I’ve been under the weather the past couple of days, so I apologize for going light on the posts.
1) California’s Republican Quandary. Meg Whitman spent at least $162 million in her failed gubernatorial effort, purposely avoided controversial stands so as not to be portrayed as a wing-nut, supposedly mounted an unprecedented get-out-the-vote effort, yet drew 130,000 fewer votes than Dan Lungren in 1998 — Lungren, with his 19-point loss, being a benchmark for futility. The past dozen years have seen 31 statewide races in the Golden State (I’m not including Superintendent of Public Instruction — supposedly, a nonpartisan office). Republicans have won only five of those contests. Subtract Arnold Schwarzenegger’s two wins in ’03 and ’06, plus two wins in 1998, and only Steve Poizner (Insurance Commissioner, 2006) avoided a concession speech. That’s 1-for-27, folks — not a hit in any league.
2) At Least Pelosi Had a Bad Night, Too. Not a bad night. A really bad night considering: (1) she becomes yet another short-serving Speaker; (2) her fellow California House Democrats have to contend with the after-effects of Proposition 20 (so much for SoCal gerrymandering). Pelosi’s troubles are also Jerry Brown’s troubles. I don’t see the governor-elect having much luck rattling a tin cup outside the office of Speaker Boehner and his penny-pinching, red-state pals who now control the House of Representatives’ purse-strings.
3) The GOP’s New Friend? Initiatives. Republicans espousing Republican ideals got smoked on Election Night in California — up and down the ticket. But the initiative slate, for the most part, said otherwise. Californians said no to legalizing pot for the sake of more government revenue (Proposition 19). They made it tougher for majority Democrats to raise fees (Proposition 26), and backed that up by saying no to a new license-plate fee for the sake of state parks (Proposition 21). Voters, for a second time, said yes to independent redistricting when they deep-sixed Proposition 27). You’re probably thinking: isn’t Proposition 25’s success an exception? Well, yes — except, the campaign cynically made life easier for legislative Democrats . . . by running against the Legislature. Of bigger concern for California Republicans: how to interpret Proposition 23’s meltdown — too hard to overcome the Texas oil image, or are Californians really that crazy about green tech?
4) The Big Empty. California’s polls closed at 8 p.m., local time. 30 seconds later, Fox News called the races for Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer. Fox News! Et tu, Roger Ailes! California Republicans weren’t allowed even an hour of faint hope. Only, they were, thanks to the utter ineptness of California Secretary of State Debra Bowman, whose election-results Web page crashed in that half-minute between the polls closing and Fox calling it over. Candidates had to wait to declare victory. It gave losing candidates an added excuse for not throwing in the towel. If being a techno-klutz is sufficient grounds for recall, I’ll gladly sign a petition to get the Golden State an elections chief who can actually run a computer system.
5) Jeff Gorell, Role Model. Three days before he won a first term as a Republican Assemblyman, Gorell, a Naval Reservist, revealed that he had been recalled to active duty, would be deploying to Afghanistan this spring, and would miss at last half of his two-year stint in Sacramento. With the budget rules now changed and Democrats controlling every nook and cranny of state government, save for a few staff offices in the State Legislature, Gorell could bring along the rest of the GOP caucus . . . and it wouldn’t much affect Sacramento.