Saturday, May 29, 2010

June 8th Primaries And Propositions-- California


In 10 days, June 8, there are several important primaries: the Arkansas runoffs-- in which Blue America has endorsed proven progressive superstar Joyce Elliott for Congress and is helping raise money for Bill Halter, the candidate running against the odious Blanche Lincoln-- plus the races in Iowa, Maine, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia and California. We'll continue looking at some of these contests over the next 10 days but, as we do every year, I want to focus on California Democratic ballot today, especially the down ticket races and propositions.

My friend Gus has an easy to remember formula for the California propositions: YES on 13 and 15; NO on everything else. Even I'll be able to remember that. But some of the NOs are more important than others. A few weeks ago we covered the battle over Prop 17, a slimy effort by Mercury Insurance to spend enough money on patently deceptive advertising on TV to persuade gullible consumers to remove consumer protections previously placed on insurance companies by voters. If you watch television-- even a little-- you cannot miss Mercury's patently misleading barrage of ads that promises lower rates-- like any insurance company, let alone these cutthroats who systematically discriminate against military vets and women (among others), has ever in the history of the universe voluntarily lowered rates, What it would really do is allow them to plaster their customers with unrestricted increases and penalties if there's any interruption in coverage (like if you don't have a car for a period for some reason, for example, or move out of the state for a while). Every single credible organization and media outlet in the state is urging a NO vote, including the Courage Campaign, CREDO, the California Democratic Party, AFSCME, the California Federation of Teachers, the California League of Conservation Voters, the League of Women Voters, the California Nurses Association and our pals at Calitics. Mercury is one of the worst corporate citizens on earth, on a level with BP and Fox; I started my vote against Prop 17 but ending my relationship with Mercury and going to a less horrible insurance provider for my coverage. But let's look at some of the other propositions we haven't covered yet.

Prop 13, which we're recommending a YES vote on, offers tax breaks for property owners who retrofit their buildings to bring them up to seismic stands though retrofits. It isn't a controversial proposition and even conservatives support it.

All of the rest of the voting is, in the end, about the corrosive, corrupting onslaught of corporate money gushing into California politics. Prop 14 is an anti-democratic shenanigan by Abel Maldonado and Arnold Schwarzenegger to prevent smaller parties-- whether Greens or Libertarians-- from ever appearing on the general election ballot. It limits voters' choices by mandating that the two top vote getters in a primary-- even if they're from the same party-- are the only two to appear on the general election ballot. Had that been in place in Kentucky, for example, the general election would be a rematch between Jack Conway and Dan Mongiardo and Rand Paul would be sitting at home muttering darkly about the Civil Rights Act instead of campaigning on ideas that polite people outside of the salve-holding states never admitted they held. In effect, there will be no party primaries-- with two Republicans competing in the more backward areas of Orange County, for example, and two Democrats competing against each other in the normal parts of the state. It's a terrible idea and is almost universally opposed.

Prop 15-- the only other one we're recommending a YES vote on-- is about Fair Elections. In fact, it's called the California Fair Elections Act. If passed it will set up a pilot program of public funding of campaigns for Secretary of State (starting in 2014) so that elections are about who is the best candidate and not just the best fundraiser. And better yet, it is paid for by a tax on lobbyists. Of course the Chamber of Commerce is opposing it; all civil groups favor it.

Prop 16, like 17, is a cynical enterprise and was put on the ballot by a corporation with the intent of tricking the public into screwing itself and turn consumers into victims. This one is courtesy of the bloodsuckers at PG & E. The aim-- which you would never guess from their slick multimillion dollar propaganda media campaign-- is simple: to perpetuate PG & E's monopoly on power, stifle competition from cooperative local green power generation organizations that are put together by progressive local governments. The Chamber of Commerce supports it and, again, they're alone as every single civic minded group in the state is against it-- from the non-partisan League of Women Voters to the Courage Campaign and the Democratic Party.

If you live in the 36th congressional district-- a stretch along the coast that starts up in Venice and heads south to San Pedro, taking in Mar Vista, El Segundo, Torrance, Manhattan Beach, Hawthorne, West Carson, Redondo Beach, Marina Del Ray and Hermosa Beach-- you have an opportunity to vote in one of the most iconic elections of the year, pitting a conservative longtime incumbent serving corporate interests (the odious Blue Dog Jane Harman) against a scrappy and highly principled progressive tribune of ordinary working families, Marcy Winograd. Marcy was Blue America's first endorsement of 2010.

Unlike Harman, some incumbents running on the 8th deserve re-election: Senator Barbara Boxer, Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Controller John Chiang, and Treasurer Bill Lockyer. The Attorney General race is tough for me to call. I can tell you that the worst choice would be the creep all over TV-- Facebook attorney Chris Kelly-- and I'm not keen on ex-L.A. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo either. I'm lining San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, Santa Barbara Assemblyman Pedro Nava and 2 other Assemblymen, Alberto Torrico and Ted Lieu. I have nothing to say about the Democrats running for Governor or Lt Governor other than that Janice Hahn seems like a better choice in the latter race and that I went to see the blogger running, Mickey Kaus, in the former and he was just godawful and almost made me glad about Jerry Brown being a shoe-in.

In my own congressional district, Karen Bass is the best choice to replace Diane Watson. She has solidly progressive instincts and hopefully she'll hang around with a good crowd and start to understand that being a progressive doesn't necessarily mean parroting whatever middle of the road Barack Obama says and that solidly blue districts like CA-33 are where the impetus for progressive change has to start. That's Karen and I up top.

My friend Zack Webber has a grasp of the judicial races that I'm still as uninformed about as most voters:
L.A. County Superior Court Judges: In some cases there are more than one good candidate running. I met some of these candidates and also looked at various endorsements.
Office #28: Randy Hammock  
#35: Soussan Bruguera 
#73: Laura Matz 
#107: Tony de los Reyes
#117: Patricia Vienna 
#131 Maren Nelson

I'll study up and try to get up another post on June 7th with some more races.

Oh, and if there are any Republicans reading this-- Chris Riggs is an extremely right wing insurgent candidate looking to upset Ken Calvert. They'd probably vote alike most of the time but Calvert is a dishonest and profoundly corrupt character while Riggs is a straight arrow idealist who will at least be voting for all the crazy things the GOP pushes because he believes in them rather than because he's being paid to. DWT doesn't normally endorse in Republican primaries but Calvert is probably the single most corrupt man in the House-- well, among the half dozen most corrupt-- and does not deserve renomination. In November we're backing the exemplary progressive Bill Hedrick for that seat but we'd love to see a real battle between Bill's great ideas and Riggs' conservative delusions. And, given the nature of the district, Riggs would be the far easier Republican for Bill to beat. So... for the first time ever, DWT endorses, in the GOP primary in CA-44 (Riverside and Orange counties) a conservative Republican, Chris Riggs. (Digby and Amato would laugh in my face if I suggested Blue America do likewise so keep in mind this endorsement is just for the primary and just DWT, not Blue America. In fact, if you really want to do some good for the folks in the 44th CD, you'll donate to Bill Hedrick's campaign so that he can win in November against whichever conservative he has to run against. If you want to have a better understanding of Ken Calvert-- and of most conservative politicians-- watch what Chris Wallace of Fox News had to say about him:

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