Hey Big Daddy,
Any final thoughts on the events of the week? Have you ever seen anything this historic?
–Earl in Elk Grove
Well, I’m not sure you can quantify history. Either an event is historic, or it’s not. But that’s just a rhetorical quibble. And in these historic times, it seems unfair to get caught up on such trifling affairs.
But I will say, I’m hard-pressed to see such a resounding victory in our state with such short coattails. Indeed, it appears that politically, President-elect Obama’s coattails are almost non-existent They’re as short as a Wall Street rally, or a George Bush reading list (that joke already feels dated, doesn’t it?).
For those of you who lost count, Barack Obama beat John McCain by 24 points. That’s more than three touchdowns, even in college football. And because of that, Democrats were giddy before election day, counting their way toward 54 Assembly seats.
As it turns out, it didn’t quite work out that way. Democrats gained just two seats – picking up three seats currently held by Republicans and losing the 30th Assembly District seat held by Nicole Parra. Of course, you can argue how much of a difference the partisan switch in the Parra seat is going to make, but that is a subject for another column.
And tactically, governing with 50 Democrats isn’t likely to be that much different than governing with 48 for Speaker Karen Bass. Sure, it means two more political mouths to feed, two more people to cry about office space, or parking, or whatever it is that Assemblymembers do.
And thank goodness we’re going to have at least one recount! Down in the Ventura area, the race to succeed Tom McClintock was down to just 108 votes, with Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson holding on to a lead against Tony Strickland that’s as slim as one of those pixie sticks Barack Obama calls a leg. So, we will have a little bit of drama after this column is published, and I ain’t just talking about who’s going to win North Carolina.
If Democrats do get to 26 in the Senate, it’s time for Abel Maldonado to start spiking his asking price.
But even if Obama may have given a little nudge to Hannah-Beth Jackson, I’m hard pressed to see how or where else he helped.
Obama couldn’t stop a convict from getting elected in Alaska, or get a comedian (do you still call them comedians if they’re not funny) elected in Minnesota, and in fact may have helped Proposition 8 pass in California.
Exit polls estimate there were roughly 1 million African American voters in California this election cycle – about 10 percent of the overall turn out. According to one exit poll, those voters voted for Proposition 8, 70 percent to 30 percent. That would be a spread of about 400,000 votes – the exact margin the measure won by, according to the latest numbers I saw.
As for matters closer to home, it’s good to know there’s still a little mystery left in the California voter.
A lot of voters obviously went into the booth this week and voted for Barack Obama and a Republican legislator. And the insistence of voters to spend billions on new bonds in the face of a massive budget deficits was remarkably ahistoric – in fact it was downright typical. There’s nothing I admire more than a determined shopper, and voters of California proved this week that once again, nothing is going to stop them from a good old-fashioned spending spree.
So tell me, exactly what message are freshman legislators supposed to take from those results? I have every confidence that some of that same schizophrenia will be on display writ large as the Legislature is gaveled back into session.