Dear Kos friends,
Today 6/3/2014 is the Super Tuesday primary day in California. One thing that will not be super will be the voter turnout which is expected to be dismal, if not the lowest ever. That means that your vote counts for more so get to the polls by 8PM PT today and be a part of it. I have an email election newsletter Zack's Picks that I send out to over a hundred folks, many of whom forward it to their friends. I try to encourage people to vote and to give them information to look out for on the ballot. This diary will also be about what I think will happen. This is the politics geek version not just for the general voter (which Zax Pix is written to reach.) Most of the interesting stuff is near the end of the ballot. Let's look at the races in the order they appear on the sample ballot as we head to the next part.
Governor: Jerry Brown is on the cover of The Nation this week so California is back! There is no doubt that the longest serving Governor in CA history will be re-elected in November. The only question is who will lose to him in the runoff. The two main contenders for that honor are Neel Kashkari, the choice of the GOP establishment, and Tim Donnelly, the Minute Man/Gun Nut/Tea Partier candidate. If Donnelly makes the runoff it will be more bad news for the GOP brand, so in a bit of rodent fornication I voted for him. Hey, the CA GOP wanted the top two primary (thanks Ahhnold and Abel Malo) so they have to deal with some disgruntled voters.
Lieutenant Governor: Gavin Newsom, the incumbent, is another sure winner. Nowadays the Republicans have little more chance than the Greens or Libertarians to win statewide office. Yawn...
Secretary of State: This is the first interesting race on the ballot. The CA Sec. of State doesn't do foreign policy but instead oversees elections and administers various business filings with the state. The best candidate is Derek Cressman, a former head of CA Common Cause who has been dealing with elections issues for many years. Unfortunately he doesn't have as much money as my State Senator Alex Padilla, who is termed out of his office and looking to move up. Padilla is the only SoS candidate up on TV in the L.A. market so as a Latino Democrat he is very likely to make the top two. His opponent could be GOP candidate Pete Peterson, or less likely stealth GOP dude Dan Schnur (Pete Wilson's press guy, running as a nonpartisan) or even Cressman. It will be interesting to see how many votes that disgraced Senator Leland "Gunrunner?" Yee will get. He stopped campaigning but is still on the ballot.
Controller: The Controller is the chief financial officer and auditor for the state. The current Controller is the excellent John Chiang, who is termed out and running for Treasurer. The best candidate to replace him is Betty Yee (no relation to Leland) who now serves on the Franchise Tax Board and Board of Equalization. She is a progressive with enough experience in state government finance and taxation to succeed in this posittion. The more likely winner is former Assembly Speaker John Perez. He has a nice positive TV spot in heavy rotation. Second place may go to Ashley Swearengin, GOP Mayor of Fresno, or with luck to Betty Yee.
Treasurer: John Chiang will be our next CA Treasurer and will do a great job. The GOP Some Dude (a CPA) will get the second spot although Green candidate Ellen Brown is more interesting. She advocates for the creation of a public state bank, which is an idea worth considering. In Top Two Land the alternative party candidates almost never get to the November ballot...
Attorney General: Kamala Harris will undoubtedly win re-election by a larger margin than 2010's squeaker victory. The other candidates are Some Dudes although GOPer Phil Wyman used to be in the Assembly (back in the '90s). Also for comic relief there is the inimitable Orly Taitz, running as an independent this time.
Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones will be re-elected. He rocks, even though he is neither a Monkee nor Ziggy Stardust...
Board of Eq. #3: Jerome Horton (D-inc.) is running unopposed.
Congress: CA-25 (Santa Clarita, Antelope Valley, North SFV): Lee Rogers, who has a chance to pick up this GOP open seat in an area trending Democratic.
CA-31 (Inland Empire): Eloise Gomez Reyes is the progressive that I support. It is hard to tell what will happen here with so many variables. We won't likely get the 2012 disaster of two Repubs nor will Joe Baca's comeback be successful. At least I hope not.
CA-33 (Coastal L.A.): There are over a dozen candidates trying to replace the retiring Henry Waxman. The best of the "insiders" (having government experience) is State Senator Ted Lieu, who has the Democratic Party endorsement. The most interesting of the "outsiders" is Marianne Williamson, an author, activist and "spiritual leader" who is running as an independent. Marianne is a lively and charismatic speaker, but if she wins she would be the next Dennis Kucinich (maverick progressive gadfly) rather than the next Henry Waxman, a master legislator and deal-maker. My best guess on the top two is Sen. Lieu against the GOP candidate Carr.
CA State Senate: SD-18 (east SFV) Bob Hertzberg, former Assembly Speaker is a shoo-in.
SD-26 (Coastal L.A.): This is an open seat (now held by Ted Lieu) with eight candidates. The only two I have seen are Betsy Butler (a former one-term Assemblymember) and activist and attorney Sandra Fluke. I liked both of them especially Sandra but have no clue what will happen tonight. They were at the L.A. Kossacks meeting at Casey's Pub in downtown L.A. Thanks to the organizers of L.A. Kossacks!
CA Assembly: AD-46 (east SFV) Adrin Nazarian is worth re-electing. His only opponent is named Zachary Taylor. This guy is running GOP rather than Whig, the party of his namesake (and mine) the twelfth POTUS. Most of the interesting Assembly races around here were two years ago (in the first election after redistricting.)
L.A. Judges: Judging judges is not easy. I try to consider various endorsements, Bar Association ratings, and meet with candidates when possible. Sometimes there is more than one good candidate; sometimes none are worthy of support.
Office #22: Pamala Matsumoto Office #48: No endorsement, but I voted against corrupt former legislator Chuck Calderon. #54: Debra Losnick #61: Jacqueline Lewis #87: Andrew Stein #97: Songhai Armstead #107: Emma Castro #113: Steven Klaif #117: James Pierce #138: Donna Armstrong #157: Arnold Mednick
CA Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson, the incumbent deserves re-election. This is a nonpartisan position, so if he gets over 50% he wins without a runoff. I think he will just barely do that tonight.
L.A. County Assessor: Jeff Prang is the Democratic Party endorsed candidate. He is a member of the West Hollywood City Council with experience working in real estate and also the Assessors office. This troubled department needs new leadership. The previous Assessor, John Noguez is out of jail on bail awaiting his corruption trial...
L.A. County Sheriff: This is another county department needing new leadership. Sheriff Lee Baca retired before the end of his term. His appointed replacement is not running for election so it is the first truly open race in about a hundred years. The usual pattern was for the Sheriff to pick his successor. There are seven candidates, most of whom are current or former members of the LASD. The notable exception is Jim McDonnell, who used to work for the LAPD but is now the Long Beach Police Chief. In the debate I saw with most of the candidates I was most impressed by McDonnell and James Hellmold, an assistant Sheriff. The question might be whether it is better to have someone who knows the LASD and can more effectively change it or someone from outside bring a new perspective. Bob Olmsted, the whistleblower candidate, was also a strong speaker about the abuses of the department and the role of retired Undersheriff Paul Tanaka in the jail violence scandal. McDonnell and Hellmold are likeliest to advance to November. I would be shocked if Tanaka makes the top two but in a low turnout who the hell knows? Nobody is going to get over 50% so this one goes to November for sure.
L.A. County Board of Supervisors: Each of the five Supervisors represents about 2 million people. The position is both executive and legislative so they have a lot of power. The Supervisors used to be known as the "Five Little Kings" but now there are also women on the Board. These seats almost never turn over because of the difficulty of running in such a large district. The last incumbent Supervisor who was defeated was Baxter Ward back in 1980. Now there are term limits so both Gloria Molina (Supv. District #1 Eastern L.A. County, San Gabriel Valley) and Zev Yaroslavsky (#3 Western L.A. County, San Fernando Valley) are termed out.
Board of Supes #1: Hilda Solis, former Secretary of Labor, US Representative and CA Legislator, is the sure winner here. I would be surprised if she does not clear 50% tonight. She will be a great addition to the Board.
Supervisor #3: I strongly support Sheila Kuehl to be my next Supe. Sheila was an outstanding State Senator and Assemblymember and also a brilliant public interest attorney and educator. She is a proven progressive leader a far superior choice over her opponents. At two debates I was not especially impressed with her main competitor, a former Santa Monica councilmember named Robert Shriver. Yeah, his sister used to be First Lady of CA and his uncle was POTUS. His father even lost an election to Spiro Agnew by a landslide. His comments in the debates were mostly vague assertions of the value of his business and philanthropic experience and his abilities as a deal maker. He might be OK but I wouldn't choose him over a superstar like Sheila Kuehl. He does have Good Hair, which is important for a Kennedy I suppose. The third candidate is John Duran, West Hollywood councilmember, attorney and LGBT rights activist. He sounded the most "business Dem" of the three, talking up public-private partnerships and such. He has the endorsement of the L.A. Times and a base in WeHo. Duran hasn't raised as much money as the two frontrunners but has sent out a few mail pieces. Shriver is rich enough to self-fund and is the only one with ads on TV. Much of this campaign is in the mail and on the phone. The party endorsements are mostly for Sheila but I have no idea how it will turn out tonight except that I don't think there will be a majority for anybody and I expect to see Sheila and Bobby in the runoff. There are also five other candidates running including Pamela Ulich who is from the Malibu council. She was at the LALCV debate along with the other three.
CA Statewide ballot measures: Yes on 41 Veterans Housing Bonds
Yes on 42 Public Records. Open Meetings.
Most of the propositions will now appear on the November General Election ballot rather than on primaries. That is because there is higher turnout in November.
That's the ballot. Thanks for reading and for voting. What do you think will happen (or should happen) in today's election? I am interested in what you think as we await the results coming in from The Secretary of State's office and county elections offices.