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Tom Torlakson outspent Larry Aceves 5-to-1

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson‘s 2010 campaign outraised and outspent his rival’s in last year’s election by about 5-to-1, according to campaign finance reports filed last night.

Larry AcevesThe longtime lawmaker from Antioch raised about $2.47 million and spent about $2.49 million in 2009-10, while the campaign of Larry Aceves, a former school administrator from Fremont, raised about $504,000 and spent about $501,000.

The candidates’ campaign committees don’t tell the whole story, however – each had substantial independent expenditures made on his behalf.

The Association of California School Administrators funded an independent expenditure committee supporting Aceves to the tune of almost $2.46 million in 2009-10.

Still, Torlakson had the money advantage: An IE committee created in May by the California Federation of Teachers, the California Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association spent about $3.95 million in 2010 on his behalf.

Torlakson and Aceves were the top two vote-getters in a crowded field of 12 candidates in June’s primary; Aceves actually finished on top with 19.2 percent of the vote to Torlakson’s 18.6 percent. But in November’s runoff for the nonpartisan seat, Torlakson dominated with 54.6 percent of the vote to Aceves’ 44.9 percent (as a write-in candidate drew off 0.5 percent of the vote).

Posted on Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
Under: 2010 election, campaign finance, Larry Aceves, Tom Torlakson | 2 Comments »

Buchanan v. Wilson: The final AD15 numbers

Some of the numbers came in too late for inclusion in my roundup for tomorrow’s paper, but campaign finance reports filed today show the East Bay’s only hotly contested general election for a state legislative seat was quite costly.

Incumbent Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, raised $3.275 million and spent $3.266 million in 2009-10 to fend off a challenge from Republican nominee Abram Wilson, San Ramon’s mayor; Wilson raised $1.27 million and spent $1.258 million.

Buchanan defeated Wilson by a little more than 13,000 votes, a margin of 6.8 percentage points. It was a hard-fought race, but I think Buchanan probably scored the most crushing blow with an advertisement calling attention to the seemingly exorbitant salary paid to San Ramon’s city manager – something sure to irk many California votes in a year in which public salary and benefit scandals like the one in Bell attracted so much outrage. It cast a shadow over Wilson’s claim to fiscal conservative bona fides, and that was all she wrote.

Posted on Monday, January 31st, 2011
Under: 2010 election, Assembly, campaign finance, Joan Buchanan | 5 Comments »

Highest turnout in past 5 gubernatorial votes

The results are now certified, and California’s Nov. 2 election saw the greatest voter turnout – 59.6 percent of the state’s registered voters – in the past five gubernatorial votes, Secretary of State Debra Bowen reported this evening.

“I applaud the work of each county elections official and the more than 100,000 elections workers and volunteers who helped to make voting as easy as possible for every eligible Californian,” Bowen said in a news release.

Looking back, 56.2 percent of registered voters participated in the 2006 gubernatorial election; voter turnout for the 2002 gubernatorial election was 50.6 percent; and 57.6 percent of registered voters turned out in 1998. So last month’s was the highest gubernatorial election turnout since 60.5 percent of voters cast ballots when Republican Gov. Pete Wilson topped Democrat State Treasurer Kathleen Brown in 1994.

Was it Meg Whitman’s deep pockets, either directly or in backlash, that accounted for this surge to the polls? Was it the question of marijuana legalization? Was it part of the national political furor? All of those things, or none? Have at it, commenters.

Ballots cast by mail accounted for 48.4 percent of the votes cast in last month’s election; that’s up from 41.6 percent in 2006. The counties with the highest vote-by-mail voters as a percentage of total turnout were Mendocino (79.4 percent), Nevada (73.9 percent) and El Dorado (70.5 percent), though all voters in Alpine and Sierra counties cast ballots by mail.

“Vote-by-mail voting has steadily increased in popularity over the last 32 years since the law was changed to allow any registered voter to vote by mail,” Bowen said.

Overall, the counties with the highest turnout of registered voters were Sierra (81.9 percent), Nevada (80.8 percent) and Amador (77.6 percent), while turnout was the lowest in Imperial (49.8 percent), Merced (50.9 percent) and Fresno (52.2 percent) counties.

A new total number of gubernatorial ballots cast means a new threshold to qualify an initiative or referendum for the ballot: For the next four years, proponents will have to gather signatures from at least 504,775 registered voters – five percent of the total votes cast for governor last month – in order to put their measures to a vote. Proponents for a constitutional amendment will need 807,639 signatures, or eight percent of last month’s gubernatorial votes.

Posted on Friday, December 10th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Debra Bowen | 13 Comments »

Redistricting, prisons and the new AG on ‘TWINC’

Last night on KQED’s “This Week in Northern California,” Lisa talked about the new citizens’ redistricting commission; I talked about the prison overcrowding case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court; and the Chronicle’s Marisa Lagos talked about Kamala Harris clinching the election for state Attorney General:

Posted on Saturday, December 4th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Attorney General, Kamala Harris, redistricting, TWINC | No Comments »

Nearly $7 million spent on CD11 campaign

California 11th Congressional District’s candidates, political parties and other groups spent $6.76 million on the campaign, according to new figures filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Victorious Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, significantly outspent his opponent, GOP nominee David Harmer, $3 million vs. $2 million.

But it was the independent expenditures that put McNerney in the serious money: The vast majority of the $2 million spent by groups outside the campaign targeted Harmer or supported McNerney.

A great deal of the anti-Harmer money was spent in the final 10 days of the campaign, and the Republican’s supporters failed to match the dollars.

(Update: A caller reminds me that these totals do not include the money spent by groups that do not have to file with the FEC. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federal of Business spent money to help Harmer in this campaign.)

Here’s a breakdown of the totals:

MCNERNEY: $2.88 million, total contributions; $3.03 million, total expenses; $8,024 in debts; $38,008 cash on hand.

HARMER: $1.88 million, total contributions; $1.97 total expenses; $36,247 in  debts;  $36,247 cash on hand.

Independent expenditures totaled more than $2 million:

  • Oppose Harmer $1,358,010
  • Support Harmer $68,342
  • Oppose McNerney: $459,109
  • Support McNerney $140,899
  • TOTAL: $2,026,361

Posted on Friday, December 3rd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, congressional district 11 | No Comments »

CD11: Harmer speaks out but no concession yet

Harmer

Harmer

UPDATE: DEC. 3, 2010, 4:41 P.M. Harmer made the call to McNerney about an hour ago, where he officially conceded and congratulated McNerney.

As it turns out, unsuccessful 11th Congressional District GOP nominee David Harmer isn’t missing. He was moving. Literally.

The lease on his San Ramon house expired Nov. 30, and he and his wife, Elayne, and their four kids, have been packing, moving and unpacking their new household. They didn’t go far; just a mile away to another house in Windemere, one that will allow his children to stay in their current schools.

But no, Harmer isn’t ready to concede even though he characterized his chances of overturning Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney’s victory as a miracle comparable to that of the parting of the Red Sea. (Read my full news story here.)

Prior to making that concession call to McNerney or issuing a statement, his skeletal remaining campaign staff wants to review the precinct-level voting data from Contra Costa County. Harmer says they are looking for irregularities that might indicate a problem, such as wildly out-of-whack results.

If they find major problems, they could request a recount or seek intervention from the House of Representatives, which could overrule the local election results. (The last time that happened was in the 1980s in an Indiana congressional race.)

“We haven’t been itching to contest the results, no one enjoys that,” Harmer said during a telephone call this morning. “What we have wanted to do is to understand what happened, and to the extent there are any questions about the accuracy or legitimacy of the process, we want to address those in a responsible way so that questions don’t linger into the future. It is for the benefit of all the participants.”

What are Harmer’s immediate plans?

Get a job and lose the 20 pounds he gained the on the campaign trail, he says.

The attorney has been campaigning full-time for the past 1 1/2 years, and the family savings account has dwindled, he says.

“I think you asked me at some point earlier in the campaign what I would do if I lost, and I said that the Harmer family would be grateful for the chance to serve but if we lost, the Harmer family would be grateful to return to normal life,” Harmer said. “That’s still true.”

He says he has no plans to run for public office again, although one “never says never.”

Harmer has run for Congress three times; in Utah in 1996, the 10th District in California in 2009 and the 11th District, where he lost by 1.1 percentage points.

“My feeling is that if we couldn’t do it this year, when could we do it?” Harmer said. “We were running during a predicted Republican wave and we couldn’t have had a better campaign operation. It’ s hard to imagine doing better.”

The toughest part about the outcome, Harmer says, has been dealing with not only his own disappointment but that of his family and supporters. They invested a great deal of time, emotion and money into his candidacy.

“It’s hard not to feel as though you let people down,” Harmer said. “But disappointment is different than regret. You never regret playing the game just because you lost.”

As for speculation about the financial state of his campaign, Harmer says the final numbers will show a modest surplus. He may even refund a portion of contributions made to his campaign after Election Day.

Posted on Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Congress, congressional district 11, Uncategorized | 20 Comments »

Turnout in Contra Costa hits 66 percent

Voters surpassed by 11 percentage points Contra Costa Registrar Steve Weir’s turnout projections for the Nov. 2 general election.

In the final vote tally certified today, Contra Costa turnout was 66 percent, for a total of 352,687 votes cast at the top of the ticket for governor. It’s the highest turnout since the 1982 gubernatorial election. (The race at the top of the ballot is usually the contest that receives the most votes. Click here for the SOS county-by-county turnout list.)

Why? The credit, or blame, depending on your perspective, most likely rests with the Democrats. The party made a successful and huge push in the final week through TV and radio ads, and on-the-the-ground use of labor unions. The larger-than-expected turnout on Election Day really helped Democrats in close contests, such as Rep. Jerry McNerney in the 11th Congressional District.

Some Contra Costa cities posted higher turnouts than others. Orinda and Lafayette top the list, while San Pablo clearly needs a push. Here’s a ranked list:

  1. Orinda: 78.8 percent
  2. Lafayette: 76.8 percent
  3. El Cerrito: 75.3 percent
  4. Moraga: 74.9 percent
  5. Danville: 74.1 percent
  6. Walnut Creek: 73.4 percent
  7. Clayton: 73.5 percent
  8. Pleasant Hill: 69.8 percent
  9. Martinez: 69.3 percent
  10. San Ramon: 67.8 percent
  11. Pinole: 66.8 percent
  12. Concord: 65.5 percent
  13. Brentwood: 62.9 percent
  14. Hercules: 59.7 percent
  15. Richmond: 59 percent
  16. Antioch: 56.6 percent
  17. Oakley: 54.2 percent
  18. Pittsburg: 53.7 percent
  19. San Pablo: 49.5 percent

Weir sent over some additional statistics, which you may find interesting.

Historical turnout during gubernatorial elections:

Year Turn Out Turn Out, VBM State Turn Out

  • 2010 66.1%
  • 2006 63.4%
  • 2002 56.6%
  • 1998 63.1%
  • 1994 62.0%
  • 1990 61.3%
  • 1986 62.5%
  • 1982 70.5%

Posted on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

CD11: McNerney officially wins re-election

McNerney

McNerney

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, has officially won re-election to a third term.

Contra Costa County, the fourth and final county in the 11th Congressional District, certified its election results late this morning, which widened McNerney’s final margin of victory over GOP nominee David Harmer to 2,658 votes.

The final vote tally: McNerney, 115,361 votes, or 47.97 percent; Harmer, 112,703, or 46.86 percent; and David Christensen, American Independent, 12,439, or 5.17 percent.

McNerney had been trailing Harmer in Contra Costa County, but overtook him as the final votes were tallied. He eventually beat Harmer by 92 votes in Contra Costa and prevailed in Alameda and Santa Clara counties.

Harmer won in the more conservative San Joaquin County by 4,493 votes, or 3.6 percentage points. This result could prove telling for McNerney’s 2012 re-election prospects, as redistricting next year will almost certainly shift his district’s boundaries eastward.

While the final vote count was tight — 1.1 percent of the 240,503 votes cast — it’s probably not close enough to warrant an expensive recount.

Any registered voter may request a recount but must pay for it. If the election results are overturned as a result of the recount, the county will refund the money.

The Republican Party had been watching this race closely, although both parties sent observers to watch vote counting in all four counties. The California Republican Party has said it will pursue a lawsuit in Contra Costa County in a dispute over the rights of observers to challenge vote-by-mail signatures but the outcome would unlikely impact the 11th District results.

The full county results are posted on its Web site, www.cocovote.us.

Posted on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, congressional district 11 | 11 Comments »

Steve Cooley concedes AG race to Kamala Harris

Republican nominee and Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley has conceded the race for state attorney general to Democratic nominee and San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris.

Steve Cooley“While the margin is extremely narrow and ballots are still being counted, my campaign believes that we cannot make up the current gap in the vote count for Attorney General. Therefore, I am formally conceding the race and congratulate Ms. Harris on becoming California’s next Attorney General.

“We started this campaign late but we won an exceptionally tough Republican primary by a decisive margin. In the general election, we emerged as California’s top Republican vote getter and carried 39 out of the state’s 58 counties. We also cut by more than half the margin of loss by the GOP ticket in heavily Democratic Los Angeles County. It was gratifying to have received the votes of over 4 million Californians.

“It is unfortunate that someone who is a non-partisan non-politician could not overcome the increasingly partisan tendencies of the state, even for an office that by its nature necessitates a non-partisan approach.

“I take great pride in the fact that I received the endorsement of every law enforcement organization in this race as well as that of every major daily newspaper in California but one. I was particularly gratified to receive the support of so many fellow district attorneys. While my campaign team tells me that endorsements do not necessarily win elections – and the results confirm that – it still means a great deal to me on a personal level.

“I thank my supporters and my campaign team for all they did and the sacrifices they made during this past year. We had many old friends – and made many new ones across the state – who stepped up to help our campaign. My campaign team did an exceptional job guiding someone who had never previously thought of running for statewide office through two very difficult elections.

“I will complete my third term and finish my career as a professional prosecutor in the office where it began over 37 years ago. I take great satisfaction in being able to still work with the tremendous professionals who do such an outstanding job in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Los Angeles County as District Attorney with the same commitment and enthusiasm I have always demonstrated.

“The campaign was a fascinating and very positive experience. I advocated for the issues in which I believed in and proposed reforms California needs during these difficult times. I will continue to do the same as District Attorney for the County of Los Angeles.”

“District Attorney Harris thanks District Attorney Cooley for a spirited campaign and looks forward to working together on the critical public safety challenges facing California,” Harris campaign manager Brian Brokaw said in an e-mailed statement. “The counties continue to tabulate votes, and District Attorney Harris believes it is only appropriate to wait until all the votes are counted before making a public declaration. She will be holding a press conference on Tuesday, November 30, the deadline for counties to report final counts to the Secretary of State.”

Posted on Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Attorney General, Kamala Harris, Steve Cooley | 3 Comments »

McNerney’s lead continues to widen

The latest ballot-tallying updates from the most populous part of the 11th Congressional District shows incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, again has widened his lead over Republican challenger David Harmer.

Tuesday’s updates from the registrars of voters in San Joaquin County – which has the lion’s share of the four-county district’s registered voters – and Santa Clara County showed Harmer lost ground in the former and made none in the latter, leaving him 2,475 votes behind McNerney – just over 1 percent of the 237,808 ballots counted so far.

McNerney declared victory Nov. 10, when he was up by 1,681 votes or about seven-tenths of a percent; Harmer has yet to concede, and recently attended the GOP’s freshman orientation on Capitol Hill.

McNerney — now seeking a third term in the House of Representatives — leads Harmer — an attorney from San Ramon’s Dougherty Valley area — in Alameda County by about 15.5 percentage points and in Santa Clara County by 8.2 points.

Harmer leads McNerney by 0.15 of a point in Contra Costa County and by 3.6 points in San Joaquin County; that latter number decreased from a 4.3 percentage-point lead as of Nov. 10.

San Joaquin County is also where American Independent nominee David Christensen fared best, with almost 7.1 percent of the votes cast; districtwide, he took about 5.2 percent.

UPDATE @ 2:35 P.M.: The Associated Press has called the race for McNerney. I’ve still not heard back from Harmer’s people.

Posted on Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House, Uncategorized | 17 Comments »