Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Redistricting shakes up California's Congressional races; Bono Mack trailing

U.S. Capitol Building

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The flag waves in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The story of this year’s California Congressional races is — surprise! — money: money from the parties, money from PACs (including one started by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg), money from siblings, and money from the candidates themselves.

36th Congressional District — Coachella Valley:

In an apparent upset, Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack is losing to Democrat Raul Ruiz. Bono Mack was a prime target for Democrats. Ruiz is an emergency room doctor. Both parties poured in the money, flooding both the Palm Springs and LA TV market with political ads.  Bono Mack's husband Connie Mack gave up his House seat to run for the US Senate in Florida. He lost.

RUIZ: 51.4%; BONO MACK 48.6%

35th Congressional District — Chino

N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped $2.5 million of PAC money into Democratic State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod’s campaign to defeat veteran Democratic Congressman Joe Baca. The Congressional baseball team loses its star pitcher. It was a bad night for the Baca family as well; the Congressman's son Joe, Jr. lost his race for the state assembly. 


Updated vote totals on California propositions, Measure J

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Members of the L.A. Democratic Party and the County Federation of Labor at the Stadium Club in Dodger Stadium, celebrating President Barack Obama's re-election.

Good morning, folks. Let’s get back to where we were with the campaigns at Dodger Stadium. 

Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure, Proposition 30, passed with 54 percent of the vote. Proposition 32 was defeated, achieving just 44 percent of the vote. Both of those are victories for the L.A. County Federation of Labor, which spent months working to defeat Prop 32.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s transportation tax extension was defeated this morning. Measure J fell just short of the two-thirds vote needed. The measure would have extended L.A. County’s half-cent sales tax for public transit projects. Though the mayor was Measure J’s biggest cheerleader, he was MIA in Los Angeles last night. Villaraigosa flew to Chicago for President Barack Obama’s victory party.  

In response to the defeat, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party said in a statement Wednesday, "Once again, the special interests and conservative forces have managed to twist the truth and defeat our efforts to create hundreds of thousands of job here in Los Angeles County.  The Los Angeles County Democratic Party will continue to stand up for Angelenos and fight against the special interests from further impeding progress in Los Angeles County."


California voters keep the death penalty, reject Proposition 34

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Bethany Webb, whose sister was killed in a massacre at a Seal Beach hair salon, was part of a large coalition formed in an effort to end California's death penalty.

Proposition 34, the initiative that would have replaced the death penalty with life without parole in California, failed by almost 6 points. 

The vote marked the first time in decades that the voting public has been asked to consider the efficacy and ethics of capital punishment. In 1978, voters passed Proposition 7, which engraved the death penalty into the state's penal code, with polls showing solid popular support for the punishment ever since.

But Proposition 34's backers put on a strong campaign, raising over $7 million, airing television ads, and forging a coalition of former prison officials, crime victims, and judges to tour the state and lend law enforcement credibility to the cause. 

And the timing, to organizers, seemed right: a budget crisis, a public less willing to spend money on prisons, and a stalled death penalty system that's been mired in litigation for years, effectively halting executions in the state. 


An historic loss: Howard Berman falls to Brad Sherman

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Democrats Howard Berman and Brad Sherman.

Tuesday’s election marked the end of a career for an icon of southern California Democratic Party politics.  After a race marked by intense attacks from both sides, fifteen-term Congressman Howard Berman lost to fellow Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman in the newly drawn 30th District in the western San Fernando Valley.

“Brad Sherman will be the next Congressman from the 30th Congressional District. I congratulate Brad,” Berman said in a concession statement issued in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. “I will do whatever I can to ensure a cooperative and orderly transition.”

At an election night party at a Mediterranean restaurant in Encino, Sherman acknowledged he toppled a once unbeatable politician who was a prominent voice on U.S.-Israel relations and a go-to representative for the entertainment industry.


UPDATE: Quest for a supermajority: Southern California State Senate election results

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A view of the California State Capitol in Sacramento.

The great quest for Democrats in the general election was to capture a supermajority in the state Senate.

Going into the election, Democrats had 25 state Senate seats, Republicans 15. The Democrats needed two more to get a supermajority, which is the number of votes that would enable them to pass a state budget over Republican objections.

Two of the state's potential turnover seats were in Southern California's 31st and 27th Senate districts. Below are the latest results as of early Wednesday morning.

--Senate District 31: Riverside: Jeff Miller (R) / Richard Roth (D)
Republican incumbent Miller received the endorsement of Democrat Steve Clute. Republicans and Democrats were nearly equal in number as the general election neared. Republicans had mounted a big registration drive that was tainted by allegations that Democrats had unwillingly been re-registered as members of the opposition party. 
MILLER: 46%; ROTH: 54%

--Senate District 27: Agoura Hills: Todd Zink (R) / Fran Pavley (D)
Democratic incumbent Pavley had the money edge going into the race in this newly-drawn district in the western San Fernando Valley, with parts of Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks. She may have been too far left a candidate for this new territory, previously represented by Republican Tony Strickland, who is running for Congress. Prosecutor Zink, a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, has spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan.
ZINK: 47%; PAVLEY: 53%