In CA, some winners and losers

A political rally during the spring in Santa Monica. (Photo: Joseph Sohm)

It’s all over and, with a few exceptions, it will stay that way for two more years.

But like any other public event, ranging from bridge tournaments to the Super Bowl, there were winners and losers.  Here’s our take on who came out winners and who lost in the 2016 general election.

Jerry Brown
California voters approved his Proposition 57, a move to loosen parole restrictions and reduce the prison population.  The governor must be thinking “If only I were a few years younger, I could have clobbered Trump!” Californians also defeated Proposition 53, which had been aimed squarely at his two legacy projects: the twin Delta tunnels and high speed rail. The governor fought hard against it, and he apparently carried the day, with the measure failing by 51.5 percent “no” to 48.5 percent “yes.”

Kamala Harris
She rolled to an easy victory over Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, a fellow Democrat, and goes to the U. S. Senate already being billed as the Democrats’ great shining hope for the future; might she become the nation’s first female president?  And back in Sacramento, everyone is speculating about whom Gov. Jerry Brown will pick to replace Harris as attorney general. Presumably, not his wife.

Recreational Marijuana
It’s legal in California now, giving birth to what some predict will be a multi-billion dollar industry.  At least it will be taxable.  And 2018 gubernatorial hopeful Gavin Newsom was behind the successful effort, and that $7 million from Napster co-founder and Facebook exec Sean Parker didn’t hurt, either.

The Death Penalty
Californians rejected an effort to overturn it by a decisive 53.9 percent – 46.1 percent margin.  On top of that, voters approved a speedup of the appeals process, albeit by a narrower margin of about 51 percent with some ballots still to be counted.

School Money
Voters approved a 12-year continuation of the “temporary” 2012 tax hike on the richest Californians, meaning continued funding of the state’s public schools at the present level.

More school money
Voters, clearly in a generous mood, also approved Proposition 51, a whopping $9.1 billion plan to borrow money through the sale of general obligation bonds, with the money going for school construction for K-12 and the community colleges.

Big Pharma
By spending some $109 million, the pharmaceutical industry managed to turn back Proposition 61, which would have tied drug prices for some public agencies in California to the price paid by the federal Veterans Administration.  That means any nationwide effort to roll back prescription drug prices is dead, at least temporarily.

Campaign consultants, media, advertising agencies
We saw the biggest expenditure of money on ballot measure in California history, totaling $450 million on the 17 statewide proposals. Win or lose, the money kept rolling in as special interests spent big to beat each other’s head in.  The widely accepted analysis by the Center for Public Integrity of data from Kantar Media/CMAG, which monitors media markets around the country, tells us $115 million was spent to air 76,000 broadcast television advertisements supporting and opposing California initiatives through Oct. 17.  And that figure does not include spending on cable TV, radio, online or mailers.  Television and social media execs are ordering that new carpeting.

Ammunition Restrictions
Voters approved Proposition 63, which prohibits the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and requires certain individuals to pass a background check in order to purchase ammo.  It was backed by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who can now boast of victories in two high-profile battles — legalizing recreational marijuana and ammunition restrictions.

Charles Munger Jr.*
The bow-tied experimental physicist was a principal backer of lopsidedly successful Proposition 54, which will prohibit the Legislature from passing any bill unless it has been in print and published on the Internet for at least 72 hours before the vote.

Darrell Issa
After more than 215,000 votes cast, Republican incumbent Rep. Darrell Issa leads Democratic challenger Doug Appelgate by less than 2,800 votes, or about 1 percent. If Appelgate loses, Issa scores high on the winners’ list. If Appelgate wins, Issa scores even higher on the losers’ list.

The latest figures are showing that pollsters were not as far off as previously thought, and Hillary may have collected as many as 1.5 million more votes than Donald did.  But the damage to pollsters’ reputation had already been done, with most of the nation believing, falsely, that Hillary had it in the bag because the polls said so.

How do you like your crow?  Everyone who is anyone thought Trump would lose, big time.  Anyone timidly putting forth an alternate outcome was derided. But right or wrong, the pundits will be back — count on it.

Big Tobacco
Californians approved a $2-per-pack increase in cigarette taxes in an effort to cut down on smoking by making it much more expensive.  It was the first tax increase on cigarettes in California since 1998.  Now there’s speculation that Big Tobacco could have done better by striking a deal in the Legislature for a smaller increase, thus avoiding the expenditure of $71,226,464 against the measure, much of it from  Phillip Morrow and R. J. Reynolds.

Cheryl Brown
In one of the most closely watched legislative races in the election, Democratic Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, the incumbent in the 47th AD, lost to challenger Eloise Reyes, a fellow Democrat. Gun control became a key issue in the district, which includes parts of San Bernardino, the site of a terrorist shooting in which 14 people died. Reyes was able to exploit several of Brown’s votes and her negative ranking from gun rights groups.

Big Plastic
They tried every trick they could think of, including a second ballot proposal meant to confuse, but in the end, the plastic bag manufacturers’ millions and trickery did them no good. Voters ratified the Legislature’s decision to get rid of single-use plastic bags.

Tom Steyer
The billlionaire hedge-fund-manager/idealist was all over your television set, advocating things Californians believe in, like the tobacco tax and voting.  (Well, he also wanted to end the death penalty, but that didn’t happen.)  Many thought it was all in preparation for a 2018 run for governor, but now Steyer says he may instead devote his energies to fighting Donald Trump.

Isadore Hall
Hall played a pivotal role in the Legislature, serving as chair of the Governmental Organization committees in both houses, which handles gambling, horse racing, liquor regulation and other issues. But when he ran for Congress in the 44th District he faced trouble from fellow Democrat Nanette Barragán, an attorney at a major law firm and a former member of the Hermosillo City Council. Barragan. She wound up narrowly defeating Hall, who wound up another casualty of California’s “top two” primary.

*Ed’s Note: Adds Charles Munger Jr., Darrell Issa as winners and Isadore Hall as loser. 



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