent chance of that happening. On the other hand he also prognosticates the final Senate tally at 52.5 Dems, 47.5 GOP.  What’s that supposed to mean? Is it because Barbara Boxer’s 4’11”?

(Some Bay Area liberals, who have been complaining about Boxer’s centrist ways for years, might claim he’s talking about Dianne Feinstein — who is expected to coast to victory, by the way.)

Perhaps Silver’s referring to a presumed win by Angus King, the Maine independent, currently leading both his Democratic and Republican rivals in the polls. Maine is one of the seats in play. Here’s a look at all of the races that could have a significant influence on which party controls the Senate.

Continue reading

Live Blog Preview: Obama vs. Romney; Final Swing State Polls

Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama at the first presidential debate.


Tonight we’ll be live blogging presidential results,  U.S. Senate races, hotly contested House seats in California, propositions, select State Assembly results, and local  contests around the Bay Area. A look at the presidential picture, below. Also see 9 Key Senate Races.

The other day one of our reporters who drew the assignment of gathering local reaction to the presidential election asked the practical question, “Should I go out on the streets or go into the bars?”

The answer, of course: depends who wins. If it’s Obama, I say our reporter should head for the celebrations in the street. If it’s Romney, hit the drinking establishments and home in on the sad sacks throwing down double bourbons like a bereft Humphrey Bogart trying his best to forget Ingrid Bergman. And don’t forget to keep your ears open for mumbling about “moving to Canada” and “goddamn Ohio.”

Meaning, of course, it’s no secret who a sizable majority of the people within the sound of KQED’s radio signal will be rooting for. The Bay Area is sort of the home field for the Democratic team, which you can confirm either by looking out your window at the political signs, checking your Facebook friends’ status updates, or browsing the 2008 election results by California county; Obama’s majority ranged from 63.5 percent in Solano to 84 percent in San Francisco. Because the left-of-left constituency here may grumble about the Democratic squad during the season, but when it comes to the World Series, everyone’s wearing the correct hat. Continue reading

Food Companies Fight ‘Genetically Modified’ Label Measure

GMO soybeans. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

by Will Evans, California Watch

The companies that make those candy bars leftover from Halloween don’t want Californians to be spooked by scary tales of “Frankenfoods.”

The Hershey Co., Nestlé USA and Mars Inc. – makers of such trick-or-treat favorites as Butterfinger, Kit Kat and Snickers bars – gave a combined $367,000 last month to oppose Proposition 37, which would require labeling of genetically modified foods. They are just a few of the major food and biotechnology companies that have poured more than $44 million into the fight against Prop. 37, Continue reading