By now just about every race has been called. But who were the real winners and losers on election night besides the candidates? Here’s our top picks.
Steve Glazer and Ann Gust Brown: Just about every political pundit thought Jerry Brown was living in the stone age when he put a long-time friend and his wife in charge of his campaign. Were they talented? Sure. But could they run a gubernatorial campaign? Well, we know the answer now: Hell yes.
The California Democratic Party: That the Republican tsunami was halted at the Sierras is owed in large part to the new leadership and staff of the CDP, notably Chairman John Burton and Executive Director Shawnda Westly. Since the Obama election, Burton & Co. never let up – raising money, engaging the party faithful, and launching perhaps the strongest GOTV effort the party has had in years. Burton was vital in essentially clearing the field for Brown and tamping down activist anxiety about the slow start for the Brown campaign.
Eric Bauman, L.A. County Democratic Chair: Speaking of tireless, CDP Vice Chair has propelled the L.A. Democratic Party into a force to be reckoned with. In addition to criss-crossing the state in his role as CDP vice chair, Bauman sought to bring the many factions of L.A. Democrats together with a single focus: getting Democrats elected in the city’s most populous county. It worked.
Speaker John Perez: Defending the Assembly’s post-Watergate high 51 seats was a tough chore for the freshman speaker. In a year when the GOP could have played in 8-10 districts, Perez kept his incumbents well protected and forced Republicans on defense in several swing districts, including the stunning victory of Dr. Richard Pan in AD 5. That the Assembly Democrats gained a seat this cycle with the Legislature’s approval in the single digits is nothing short of amazing.
SEIU: There’s little debate that the Latino vote is a key part of the reason that Jerry Brown will be California’s next governor. And while Nickygate got the media attention, the SEIU’s ground campaign may be what made the difference. From bus tours to door-knocking to Spanish language TV commercials featuring former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and L.A. Labor Fed’s Maria Elena Durazo, SEIU’s masterful strategy played a key role in the surge in Latino turnout.
Rose Kapolczynski: So many Democratic managers had a good election night, but special kudos go to Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolcynski. Boxer has never been popular, and pulling off a stunning victory against a well-financed candidate like Fiorina required the tough-as-nails discipline Kapolcynski demonstrated.
Congressman Kevin McCarthy: Who would have thought that the former GOP leader in the State Assembly would rise so far, so fast on Capitol Hill. McCarthy is being credited for recruitment of many of the Republican candidates who ousted Democrats in yesterday’s election.
Congressman Jerry Lewis: Just last year, a watchdog group named him one of the 15 most corrupt members of Congress. In a few weeks, Lewis, a moderate old bull in a sea of freshman right-wing Republicans, is expected to once again chair the House Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful positions in Congress.
Arnold Schwarznegger: The lame duck governor had a good night. His top priority was defeating Prop 23, and he prevailed easily in helping do so. He also got his way on two redistricting measures. Expect to hear about these wins as part of the “Legacy of Leadership” as he exits stage right.
The California Nurses Association: Queen Meg and Princess Carly gave the royal treatment to the Republican nominees for governor and U.S. Senate, mocking them at every stop. The press always eats up CNA’s shenanigans, once reason the union commands respect in Sacramento.
The California Budget Process: While the good news is that voters appear to have approved a majority vote budget, life just got harder for lawmakers in crafting a budget with the passage of Prop. 22 and Prop. 26 which put further restrictions on the budget process.
Nancy Pelosi: Just months ago, Pelosi was at the height of power, and muscled the Obama health care plan through the House. If losing her post as speaker wasn’t enough, California’s congressional delegation is now in play thanks to the success of Prop. 20. A bad night all around.
Mike Murphy: Why any California candidate employs Murphy is beyond me. Like when he presided over Schwarzenegger’s 2005 special election disaster, Murphy proved he had no sense of what motivates California voters. But like all of Meg’s advisers, I’m sure he’s laughing all the way to the bank.
John and Ken Show: L.A.’s loudmouth broadcasters got their heads handed to them on a stick. Not a single one of their causes passed. So why does anyone pay attention to these bozos?
The California Tea Party: It’s difficult to see how the Tea Party “movement” affected a single race in the state. Other than a few disciples getting elected to the Assembly (the result of June primaries in solid red districts), the lack of organization resulted in the Tea Party making no real political strides.
Valero: Need a lesson on how to waste $4 million on an initiative? Look to Valero, the architects of Prop. 23. Oil companies never could run away from the fact that 98 percent of the money for this ill-fated proposition was from their industry at a time when the Gulf oil spill is still fresh in the minds of voters.
Ron Nehring: Nehring’s days are numbered. The CRP once again proved irrelevant, raising little money and failing to bring the fractured elements of the GOP coalition together. His blundering last-minute attack on Secretary of State Bowen, blaming her for an error made by an elections director in Fresno, was typical of his shoot first, aim later style.