The State of California has seven elected constitutional offices: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, Controller, Secretary of State, Insurance Commissioner and Superintendent of Public Instruction. Of the seven offices, five will have new occupants. Of the five, four will be familiar faces because they succeeded in running for a new constitutional office or previously held statewide office.
Governor: Winner Arnold Schwarzenegger
Until the recall of Governor Gray Davis in 2003, all seven of the constitutional offices were held by Democrats. In a solidly “blue” state, Californians contradicted the national movement towards democratic candidates and reelected Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger 56% to 39%. Recent polling suggested that Governor Schwarzenegger’s reelection was assured, however the question of whether or not the Governor would have coattails remained. Tuesday’s election results proved that despite the Governor’s personal success, he did not have coattails.
Lieutenant Governor: Winner John Garamendi
The Lieutenant Governor’s race was among the closest in the election. Democratic Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi narrowly beat out Republican State Senator Tom McClintock 50% to 45%. Both candidates enjoyed high voter name identification and recent polling showed that the race was very tight. Fearing a trickle-down effect from Treasurer Phil Angelides’ failing campaign for Governor, Garamendi took obvious steps to distance himself from the Treasurer. And, many labor groups abandoned Angelides and diverted their efforts and resources to support Garamendi’s election. Garamendi’s final tactic to halt the dwindling gap between himself and McClintock was to emphasize Senator McClintock’s opposition to 2004’s Proposition 71 which funded stem cell research. Whether this commercial or a good night for democrats made the difference is open to speculation. Regardless, Garamendi is now positioned to use the Lieutenant Governor’s spots on the University Board of Regents, State Lands Commission and Economic Development Commission as bully pulpits in what is anticipated to be a race for Governor in 2010.
Attorney General: Winner Jerry Brown
Former Democratic Governor and current Mayor of Oakland Jerry Brown easily won the Attorney General’s office against Republican opponent Senator Chuck Poochigian 57% to 38%. Poochigian could not match Jerry Brown’s voter name identification and fundraising capabilities. Poochigian focused on painting Brown as being soft on crime, but to no avail. Brown consistently led in polls, maintaining a double-digit lead throughout the contest. Brown is expected to be an activist attorney general, demonstrating strong concern for consumers and the environment in addition to his role as chief law enforcement officer.
Treasurer: Winner Bill Lockyer
The race for California Treasurer received minimal coverage and attention this election cycle. Consistent front-runner, Democratic Attorney General Bill Lockyer, handily won the race against Republican Board of Equalization member Claude Parrish 55% to 37%. Lockyer abandoned his ambition to run for Governor and instead shifted his massive campaign war chest to the race for State Treasurer and never broke a sweat in pursuing the office.
Controller: Winner John Chiang
Democrat and Board of Equalization member John Chiang was victorious in his bid for Controller against former Republican State Assembly Member Tony Strickland, winning 51% to 40% in what became a very heated race. The race for Controller had intensified considerably in the days prior to the election with selected Indian tribes and other interests making hefty last-minute contributions to Strickland’s campaign. Although polling had Chiang leading going into election day, he remained relatively unknown to many voters and there was rampant speculation that Strickland could come into office on the Governor’s coattails. Unfortunately for Strickland, the preelection polling held up on election day. Chiang is a proud policy wonk and looks to use the Controller’s office as a platform to require government accountability and more efficient delivery of services.
Secretary of State: Winner Debra Bowen
The Secretary of State race was among the races predicted to be closely contested. However, State Senator Debra Bowen was able to beat current, Governor Schwarzenegger-appointed Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson 49% to 45%. McPherson is a moderate Republican and had the benefit of being listed as the incumbent, something that resonates with voters. Because McPherson was appointed by the Governor, many believed that he too would benefit if the Governor had coattails. But, Senator Bowen countered McPherson’s incumbency by building an impressive and extensive grassroots operation with a major emphasis on the internet that may prove a model for future statewide campaigns.
Insurance Commissioner: Winner Steve Poizner
Moderate Republican inventor and entrepreneur Steve Poizner beat Democrat and current Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante 51% to 39% for California Insurance Commissioner. After having run in three statewide elections, including twice for Lieutenant Governor and once as the primary Democrat in the 2003 recall of Governor Gray Davis, Bustamante enjoyed much higher name recognition than Poizner. However, early polling indicated that Bustamante’s high name identification was tempered by many voters having an unfavorable impression of him. Conversely, Poizner’s name identification was significantly lower, but with fewer people knowing him, he was able to run campaign ads that defined himself in a positive way as compared to Bustamante. Poizner’s effort was so successful, it led to one of the entire election's most unexpected events. Harvey Rosenfield, founder of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, and author of Proposition 103, the 17-year-old California ballot measure that made insurance a highly regulated industry, endorsed Poizner, and Bustamante never had a chance to recover. Many think Poizner will seek the Governor’s office as early as 2010.
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Winner Jack O’Connell
Former State Assembly Member and Senator Jack O’Connell ran unopposed for his reelection to Superintendent of Public Instruction. He has been cited as one of the many potential Democratic contenders for the Governor’s office in 2010.
This election had few truly competitive legislative races. However, Democrat and Republican efforts were focused on Senate District 34 and Assembly Districts 17, 78, and 80. Only SD 34 may change party control.
Senate District 34
The hottest race and the number-one priority for both Democrats and Republicans was Senate District 34 in Orange County. The seat was vacated by Senator Joe Dunn this year due to term-limits, and the primary election results pitted moderate Republican Assemblymember Lynn Daucher against former moderate Democratic Assemblymember and current Orange County Board of Supervisor Lou Correa. Polling up to the election had them in a dead heat. With absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted, Lynn Daucher is leading with 50.1% of the vote to Lou Correa’s 49.9%. Currently, only 13 votes separate the two.
Assembly District 17
Cathleen Galgiani succeeded in retaining the 17th Assembly District 59.7% to 40.3% for the Democrats against Republican opponent Gerry Machado. The campaign went negative towards the end with her opponent trying to tie Galgiani to former Governor Gray Davis and criticizing her for being a single woman with no children.
Assembly District 78
Republican incumbent Assemblymember Shirley Horton was able to hold on to her seat despite an aggressive campaign by her challenger, Democrat Maxine Sherard. Shirley Horton was reelected with 51.7% to 45.1%, but election eve polling had the race much closer.
Assembly District 80
The closest Assembly race was between Republican incumbent Bonnie Garcia and Democratic challenger Steve Clute. Garcia, who recently came under fire for sexually explicit comments made in reference to Governor Schwarzenegger, was reelected 51.1 % to 48.9%.
Thirteen ballot propositions were put before voters.
The bipartisan infrastructure bond package consisted of five measures that all PASSED. Specifically:
1A Transportation Fund Project.
PASSED 76% to 23%.
1B Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security Bond Act. PASSED 61.3% to 37.7%.
1C Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act.
PASSED 57.5% to 42.5%.
1D Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond Act.
PASSED 56.6% to 43.4%.
1E Disaster Preparedness and Flood Protection Act of 2006.
PASSED 64% to 36%.
Proposition 83 Sex Offenders, sexually violent Predators. Punishment, Residence Restrictionsand Monitoring.
PASSED 70.5% to 29.5%.
This initiative increases penalties for violent and habitual sex offenders and child molesters. Further, it prohibits registered sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of a school or park.
Proposition 84 Water Quality, Safety and Supply, Flood Control. Natural Resources Protection.Park Improvements.PASSED 53.8% to 46.2%.
This initiative will fund projects relating to safe drinking water, water quality and supply, flood control, waterway and natural resource protection, water pollution, contamination control, state and local park improvements, public resources and water conservation efforts.
Proposition 85 Waiting Period and Parental Notification before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy.
FAILED 54.2% to 45.8%.
This initiative would have amended the California Constitution to prohibit performing an abortion without parental approval.
Proposition 86 Tax on Cigarettes.
FAILED 52.1% to 47.9%.
This initiative would have imposed an additional 13 cent tax on each cigarette distributed ($2.60 per pack), indirectly increasing tax on other tobacco products.
Proposition 87 Alternative Energy. Research. Production, Incentives, Tax on California Oil Producers.
FAILED 54.7% to 45.3%.
This initiative would have established a $4 billion program with the goal to reduce petroleum consumption by 25% with research and production incentives for alternative energy, alternative energy vehicles, energy-efficient technologies, and for education and training.
Proposition 88 Education Funding. Real Property Parcel Tax.FAILED 76.9% to 23.1%.
This initiative would have provided additional public school funding for kindergarten through 12th grade which would be funded by an additional $50 tax on each property parcel.
Proposition 89 Political Campaigns. Public Financing Corporate Tax Increase. Campaign Contribution and Expenditure Limits.FAILED 74.5% to 25.5%.
This initiative would have provided that candidates for elected state office that met certain requirements could voluntarily receive public campaign funding from the Fair Political Practices Commission
Proposition 90 Government Acquisition, Regulation of Private Property.FAILED 52.5% to 47.5%.
This initiative would have barred state and local government from condemning or damaging private property to promote other private projects or uses.
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