California election news roundup

It’s nearly Halloween.  Can’t believe the year has gone by so fast.  That’s…spooky.  But to seasoned politicos, Halloween also means that the first Tuesday in November is right around the corner!  And while the eyes of the nation will be on the Gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, as well as the fight for LGBT equality in Maine, Washington and Kalamazoo, there are some important things going on in California as well.  Many Californians across the state will go to the polls on November 3rd to vote in local municipal and district elections.  If you have an election in your area and you’re not sure whom or what to vote for, I heartily recommend looking up the recommendations of your local Democratic County Central Committee.  For instance, in Los Angeles County, we have quite a few races, and you can find out what we at the LACDP have endorsed for November 3rd right here.

Below the fold, though, I’m going to present a few items that have caught my eye recently, in order of immediacy.  Bear in mind that when I talk about candidates or measures I am supporting, it reflects my endorsement or opinion alone, rather than the view of the Calitics editorial or its other members, who are more than welcome to chime in with their views as they see fit.

• The City of Ventura has some items of particular interest to progressives on the November 3 ballot.  I’m proud to be doing paid work on behalf of City Measure A (where my brother and fellow Calitician David is the field coordinator), which will levy a half-cent sales tax over four years to restore city services cut by the F-U Governator.  Our campaign just got what I consider to be a surprising endorsement from the Ventura County Star–surprising because the Star usually has quite a conservative bent when it comes to its editorials.  Also on the ballot is Measure C, which will seek to prevent a Wal-Mart superstore from entering the community.  These are good progressive measures in the city, so if you’re in the local area and are looking for a campaign to get behind, there you go.

• Further up the coast, the City of Santa Barbara is experiencing something unprecedented: A Texas developer, Randall van Wolfswinkel (seriously, do names get better than that?  I challenge you to find one) has spent six figures trying to buy the municipal elections there.  Not surprisingly, the positions and candidates he’s supporting through his PAC are…not entirely aligned with progressive values.  If you’re curious, you can find out more info on this Facebook group dedicated to opposing the van Wolfswinkel takeover.

• At the next California Democratic Party Executive Board the weekend of November 13, elections will be held to fill two vacancies on California’s delegation to the DNC–one male, one female.  The male slot was created by the resignation of Ed Espinoza, whom many in the netroots may know better as “Mr. Superdelegate” from the demconwatch blog back during the primary campaign, while the female vacancy was created by the unfortunate passing of Inola Henry, who was the co-chair of the CDP Resolutions Committee and a tireless activist for the Party.  I am really proud to be supporting my longtime friend Becca Doten for the female slot.  Like me, Becca got involved in politics in the Dean campaign and since then, she has been a political mentor and an excellent friend ever since I met her on a bus to Arizona for Kerry in the summer of 2004.  Other candidates in the race include LACDP Vice-Chair Bobbie Jean Anderson, as well as Regina Carey from Marin County and Jennifer Ong from Sacramento.

The male race is shaping up to be a dogfight, at least by my estimate.  I am supporting union-side labor lawyer Lawrence Zakson, who, like me, represents Assembly District 42 on the LA County Central Committee and has served as the Committee’s Legislative Counsel for many years.  Other candidates in race include CDC President Henry Vandermeir, as well as Shawn Bagley from the Sacramento area Monterey County.  If you’re a member of the Executive Board or know someone who is, I highly encourage you to look into the race and take it seriously.  Our state’s representation on the DNC matters.

And now, for some news on next year’s elections.

• Tim Allison, who is running to oust useless incumbent Elton Gallegly in CA-24, has been touting some prominent endorsements recently.  In the interest of full disclosure, I have endorsed Allison and am lending some informal support to the campaign.  A couple of days ago, Allison received a major endorsement in the district: that of the Tri-Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents over 6,000 members in 32 affiliated locals.  Tri-County Labor is a major player in the local political scene, so this is a big endorsement.  Allison has also announced the support of my friend and CDP Vice-Chair Eric Bauman, which should be a nice boost in a primary campaign and should help Allison win the CDP endorsement this Spring.  While there are still rumors of another candidate joining Allison and 2006 nominee Marta Jorgensen, Allison is snapping up most of the political oxygen in this district right now.

• Steve Pougnet, Mayor of Palm Springs and challenger to Mary Bono Mack in CA-45, had a conference call with some Caliticians yesterday.  Be expecting to hear more on that shortly.  To me, Mayor Pougnet came across as intelligent, capable, and knowledgeable.  I know that some people are worried about whether the Mayor is going to lean more toward the progressives or the Blue Dogs should he be elected to Congress, and that is a valid concern.  I’m looking forward to hearing more about the meat of the Mayor’s policy positions in a future call, but my initial impression was indeed very positive.

• With Senator Wiggins deciding not to seek re-election to Senate District 2, Assemblymember Noreen Evans (AD-7) is one of the leading candidates to replace her–which, in turn, is setting off a firestorm to replace her.  When I was in Tahoe on retreat with the California Young Democrats, there were quite a few people from that District who simply couldn’t shut up about one of the candidates: Michael Allen.  Turns out that the guy not only seems to be the leading candidate in the race–he has prominent endorsements coming out his ears–but he’s setting a model for smart, environmentally sustainable growth.  Allen led the way toward developing a Community Benefits Agreement between developers, labor leaders and conservation groups to develop a labor-friendly, environmentally sustainable development project in Sonoma County that benefits everyone.  Read the article, and you’ll see it’s exactly the type of thing we could wish were happening across the state.

(via Robert Cruickshank) With Anna Caballero running for the Dem nomination to replace termed-out Republican Jeff Denham in SD-12 (perhaps the only winnable Senate seat we have in 2010 – Dems have a 14 point advantage) there’s 9 candidates jockeying to replace her in AD-28, which is a solidly Dem, majority Latino seat. The early frontrunner is Luis Alejo, mayor pro tem of Watsonville, former community lawyer with Legal Aid, and a solid progressive. He has the backing of most progressives and Dems in the region, and is the one I expect to take the seat in the primary.

We’re also watching closely the Lt. Gov. office and hoping that Abel Maldonado gets picked to fill that vacancy, opening up SD-15 for someone like John Laird to run. Of course, that’s exactly why Arnold probably won’t pick Abel, but a man can dream.

(via friend of Calitics Gus Ayer) From Orange County we’re glad to hear sputtering sounds from Assemblyman Van Tran’s attempt to go after Loretta Sanchez (CD-47). Van Tran is now looking at Lou Correa’s Senate seat instead, but the Trannie team took a huge hit when dead-drunk Westminster Councilman Andy Quach plowed into a light pole, with Van Tran almost magically at his side. Termed-out Tran is also at the center of a scandal surrounding the tainted sale of the Orange County Fairgrounds.

Congress Woman Sanchez has been singled out by the Courage campaign to make sure she not only supports a public option, but is also on board for a strong public option. Her staff greeted activists warmly.

Pinch me, but we’re hearing that there may be two winnable Assembly races in Orange County. In AD-68  Minuteman  jail guard, Costa Mesa Allan Mansoor may serve as a lightening rod for unions, as he once again supports a paycheck protection measure.  If Dems come up with a good candidate, and we’re hearing a killer candidate will announce soon, there just aren’t enough angry white Republicans in this district to elect a bigot like Mansoor.

In AD-70, the Republican field has narrowed to two ugly candidates, Toll Road Jerry Amante and  Don Wagner, the movement conservative, Federalist Society wingnut community college board member. Activist Melissa Fox is running a real campaign, and this is a district that Obama won by 8,721 votes. This is a district where the largest employer is UCI, with 7,000 employees and 22,000 students, many of them now living on campus instead of commuting, where Irvine’s vision of a Great Park has replaced the former Marine base at El Toro. Again, there may just not be enough angry white Republicans to get another wingnut like Chuck Devore elected.

In the special election to replace Open Mike Spanky Duvall, Republican leader Dick Ackerman is running his wife as a candidate against quirky OC supe Chris Norby, and the Republican on Republican mail gets nastier by the day.  John MacMurray isn’t the strongest candidate the Dems could have fielded, but low turnout in a spec ial election could yield a surprise.

And that concludes the roundup!  What’s going on in your area?  Let us know!

2 thoughts on “California election news roundup”

  1. I’ll have a quick voter guide to the Monterey County initiatives over the weekend, but I did want to briefly comment on the DNC member race.

    I’m endorsing Shawn Bagley, who is the Region 9 director for the CDP. Region 9 is Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and southern Santa Clara Counties (ADs 27 and 28). Shawn is a fantastic leader and organizer. He helped get me started in local Democratic politics, and understands the value of bringing in new people to not just become Democratic voters, but to become Democratic activists.

    Shawn’s platform is based on the “Centers for Change” he has started here on the Central Coast – permanent Democratic offices that serve as community organizing centers. For example, over at the Salinas Center for Change, the Courage Campaign (where I work as Public Policy Director) held a phonebank to Maine in support of the No on 1 campaign last Sunday. Many other community groups have used these centers for their organizing efforts, and Dems have been able to maintain a constant presence locally, using them as a base for organizing on health care and other key issues.

    Shawn Bagley embodies the spirit of what Democrats should be, and has demonstrated on the ground how Democrats should organize. I can’t think of a better person to elect as our new male DNC member.

    Oh, and I’ve also endorsed Becca Doten. That one was obvious, clear as day. She is awesome.

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