California, A Post-Mortem
Thought I'd sum up my thoughts on the state elections. Brian at Calitics had a good take too, and many of his points fall in line with mine.
• In the Governor's race, we simply couldn't overcome the complete co-opting of the Democratic agenda from the Republican incumbent. I read something where an incumbent governor hasn't been denied a second term in California in something like 70 years, and watching this campaign I believe it. California is almost uncampaignable, and it's gotten worse. You need millions of dollars and, apparently, an IMDb profile. I still believe Phil Angelides would have been a great governor, but he was a middling candidate with a miserable campaign team. My 1996 comparison still stands; faced with no real options, the CDP took the loyal guy to run a suicide mission. Then they gave him little support as the state legislators pretty much undermined him throughout the year. Nobody got out early enough to define Arnold Schwarzenegger; instead it was the other way around.
• I'm extremely skeptical that Arnold Schwarzenegger will continue to run as a stealth Democrat throughout his next term. The pressure will be off him, and he's already shown his true colors with that "signing statement" changing the anti-global warming law. He's said that his Special Election of 2005 was full of "good ideas" and I expect him to try and strong-arm them through the legislature. There are going to be battles in this state for the next four years.
• On the good side, the California Republican Party is dead. Buried. They won the governorship by 16 points and couldn't get more than one candidate to ride his coattails. And Steve Poizner made his own coattails with $15 million dollars and the fact that he ran against a party hack who thought it would be a good idea to run on a platform of "I lost weight." There is no Republican in this state that can win a statewide race against anything more than a marginally competent Democrat. Schwarzenegger completely sold out Republican ideals in order to get re-elected, and in so doing destroyed his party for at least a decade. My post, on the end of the CRP, still stands.
• Debra Bowen, Secretary of State of California. 'Nuff said. I'm so proud of her. That was yet another netroots victory. She was underfunded and under-publicized and still beat an incumbent.
• The only other incumbent to lose in the whole state: Dick Pombo. Jerry McNerney was a brilliant candidate, who earned this victory one voter at a time. McNerney had to fight off a DLC and DCCC-backed candidate in the primary, then withstand a barrage of negative attacks (millions of dollars in NRCC money) to win. This is a tremendous victory, and great news for the country. We have an ALTERNATIVE ENERGY EXPERT in Capitol Hill!
Great props to Say No To Pombo, a local blog who was all over this race from day one. And it's important to note that both Dem candidates able to flip seats in California were grassroots/netroots candidates.
• My bold prediction: at some point in 2007, Charlie Brown will represent the 4th District of California.
There's no doubt that John Doolittle is going down, down, down in the Abramoff scandal. He'll be the next guy forced to resign. And Brown has built up great name ID and excitement in the district.
• As for the propositions, people decided that they would rather borrow than tax, even if it's not them being taxed. Shortsighted. Prop. 84 passed because people probably thought it was part of the infrastructure bond issues, even though it wasn't. Anything involving a tax went down; the Howard Jarvis memory lives on! I'm upset that Prop. 89 didn't do better, but it was so crowded out by the other issues.
• Props. 85 and 90 went down, which is fantastic. Can we put this parental notification initiative to bed already? It did worse this time than it did last year! And the stealth-developer law got nipped at the wire as well. Among non-infrastructure propositions, only the feel-good, bad-policy sex offender law (Prop. 83) passed.
• The incumbents held in Santa Monica. Machine politics continues.
• Overall, I think the Republicans are dead in the water in California, but the Democrats aren't in such better shape. I think the CDP needs MAJOR structural reforms. The worst of middle-of-the-road, milquetoast Democrats are on display there. The progressive movement needs to make inroads in Sacramento and try to take the Party back.