Friday, November 12, 2010

After that election, there's still more ...

Nine days on and it looks as if California did even better than we'd hoped. Democrats seem to have retained all the Congressional seats they held before the election. In Fresno, Jim Costa (CD-20) retains a small lead with all the votes in from Kings County, the only one of the three counties he represents where the electorate preferred his Republican opponent.

Meanwhile Central Valley Congressman Jerry McNerney (CD-11) (whose race I chronicled here, here and here,) has claimed victory with a still fluctuating lead of about 2000 votes and most ballots now counted.

This contest was one to watch because the district is famously gerrymandered. Slate just named it one of the twenty most peculiarly shaped in the country. It's boundaries were drawn in 2002 to preserve the seat for an incumbent Republican. (All the California districts were gerrymandered for incumbent protection that year. The two parties cut a deal.) McNerney captured it in 2006 in a huge upset win; it's the only one of those 2002 California Congressional districts that has since changed party. It's a tremendous validation of the GOTV campaign Democrats waged this year to get out union, infrequent, and Latino voters that McNerney was able to hang on.

Now all these Congresspeople face redistricting by a "non-partisan" commission before the next election; look for fireworks as some previously safe seats get redrawn.
In the other current too-close-to-call California race, that for state Attorney General, Democratic San Francisco D.A. Kamala Harris, currently trails L.A. Country D.A. Steve Cooley by about 20,000 votes out of nearly 8 million cast. She may yet pull this out, giving Dems a sweep of state offices. If she does, it will probably be because she ran about 13 percentage points ahead of Cooley on his Los Angeles turf. That margin reflects the intense efforts of African Americans and other people of color on her behalf out of a Crenshaw office. Committed boosters like these are particularly important in down-ballot races where many people never have a chance to know much about the candidates.
Meanwhile in San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi actually surpassed her previous margins in winning her completely safe seat. This year's sacrificial Republican opponent was a libertarian crank who lost by 65 percentage points. Pelosi's last opponent ran against her from the left and did noticeably better; in 2008, antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan lost by only 55 points.
Since San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom won his race for Lieutenant Governor and departs for Sacramento in January, we're now in for a season of extreme political silliness as a multitude of challengers jockey to succeed him. It's going to be a zoo! So far I've seen this extensive rundown of some of the possible candidates and been asked to contribute to the campaign of State Senator Leland Yee who is certainly a viable prospect and isn't even mentioned in the linked "comprehensive" article. San Franciscans can expect roller coaster ride local politics this year. For a lot of us, the local show serves as a sometimes significant, but always amusing, spectator sport.

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