GOP tsunami dies out in California

It's been a tough three days for Democrats, especially in Florida, but throughout much of the country as well in the aftermath of the Republican Party comeback not only in the House and Senate in Washington, but in governorships and state legislatures across the land.

Well,  across most of the land.  My home state of California was the bulwark against the GOP onslaught, as the indefatigable Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown, and Senator Barbara Boxer, one a septuagenarian while the other is knocking on the door, withstood the prevailing winds and in the case of the former and soon to be governor again, withstood $142 million spent by former EBay chairwoman Meg Whitman in a losing effort (Boxer's GOP foil, former HP executive Carly Fiorina, only spent $1 million of her own money in the general election).

The Boxer-Fiorina battle was one national Senate race that Republicans were pining their hopes on, yet the native New Yorker and longtime Marin County resident proved once again she is stronger than her opponents give her credit for in winning a 4th 6-year term in the U.S. Senate.

Boxer was vulnerable early on, no doubt about it, but the California Republican Party is sort of like the Florida Democratic Party - it doesn't always make the right choices in an a seemingly perpetual hostile environment.

The Republican that stood a great chance of beating Boxer was former Congressman Tom Campbell, a San Jose based moderate who had no chance in the fierce GOP primary, where Tea Party influenced candidate Chuck DeVore pushed Fiorina more to the right in the primary, and she never tried to shift her positions into a more centrist stance, dooming her in the Golden State (and where Fiorina and DeVore both tried to marginalize Campbell by bringing up his "association" with Sami Al-Arian, of all people).

The California Governor's race was one of the most observed in the country, and it's not an exaggeration to say that Meg Whitman's issue with an undocumented immigrant who had been her nanny boomeranged against her big time about a month before the election.

But just like the GOP's onslaught in Florida allowed all so called down ballot races to go or stay Red (Pam Bondi, Jeff Atwater and Adam Putnam joining Rick Scott in your spanking new Cabinet), Californians went hard for the D's, including San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.  The man who declared on his own to bring gay marriage to his city in 2004 struck out earlier this year in trying to win his party's nomination for Governor (the rest of California isn't that liberal), and so he opted to run for Lieutenant Governor.

Lieutenant Governor in California is sort of like the position of the same name in Florida, and sort of not.  They're both nondescript jobs that no one is quite sure what it actually entails.  It's dissimilar in the fact that it's an elected position in the Golden State, where candidates spend a lot of money to win it, vs. in the Sunshine State, where, like a Vice Presidential nominee, the LG candidate is chosen to "balance" the ticket.  After Jeff Kottcamp got into some hot water last year for his personal travel on state aircraft, an argument to kill the job was revived.  No disrespect to our new Lieutenant Governor, Jennifer Carroll, but some would argue that might be a good place for Rick Scott to begin his much vaunted effort at trimming the state's payroll.

Californians also rejected an effort to suspend AB 32 - the state's law to dramatically reduce carbon emissions.

But not all hippie dreams came true however, as proposition 19, the initiative that would have legalized small amounts of marijuana, fell by a 54%-46% margin.

California legislators also were giving high fives after Prop 25 passed, which according to the Orange County Register, has been considered the greatest impediment to California's financial stability: the two-thirds vote on the budget.

Prior to Prop. 25, California was one of only three states to require a supermajority vote of its legislators to approve the state budget. Now it can be approved by a simple-majority vote, which based on the election of Jerry Brown and the makeup of the Legislature, means that the budget can be passed without any Republican support.

However, on the same ballot they approved Prop 26, which now requires a 2/3 vote to pass any fee increases.

So what's in the water that keeps California in the Blue?  How about the home field advantage in terms of voter registration, where registered Democrats outrank registered Republicans by a 44%-31% advantage going into the voting   booths on Tuesday.  Some Florida Democrats thought that with their slight advantage in registered Democrats over Republicans, they had a firewall to protect Alex Sink in the gubernatorial election.  But in fact, many of those up in the Panhandle and other parts of North Florida still have the "D" next to their name on the voting rolls, but come November, they pretty reliably vote for the candidate with the "R" next to their name (then again, so did a lot of independents this year).

Northern California of course won the night before the election when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series for the first time in its 52 year history of being located in the Golden State - they last appeared in the fall classic in 1954 while still playing in Manhattan.  Longtime Giants fans like this reporter can vividly remember attending games late in the 1992 season, when the team was going through another horrible season, and appeared oh so close to moving to......St. Petersburg.  Tampa Bay residents surely recall that as being one of several situations where major league teams threatened to leave their longtime environs (the Chicago White Sox were another) before they were able to get leverage for what they wanted from their home cities, usually a new stadium, although in the Giants case, after four failures at the ballot box, a stadium seemed like a dead issue.

But MLB officials rejected Vince Naimoli's $130 million bid to buy the Giants, and instead decided that it was more important that San Francisco maintain a franchise.  Ultimately a group of investors, led by Safeway magnate Peter Magowan, bought the team for $105 million (the reason they got away with it is baseball's anti-trust exemption; any other industry in America, the highest bidder generally wins).

Although the Tampa Bay area wouldn't get a team for another 5 years, it's worked out pretty well for both areas, hasn't it Tampa Bay fans?  The Rays have become one of the best teams in baseball over the past 3 seasons, and the Giants miraculously won it all this past week.

Speaking of the Rays, CL's Peter Golenbock has a new piece on Stuart Sternberg and his intention with the Rays in our new issue.  As of this posting I can't find the story online, but we will post it once we do.

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