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What the top two hath wrought upon California

My story today includes experts’ opinions on the effects that California’s top-two primary system had on Tuesday’s results; over at FlashReport.org, former state GOP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro makes an impassioned case against the system.

In furtherance of the debate, here’s a list of all House, state Senate and Assembly races I found in which candidates of the same party are advancing to November’s general election, leaving voters without an alternate party choice; I did not list races in which the incumbent stands unopposed.

SAME-PARTY HOUSE RACES: 5 Democratic*, 2 Republican

CA4 – Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay, vs. Art Moore (R)
(A nonpartisan candidate was eliminated; there were no Democrats.)

CA17 – Rep. Mike. Honda, D-San Jose, vs. Ro Khanna (D)
(Two Republican candidates were eliminated.)

CA19 – Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, vs. Robert Murray (D)
(These were the only two primary candidates; Murray ran as a Republican in 2012.)

CA25 – Tony Strickland (R) vs. Steve Knight (R)
(Two Democrats, two Republicans, a Libertarian and a nonpartisan were eliminated.)

CA34 – Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, vs. Adrienne Edwards (D)
(A Peace & Freedom Party candidate was eliminated; there were no Republicans.)

CA35 – Norma Torres (D) vs. Christina Gagnier (D)
(Two other Democratic candidates were eliminated; there were no Republicans.)

CA40 – Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Commerce, vs. David Sanchez (D)
(These were the only two primary candidates.)

* It’s still too close to call whether state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-Hayward, or Alameda County GOP vice chairman Hugh Bussell of Livermore will advance to face Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, in the 15th District.

SAME-PARTY STATE SENATE RACES: 5 Democratic, 1 Republican

SD6 – Roger Dickinson (D) vs. Richard Pan (D)
(Two Republican candidates were eliminated.)

SD24 – State Sen. Kevin DeLeon, D-Los Angeles, vs. Peter Choi (D)
(One Republican candidate was eliminated.)

SD26 – Ben Allen (D) vs. Sandra Fluke (D)
(Five other Democrats and one nonpartisan were eliminated; there were no Republicans.)

SD28 – Jeff Stone (R) vs. ?????
(Too close to call, but those now in second and third place are both Republicans; another Republican and two Democrats were eliminated.)

SD30 – State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, vs. Isidro Armenta (D)
(These were the only two primary candidates.)

SD40 – State Sen. Ben Hueso, D-Chula Vista, vs. Rafael Estrada (D)
(These were the only two primary candidates.)

SAME-PARTY ASSEMBLY RACES: 8 Democratic, 3 Republican

AD7 – Kevin McCarty (D) vs. Steve Cohn (D)
(One Democrat and two Republicans were eliminated.)

AD9 – Jim Cooper (D) vs. Darrell Fong (D)
(One Democrat and two Republicans were eliminated.)

AD15 – Elizabeth Echols (D) vs. Tony Thurmond (D)
(Three Democrats, one Republican, one Peace & Freedom and one nonpartisan were eliminated.)

AD17 – Chris Campos (D) vs. David Chiu (D)
(One Republican was eliminated.)

AD26 – Rudy Mendoza (R) vs. Devon Mathis (R)
(Three Democrats and two Republicans were eliminated.)

AD39 – Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Arleta, vs. Patty Lopez (D)
(One Democrat was eliminated; there were no Republicans.)

AD47 – Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, vs. Gil Navarro (D)
(These were the only two primary candidates.)

AD53 – Miguel Santiago (D) vs. Sandra Mendoza (D)
(Two Democrats were eliminated; there were no Republicans.)

AD64 – Mike Gipson (D) vs. Prophet Walker (D)
(Two Democrats were eliminated, there were no Republicans.)

AD71 – Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, vs. Tony Teora (R)
(These were the only two primary candidates.)

AD74 – Keith Curry (R) vs. Matthew Harper (R)
(Two Democrats and a Republican were eliminated.)

Posted on Thursday, June 5th, 2014
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Election reform, Elections, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

Bay Area election volunteers lauded

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen this week honored a pair of Santa Clara County polling-place volunteers who have been serving their community for decades.

Rita Chavez Medina and Helen Garza have staffed the polls during elections in the last 60 and 52 years respectively, Bowen said.

“Election after election, Rita and Helen have been an indispensable part of Santa Clara County elections, and I can’t thank them enough for their dedication,” she said in a news release. “Veteran poll workers can’t do it alone, so I hope more voters and high school students in Santa Clara County join Helen and Rita at the polls on Election Day!”

Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters Barry Garner said he and his staff are honored to have the two women serve so long. “Their contribution to the election process, in Santa Clara County, is invaluable. They are not doing this for the money, they are doing it for the love of their county, state, and country.”

Bowen noted each statewide election requires a one-day army of 100,000 poll workers in nearly 22,000 polling places across the state. Poll workers help to secure ballots, educate voters about their rights, ensure accessibility for voters with disabilities, and more. A poll worker is paid an average of $100 for the day’s work, though rates vary among counties.

If you’re interested in serving as a poll worker, contact your county elections office or find more information on Bowen’s website. To serve as a poll worker, you must be a registered voter or a high-school student in good standing who is a United States citizen, at least 16 years old, and has a minimum 2.5 grade-point average.

Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2012
Under: Debra Bowen, Elections, Secretary of State | 9 Comments »

Garamendi, Bowen decry danger to mail-in ballots

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, joined California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to testify to the state Legislature today about the danger that some impending U.S. Postal Service facility closures pose to the integrity of California’s vote.

As I reported last month, Bowen contends the Postal Service’s proposed closure of around a dozen mail processing centers in California as part of a national restructuring could delay hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots from arriving at registrars across the state in time to be counted.

She and Garamendi took their concerns to a joint oversight hearing of the state Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments and the Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting.

“Don’t radically alter mail delivery expectations in a year that could very well set vote-by-mail records in California. Don’t close down these centers in the lead up to a presidential election, giving voters, elections officials, and postal workers insufficient time to work out the kinks,” Garamendi testified at the hearing. “Don’t disenfranchise tens of thousands of Californians who just want their voices heard. Give us six more months to get through this election, and after six months, once the chaos of the election settles down, we’ll have enough time to make the best of a bad situation. Democracy is too important to penny pinch.”

Garamendi also sent a letter today to the chairman and ranking members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and its Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and Labor Policy urging their support for Congressional action to prevent mail processing center closures.

“We are a nation that takes voting rights seriously. We are a nation that believes democracy is worth paying for. I oppose the closing of these facilities because they help make representative democracy possible,” Garamendi wrote in the letter. “I hope you’ll join me in preventing voter disenfranchisement by using the powers of this Committee and the United States Congress to prevent further mail processing center closures until after the November 2012 elections.”

A mail-in ballot – which state law says a voter can request up until seven days before the election – must be received by the voter’s county election office no later than 8 p.m. on the day of the election; any received after that aren’t counted. According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, about 26,000 ballots arrived too late to be counted in California’s November 2010 general election.

Last year, Bowen has said, the three processing-center closures – in Salinas, Marysville and Oxnard – clearly affected local elections in Monterey and Ventura counties: The time it took to deliver outbound and receive inbound vote-by-mail ballots went from one to three days, to five to seven.

Postal Service spokesman Augustine Ruiz last month said the agency will announce by mid-May which centers it plans to close, but has not decided when the closures would take effect. Election mail “would be affected by the proposed service changes,” he acknowledged.

“However, the Postal Service, as always as in elections past, will be working with elected officials and their mailers in the coming months to ensure their mail is received and delivered in adequate time to respond,” Ruiz said. While he couldn’t advise voters how late they can wait to put their ballots in the mail, he said they should still arrive in time to be counted if the Postal Service processing center receives them the day before the election.

Posted on Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
Under: Debra Bowen, Elections, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 9 Comments »

Farm Bureau endorses DiFi for re-election in 2012

Demonstrating why U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is likely to keep her job as long as she wants it, the California Farm Bureau Federation today announced it’s endorsing her for re-election in 2012.

“Farmers and ranchers are in the business of getting things done, and that’s one reason that we appreciate Senator Feinstein,” CFBF President Paul Wenger said in a news release explaining his board of directors’ unanimous vote. “She has proven, again and again, that she can get things done in Washington and she has shown time after time that she will advocate effectively on behalf of California farmers and ranchers.”

He noted Feinstein’s work to free additional water supplies for farmers during recent drought years and her consistent support for long-term water solutions that include increased storage. He said the senator has authored legislation to ease the estate-tax burden on farmers and ranchers, and to reform federal immigration laws to create an effective guest-worker program for agriculture.

Unusual for the CFBF – or any other major organization – to endorse so early in the cycle, long before there are even any real opponents in the field? You betcha.

“The only other time I can think of was six years ago, when we endorsed Senator Feinstein’s previous re-election campaign,” Wenger said. “That’s a measure of how strongly we feel about her work on behalf of California and how much farmers and ranchers will benefit from her continued service in Washington.”

This endorsement also is significant for its crossover appeal. The CFBF last year endorsed Republican nominee Carly Fiorina over incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, as well as Republicans Meg Whitman for governor, Abel Maldonado for lieutenant governor, and Steve Cooley for attorney general; it did endorse some Democrats in state legislative races.

Feinstein, who’ll turn 78 in June, was first elected to the Senate in 1992 and in 2006 defeated Republican challenger Dick Mountjoy with almost 60 percent of the vote. A Public Policy Polling survey released in February showed her trouncing any of several possible GOP nominees in 2012. The only Republicans who’ve formed committees so far are Keith Holbrook, a senior chemical plant technician from Sacramento County; perpetual candidate Timothy Kalemkarian of Westlake Village, who’s also running for Congress and President next year; and Michael Stollery of Studio City.

Posted on Thursday, April 28th, 2011
Under: Dianne Feinstein, Elections, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

An Election Day holiday in California?

I talked this morning with Roy Benson, the Bay Area man whom Secretary of State Debra Bowen cleared this week to start circulating for petition signatures his ballot measure to make Election Day a state holiday every other year.

“I’ve been working on this for many years, and its time to get the word out,” said Benson. “It’s very important especially during these times, these are critical times.”

The Election Day Holiday initiative, according to the Attorney General’s summary, “establishes an Election Day state holiday as the Tuesday following the first Monday in November during even-numbered years.” The summary of the Legislative Analyst’s and state Finance Director’s estimate of fiscal impact is that it would cost the state less than $20 million every two years.

Benson said that’s a small price to pay for increased voter turnout and a deeper pool of polling volunteers, which would make the electoral process more transparent.

“It’s not about changing the landscape of voting, it doesn’t benefit any party, it doesn’t favor this issue or that issue, it doesn’t benefit anybody except the voter, and what’s wrong with that?,” he said.

I asked whether he thought business groups might oppose such a thing because it would mean another paid holiday for which they have to foot the bill. “Do they say that about other holidays?” Benson responded, noting this holiday would be a worthwhile celebration of “one of the most dynamic, inspirational constitutions the world has ever seen.” That’s the kind of democratic ideal the United States tries to promote around the world, he added, and we should be a role model.

Benson has until Sept. 1 to collect signatures of 504,760 registered voters – the number equal to five percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 gubernatorial election – in order to qualify his initiative for the ballot.

So far, he said, he has no financial backing or volunteer force. “We’re just getting the word out … “I guess you would say it’s a grassroots type of situation at this point.”

This is Benson’s second bite at the apple; he circulated a similar initiative in 2008, but didn’t get enough signatures.

Posted on Thursday, April 7th, 2011
Under: ballot measures, Elections | 2 Comments »

California electoral vote measure moves forward

Secretary of State Debra Bowen today cleared conservative activist Ted Costa to start collecting petition signatures for a proposed ballot measure that, if approved by voters, would split California’s presidential Electoral College votes starting next year.

California right now is a winner-take-all state: Whichever candidate wins the Golden State’s popular vote gets all 55 of its Electoral College votes. California’s votes went to the Republican presidential nominees from 1968 through 1988, and to the Democratic nominees since then.

But Costa – perhaps best known for helping to launch the recall effort that eventually replaced Gov. Gray Davis with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – wants California to follow Maine and Nebraska’s lead in awarding most of the state’s Electoral College votes according to the popular vote in each Congressional District, so that some can go to one candidate and some to another. Both those states adopted this method in 2008. Maine has used this method since 1972, Nebraska since 1992.

The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the measure is as follows:

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORS. POLITICAL PARTY NOMINATION AND ELECTION BY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Requires California to join two other states in selecting electors for president by the plurality vote in each congressional district. Two at-large electors to be selected based on plurality of statewide vote for president. Provides for political party nomination of electors pledged to vote for that party’s candidate. Mandates that electors vote for candidate for whom they are pledged. Independent electors to be chosen by independent presidential candidates and also elected by congressional district. Eliminates $10 compensation and 5 cents per mile reimbursement of electors. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Reduced state expenses of less than $10,000 every four years. (10-0024.)

Costa must collect signatures of 504,760 registered voters – the number equal to five percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 gubernatorial election – by July 5 in order to qualify it for 2012’s primary ballot.

A similar proposed measure backed by a Republican-funded group failed to get enough petition signatures to appear on the June 2008 ballot.

Posted on Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
Under: Elections | 10 Comments »

Bowen: Contractor messed up voter guide mailing

A contractor’s error was responsible for some Bay Area households never receiving their official state voters’ guides before the June 8 primary, Secretary of State Debra Bowen reports.

In a letter sent yesterday to Assemblyman Jerry Hill, who’d contacted Bowen’s office after taking complaints from San Mateo County residents, Bowen said managers at Admail West, the Sacramento firm contracted to mail the guides, admitted “their company is responsible for duplicate or triplicate mailings of state voter guides to voter households in some counties, while at the same time failing to mail a single state voter guide to other households.”

“No one at Admail West has ever been able to fully explain the extent of the mailing problem, or why the company did not have better quality-assurance procedures in place for such an important statewide project,” Bowen wrote. “Moreover, Admail West managers reported that the one employee who handled the mailing data and caused the San Mateo County mailing errors passed away in June, and many key details are not known by anyone else at the company.”

Regardless of who screwed up at Admail West, she wrote, “there is no excuse for the sloppy tracking and lack of quality control by any vendor when the Secretary of State’s office provides extremely clear mailing specifications and voter address data.”

Checking around online, I see that Admail West’s president is Kathleen Pescetti. Her husband is Anthony Pescetti, the Republican former Assemblyman from Gold River; their son, also named Anthony, is Admail West’s business development manager.

Hill, D-San Mateo, issued a news release today noting there are still unanswered questions that must be resolved to ensure this doesn’t happen again: “I will be working with the Secretary of State to identify corrective actions that may include legislation or a state audit.”

Hill on June 16 introduced AB 814, which would require that for a statewide election, officials include a notification with the sample ballot informing voters they can obtain a voter information guide on the Secretary of State’s website. The notice also would include the telephone number, designated by the county elections official, at which a voter could request that a ballot pamphlet be mailed to him or her; ballot pamphlets also would be made available at polling places. The bill passed the state Senate Appropriations Committee on a unanimous vote Monday, and now awaits a Senate floor vote.

Hill also this year authored AB 1717, authorizing county and city elections officials to create procedures letting a voter opt out of receiving their sample ballot, voter pamphlet and polling-place notice by mail and instead get them electronically by e-mail or on the county’s or city’s Web site. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed that bill into law last month.

Posted on Friday, August 6th, 2010
Under: Assembly, Debra Bowen, Elections, Jerry Hill | 2 Comments »

One-stop shopping for Democratic candidates

The Coalition of Bay Area Young Democrats, conjunction with the San Francisco Young Democrats, will host a massive candidates’ forum at 1 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 6 at the SEIU Local 87 hall, 240 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco.

Free and open to the public, the forum aims to hear from, and give attendees a chance to ask questions of, candidates in some of 2010′s highest-profile races. Confirmed speakers include gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown; lieutenant governor candidate Janice Hahn; Attorney General candidates Kamala Harris, Chris Kelly, Pedro Nava and Alberto Torrico; incumbent state Treasurer Bill Lockyer; Insurance Commissioner candidates Hector De La Torre and Dave Jones; Superintendent of Public instruction candidates Larry Aceves and Tom Torlakson; and incumbent Board of Equalization member Betty Yee.

Posted on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Alberto Torrico, Attorney General, Bill Lockyer, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Elections, Janice Hahn, Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris, Lt. Governor, Pedro Nava, Political events, Tom Torlakson | 1 Comment »

Another candidate declares in CD-10

With 11 candidates already declared or most likely in the field and a few more rumored to be mulling it over, the race to succeed Rep. Ellen Tauscher in the 10th Congressional District became an even dozen Monday with an entry from the “who’s that?” department.

Self-described “soccer mom” Tiffany Attwood of Danville, a Democrat and Bay Area native, says she’s the only minority woman (Latina/Filipina) in the race.

“Why would anyone elect the same officials that put California in a $21 billion deficit in a federal seat?” she said. “I don’t think constituents of the 10th District want to put an experienced deficit-spending, tax-increasing politician in Congress.”

Her news release says that with her father and two brothers as former or current Marines, she’s “acutely aware of the issues surrounding veterans and senior citizens, especially with health care.” She also touts her experience as a wife, a mother, a mortgage officer with Emery Financial and a Danville Planning Commissioner, noting she faces the everyday challenges of holding down two jobs and balancing a family life to make ends meet.

From her campaign’s Web site:

As health care is a personal issue with Tiffany and her family, she has taken on a second job with United Parcel Service (UPS) to secure full health benefits, which her union manages. Over the years with UPS, Tiffany has found that not only do her coworkers hold down second jobs too, but are there also to cover family health benefits. Outside of UPS, health care is a cost problem within the 10th District and needs to be addressed.

She said her priorities will focus on responsible home ownership, open dialogue on solutions for the health care industry, and federal help for small business owners in order to boost the district’s employment.

“Defaults in home ownership are up, on average by 14 percent in the district. Families are now faced with possible layoffs, bad credit and nowhere to turn to for help. I want to get the word out that Obama’s stimulus for housing is working, although a little bureaucratic, we’ve been able to give families their lives back,” she said. “We’re all going through tough times right now – my family is too. But there is hope! With American ingenuity and a positive attitude we can ALL make it through this.”

This race ought to be getting off the ground in earnest soon, as Tauscher’s confirmation hearing went off without a hitch last week and the vote on her appointment to a high-ranking State Department should be soon to follow. Other declared candidates or those likely to run include Democrats Tony Bothwell, Joan Buchanan, John Garamendi, Adriel Hampton, Mark DeSaulnier and Anthony Woods; Republicans Nick Gerber, David Harmer and Catherine Moy; Green Jeremy Cloward; and independent Gino VanGundy.

UPDATE @ 3:24 P.M.: I spoke with the new candidate about an hour ago; read about it here.

Posted on Monday, June 15th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, Elections, Ellen Tauscher, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

David Harmer in, Tom Del Beccaro out in CD-10

Lisa had reported the possibility in April, but now it’s official: Republican attorney David Harmer – son of former California lieutenant governor and Southern California state legislator John Harmer – says he’ll be a candidate in the 10th Congressional District should Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, be confirmed to the State Department post to which she is nominated.

“Now more than ever, we need Congress to practice prudent fiscal management,” he said in his news release. “Instead, Congress is mortgaging our children’s future with trillions of dollars in new debt. It’s the opposite of the American dream. We’re living beyond our means and leaving the bill for our kids.”

Harmer, of San Ramon, said he believes the district’s voters share his commitment to fiscal responsibility. “The 2008 elections offered a great opportunity for change, but a doubling of the national debt within four years and massive corporate bailouts is not the change we had in mind I am running for Congress to work toward common-sense solutions.”

And although this will be an uphill battle for him – the district has an 18-percentage-point Democratic registration edge – Harmer said he already has raised more than $150,000 for this race. Spokesman Michael Caporusso said if this early support is any indication, “we’re well on our way to raising over $1 million for this election.”

California Republican Party Vice Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette told me this morning he won’t be a candidate – “It’s just not the right time for me,” he said – and we’re hearing that Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf probably won’t seek the seat either (although I couldn’t immediately reach him this morning to confirm).

Other potential GOP candidates include Fairfield City Councilwoman Catherine Moy, who has set up an exploratory committee Web site; 2008 10th District nominee Nicholas Gerber of Moraga; and CBS News Radio National Business Correspondent and former KTVU Channel 2 Business Editor Brian Banmiller.

Posted on Thursday, May 28th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, Elections, Ellen Tauscher, U.S. House | 7 Comments »