Water Issue Re-elects GOP Sen. Vidak in Dem District

Wayne Lusvardi
Political Commentator

You knew Democrats were in the deep end of the pool over water issues in California back on May 14. That’s when they asked Republican state Sen. Andy Vidak of Hanford to read out loud Joint Resolution 25 in the state Senate. It urged President Obama to find solutions to California’s drought crisis.

It is rare in politics for one party to have to use a member of the opposing party to become the spokesperson for anything. But Vidak came from an area hard hit by the drought. And support from the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives was crucial to getting federal relief.

The trend culminated when Vidak won another smashing victory — even though 54 percent of the registered voters in his 14th Senate District are Hispanic, and 49 percent are Democrat.

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Campaign 2014: Final Thoughts

Allan Hoffenblum
Publisher of the California Target Book and owner of Allan Hoffenblum & Associates

In the classic 1976 movie Network, Peter Finch, in the role of TV anchorman Howard Beal, yells “I’m made as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

Looking at the paltry 30 percent statewide voter turnout on Tuesday, most California voters must be yelling, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to vote anymore.”

But the low turnout is what the California Republican Party needed – and prayed for – to be able to beat back the Democratic effort to maintain super-majorities in the state Senate and Assembly, especially in those districts that had large numbers of Latino voters.

Three Democratic incumbents were defeated for reelection: Steve Fox (AD36-Antelope Valley); Al Muratsuchi (AD66-Torrance/Palos Verdes Peninsula); and Sharon Quirk-Silva (AD65-Anaheim/Fullerton). 

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Questions Post Election

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

Votes are still being counted in the California election but the results so far raise some thoughts and questions.

Labor or Business—and the winner is?

Both sides can point to victories—and defeats. Business supported candidate Catharine Baker surprised labor official Tim Sbranti in AD 16. Ben Allen in SD 26 was also a big business win in a Dem vs. Dem race. Business kept the two-thirds barrier up, which will come into play on many policy discussions over the next two years.

Labor scored with Tom Torlakson in the school superintendent race. In the swing vote on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, labor’s candidate Sheila Kuehl prevailed.

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Lessons from the Trail

Neel Kashkari
Former Republican Gubernatorial Candidate

My campaign for Governor of California obviously did not end the way I had hoped. When the polls did not move in our direction as the campaign drew to a close, I began writing down my reflections on this two-year journey. This document is my summary of what I tried to do, how I tried to do it and what I learned along the way. Clearly it is not meant to be a roadmap to electoral victory since we came up short. But my hope is future candidates may find these reflections useful as they plan their own campaigns.

I found the process of running for Governor a wonderful, enriching experience that allowed me to meet the widest possible diversity of people, from homeless people living on the street, to working Californians struggling to build a better life for them-selves, to some of the most successful people in the world. In the vast majority of cases the people I met were genuine and good-hearted. I am grateful so many shared their experiences and ideas with me.

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Three Lessons About California’s Election Reforms

Daniel Krimm is a Research Associate at PPIC; Eric McGhee is a Research Fellow at PPIC

California got its second taste of two important reforms yesterday: legislative and congressional districts drawn by an independent redistricting commission, and a “top-two” primary system that allowed voters to choose any candidate in the primary, regardless of party, and advanced the top two vote-getters, also regardless of party, to the fall election. Both went into effect in 2012.

How did the reforms do this time around? This is really a question about the legislative and congressional races, since the statewide races weren’t affected by the redistricting and there were no same-party races at that level. The new districts were used for the first time only in the state senate races.

A first pass at the results (as they stand at the time of this writing) suggests three important conclusions:

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First Take On The Election

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Unlike what happened in 2010, the great Republican tide of 2014 seems not to have stopped at the Sierras.  While it will take awhile to get all the votes in, it looks like California Republicans may actually makes some gains in this election.

The best news is that GOP State Sen. Andy Vidak seems to have survived rather handily; I thought that one would be closer.  GOP Senate candidate Janet Nguyen seems like the winner in Orange County; that means Republicans will have at least 14 seats in the State Senate and the Democratic two thirds majority will be broken.

In the Assembly, Republicans seem on their way to defeating two Democrats, Assembly members Steve Fox and Sharon Quirk Silva.  And they could pick up a third Assembly seat; for the first time in years the GOP may win an Assembly seat in the Bay Area where Catharine Baker is ahead of a labor backed Democrat by 3,400 votes.  But they will lose the Assembly seat vacated by Jeff Gorell in Ventura County, where the GOP nominated a tea party extremist.  Message to Republicans; keep nominating tea party types and you are sure to lose.

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The Democratic Wall in CA has Leaks

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

The Republican election day tide which saw a gain of 7 senate seats, 13 House seats and 3 governorships across the nation banged into the Sierra Nevada wall that has often separated California metaphorically from the rest of the country with Democrats once again sweeping all the statewide offices. But this time there were leaks in the wall. Republicans apparently accomplished the party’s modest goal of keeping the Democrats from capturing a two-thirds majority in the Legislature.

The Republicans might have made a bigger splash if more money was directed toward a couple of statewide candidates in competitive races. Both Secretary of State candidate Pete Peterson and Controller candidate Ashley Swearengin came within five-percent of their opponents without substantial financial support.

As part of the national trend boosting Republicans in Congress, tight races could fall to Republicans with Doug Ose and Carl DeMaio holding narrow leads early this morning. Incumbent Republican congress members Jeff Denham and David Valadao, who were supposed to be in danger when the election campaigns began, won handily. There may even be an unexpected upset of long time Democratic Congressman Jim Costa to Johnny Tacherra in CD 16.

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How Recruiters Can Help Your Current (or Future) Job Search in California

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director & Milken Institute Fellow

(This is one of an occasional Fox & Hounds series on employment counselors, coaches, and recruiters in California, and their advice for job seekers).

Employment recruiters in California, like staffing company professionals, offer us valuable insights into the state’s labor markets. They are on top of who is hiring and what jobs they’re hiring for on a daily basis. Andy Moy is a recruiter who is in the middle of current hiring boom in tech, and he offers advice for job seekers that are applicable to tech jobs and other sectors and occupations.

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 3.01.36 PMMr. Moy is a member of the recruiter team at Beyondsoft Consulting Services, the giant China-based firm. He started his career as a recruiter with Robert Half in Chicago and since 2011 has been a recruiter in the Bay Area, specializing in IT workers and connecting them to IT jobs throughout California and nearby states.

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When 82 Percent Voter Turnout Isn’t Good Enough

Bruno Kaufmann
Journalist and election commissioner in Falun, Sweden; founder of People2Power, a publication on democracy

Election Participation in My Swedish City Could Crush Any Town in America. But We Decided There Was More to Be Done.

I did not receive the warmest welcome from my colleagues four years ago, at my very first meeting of the Falun Election Commission. In fact, most members of the authority in Falun, the Swedish city of 57,000 where I live, were surprised I had called a meeting at all.

“What is this all about?” a colleague asked me. “The next elections are in four years and we had just an election with a great turnout. The only thing we are elected to do is administer the next elections.”

My colleague had a point. The Swedish law makes clear the election commission’s job is to administer elections, full stop. And participation in the 2010 local, regional and national elections here in Sweden—which are held together at the same time—was terrific. Turnout of those eligible to vote was 82 percent.

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Throw the Penalty Flag on Misleading Political Ads

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

As the election season and football season run concurrently, one has daydreams about the possibility of throwing penalty flags on misleading political ads. Sure there have been complaints this football season that there have been too many penalty flags thrown, but it is just the opposite in politics – not enough penalty flags.

This is not a partisan complaint. Shrieks come from both sides of the political aisle about unfair, out-of-context or malicious charges. And, the defenses on both sides ring about the same as well: ‘Here’s our source, see for yourself, that’s our interpretation.’

A cold reading often backs up the defensive posture — if you don’t bother with the context. How about the mailer in the Assembly District 64 race running through South LA to a piece of Long Beach where one mailer quoted the Long Beach Press Telegram that “Casting a vote for (Prophet) Walker is a gamble.” That’s what the Press Telegram said. However, it endorsed Walker and thus urged voters to take the gamble.

Out-of-context. Throw the flag. But, what’s equivalent to a five-yard penalty in the political world?

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