Some thoughts on last Tuesday’s primary election here in the Golden State of mind:
Gavin Newsom received almost 60% of the vote total in our so called “jungle primary” where every candidate, no matter the party affiliation, for an office is in one contest. I fully support that concept. What I don’t like is that Gavin Newsom received almost 60% of the vote and he still has to run a general election campaign in the fall against..let me check here.. someone named Brian Dahle who barely got 16% of the vote. Californians have spoken (twice in less than a year), they want Gavin Newsom to remain governor and the only people who are going to benefit from the Newsom-Dahle contest are the political consultants, mass media operations, small media operations, and campaign workers who will get paid for another five months.
By the way, this holds true for just about every other statewide election. All ended up with a definitive winner with more than 50% of the vote except one. Yet all will face another campaign in November. The only contest not to have a 50% or better winner was for Controller where the one Republican running against four Democrats “won” with 37% of the vote. Add up the 4 Democrats totals and their comes to 59%. So yes, there you have to have a run off because no one got 50%. And that 37% the Republican got? That’s pretty close to the percentage of registered Republicans in the state.
Senator Alex Padilla was in a slightly odd ballot situation as he appeared in two races. As an appointed Senator replacing Vice President Harris he was obliged to run for the right to the remainder of the term he is currently serving. But he also was running for the full term that will start with the next Congress. And you know of course that he got less votes for the full term than for the appointment term, about 12,000 less. I’d like to think 12,000 Californians were saying something deep and meaningful by doing that, but I fear it’s more along the lines of “oh was I supposed to vote in both elections?”
The headshaking result of this round of elections was the turnout. OK, there were no close sizzling races or celebrity candidates or even any ballot measures to energize the voters, but only 16% of California voters either went to the polls on Tuesday or sent back the ballot that is mailed to EVERY registered voter in the state so they can vote by mail. 84% of voters got that big thick envelope with the ballot and the mail-in envelope and the instructions and just chucked it away. Never mind the two rather thick voter guides, one for statewide contests, one for local, that everyone got. I understand that I’m a bit more politically aware than many, but it only took me ten minutes to fill out the ballot. I can’t imagine it taking more than 30-60 minutes for the most unaware voter to fill it out and they had SIX WEEKS (!) to do it in.
Sometimes I wonder if we really do deserve a democracy.
You may have heard that San Francisco recalled their District Attorney Chesa Boudin by about 60%. Contrary to national publications I really don’t feel this is liberal California sending a message to the rest of the country that things have gone too far. What those 60% of SF’s voters were frustrated by was a rising homicide rate and the apparent refusal of the DA’s office to do anything about “quality of life” crimes, i.e, shoplifting, vandalism, and public disorder (homelessness). Boudin had some rather radical views on the criminal justice system like not sending juveniles to jail but rather working with their parents to better guide them, eliminating cash bail, and attempting to diminish racial profiling in police work. These stances didn’t make him popular with the police union who spent a considerably amount of money on the recall effort. Gee, if only they had spent that money on training their members to deescalate situations or how to properly use their service weapons.
Meanwhile down in LA (that’s Los Angeles, not to be confused with Louisiana) it’s the billionaire trying to buy the mayoralty versus the almost vice-president. Rick Caruso, a wealthy developer, tried to buy the election and win outright in the primary (unlike the state, LA will give someone who gets over 50% the job). He got 42% to coulda been Biden running mate Karen Bass’s 37%. But that might be the end of the line for Caruso. One on one Bass will be able to use Caruso’s one strength, his money, as a negative. It will be up to the voters in November to see if another steady diet of TV ads will sit well in their stomachs. And to make sure Democrats get their voters to send in their ballots.
On that note, let’s boogie to the sounds of a one hit wonder from the 1980’s and their, well, one hit. It’s all about dancing and the politics thereof