Central Coast progressives stay in office, but a few key ballot measures go down.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Asleep and a wake up later, and here’s what stayed the same.
Despite an electoral map that cut a swath of bright red through the middle and southern parts of the country, President Barack Obama painted the edges of that map in blue, snagging 303 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206 and winning re-election despite the fact that the popular vote had the two in a depressing, almost-dead heat.
When CNN called it at about 8:30pm, the relief at one election party was palpable.
“I’m finally starting to relax,” said Salinas attorney Robin Welch, who kept her eyes glued to national election results streaming from CNN during a fete for Salinas’ Measure E at the Pajaro Street Grill. “At the beginning, I was worried, I was ‘Aaargh,’” she added, clenching her hands into fists and grimacing. “I think the press has been reporting this as a close call when it really wasn’t.”
U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, who brought home a Veterans Administration clinic for Marina, increased presence for military higher ed to the Peninsula and National Monument status for a portion of the former Fort Ord (thanks, as legend has it, to bending the president’s ear during a flight aboard Air Force One), beat ag-industry scion and devout conservative Jeff Taylor to keep the seat he’s held since 1993.
His fellow Carmel Democrat, Assemblyman Bill Monning, a consistent and fierce advocate for health care access and education who also regularly gets the highest marks for his environmental voting record from the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters, switched sides (of the state Legislature, that is). He handily won the Senate seat in the new 17th District.
And Assemblyman Luis Alejo, who in his first term shone a bright light on the inner workings of Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, walked away with his second term in a newly reconfigured 28th District. Santa Cruz County Supervisor and state Coastal Commision member Mark Stone, meanwhile, will step into Monning’s Assembly seat after defeating Bob Fultz.
For progressive voters, that was all good news.
But the best news of all: Gov. Jerry Brown’s Prop. 30, the temporary sales-and-income tax measure to fund education passed by a healthy margin. Had it failed, it would have resulted in trigger-cuts equal to a fiscal bloodbath for everyone from kindergartners to college kids. At 6am Wednesday, with nearly 99 percent of state precincts reporting, 30 was leading 54 percent to 46 percent.
And that was despite a well-funded opposition campaign that included part of an $11 million donation from a shadowy, out-of-state outfit called Americans for Job Security (and a resulting lawsuit by the state Fair Political Practices Commission that forced donors to reveal at least that top layer of sourcing).
Prop. 32, which would have gutted labor unions by axing their ability to raise campaign funds via payroll deductions, also got a chunk of that $11 million; voters told its backers, in essence, to shove it.
Now here’s the bad news: Voters decided the death penalty, which costs the state an estimated $134 million a year to house inmates on Death Row and fund the appeals process, was something the budget-imperiled state could still afford, sending a proposition to repeal it down in defeat. Proposition 34, backed by former San Quentin Warden Jeanne Woodford, would have converted death sentences to life in prison without possibility of parole and put a one-time fund of $100 million into the hands of local law enforcement to enhance investigations.
While 54 percent of voters in Monterey County favored a measure that would have required labeling of genetically modified food, voters throughout the state brought in reverse numbers. Prop. 37 appeared headed for defeat by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent.
Thanks, Monsanto. (And the likes of Hershey Co., Dole Packaged Foods and DuPont.) Agri-business giant Monsanto funded the anti-37 campaign to the tune of more than $8 million, with the total anti-labeling effort coming in at about $44 million.
Backers, though, still viewed the heated campaign as a victory for consumer awareness.
“Whatever happens tonight, this is a win,” read a Tuesday morning Facebook post from Prop. 37 backers California Right to Know. “Millions of Californians stood up for our right to know what’s in our food. In the long run, our movement is too powerful to stop.”