Having been a cynic since I cast my first presidential ballot for John Anderson, I didn’t expect much from voters on Tuesday.
Luckily, the voters of California are a lot smarter than I was.
I’m not talking about the whole Democrat vs. Republican thing. There are thousands of blogs for that.
What surprised me was that voters didn’t simply go negative or positive, as they seemed to last year, when Schwarzenegger’s entire slate of initiatives and hitchhikers went down in flames. No, they seemed to be thinking about each candidate and each proposition on a ballot that was much longer than last year’s fiasco.
Despite the special election, despite the Democratic wave, they re-upped Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for four years and rejected Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante’s bid for insurance commissioner. Was this a wacky California reverse wave? Was it the Governator’s coattails? If so, how does one explain Republican Rep. Richard Pombo’s tearful night at the Waterloo restaurant in Stockton?
And as far as transportation infrastructure is concerned, voters said “yes” to the $20 billion Proposition 1B and all of its infrastructure bond siblings, while saying “no” to Prop 90, which I fully expected to pass because people wouldn’t see through the veneer of the measure’s protection against government seizing property to benefit private developers.
Sonoma and Marin county voters also rejected the sales tax that would have built the SMART train. After crawling up Highway 101 last weekend, I’ll just assume they knew what they were doing.
Apparently, voters were paying attention to the fact that unlike last year, the Republican governor and the Democratic legislative leadership were united behind the bond measures. And they must have noticed that nearly every official and interest group in the state was opposed to Prop 90 because they believed it would hamstring government’s ability to regulate land use, environmental degradation and perhaps even copyrights.
When it came to the bottom of the ballot, I refuse to be judgmental. I was very proud of the fact that I could get down to my local ballot measures and still have a vague idea of what I was voting for. But anyone who could get through the statewide ballot measures without simply guessing deserves a lot of credit.
By the time Fremont area voters got down to AC Transit board races, I can’t blame them for simply voting for the “transportation administrator” without knowing that Jeff Davis had pretty much given up running for that job. Or maybe they thought about it long enough to decide that being an incumbent wasn’t enough reason to return Joe Bischofberger to the job of helping run the Bay Area’s second-largest bus agency.
And just maybe, since the voters were so thoughtful this week, they deserve to have their votes counted with the kind of scrutiny that is being demanded in the Oakland-Alameda-San Leandro seat alongside Jeff Davis’
Alameda City Councilman Tony Daysog, 53 votes behind Elsa Ortiz, an attorney who works for State Senate leader Don Perata, has prematurely called for a recount. You can’t do that until the first count is finished and the results are certified, and that could take a few weeks.
It may seem silly for something so far down the ballot, but if voters were just as thoughtful about this race as they were about the others, they’ve earned a little extra care.
Harry Truman 1948 whistle stop campaign photo from history.sandiego.edu.