November 2010 Statewide Endorsements

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Governor: Jerry Brown There are two reasons to vote for Brown. The first is that Meg Whitman is a right-wing extremist who will destroy what is left of our public services and our prosperity. Her goal is to massively cut taxes on the wealthy, paid for by privatizing core public services such as schools. Whitman’s California is a place without any green jobs, without mass transportation, and without meaningful economic recovery – a state where everyone is poorer so that the rich can get richer. She wants to exploit workers, especially Latinos, and does not believe undocumented students deserve to be educated. We guess they can just sit around all day doing god knows what.

The second is that Jerry Brown has shown some important signs of progressive leadership. He strongly supports AB 32, the creation of green jobs, and high speed rail. He also strongly opposes, using powerful moral language, the efforts of Meg Whitman and her right-wing allies to scapegoat and attack Latinos and immigrants. He has stood up for labor unions as being relevant and valued parts of the political process, even as he pledges to cut their pensions – we don’t agree with those cuts, but at least Brown treats it as a policy issue and not as a “unions are villains” issue.

Calitics is well aware of Brown’s shortcomings. He is not progressive enough on law-and-order issues and tends to reinforce anti-tax frames. We can expect to have some pitched battles with him as governor, just as progressives did in the 1970s and 1980s. Still, we’re better off with our opportunities for offense under Brown rather than constant defense under Whitman.

The choice is clear: with Jerry Brown, California can stop the bleeding and have a chance at fixing this state. With Meg Whitman, things will go from very bad to much worse. Give Jerry Brown a third term.

US Senator: Barbara Boxer The choice here is stark and simple: a progressive champion who fought against the war in Iraq and led the effort to pass a strong climate bill (among MANY other accomplishments) or a right-wing extremist who praises the Tea Party and defends her record of shipping tens of thousands of jobs overseas. Barbara Boxer had our back in the Senate when few others did. She deserves our support now against Carly Fiorina’s radicalism. Further, if Boxer wins, it is very difficult for the Republicans to retake the US Senate, another reason to vote for Boxer and maintain the firewall.

More over the flip, including all statewide races, ballot propositions, and even the State Supreme Court retention votes.

Lt. Governor: Gavin Newsom This office is not that meaningful, but it IS important that it be held by a Democrat. (Brown is in his 70’s, after all.) Newsom deserves a chance to show a statewide audience what he can offer in terms of progressive leadership, and Abel Maldonado is merely waiting in the wings hoping that, if he wins and Whitman loses, he can carry on Schwarzenegger’s legacy with a bid for governor himself in 2014. Screw that. Let’s see what Newsom can do.

Attorney General: Kamala Harris There are a lot of reasons to vote for the current San Francisco District Attorney over her opponent, LA’s right-wing District Attorney Steve Cooley. But two words should be at the top of this list: Proposition 8. Because our current AG, Jerry Brown, has refused to defend Prop 8 in court (along with Governor Arnold Schwarzengger), it is possible that Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional will not be appealed to the 9th Circuit Court. Steve Cooley, an opponent of LGBT rights, has vowed to defend Prop 8 in court. That not only guarantees an appeal, but by putting the considerable resources of the state of California behind the defense of Prop 8, it raises the chances that Prop 8 will be found constitutional by a higher court.

There are other reasons to support Harris – Cooley is a retrograde “law and order” type who believes in tougher sentencing laws and more prisons, and cannot be counted on to help implement Prop 19 if it passes. There’s also the chance he might do something like join a lawsuit against the federal health care bill or go easy on the banks’ fraudulent foreclosures. Harris, on the other hand, will stand up for Californians and their rights. She deserves our support.

Secretary of State: Debra Bowen In her first term she has cleaned up California’s elections and positioned herself as a leader in the effort to make government more accessible to the people through the use of innovative new technologies and through greater citizen involvement. Add that to her progressive views and she has been an ideal Secretary of State (although we wish she were more supportive of Election Day voter registration). That alone earns her our strong support. But the fact that her opponent, Damon Dunn, is a right-wing nobody with no experience is another powerful reason to ensure Bowen gets four more years.

Treasurer: Bill Lockyer Lockyer has been a good treasurer overall, managing California through some very difficult fiscal straits. His opponent, Mimi Walters, is a right-wing rising star from Orange County who is using this race to build her statewide visibility. Lockyer hasn’t been perfect – his call to privatize the UC system is something we vehemently disagree with (see note below) – but he’s a far sight better than Walters, who would be an ally of the Wall Street banksters and make flawed investment decisions. Walters also cannot be relied upon to support selling infrastructure bonds at a time when rates are historically low and when we desperately need the jobs and the projects the borrowed funds would build. So we need to keep Lockyer there for four more years, while we look for a more progressive replacement.

Note: Bill Lockyer’s campaign emailed Calitics to dispute this claim about the UC system and said that he never proposed privatization, and that he opposes it. They also pointed to this 2007 op-ed where Lockyer called for more funding for the UC system. That’s good to hear, and merely reconfirms our endorsement of his candidacy.

Controller: John Chiang John Chiang is probably the only bona fide hero produced by the recent budget wars in Sacramento. He refused to go along with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ridiculous, reckless schemes to reduce hundreds of thousands of workers to minimum wage, and has managed the state’s cash flow in a way that has generally avoided IOUs, not an easy feat. Chiang is a progressive rising star, and he deserves four more years.

Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones: Dave Jones is a solid progressive who has been a champion of consumers during his time in the Assembly.  The insurance commissioner doesn’t necessarily do what you would expect it to do, namely, it doesn’t directly regulate most health care insurance. The Department of Managed Care does that.  That being said, Jones will bring solid understanding of the failings of our current health care system, and will work with the state and federal government to at least make incremental change.  He will also continue to stand up for consumers in the other major insurance industries. His opponent, Mike Villines, is a right-winger that is out of touch with the state and in the pocket of the industry he proposes to regulate.  The choice here is clear: Dave Jones will be a big upgrade over outgoing InsComm Steve Poizner.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson If you believe that the problem with public schools lies with its teachers, and that hedge funds and billionaires should be given more control over K-12 education, then vote for Larry Aceves. If you, like most other Californians, believe that most teachers do a wonderful job and deserve more support, more resources, and not more right-wing pseudo-reforms, vote for Tom Torlakson. Torlakson bucked his party to vote against the Race to the Top scam and understands that California needs to bring parents, teachers, students, and the community together to improve our schools, rather than ram unwanted right-wing policies down people’s throats. This is a very important race for the future of education in California, and it’s important that Torlakson wins it.

State Supreme Court retention – Tani Cantil-Sakauye: no recommendation Voters are asked every 12 years whether to retain State Supreme Court justices. In this case, voters are being asked whether to confirm Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pick to replace Chief Justice Ron George. Cantil-Sakauye is seen as an uncontroversial judge, but then again she IS Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pick, and he is not likely to pick anyone but a judge who shares his views on corporate power. If you think Jerry Brown can pick a better chief justice, vote no; if you think Canti-Sakauye is fine and/or you worry that Meg Whitman will win and pick someone worse, vote yes.

State Supreme Court retention – Ming Chin: NO Chin was in the minority on the 4-3 In re: Marriage Cases decision in 2008, meaning he voted to uphold the state’s ban on marriage equality. Chin again opposed marriage equality in May 2009, joining the majority that upheld Prop 8. Chin has been one of the most right-wing justices on the state Supreme Court. Californians can and should have better justices than this, ones who will uphold the equal rights of ALL Californians.

State Supreme Court retention – Carlos Moreno: YES In contrast to Chin, Justice Carlos Moreno has been a strong advocate for judicial recognition of equal rights. In addition to his vote to overturn the marriage ban in In re: Marriage Cases and he was the only justice to vote to overturn Prop 8 at the State Supreme Court, passionately arguing against enshrining discrimination in the state Constitution. Beyond Prop 8, Moreno has been a reliable vote for equality in other cases in his 9 years on the bench, and deserves to be retained.


Prop 19: YES The war on drugs has failed. Prohibition is not a sensible way to deal with marijuana. It’s time we accepted reality and made marijuana legal for Californians over age 21. Prop 19 is a long overdue reform to our drug laws, getting nonviolent offenders out of prison, and potentially saving state and local governments billions of dollars in the process, enabling them to focus on real criminal problems (like gangs) while also dealing a huge blow to the drug cartels.

Some may quibble with the wording of Prop 19. But any possible problems can be fixed by the state legislature. Prop 19 does NOT tie the hands of the legislature; all it says is that future legislative action can only be in the direction of making sure cannabis is legal for adult Californians. Tom Ammiano already has a bill proposed to provide statewide regulation of cannabis pursuant to Prop 19. More importantly, Prop 19 signals to the legislature that the public will no longer accept Prohibition as an answer to cannabis, and instead demands it be treated within the same kind of regulatory framework as alcohol and tobacco. Prop 19 deserves your vote.

Prop 20: NO This is a siren song to progressives, who would do well to make like Odysseus and plug their ears. When a right-wing billionaire like Charles Munger, Jr. puts a proposition on the ballot to give an unelected commission where Republicans have more seats than they deserve (given the proportion of voter registration in the state) the power to redraw Congressional district lines, progressives should run away as fast as they can. This proposition has one purpose only: to undermine progressive Democrats in Congress by making them defend seats in California instead of playing offense elsewhere. If you want to hand power to conservatives, Prop 20 is for you. If you want to support progressives, join us and vote no.

Prop 21: YES This is as sensible a ballot proposition as we’ve ever seen. It increases the vehicle license fee by a mere $18/year, and in return Californians get to protect and improve their state parks, ensuring they remain open and that the maintenance backlog is finally address – as well as giving all Californians access to all state parks and beaches free of charge. Some people whine about “ballot box budgeting” but here’s the problem: as long as the 2/3rds rule exists for budget and taxes, the legislature will remain incapable of producing good budgets, and voters will have to step in from time to time to protect our priorities. Further, Prop 21 actually helps the general fund by freeing up hundreds of millions of dollars each year to fund other programs, since the state parks will now have their own funding source. This is also a smart way to show Californians that spending money for public services is a good idea, since they’ll get to see and enjoy the fruits of their $18/year VLF increase. Prop 21 deserves your yes vote.

Prop 22: no recommendation Prop 22 would permanently end the raids on local government funds, as well as force an immediate repayment to local governments of the money they’re owed. This may seem straightforward, but it poses a difficult choice for progressives, and Calitics is split on whether it deserves support.

The argument for Prop 22 is this: raids on local government funds have dealt a huge blow to progressives as well as to public trust in government. Cities and counties have been forced to make crippling cuts to public services because of these raids, which fuel the belief that the state’s budget crisis is a result of government incompetence and not the result of problems in Sacramento such as the 2/3rds rule or a lack of taxation on the rich. These raids have also helped fuel backlash at public pensions, and generally have made it harder to make a progressive case for government.

The argument against Prop 22 is this: it would force an immediate repayment to these local governments out of the general fund, which would force further cuts to schools and health care services. Redevelopment agencies also get their money back, and it’s hard to justify that given the state’s ongoing budget mess.

Prop 23: NO By now you should know the story here. Texas oil companies and the notorious Koch Brothers are funding this proposition, which would effectively repeal AB 32, the state’s global warming law. It would destroy our green jobs economy in order to give more money to oil companies, and it would stop us from being able to do anything about climate change. Worse, it would send a national signal that voters don’t want to do anything about global warming, that we all want to go down with the ship as sea levels rise, as droughts become more common, and as whole industries shrivel up and die. It is extremely important that Prop 23 be defeated. California’s future depends on it.

Prop 24: YES During the 2008 and 2009 budget deals, Republicans leveraged the 2/3rds rule to demand and win the creation of huge new tax loopholes for large corporations that will total about $2 billion a year. If you think that giving corporations a tax cut is more important than keeping teachers in the classroom or ensuring poor children have health care, then vote no. If you don’t, and if you believe that schools and health care services matter more than letting the rich get richer, join us and vote yes on Prop 24.

Prop 25: YES The most important reform to the government of California – the tree blocking the tracks – is eliminating the 2/3rds rule for budget and taxes. Prop 25 gets us part of the way there by restoring majority rule on the budget, and leaving the 2/3rds rule in place for taxes. Big corporations like Chevron and Safeway have been spending millions to try to defeat it, preferring to let Republicans keep holding up the budget and making demands like the creation of the tax loopholes Prop 24 would close. It would also be another way of protecting AB 32 – in 2008 and 2009 Republicans initially demanded the gutting of AB 32 in return for their votes for a budget. It’s time to end the Sacramento hostage crisis and start fixing our state government by voting yes on Prop 25.

Prop 26: NO This is one of the sneakiest propositions on the ballot. Prop 26 would create a new 2/3rds rule, taking us in the wrong direction by requiring a 2/3rds vote to increase any fee. This is sneaky because it’s an attack on AB 32, which depends on these fees to fund state efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Prop 26 would retroactively eliminate any fee enacted after January 1, 2010, which includes the AB 32 implementation fees on polluters. It’s just as important that we defeat Prop 26 as it is that we defeat Prop 23.

Prop 27: YES Prop 27 would eliminate the unelected redistricting commission created by Prop 11 two years ago to redraw state legislative district boundaries. Prop 11 very narrowly passed, suggesting that many Californians are skeptical of this commission and worry about what kind of boundaries it will draw. And they should be skeptical – the commission gives an unfair advantage to Republicans by giving them equal representation with Democrats, even though there are significantly more registered Democrats in the state than Republicans.

Some may criticize legislative redistricting. But that doesn’t mean any old reform is a good reform. The commission will make matters worse while not doing anything to help fix state government, since redistricting is not a cause of any of the problems in Sacramento. Vote yes on Prop 27 and provide a better set of solutions to how we draw district lines.

48 thoughts on “November 2010 Statewide Endorsements”

  1. Its really conflict of interest to have the state legislatures draw their own districts, and the arguments for this prop. are nonsense. I agree with every other endorsement here though.

  2. The fact is that the independent commission is of exactly the same style we use for every “independent commission” (equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans)

    The greatest argument I saw online (and can’t find for the life of me) goes something like this: “The commission over-represents Republicans given the political demographics of the state, and why should California go first in such a process? After Texas does this, then let’s consider it.”

    So A) The commission would be unrepresentative by making the two parties equal but B) It’s not a bad idea as long as the Red states do the same thing first.

    The fact is that Prop 20 and 27 come down to numbers. Gerrymandered districts give Democrats a greater number of seats than if the lines were drawn by a group uninterested in which party “wins out” from the process. That’s why party Democrats don’t like it and Republicans do.

    If this exact same measure was on the ballot in Texas, the Democrats would be for it and the Republicans would be against it.

    We will lose seats because of fair redistricting. That’s the hard truth. We can either continue to use our political majority to play politics with fair elections, or:

    We can remember what made us progressives in the first place! We believe in GOOD government rather than just government that’s good for us. At least, that’s how I define a true progressive.

    Yes on 27 is a cheap political trick to retain as many seats as possible at the cost of good government, and any Democrat who’s not willing to admit that is simply lying to you.

    We’re asking voters to Vote No on 23 to show California can lead on tough issues like Climate Change. We can do the exactly same thing with redistricting reform. So when you vote, ask yourself this: Are you willing to do what’s hard in order to do what’s right?

    If so, vote Yes on 20 and NO on 27.

  3. Your arguments against Whitman and Villenes are weak. Whitman is not a right-winger, after all, and the main problem with her is that she has no political experience whatsoever. Electing her would be like choosing a plumber to wire your house or a neurosurgeon to operate on your feet. This notion of needing non-politicians to do the work in high political office has got to be put to bed.

    Villenes is a shady character whose antics were reported on only yesterday in the Los Angeles Times.

  4. LINK to this to read the official lt gov duties:

    Briefly, being chair on the State Lands Commission will mean that GAVIN will be there to OPPOSE off-shore oil drilling and the oil companies’ continual efforts to circumbent California’s environmental laws. His achievements on the environment in San Francisco have had him recognized as the “greenest mayor.”

    As Chair of the Commission of Economic Development, Gavin would have a direct impact on being able to implement a green jobs strategy to help rebuild our economic base.

    As Regent of UC’s and Trustee of CSU’s he will help set policy at our state universities and hold down tuition increases and program cuts.

    And of course, the primary role is to step in and ACT for the Governor when Gov is out of the state. Jerry Brown deserves to have someone who will have his back when he’s away, NOT a Republican who will stab him.  

  5. some more discussion on, and more links to, the case within the Superintendent for Public Instruction race. Your analysis that Larry Aceves is a RTTT toady or that he’s excited about billionaires and hedge funds running education does not square with what I have read about him.  

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