California Election Primer


Cupla notes about the Failed Golden State today:

* California is still a one-party state. Not necessarily Democrat (though it still leans heavily that way), but in terms of legislative districts–you either live in District Coke or District Pepsi; the minority party rarely competes, and schlubs win office by getting 4,905 votes in a primary election. Today's primary will likely determine scores of seats that won't even get written about in tomorrow's papers.

* Wait, it gets worse! California voters, who are justifiably furious at how awful the economy (12.6 percent unemployment) and public policy ($19 billion budget deficit, with a bullet!) are going, nonetheless have almost no outlet for their frustrations in this election. This is in sharp contrast to May 2009, when a series of political establishment-backed ballot initiatives were routed in one of the biggest and most portentious electoral drubbings of our modern age. This time around, with the lifeless Democrats offering a bunch of stale political celebrities, and the Republicans likely choosing two ex-Silicon Valley CEOs for putative governor and senator who between them spent more than $75 million of their own money to win primaries that focused heavily on illegal immigration, about the only vessel for raw voter anger has been Proposition 14. Which, in grand California fashion, will likely exacerbate the problem it aims to fix, by replacing political-party primaries with open elections that graduate the top two vote-getters (from whatever party) to the November election, thereby kneecapping political competition still further.

* In the why-the-rest-of-us-have-to-care department, Reason Contributing Editor Carolyn Lochhead writes in the San Francisco Chronicle that our 50 failed states–led by you know who–are howling in protest at the inability of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to squirt another $24 billion their way:

California and most other states were counting on the money. California, facing a $19 billion budget hole, would get $1.9 billion, most of it to fund Medi-Cal. […]

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger joined 46 other governors in demanding that the Senate restore the funding when it takes up the legislation as early as today.

An additional $23 billion in federal aid to prevent teacher layoffs across the nation, pushed by the White House and Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, has been attached to an emergency war-spending bill that is exempt from "pay-as-you-go" budget rules. It also faces stiff opposition as worries about the growing national debt, which crossed the $13 trillion mark last week, have begun to trump concern about jobs.

* In case you were hopeful or worried about the California GOP morphing into something halfway effective, let alone non-crazy, consider this: Birther queen Orly Taitz has a non-trivial chance of winning the Republican primary for secretary of state.

* What impact is the Tea Party having? Mostly bupkus.

Some Reason.tv interviews with various candidates. First up, would be GOP senatorial candidate Chuck DeVore:

Next, gubernatorial candidate-turned DeVore/Carly Fiorina competitor Tom Campbell (just click on the link; embed is currently failing).

And finally, longshot Democratic primary challenger to Sen. Barbara Boxer, Mickey Kaus:

California readers, please share your pain in the comments.