Today's the day, folks! I know it's kind of redundant telling kossacks to vote a party-line, but today I'm writing as much for the last-minute googlers as anyone. Here are my opinions on everything on this gigantic ballot, from the national to the local and everything in between. If you know anything about judges in particular give me your thoughts in the comments.
Senator - Barbara Boxer
AKA California's Good Senator. Boxer is a reliable liberal in a senate full of utterly useless corporate centrists, and quite unafraid to make waves in the service of doing the right thing. In a career that has mostly been dominated by Republican control of the senate, Boxer has distinguished herself by pushing back against a decade of wingnuttery. By contrast, I knew about Fiorina's awful reputation in silicon valley a decade before she decided to make a vanity run for senate, just from techies I knew heaping scorn upon the CEO who drove HP into the ground and then walked away with millions. Thank goodness Boxer's a formidable campaigner, and Fiorina appears to be headed for the dusty place where all the gazillionaire right wing vanity candidates go after they lose, right next to Michael Huffington.
House of Representatives
CA-01 - Mike Thompson
Mike's generally a pretty good guy, and there have been no groaners like the credit card/bankruptcy bill. this time around. Mike's candidate-for-life in that district, but he does a good job representing his people, and I respect that.
CA-02 - Jim Reed
This district is so gerrymandered for Republicans it isn't funny, but I have to applaud Reed for making a serious hard run at the execrable Wally Herger, who isn't even bothering to campaign this time around, much less debate Reed.
CA-03 - Ami Bera
I am thrilled to see Democrats finally start to compete east of the Carquinez, and Bera is certainly giving Lungren a run for his money. As a once and possibly future denizen of the 3rd CD, I really hope Bera knocks off that right wing SoCal carpetbagger. The 80 corridor has changed, and deserves a good congressman.
Governor - Jerry Brown
I didn't endorse Brown in the primary because he effectively wasn't bothering to run, and did not ask for my vote. Since then, Brown has come out and made a very strong case for himself as the right candidate for this moment in time. What seemed far-out 30 years ago turns out to be just what California needs today: energy independence and a healthy green economy, bullet trains and a next-generation infrastructure, efficiency in both energy and the functioning of the state government, and a deep love of the state for who we are, in stark contrast to his opponent, who seems to spend most of her time telling us why we'd be better off making California into Texas.
By contrast, Meg Whitman is basically a failed insider trading CEO reading Pete Wilson's cue cards, and utterly unqualified to function as governor, both experientially and tempermentally. The choice by the CA GOP to run two abrasive, disgraced CEO-turned-amateur politicians after the state has suffered through a wicked one-two punch from corrupt incompetent CEOs compounded by an amateur millionaire-turned-vanity candidate just blows my mind.
Lt. Governor - Gavin Newsom
I'll admit it; Lt. Governor isn't the most interesting position, and Newsom is not my ideal candidate. And yet the Lt. Gov. sits on a bunch of commissions that determine everything from offshore drilling to UC tuition. Newsom has higher ambitions, and will be on good behavior delivering on his campaign promises to hold down tuition and not risk another Deepwater Horizon blowout off the California coast. Maldonado, similarly, has higher ambitions, and will no doubt do everything in his power to impress the usual CA GOP primary voters and fundraisers by throwing monkeywrenches in a Brown administration wherever possible. Additionally, Maldonado's role in the annual hostage crisis that is the CA budgetary process has been to demand all manner of extortionary concessions before he finally cast his vote to pass it, months late. No way I'd vote to reward that kind of jackassery.
Attorney General - Kamala Harris
I am genuinely thrilled to vote for Harris, who by all accounts has done an innovative, thoughtful job as DA in San Francisco, trying to prevent crime by studying what makes people re-offend and trying to disrupt that vicious cycle. For well over a generation, California has tried the "lock 'em up and throw away the key!" style of policing, and it has been an utter failure on every level (unless you're a prison guard, in which case it's been good for business). Additionally, Harris has vowed not to appeal prop 8, and to defend the state's carbon trading regime against corporations trying to weasel out of paying for their pollution. Naturally, Karl Rove's corporate-funded group is gunning for Harris with everything they've got, and throwing all manner of negative slogans against the wall to see if anything gets traction. Cooley, by contrast, will waste CA money defending the unconstitutional mess that was prop 8. Easy choice here.
Secretary of State - Deb Bowen
Quite possibly one of my favorite statewide politicians. Competent, progressive, and an effective advocate for the reform of California's voting machines, Bowen has more than earned her reelection.
Treasurer - Bill Lockyear
I am not a fan of Lockyear, and still hold his endorsement of Schwarzeneggar against him. And yet he has done a good job of keeping the state bonds moving in an awful economy with a lot of speculators determined to create the false image of a California on the verge of a default bankruptcy crisis. I'm not likely to support him in any contested primary, but he's a whole lot better a treasurer than Mimi Walters would be.
Controller - John Chiang
I really like the way Chiang stood up to the Schwarzeneggar administration's attempts to screw state workers out of sheer spiteful malevolence, and I hope he has a long career in state politics ahead of him. Definitely earned reelection.
Insurance Commissioner - Dave Jones
I was impressed with Jones in the Democratic primary, esp. his deep knowledge of insurance policy and substantial record as a consumer rights advocate, and continue to support him for those reasons. Lord knows the Insurance corporations will eat us alive if noone's standing up to them effectively.
Superintendent of Public Instruction - Tom Torlakson
It is beyond question that our state's public educational system is a mess, after decades of deliberate underfunding and burdensome BS testing that robs class instruction time and fattens consultants and experts while starving teachers and programs. Who you vote for in this race depends on where you think the solution lies. If you think teachers are the problem, and that the state needs to make it easier for administrators to fire them, break their unions, and lower their pay, then you probably will want to vote for the other guy. After all, that's the mindset of the types who are backing him.
If, though, you think that teachers are the solution, and want to give our schools better funding and treat public teachers like the treasured community servants that they are, than Torlakson is your man. As a product of the CA public school system, and as someone who has taught the kids coming out of the school system, I know the strengths and weaknesses of the status quo, and I know which side I am on. I stand with teachers and Torlakson.
Board of Equalization, district 1 - Betty Yee
She seemed nice enough, although I'll admit I was tempted for a split second to vote for the candidate named "Borg" out of sheer Trekkie geekiness. Then I remembered that's how the state got Arnold Schwarzeneggar, and came back to my senses.
Assembly - Mariko Yamada
Mariko did such a good job standing up for the district's interests that she got locked out of the talks on screwing the Delta and building a peripheral canal, along with Lois Wolk. She has not only voted a solid liberal line on most stuff, but has also been there for area farmers with her votes to save Williamson Act funding, one of the few things keeping back the tide of real estate speculation on Ag Land. Deserves reelection.
Keep - Carlos Moreno, Kathleen Butz
Reject - Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Ming Chin, and especially Nicholson
No recommendation - Harry Hull
I hate the way that judicial races pose all the candidates with no political or legal information and no campaigning, and then let you vote on them. People whining about the politicization for the Judiciary miss the point - it's already politicized. On that note, here's my reasoning for the votes:
Moreno dissented quite beautifully to prop 8 and the various decisions to let it stand. Ming Chin OTOH argued against the decision to legalize same sex marriage, then voted to uphold prop 8 after it passed.
George Nicholson is a grade a right wing activist, who wrote the "victim's bill of rights" and is a strong proponent of "strict originalism."
Kathleen Butz, from her information, seemed pretty middle of the road.
As for Cantil-Sakauye, I could not find any information on her legal stances, much less political ones, and I don't trust Schwarzeneggar further than I can throw him. Better to let the next governor appoint someone else, with more of a record.
Davis School Board
Honestly, I'm still pretty upset with the way the Valley Oak closing went, and am not inclined to vote for any of the incumbants. None are crazies, and all will probably coast to reelection. I voted for Mike Nolan, for his refreshing statement that there comes a point where schools cannot be cut beyond, and that he would go to the public and ask them what they would be willing to pay for, and then float a bond well ahead of time to pay for it. I do not buy the "People in Davis don't have the money for schools" line, not with so many Lexuses and Mercedes parked around town. Pony up, yuppies.
For an explanation, vote by vote, check out this diary. In a nutshell, I endorse:
YES on 19 - Let Timmy Smoke!
NO on 20 - beware of trojan horse redistricting schemes
YES on 21 - $18 a year for free entry to state parks is a great deal
NO on 22 - the budget doesn't need yet another complicated set of restrictions
NO on 23 - Beat Texas Oil and protect CA's green industry
YES on 24 - repeal the last budget deal's corporate tax giveaways
YES on 25 - majority rule on budgets
NO on 26 - trojan horse corporate polluter attempt to prevent paying fines
YES on 27 return redistricting to the majority party
originally at surf putah