Notes on random evidence of the people's voice
Several rapidly growing counties, including Merced, put sales-tax increases on their ballots in the June 6 election earmarked for transportation improvements. Costly mailers, paid for by developers, road construction companies and their unions, explained to the voters that without this "self-help" fund emanating from the county, CalTrans would not be likely to fund their projects. The voters seemed to ask why development doesn't pay for itself. (1)
In Humboldt County, voters passed a measure to prohibit outside special interest contributions to local political campaigns. Humboldt's forests are largely held by outside corporations, the largest and most belligerent being Maxxam's Pacific Lumber Co., which recently funded a recall campaign against newly elected DA Paul Gallegos, who had the gall to sue the lumber company for back taxes. Gallegos also won reelection. (2)
In Mendocino County, a supervisor who claims to be impeccably green but recently closed down a mill to develop it on the outskirts of Willits, lost to John Pinches. Hal Wagonet, the loser, narrowly defeated Pinches in the last election. Pinches' margin of victory was greatly aided by local citizens against Wagonet's development plans. (3)
In Placer County, rapidly developing Lincoln-based Supervisor Robert Wagonet beat back a challenge funded by the Tsakopoulos family, irritated that he had held to proper planning processes on a Tsakopoulos development in his district that would have featured at its center a "world-class university." (4)
Former Rep. Ron Dellums, D-Oakland, won the primary for Oakland mayor (to replace Jerry Brown). Alameda County is having to hand count its ballots so it is not yet certain whether Dellums will have to face a runoff election in November. Dellums took courageous stands on national defense spending and on the right of Palestinians to exist. (5)
Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy received 62 percent of the Republican vote in the 11th congressional district against former Rep. Pete McCloskey's 32 percent. McCloskey came, as a former Marine officer and lawyer, to defend the Constitution against the one-party, far-rightwing that has advanced Pombo so rapidly in the House. He came from out of the district as a co-author of the Endangered Species Act and several other key environmental laws, and as co-founder of Earth Day, to cause Pombo, co-author of the gut-the-ESA bill now stalled in the US Senate, as much political harm as possible. McCloskey came to do battle with Pombo as a Republican, to save the soul of the Republican Party.
It is doubtful McCloskey knew much more about the real estate manias of San Joaquin County, the basis of the power of Pombo and his extensive Pombo family clan of ranch realtors, than does Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, House Minority Leader, who backed the loser in the Democratic Party primary. The core of the district, San Joaquin County, is mysterious to Bay Area types. But Pombo needed 70 percent to scare away big Democratic Party money. If the Democrats can bring themselves to back the winner of their primary, Jerry McNerney, and run a decent voter registration drive, the could continue wounding Pombo and possibly beat him.
However, there is a sense Democratic Party treachery may be afoot in poor old San Joaquin County. The Democrats may be keeping their money for a state Sen. Mike Machado, D-Linden, campaign for Congress in two years. Meanwhile, if one follows the Delta press, it appears that Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Pelosi, both San Franciscans, are too chummy with Pombo by far. (6) (7)
Oakland Mayor and former Gov. Jerry Brown walked away with the Democratic Party nomination for attorney general. State Senator Charles Poochigian, R-Fresno, his opponent, threatens a harsh campaign on Brown's record. Fresno doesn't like it that Brown marched with Cesar Chavez and created the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. So what, Chuck? (8)
With an infusion of $8.6 million from the Tsakopoulos family, state Treasurer Phil Angelides defeated state Controller Steve Westly, a Silicon Valley magnate who funded his own campaign. Angelides, a former Sacramento developer and protege of Angelo Tsakopoulos, has also been a long-time Democratic Party funder and has served as state chairman of the party. His knowledge of Wall Street, through investment of billions in state retirement funds and his involvement in the many billions in bonds by which the state now finances itself -- because development doesn't pay its way -- may be an asset for the state government. Whether that expertise translates into assets for the state's people is a mystery. We think it is unlikely that the Tsakopoulos family will not receive some benefit for their generosity in the primary campaign. (9)
Voter turnout was generally, wretchedly low. Arnold the Hun was voted in on a "progressive reform" platform, a purely nostalgic confection of the public relations profession aimed at conjuring up images of Hiram Johnson and Teddy Roosevelt in the Age of Bush, Tom the Hammer, Pombo, Cunningham and Jack Abramoff and the K Street Project. Yet, the feeling for reform is genuine in the populace, if only it can sort out the flak to get to its best shot for a little bit of it. The people might conclude that Angelides serves too many masters. At least with the Hun, you know he serves only one master.
(1) Measure A: Road fixes to take longer
By Leslie Albrecht
Last Updated: June 8, 2006, 01:58:29 AM PDT
… "It's devastating," said District 2 Supervisor Kathleen Crookham, who starred in television ads promoting Measure A, the half-cent sales tax that would have raised $446 million for transportation projects throughout the county.
The initiative fell 795 votes short of achieving the two-thirds majority it needed to pass, leaving Merced County leaders disappointed and wondering what kept voters home.
A May 19 poll showed 71 percent support for the initiative, but those numbers failed to materialize on Tuesday.
It wasn't only in Merced.
Transportation tax initiatives in Monterey, Solano and Napa counties all went down in flames. (Merced's fared the best -- Monterey's measure got 56 percent, Napa's got 52 percent, and Solano's got 45 percent.)
A few anti-tax groups campaigned against the Solano and Napa measures, but Merced's saw no organized opposition except for some fliers inserted into newspapers two days prior to the election.
"The fact that we lost millions and millions of dollars by just a few percentage points is just unbelievable," said Crookham. "It was local people who made the decisions about which projects it would fund.
"Why they didn't go to the polls and vote for what they wanted just leaves me baffled" ...
Measure T passes with 55 percent majority
by Rebecca S. Bender, 6/7/2006
Humboldt County sent a message to out-of-area corporations looking to throw their weight around in local elections Tuesday night: Go away.
Measure T, also called the Ordinance to Protect Our Right to Fair Elections and Local Democracy, would prohibit non-local corporations from donating to county elections.
“We’re really excited!” enthused campaign co-manager Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap said close to midnight on Tuesday. “We’re very proud of our community — but we’re not surprised!”
As of press time, with 94 percent of precincts reporting, Measure T was ahead with 54.97 percent of votes stacking up in its favor and 45.03 percent against.
Absentee ballots, reported shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m., fell along a similar divide, with 52 percent yes votes and 48 percent no, giving an initial indication of which way the vote might go.
3rd District voters choose Pinches' Colfax leading in 5th district race
By KATIE MINTZ The Daily Journal
John Pinches and David Colfax look to be the likely 3rd and 5th District supervisors following Tuesday's election...
With 100 percent of 3rd District precincts reporting, Pinches was the unofficial winner of the 3rd District supervisor seat with 54 percent of the votes...
Weygandt wins county supervisor race Tuesday
By: Joshua W. Bingham, Gold Country News Service
Wednesday, June 7, 2006 10:09 AM PDT
Through receiving 70 percent of the votes with 92 percent of the precincts rep-orting at 9:40 p.m. Tuesday, Robert Wey-gandt clearly was elected to his fourth term as District 2 Supervisor on the Placer County Board of Supervisors ...
Simmons estimated his team spent about $380,000 on the campaign. Weygandt, however, estimated the Simmons camp spent twice as much as his own.
Causing much media coverage was the fact the Tsakopoulos family, major developers in the area, donated $100,000 to Simmons' campaign on May 31.
Although a Placer County Elections Division spokesperson relayed that, according to late contribution reports, while $118,500 was given to Weygandt's campaign and $232,251.83 was given to Simmons' campaign between May 25 and June 2, a true receipt of how much money was spent wouldn't be available until required in a report later in the year...
Dellums leads, but counting not over
Christopher Heredia, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, June 8, 2006
Ron Dellums was winning Oakland's mayoral race by the slimmest of margins Wednesday, but with thousands of absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted one by one, the outcome was nowhere near assured.
The former congressman, who gave what sounded a lot like a victory speech Tuesday night, had just 125 votes more than the 50 percent majority needed to win the election outright, election officials said Wednesday.
Primary vote shows 'vulnerability' for Pombo
By MICHAEL DOYLE
WASHINGTON -- Republican Richard Pombo could pay a price for his victory in his most challenging Republican primary ever.
It all depends on what the meaning of "win" is.
The seven-term congressman from Tracy, Calif., did handily defeat his GOP challenger Tuesday, former congressman Pete McCloskey, 62 percent to 32 percent. In a general election, that would be a more than comfortable margin.
But in a primary, facing a 78-year-old challenger who only recently had taken an apartment in the Northern San Joaquin Valley congressional district, the win could be spun in several ways. Not all of the interpretations favor Pombo.
"The result shows a serious vulnerability, but no more than that," Bruce Cain, a political science professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said Wednesday. "At a minimum, it means that the Republicans will have to put money into this race, which they certainly did not want to do."
Money is certainly abundant. Helped by his perch as chairman of the House Resources Committee, Pombo reported raising $81,300 in just the past week. All told, Pombo has raised more than $1.7 million this election cycle.
But it wasn't just the congressional candidates pouring money into the race. In an interview Wednesday, Pombo estimated that the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, among others, spent several million dollars attacking him with ads. Some even ran on expensive San Francisco stations, a rarity for a San Joaquin Valley race ...
11TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
Pombo basks in his decisive victory
30 percentage point win over McCloskey 'pretty convincing'
Greg Lucas, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
Thursday, June 8, 2006
Rather than proof of weakness, Rep. Richard Pombo's 62 percent- to-32 percent primary victory over former Rep. Pete McCloskey just as likely signaled how strong the seven-term Tracy Republican will run in November.
Pombo benefits from a district centered in his home San Joaquin County with 44 percent GOP registration to 37 percent Democratic and a challenger in favor of increasing taxes -- including gasoline -- whom Pombo defeated handily two years ago.
"People can dream all they want but it was a pretty convincing win," said Wayne Johnson, Pombo's chief political consultant. "We stopped our advertising two weeks out because we didn't see what the point was."
Environmental groups, angered by the House Resources Committee chairman's desire to weaken the federal Endangered Species Act, spent more than $1 million to defeat him.
They, and national Democrats, see Pombo as vulnerable, particularly if voters carry through in November on an anti-incumbent mood showing up in public opinion polls.
"He isn't motivating his base. He's got a large anti-Pombo vote within his own party," said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife, which spent more than $400,000 against Pombo in the Republican primary ...
"Pombo won the primary by more 30 points. And for anyone who thinks that's a blow to him you have to look at Pete McCloskey," said Bob Giroux, a former Democratic campaign consultant, now lobbyist. "McCloskey was known in the district but he's also a legend. You could put him in San Bernardino and he'd still get 32 percent" ...
But Pombo is likely to zero in on McNerney's support for increasing a number of taxes.
In a survey on the Project Vote Smart Web page, McNerney said he supports slight increases in alcohol, cigarette, inheritance and gasoline taxes. He wants large increases in capital gains and corporate taxes.
"On just about every issue, he is on the wrong side for the district," Johnson said. "I've never seen a political suicide note this long."
Jerry Brown Wins Nomination for California Attorney General
By JESSE McKINLEY
Published: June 8, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO, June 7 — Jerry Brown, the former governor of California and the current mayor of Oakland, handily won a Democratic primary for state attorney general on Tuesday, setting up a fight with a lesser-known but well-financed Republican candidate.
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Narrow Victory by G.O.P. Signals Fall Problems (June 8, 2006)
Schwarzenegger Voices New Confidence (June 8, 2006)
This Time, Jerry Brown Wants to Be a Lawman (June 5, 2006)With all precincts reporting, Mr. Brown had received 63 percent of the vote versus 37 percent for Rocky Delgadillo, the city attorney of Los Angeles. The Republican candidate, Chuck Poochigian, a state senator from Fresno, was unopposed.
On Wednesday, Mr. Poochigian blazed through a series of interviews, promising a serious challenge to Mr. Brown, the son of a former governor, Edmund G. Brown Sr., and a three-time presidential candidate who has spent nearly four decades in politics.
"My biggest challenge is overcoming Jerry's name advantage," Mr. Poochigian, 57, said in a telephone interview from Sacramento. "But Jerry has a bigger challenge to overcome, and that's his record."
Mr. Brown embarked on his own campaign tour, barnstorming through the state on a private plane, traveling from Oakland, across the San Francisco Bay, to a pair of Southern California stops in Burbank and San Diego; then north to Sacramento; and south again to Bakersfield and Los Angeles.
Along the way, Mr. Brown ventured to Mr. Poochigian's turf in the Central Valley to address police officials. At every stop, he sought to remind voters of his credentials, including his "practical hands-on experience" as a governor and a mayor.
"I've been an independent leader, not just an appendage of narrow partisan politics," said Mr. Brown, 68, before boarding a plane in San Diego. "I'm running against a man who has basically been a staffer or bureaucrat or a legislator. He's never run a darn thing."
But Mr. Brown said he expected a tough campaign, and predicted that Mr. Poochigian would use negative advertisements to try to paint him as being out of step with average Californians.
Mr. Poochigian promised to run "a truthful campaign," but he was already hammering Mr. Brown for a recent spike in crime in Oakland. "In the case of Jerry Brown, the truth is going to hurt," he said.
In the election to determine Mr. Brown's successor in Oakland, the former congressman Ron Dellums appeared to have won, although officials were still counting the ballots.
Mr. Poochigian has $3.3 million in his campaign chest, aides said, and has already raised more money than any other Republican running for statewide office except Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But he probably faces an uphill battle in a state that often votes Democratic. Mr. Brown's vote total among Democratic voters on Tuesday was just 771 shy of what Mr. Poochigian received from all Republican voters.
OFF AND RUNNING
'NEW ERA': Angelides opens campaign after joining Westly in a unity pledge
Carla Marinucci, Tom Chorneau, Chronicle Political Writers
Thursday, June 8, 2006
Sacramento -- Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Angelides and Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took to the skies and roads Wednesday, kicking off what's expected to be a pricey general election contest and a raucous debate over who can best protect California's future.
Angelides, on a state fly-around that began just hours after he was declared the winner of a bruising primary battle against state Controller Steve Westly for the party's gubernatorial nomination, promised to bring Democrats together in a unified campaign to lead "a new era of progressive action in California."
"I'm full of hope and optimism ... about what this state can be," said Angelides, surrounded by supporters including Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Democratic lieutenant governor nominee John Garamendi.
In a ballroom at the Sheraton Hotel near Universal Studios, Angelides and Westly declared unity, clasped hands, shared a brief hug and tried to downplay the vitriol that dominated the primary campaign.
Westly said Angelides is "committed to the environmental values" of the Democratic Party -- a statement in stark contrast to ads Westly ran during the past week accusing Angelides of playing a role in the dumping of millions of gallons of sludge into Lake Tahoe.
Schwarzenegger, meanwhile, who for months has appeared at events designed to showcase his gubernatorial policies and status, also went into full campaign mode ...
"The other side is talking about the future; we are building the future," he said. "The other side is talking about all the problems California has; we are solving the problems" ,,,
Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, the president of Sacramento-based AKT Development and daughter of developer Angelo Tsakopoulos -- who with her father donated $8.7 million toward the Democratic candidate's effort to an independent expenditure campaign -- said yesterday that her family was "absolutely convinced it was the right thing to do" and was "enormously proud" of Angelides' win.
But in an interview with The Chronicle, Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis said "I don't know" if the Tsakopoulos family will play another major financial donor role in the general election.
She said the primary effort was aimed at helping firefighters, police officers and teachers get out their message of support for Angelides and level the playing field for the treasurer in his battle against the wealthy, self-funded Westly.
"Phil Angelides is now the Democratic Party candidate -- and the Democratic Party is going to do what it needs in this election," she said. "The party is going to support him" ...
Just how quickly Democrats can recover from the wounds of a bloody political primary competition and turn full attention to Schwarzenegger was openly questioned by former San Francisco mayor and radio talk show host Willie Brown in the state Capitol.
"I think probably Westly will be able to do it -- I don't know about Angelides," Brown said. "He's the one who's most offended" ...