Races

Deciding who represents you in Sacramento, Washington D.C. and where you live.

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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. (MarkTakano.com)

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

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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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 MapLight.org 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

Young Voter Turnout Under — or Over — Estimated in California Polls?

They also have exit polling in France. This man did not appear to wish to answer. (Stephen Rees: Flickr)

They even have exit polling in France. This man did not appear to wish to answer. (Stephen Rees: Flickr)

This election, KQED has focused in part on young voters and their views on different issues.

So how much of a role did young voters play in Tuesday’s electoral outcomes? It’s hard to say exactly or — as it turns out — even approximately.

The respected Sacramento political newsletter The Nooner Wednesday pointed to an exit poll showing 18-to-29-year-old voters made up 27 percent of California voters in yesterday’s election. That’s compared to 22 percent in 2008.

Yet the highly regarded Field Poll had predicted on Monday that a maximum of 15 percent of these young voters would turn out.

So what gives? I called Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo, thinking that he would explain how pre-election predictions can run awry. Instead, he walked me through the exit poll industry in California — and what an interesting trip that was. Continue reading

Is California About to Become a Democratic Wonderland?

California Democrats have ample reason to smile. Their party appears to be on the way to gaining a supermajority in both legislative houses — the first time for either party party since 1933, and a tax increase the governor has made the centerpiece of his plan to stave off further budget cuts looks to be on its way to passing as well.

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at L.A. City Hall on the state budget earlier this year. (Kevork Djansezian: Getty Images)

Gov. Jerry Brown, a big winner yesterday, at LA City Hall earlier this year. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

“Everything that the Democrats did is historic,” John Myers told KQED’s Forum with Michael Krasny on Wednesday. “The governor did something that did not happen the last eight times someone [tried] to raise taxes on a statewide ballot. Last night he got a tax increase, almost I would call a general tax increase, though it was supposedly earmarked for schools.

“If these numbers hold, it’s a very fascinating dynamic for Democrats in California and for a Democratic governor here in Sacramento.”

Democrats might think the word “fascinating” an understatement. After all, doesn’t a supermajority mean they can push through tax increases without the help of intransigent Republicans? (Proposition 13 requires tax hikes to be passed by a two-thirds majority of both houses, and Republicans have shown no willingness to play ball.) Continue reading

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.

California Democrats May Have Supermajority in Both Assembly, Senate

(Justin Sullivan: Getty Images)

(Justin Sullivan: Getty Images)

California Democrats are on the brink of a historic political achievement: Assemblyman John Perez has declared that Democrats have gained a two-thirds supermajority in the Assembly, and the California Senate is also trending that way.

If those totals hold, the Democrats will have attained a Proposition 13-proof advantage that would enable them to raise taxes without any votes from Republicans, largely intractable on the tax issue, or having to go to the voters, as Gov. Brown did with his Proposition 30.

But it’s not a done deal. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The party’s apparent capture of 54 seats in the 80-member Assembly and 27 in the 40-member Senate would mark the first time in nearly 80 years that one party controlled two-thirds of both houses, according to Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg. Continue reading

East Bay Institution Pete Stark Toppled by Novice Eric Swalwell

Undated Stark campaign button shows unseated Congressman's history. (Mpls55408: Flickr)

Undated Stark campaign button shows defeated Congressman's history. (Mpls55408: Flickr)

Twenty-term incumbent Pete Stark lost his re-election bid to Alameda County prosecutor and Dublin city councilman Eric Swalwell — who won with 53 percent of the vote.

It had been a bitterly fought campaign, with sometimes strange allegations from Stark. As KQED’s Cy Musiker reported, “Stark accused Swalwell, without evidence, of taking bribes; he was forced to apologize; and he wrongly accused newspaper columnist Debra Saunders of making political donations to Swalwell, again apologizing after.”

Stark issued a statement this morning:

It has been my honor to serve the people of the East Bay for the last 40 years. I have worked hard to deliver results: accomplishments like writing the COBRA law to make health insurance portable between jobs, bringing the first computers to schools, and crafting President Obama’s groundbreaking health care law. Continue reading