California Primary: Snoozers, Squeakers, and a Surprise
by CA Pol Junkie
Today, everyone in California who watches TV is grateful the primary is finally over. While Meg Whitman will probably continue poisoning the airwaves, there will be some relief until the fall. Here's what happened with the statewide offices:
Governor: Jerry Brown (D) and Meg Whitman (R) were easily nominated.
Lieutenant Governor: Gavin Newsom (D) won 55% in a 3-way race and will face Abel Maldonado (R), who fended off a challenge from the right by 13 points.
Secretary of State: We won't have Orly Taitz to kick around anymore, since she lost the Republican nomination race to Damon Dunn by 49 points. Dunn will face Debra Bowen (D).
Controller: Tony Strickland (R) won the nomination to challenge John Chiang (D).
Treasurer: Incumbent Bill Lockyer (D) and Mimi Walters (R) were unopposed in their primaries.
Attorney General: San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris (D) won a crowded primary and will face Steve Cooley (R) in November.
Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones won a competitive primary to get the Democratic nomination. In the surprise of the night, Brian Fitzgerald appears to have narrowly defeated State Assemblyman Mike Villines for the Republican nomination even though his campaign consisted of a Facebook page and a blog. Villines was obviously punished for being part of a deal with Democrats to end a budget crisis by temporarily increasing taxes.
Superintendent of Public Instruction: It appears that Democrats Larry Aceves and Tom Torlakson will face each other in November for this (nominally) non-partisan position.
United States Senator: As expected, Barbara Boxer (D) will face Carly Fiorina (R).
The scares of the night were for Propositions 16 and 17. Proposition 16 would have required a 2/3 vote to create a public power utility. Pacific Gas and Electric put up $46 million to collect signatures and run ads to pass the measure, while the opposition spent $90,000. It was a clear abuse of the initiative process to pad their bottom line, but it failed by 5 points. The coalition defeating the measure was unusual, as Kern County (Bakersfield) voted with San Francisco against the measure. There ended up being a startling correlation between the counties voting No and the PG&E service area. Proposition 17 was put on the ballot by Mercury Insurance to change insurance practices for their own benefit, and it lost by a margin similar to Proposition 16 in spite of Yes outspending No by 10:1. If either of these had passed, it would have opened the floodgates to more corporate abuse of initiatives to increase their profits.