June 5 marked the first test of California’s newly drawn political districts and the first comprehensive use of the top-two primary, which in races for the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives and state Legislature sends the two candidates who collect the most votes to the November election, regardless of party affiliation.
That meant, for example, that casting my vote for Senator yesterday involved reading a list of 24 candidates: 6 Democrats, 14 Republicans, 2 Peace and Freedom Party, 1 American Independent, and 1 Libertarian.
Both changes were intended to favor candidates with at least somewhat wide appeal, including those not hitched to any political party, in order to mute the partisan feuding currently consuming Washington and Sacramento.
However, in that race for Senate, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, finished far ahead of her 23 challengers in her bid for a fourth full term, with 49.3% of the vote. Elizabeth Emken, an autism activist endorsed by the state Republican leadership, came second with 12.5%, and thus will face the popular, well funded Feinstein in November.
With both Democratic President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney already having sewn up their party’s nominations, California’s presidential primary was anti-climactic, and only about 40% of those eligible actually voted.
Propositions 28 and 29
Californians approved a change to term limits for state lawmakers by a wide margin: 61.4% to 38.6%.
Proposition 28 will limit lawmakers to 12 years in the Legislature, but allow them to serve the entire stretch in the Assembly or Senate. In 1990, Californians limited lawmakers to three two-year terms in the Assembly and two four-year stints in the Senate, for a total of 14 years in Sacramento.
Proposition 29, which would have imposed an additional $1 per pack on cigarettes, to raise an estimated $860 million a year for research on tobacco-related diseases and prevention programs, failed by a narrow margin: 50.8% to 49.2%.
That could well be because tobacco companies poured nearly $47 million into their campaign to defeat the proposition.
The American Cancer Society and other proponents predicted that the increase in cigarette prices would stop 220,000 kids from starting to smoke and encourage 100,000 current smokers to quit. They raised more than $11 million, including $500,000 from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and $1.5 million from cycling champ Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation.
But this was not enough to stop the Big Tobacco interests: backed by the tobacco money, a coalition of anti-tax and business organizations mounted an aggressive campaign against the initiative, including a flood of television commercials and campaign mailers.
The First African American Or Female District Attorney In L.A. County?
In Southern California contests, the nonpartisan race for Los Angeles County district attorney was locked in a three-way contest among Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey, Deputy Dist. Atty. Alan Jackson and L.A. City Atty. Carmen Trutanich. Lacey, who was leading the pack, would become the first African American or female D.A. in county history if elected in a November runoff to replace the retiring Steve Cooley.
Now it’s on to November, when the ballot promises to be very long and complicated, and will include that important vote on the death penalty.
Photo Credit: paflip25