Presidential Politics in Sacramento

For the 2008 elections, a confluence of events caused legislators and the governor to support an early presidential primary in California.  There was the whole “California as an ATM” and wanting to get our say, which I guess was part of it.  And, you know, there was also the initiative to change the legislative term limits.

That measure failed, but the February election is still officially on the books.  For a number of reasons, that could be a progressive nightmare.  Few Democrats would show up, but it would still be a full statewide vote, with all the initiatives associated with that.  It would yield one of the most skewed electorates in recent memory. Oh, and it cost the state at least $10 million to throw that party.

So, now AB 80 (Fong) aims to eliminate that expense:

Californians won’t choose their 2012 presidential nominees until June under legislation that’s heading to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

Assembly Bill 80, by Democratic Assemblyman Paul Fong, would move the presidential primary from February of next year to June, consolidating it with the statewide primary election. The bill was approved by the state Senate on a vote of 34-3.(SacBee)

That 34-3 vote at least indicates that an extra election and the extra expense just wasn’t palatable politically for some of the Republicans as well.  At the same time, the Governor will soon have on his desk a measure to basically make the electoral college a quaint annoyance:

California would give all its electoral votes to the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes nationwide under legislation that was sent Thursday to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Assembly Bill 459 cleared its final legislative hurdle by passing the Assembly, 51-12, with little Republican support.(SacBee)

Basically, the bill would enter us into a compact so that all of our electoral votes would go to the popular vote winner, but only if a majority of the electoral votes sign on to the compact.  Even if Jerry were to sign the bill, another 142 electoral votes worth of states would have to sign on.  However, this might just be slow motion electoral reform we are watching.

3 thoughts on “Presidential Politics in Sacramento”

  1.    That makes much more sense than having three statewide elections next year. The cost of the extra election would be a lot of money wasted when the budget is already too tight. The skewed electorate would also be a big problem as there will most likely be some bad initiatives on the next statewide ballot including “Son of 226”, the anti-union fake “paycheck protection” initiative which is now circulating.

      Jerry may be a maverick, but he isn’t crazy enough to veto the June primary, is he?

      I also hope he signs the bill on the electoral votes. I wish we could just drop out of the Electoral College, but this bill, once passed by enough states, would make the EC irrelevant.

  2. In some ways I like that I have an election often because I can exercise my voice in politics but I think we take it too far. We have our standard elections, then special elections, and it varies if its local, state, or federal. Its all expensive.

    I would love to see an initiative that limits all elections to only 2 a year – 6 months apart. 1 in May and 1 in November.  All local, state and congressional elections (special or otherwise) would conform to those two predictable dates.

    I know there may be some backlash because people like special elections immediately after a vacancy is found (like the Hahn case).  But really an election every 6 months is a reasonable gap for a vacancy. And is a temporary fill of a vacancy of a person ineligible to run for the office they are filling a bad idea?

  3. My take on AB80 is that it was punishment for the Republicans.  They were such jerks in the budget battles, the Democrats decided to deny them any place at the GOP table for presidential politics.  So the national candidates come to California to visit the donor community, but will have zero interest in the activists community. My reflex reaction is that politics is never served when monied interests get an outsized influence on government, but in this narrow case, I think we can make an exception.

    AB459 is one of the most important electoral reforms in the nation right now.  As we have become more polorized, the electoral collage has become more problematic.  The old compact that James Madison worked out with the small states was fine when the small states were just as committed as the large states to the United States.  But now, the GOP is driven only by getting rid of Obama and getting tax breaks to the wealthy.  This compact would strengthen our democracy and should be one of our top goals.

Comments are closed.