Sunday, May 16, 2010

Here we go again: California June 8 primary

It's that time again ... tonight I am filling out my ballot for the June 8 Democratic primary.

The legislative choices are easy enough. None of my Dem legislators is facing any kind of contest. Nor do I think they'll have any trouble in the fall, even Barbara Boxer. Could be wrong about that. This time it is fine by me to cast an unnecessary vote for Nancy Pelosi who is being a superb Speaker, if not much of a representative for leftist San Francisco -- and for Tom Ammiano in the Assembly.

Ammiano is the poster boy for why term limits are stupid. I've known and supported him for years, but I'll admit that ten years or so ago, though he was already a force in city politics on the Board of Supervisors and ran for Mayor, he wasn't much of a policy guy or a legislator. Through some quirks in how terms were allocated, he was able to stay 14 years on the Board (instead of the current 8 year maximum). By the end of his allotted terms he had grown in office, become a more polished legislator, and won major victories for city residents including a living wage ordinance and the Healthy San Francisco plan creating local universal health care access. In the State Assembly he's a leader on the Public Safety Committee, is working for Prop. 13 repeal, and is the author of the state effort to legalize and tax marijuana. Now that would be a memorable accomplishment for a guy who is also a stand up comedian.

The Democratic statewide office nominees are largely uncontested (Jerry Brown for Governor again, etc.) except for Lieutenant Governor and and Attorney General. The former office presents interesting problems. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom bombed in a gubernatorial bid, so dropped his ambitions a notch. The attraction of voting for him is that if he won in November, he'd go away sooner. And San Francisco would be plunged into a truly delightful political imbroglio on the way to choosing an Acting Mayor for the duration of Newsom's term. On the other hand, the guy really shouldn't hold any public office, on the basis of his record of lazy incompetence here. Think I'll vote for the devil I don't know, Janice Hahn of Los Angeles.

For Attorney General, I'll go for the local favorite, Kamala Harris. As our District Attorney, she has remained faithful to her anti-death penalty convictions, even when faced with prosecuting a cop killer.

We also get to vote on two local judges. I'm going with Linda Colfax because Ammiano endorsed her and Michael Nava because SFMike endorsed him at Civic Center. I don't really think judges should be elected -- we're even less qualified to vote for them than we are for School Board members. But as long as they are elected, might as well go with people who are friends of friends. Small world here.

The City Propositions, A-G this time, are uninteresting and probably not much contested. I voted yes on the lot.

Then we have the State Propositions.
  • Prop. 14: This is a ridiculous item that Republican State Senator Abel Maldonado forced the Democratic legislature to put on the ballot as the price of his vote for a budget. It would allow all voters to cast ballots for candidates of either party in primary elections; then use the general election as a run off between the top two vote getters without reference to party. Get it? I doubt it. It's a gimmick; it might undercut the ability of party partisans to choose their own candidates. It would certainly ensure that third party candidates couldn't even show up on general election ballots. NO.
  • Prop. 15: This is another gimmick; a pilot project to provide public financing to California Secretary of State candidates for two election cycles using a tax on lobbyists. I'm a non-standard progressive in that I mostly don't think campaign finance reform does much except move money around; it doesn't help elect better candidates. This kind of public financing scheme is the best of a bad lot of such proposals (and work pretty well in Maine and Arizona.) So I'm a tepid YES.
  • Prop. 17: Yet another effort by a profit making business to make law to favor its interests. Mercury Insurance (auto) wants to raise rates on new drivers. They need a legal change to do it, so they have put this on the ballot and paid for a campaign. This sort of thing is an indictment of the whole process. NO.
Finally, there's the vast array of people who want to serve on the student council -- I mean the Democratic County Central Committee. I can't get properly excited over this, though they do hand out some resources and might influence who gets to be Mayor if we kick Gavin upstairs. I vote for people I know and like in these races -- and refuse to take them too seriously.

There -- that's done until November ...


Rebecca Gordon said...

Thank you for your sacrificial work of slogging through the ballot. It helps when a scout lays a track for the rest of us!

The truly disgusting item on this ballot is Prop. 16. If we're going to have this kind of "citizen" (corporate citizen, that is) lawmaking at all, maybe it should be limited to general elections, when at least more people will be voting.

sfmike said...

So who are you friends you want on the DCCC? The only one I have to pass on is Hope Johnson, a friend of mine.

Sarah Lawton said...

I had the same thought process in considering who to vote for in the lieutenant gov race. That is, do I choose based on impact in San Francisco or based on the office itself (for what it is worth)?

Sounds like we'll be marking the ballot substantially the same this time (surprise?). Nancy gets my vote this time for health care reform, and you are right on the money with the ballot measures. Props 16 and 17 are an especially vile corruption of the original intent of the ballot measure system.

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