Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

November 7, 2012
Food activists look to other states after failed California measure

Organic farmers and others who backed Proposition 37 to label genetically engineered food said today that failure of the measure in California won't stop similar efforts in other states. They're looking north to Washington and Oregon and east to Connecticut and Vermont.

Even though 53 percent of California voters rejected Proposition 37, the measure gave a huge push to the the national movement to label genetically modified food, said Dave Murphy, a co-chair of the Yes on 37 campaign and executive director of Food Democracy Now.

"We won a moral victory," Murphy said. "We've exposed this issue nationally in a way that's never been done before."

Genetic engineering, also called genetic modifying, is a process in which scientists splice the DNA of one plant or animal and combine it with DNA from something else. Most often, the process is used to produce crops that are resistant to pests or can withstand being sprayed by weed killers such as RoundUp. Genetically modified corn, soy beans and canola are in thousands of common grocery products.

Some people oppose the technique, saying it is unnatural and could be harmful to the environment or human health. They want labels so shoppers who care about the issue can avoid GMOs at the store. Others say genetic engineering - also called biotechnology - is a safe way to produce food with desirable characteristics, and that special labels would imply a danger that hasn't been proven.

Anti-GMO activists are gathering signatures in Washington for a food labeling initiative they hope will make it on the November 2013 ballot, said Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association, a major contributor to the Proposition 37 campaign.

They're hoping to run an initiative in Oregon, Cummins said, though signature gathering has not begun there. If it makes the ballot it would be the second time Oregon voters are asked to require labeling of genetically engineered food; they rejected a similar measure 10 years ago.

Advocates are also working on GMO labeling bills they hope the legislatures in Vermont and Connecticut will soon consider, Cummins said. He said he doesn't expect the federal government to act on the issue.

"Most activists believe our power is in the realm of educating the public, putting pressure in the organic and natural food sector and working at the state level," Cummins said.

He likened the GMO labeling issue to efforts to legalize marijuana, which voters in Washington and Colorado approved Tuesday.

"Like with marijuana legislation, voters took matters into their own hands," Cummins said.

"I think we're going to get some victories in the next 12 months and this will put additional pressure on the federal government."

November 7, 2012
Mary Hayashi runs third in Alameda County board bid

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, who pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor shoplifting charge earlier this year, ran third this week in her bid for a seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Hayashi had been seeking the seat vacated by Nadia Lockyer, the estranged wife of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, but faced a barrage of campaign hit pieces dwelling on her shoplifting incident. She garnered less than a fourth of the vote in the county's Second District, running behind Richard Valle and Mark Green.

Much of the anti-Hayashi campaign was financed by a faction of physical therapists who had feuded with the assemblywoman over legislation affecting their profession, as The Bee's Torey Van Oot detailed in this
Capitol Alert posting last month.

November 7, 2012
ACLU files lawsuit over Proposition 35's sex offender provisions

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the courts to block provisions of California's new voter-approved law targeting human trafficking.

Proposition 35, which passed with 81 percent of the vote Tuesday, enacts harsher penalties for persons convicted of crimes related to human trafficking, a concept that gained broad support in polls and at the ballot box. But a less-noticed provision in the measure requires registered sex offenders to disclose to authorities aliases and service providers they use online.

American Civil Liberties Union's Northern California arm and Electronic Frontier Foundation believe that unconstitutionally restricts the First Amendment rights of registered sex offenders in the states. The groups filed a lawsuit challenging just those provisions related to the Internet identifiers in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Wednesday on behalf of two registered sex offenders and a group called California Reform Sex Offender Laws.

November 7, 2012
California voters OK most local tax and bond measures

California voters approved nearly three-fourths of the 240 tax and bond measures placed on their ballots by school districts and local governments, according to a compilation by Michael Coleman, an adviser to the League of California Cities.

Coleman said 85 of 106 school bond issues and 52 of 66 tax increases were approved by local voters, including a number of add-on sales taxes sponsored by city governments. Only three of those proposed sales tax measures were rejected and those approved ranged from a quarter-cent (the same as Proposition 30, a statewide ballot measure) to as much as a full cent.

Other approved tax measures included utility and hotel taxes, business license fees and, in some school districts and local governments, parcel taxes.

November 7, 2012
Jerry Brown urges 'prudence of Joseph' on future spending

Gov. Jerry Brown said today that he will not use an expected Democratic supermajority in the California Legislature to raise taxes further than were raised by passage of his ballot initiative Tuesday, urging "the prudence of Joseph" on spending in the next few years.

"We have to make sure over the next few years that we pay our bills, we invest in the right programs, but we don't go on any spending binges," the Democratic governor said at a news conference at the Capitol.

Brown said he will be guided by a biblical reference to seven years of plenty being followed by seven years of famine, and to the need in better times to save crops for less abundant years.

November 7, 2012
Race between Bera and Lungren could be up in the air for days

Democrat Ami Bera clung to a razor-thin lead this morning in his fight to unseat Republican Rep. Dan Lungren, though both sides cautioned that it could be days before a winner is declared in the 7th Congressional District.

The two-time rivals for a suburban Sacramento swing seat spent Tuesday night locked in a near tie, with both candidates pulling ahead by margins of fewer than 1,000 votes at different points in the night. Bera now leads by just 184 votes out of more than 176,000 ballots cast.

Many more ballots still need to be counted. County election officials have not yet tallied all the absentee and provisional ballots turned in by Election Day, but spokeswoman Alice Jarboe said the sheer volume appears to be "record breaking."

"I can tell just by the bins and all.... the pink return containers that are filling up these hampers," she said of the scene at the elections office this morning.

Lungren's campaign manager estimated that tens of thousands of unprocessed ballots remain, telling supporters in an email that "we may not know the outcome of this race for days or even weeks."

November 7, 2012
Opponents of Jerry Brown's California tax measure concede

If the photograph of a bottle of Scotch whiskey posted on Twitter early this morning by the spokesman for the campaign against Gov. Jerry Brown's ballot initiative to raise taxes wasn't a clear enough acknowledgment of defeat, the statement issued this morning was.

"While we are disappointed in the outcome of the campaign, the voters have spoken," the campaign against Proposition 30 said in a prepared statement. "We congratulate Governor Brown and his team on their victory and thank all the small business owners, taxpayers and other groups from every corner of the state for their extraordinary commitment to the 'No on 30' campaign."

The concession comes nearly 12 hours after Brown claimed victory.

Aaron McLear, who posted the photograph of the 12-year-old Cragganmore, wrote separately, "Anyone know of a good realtor in Incline Village?"

The Nevada town is just over the California border.

November 7, 2012
Election dominoes could impact timing for supermajority in CA

California Democrats are on track to secure a supermajority in both houses of the Legislature for the first time in more than a century.

But the domino effect of the balloting in other races raise questions about when -- and for how long -- Democrats would have a legislative supermajority.

November 7, 2012
Dems appear to have captured supermajority, GOP leader says

Senate Republican leader Bob Huff conceded this morning that Democrats appear to have captured a supermajority of both legislative houses.

Not all provisional and absentee ballots have yet been counted, but Huff said that he anticipates the majority party gaining at least the two additional seats in the Senate and two in the Assembly needed to gain a supermajority.

"Any time one party gets complete control, it's a very high level of responsibility," the Diamond Bar Republican said.

"With a two-thirds majority, there will be a tremendous temptation to tax our way to prosperity," he added.

Huff said he felt that Democratic successes Tuesday, both in passing the Proposition 30 tax measure and in capturing legislative seats, were due partly to turnout supporting President Barack Obama and partly to Gov. Jerry Brown's last-minute campaigning at college campuses, coupled with implementation of an online voter registration system expected to be attractive to youth.

Huff said he expects to hold Democrats accountable for overseeing the state's budget and the spending of new tax revenues.

* Updated Thursday to clarify that Democrats needed two additiional seats to claim an Assembly supermajority.

November 7, 2012
Jerry Brown: 'Big issues' remain after California tax vote

Gov. Jerry Brown, successful in his ballot initiative to raise taxes and buoyed by the prospect of Democratic supermajorities in the state Legislature, said this morning that the state still faces "big issues" and that the challenge for Democrats will be to "earn and maintain the people's trust."

"We have big issues," the Democratic governor said on CBS This Morning. "We still have a divided state, between, you know, the red and the blue. But we have a predominant Democratic majority now in the Legislature, and the challenge is what can we do with it? Can we earn and maintain the people's trust? And that's no easy thing."

Brown attributed the success of his initiative to raise taxes to an electorate tired of billions of dollars in state spending cuts.

"This has been a very tough fiscal program of austerity, $3 of cuts for every $1 of income, and I think that's the reason why people finally said, OK, enough is enough, 'We'll vote you some more money.'"

Brown said, "This January, we'll have the first balanced budget, probably, since 1998."

Brown, governor before from 1975 to 1983, was asked how he was feeling.

"Well I'm feeling good," he said. "But I mean, I've been around this business a long time, and I know that whatever happens one night there's always another challenge the next day."

November 7, 2012
Sherman over Berman tops 28 same-party California races

Twenty-eight California congressional or legislative races Tuesday pitted candidates of the same party against each other, a development made possible by the state's new top two primary system.

U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman easily beat congressional colleague Howard Berman in one of the most closely watched same-party races featuring two Democratic candidates.

Eight California congressional races featured same-party candidates - six pitting Democrats against each other, two Republicans.

The Assembly decided 18 same-party races - 11 Democrat, seven Republican.

In the Senate, Democrats squared off in two districts, but there were no all-GOP races.

Congressional returns in same-party races early Wednesday morning showed the following:


• Congressional District 8 - Republican Paul Cook over Gregg Imus, 16 percentage points.

• Congressional District 15 - Democrat Eric Stallwell over U.S. Rep. Fortney Pete Stark, 6 percentage points.

• Congressional District 30 - Sherman over Berman, 21 percentage points.

• Congressional District 31 - U.S. Rep. Gary Miller over Bob Dutton, 10 percentage points, in an all-GOP duel.

• Congressional District 35 - Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod over U.S. Rep. Joe Baca, 10 percentage points.

• Congressional District 40 - Incumbent Lucille Roybal-Allard over Democrat David Sanchez, 18 percentage points.

• Congressional District 43 - Democratic incumbent Maxine Waters over Bob Flores, 42 percentage points.

• Congressional District 44 - U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn over fellow Democratic incumbent Laura Richardson, 20 percentage points.


• Senate District 13 - Democrat Jerry Hill over Sally Lieber, 34 percentage points.

• Senate District 15 - Democrat Jim Beall over Joe Coto, 16 percentage points.


• District 1 - Republican Brian Dahle over Rick Bosetti, 30 percentage points.

• District 2 - Democrat Wes Chesbro over Tom Lynch, 27 percentage points.

• District 5 - Republican Frank Bigelow over Rico Oller, 6 percentage points.

• District 6 - Republican incumbent Beth Gaines over Andy Pugno, 38 percentage points.

• District 10 - Democrat Marc Levine narrowly led Michael Allen, 1 percentage point.

• District 18 - Democrat Rob Bonta narrowly led Abel Guillen, 2 percentage points.

• District 19 - Democrat Phil ting over Michael Breyer, 16 percentage points.

• District 20 - Democrat Bill Quirk narrowly led Jennifer Ong, 2 percentage points.

• District 23 - Republican Jim Patterson over Bob Whalen, 10 percentage points.

• District 39 - Democrat Raul Bocanegra over Richard Alarcon, 18 percentage points.

• District 47 - Democrat Cheryl Brown over Joe Baca Jr., 12 percentage points.

• District 50 - Democrat Richard Bloom narrowly led incumbent Betsy Butler, less than 1 percentage point.

• District 51 - Democrat Jimmy Gomez over Luis Lopez, 20 percentage points.

• District 59 - Democrat Reggie Jones-Sawyer over Rodney Robinson, 6 percentage points.

• District 62 - Incumbent Democrat Steven Bradford over Mervin Evans, 44 percentage points.

• District 67 - Republican Melissa Melendez narrowly led Phil Paule, less than 1 percentage point.

• Distict 72 - Republican Travis Allen over Troy Edgar 12 percentage points.

• District 76 - Republican Rocky Chavez over Sherry Hodges, 16 percentage points.

* Altered Thursday to reflect that Rocky Chavez is a Republican.

November 7, 2012
Incumbents Michael Allen, Betsy Butler narrowly trail in nailbiters

Assembly Democratic incumbents Michael Allen and Betsy Butler were threatened early this morning with not joining the celebration of their party's anticipated capture of a supermajority in that house.

In two of California's most hotly contested races featuring opponents of the same party, Allen and Butler were narrowly trailing their opponents in nailbiters that remained too close to call.

Allen, D-Santa Rosa, was losing to Marc Levine by slightly more than 1 percentage point in the 10th Assembly District, with 100 percent of precincts counted but numerous absentee and provisional ballots remaining to be tallied. The district is in Marin and Sonoma counties.

Butler trailed Richard Bloom by only 291 votes out of nearly 72,000 counted, a margin of less than half a percentage point. They are running for a newly drawn seat in Los Angeles County, the 50th Assembly District.

California's top two primary system lays the groundwork for general elections pitting candidates of the same party. The top two vote-getters in the primary election run off in November, regardless of party.

In other key Assembly races, pitting Democrats against Republicans:

• Democrat Ken Cooley beat Peter Tateishi by 4 percentage points in a Sacramento County district stretching from Citrus Heights to south of Wilton.

• Democrat Al Muratsuchi was beating Craig Huey handily this morning, by 8 percentage points, in District 66. Ninety-six percent of precincts had been counted. The district is Los Angeles County.

• Democrat Jose Medina was trouncing Bill Batey, by 18 percentage points, in District 61. Sixty-four percent of precincts had been counted. The district is in Riverside County.

• Republican Pedro Rios was edging Rudy Salas, by less than 1 percent point, in District 32. Ninety-three percent of precincts had been counted. The district is in Kings and Kern counties

• Democrat Adam Gray easily beat Jack Mobley, by 12 percent points, in the 21st District of Merced and Stanislaus counties. All precincts had been counted.

November 7, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Latinos, youth change face of California electorate

VIDEO: Dan says Tuesday's electorate in California -- for once -- seemed to reflect the state's demographics.

Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 7, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: California reformers missed their chance

VIDEO: Dan says the forces behind Proposition 31 missed an opportunity.

Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 7, 2012
AM Alert: Supermajority? Not yet, but Dems can get the champagne ready

VIDEO: Dan Walters says the defeat of Proposition 31 "sets back the whole notion of reforming California's government," which he says the state needs.

They can't pour the champagne yet, but Democrats dreaming of controlling a supermajority of both legislative houses can unpack the bottle this morning.

Assembly Speaker John A. Perez declared Tuesday night that Democrats had secured two-thirds of the seats in the lower house, and trends in the Senate appeared to be following suit early this morning.

Entering Election Day needing two additional Senate seats to achieve a supermajority, Democrats were leading in four of five key districts: Fran Pavley led by 4 percentage points in District 27, with 97 percent of precincts counted; Richard Roth by 8 percentage points, District 31, 48 percent of precincts counted; Marty Block, 14 percentage points, District 39, 100 percent of precincts; and Hannah-Beth Jackson by 10 percentage points, District 19, 100 percent of precincts.

The key Senate race in which a Republican led early this morning was a nailbiter, with Bill Berryhill edging Cathleen Galgiani in a San Joaquin County-based district. The margin was 51 percent to 49 percent, with 100 percent of precincts counted.

The hard-fought, hotly contested 7th Congressional District race pitting Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren against Democrat Ami Bera remains too close to call. Bera led 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent, with 100 percent of precincts counted but numerous absentee and provisional ballots remaining to be tallied.

In California ballot measures that saw no victor declared Tuesday night, the proposal to require labeling of genetically modified foods -- _Proposition 37 -- was defeated. It trailed 53 percent to 47 percent, with 93 percent of precincts counted. Meanwhile, the measure to repeal the death penalty, Proposition 34, continued to trail this morning, 53 percent to 47 percent.

In other ballot measures, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a victory for Proposition 30 and announced a press conference for 11 a.m. at the Capitol.

Of the two other tax initiatives, Molly Munger's Proposition 38 went down while voters approved Tom Steyer's Proposition 39 to close an out-of-state loophole for businesses.

Unions succeeded in defeatingProposition 32 on payroll deductions.

Voters approved Proposition 36 to change the state's "three-strikes" law. Proposition 35 on human trafficking also won handily, as did Proposition 40 to keep the new state Senate maps.

Proposition 33 on vehicle insurance rates, was getting trounced by nearly 10 percentage points this morning, with only 7 percent of precincts left to count.

In races too close to call Tuesday night, Democrat Julia Brownley held a 4 percentage point lead over Republican Sen. Tony Strickland in the 26th Congressional District. Longtime Democratic Rep. Henry A. Waxman led by 8 percentage points over independent Bill Bloomfield in the 33rd Congressional District. And Gloria Negrete McLeod led Rep. Joe Baca by 10 percentage points in the 35th Congressional District. Both are Democrats.

Here are the latest numbers in key races:

Assembly District 8, Democrat Ken Cooley over Republican Peter Tateishi, 4 percentage points.
Assembly District 65, Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva narrowly ahead of incumbent Republican Assemblyman Chris Norby, 1 percentage point.
Assembly District 66, Democrat Al Muratsuchi over Republican Craig Huey, 8 percentage points.
Congressional District 9, Democrat Jerry McNerney over Ricky Gill, 8 percentage points.
Congressional District 15, Democrat Eric Swalwell over fellow Democrat Fortney Pete Stark, 6 percentage points.
Congressional District 30, Brad Sherman over fellow Democrat Howard Berman, 21 percentage points.
Congressional District 33, Democrat Henry Waxman over Bill Bloomfield, 8 percentage points.
Congressional District 36, Democrat Raul Ruiz over Republican Mary Bono Mack, 2 percentage points.
Congressional District 47, Alan Lowenthal over Republican Gary DeLong, 10 percentage points.
Congressional District 52, Democrat Scott Peters and Republican Brian Bilbray in nearly a dead heat, holding 50. 2 percent and 49.8 percent of the vote, respectively.

November 7, 2012
Assembly speaker says he has supermajority in lower house

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said tonight that Democrats have secured a supermajority in the lower house, a surprising development that could give the party the ability to raise taxes on their own if the Senate follows suit.

Democratic candidates led their GOP opponents in two swing Assembly districts early Wednesday morning, and an upset was brewing in a race between Fullerton Mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva and GOP Assemblyman Chris Norby. Quirk-Silva led Norby by 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent in the 65th Assembly District with 100 percent of precincts reporting. The difference amounts to 1,004 votes.

"This just gives us 54 people that we know are going to come together on day one to focus on improving the economy," Pérez said.

While Senate Democrats emphasized early and often their goal was to claim a two-thirds supermajority in the upper house, there was relatively little expectation the same would occur in the Assembly this year.

Gov. Jerry Brown asked voters for statewide tax hikes in Proposition 30 largely because he couldn't get them in the Legislature, where Republican votes were necessary for two-thirds approval. That may no longer be true.

"Let's be very clear," Pérez said. "This is something that nobody expected to be possible."

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said early Wednesday he was not ready to declare victory but felt "very good" about his prospects for taking two-thirds control of the upper house.

Democrats only need to win one of three swing seats for that to happen, and two of those are in Los Angeles County, where results are lagging other parts of the state. If Democrats take both houses by a supermajority, it would be the first time a party has done that since 1933, Steinberg said.

"If we get there, and it's certainly possible, we will use it but also govern with humility," Steinberg said. "It's an even larger responsibility."

One irony: the two-house supermajority may have come on a night when Democrats asked voters for tax increases largely because they lacked the two-thirds control to do so on their own.

At least one Senate Democrat won a congressional seat Tuesday - Sen. Juan Vargas - so Democrats may need to win a special election before they can claim two-thirds control.

Kevin Yamamura contributed to this report.

November 7, 2012
Proposition 32 opponents declare victory

Opponents of Proposition 32 have declared victory.

In a statement released shortly before midnight, Lou Paulson, chairman of the No on Proposition 32 campaign, said, "By soundly rejecting Proposition 32, the voters of our state said 'no' to a deceptive initiative written by wealthy special interests, for wealthy special interests."

With 95 percent of precincts reporting, 56.2 percent of ballots cast have rejected the measure. "No" votes in populous Los Angeles County were running at 62 percent with a little less than half the precincts there reporting. Nearly three-quarters of the votes in San Francisco opposed the measure.

Organized labor targeted Proposition 32, which includes a provision to ban unions and corporations from using money deducted from paychecks for political purposes. Payroll deductions are unions' sole means of political funding. Corporations use other means to raise political cash that the measure doesn't limit.

The Yes on 32 campaign and independent committees that backed the measure raised about $60 million. Unions raised more.

"When you're up against one ot the most powerful interests in the state that's willing to spend $71 million, it's very difficult to pass an initiative," said Jake Suski, spokesman for the Yes on Proposition 32 group.

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November 7, 2012
Jerry Brown says 'yeah,' that was a victory declaration

Gov. Jerry Brown told supporters tonight that his campaign to raise taxes had "overcome a lot of obstacles," and that California is perhaps "the only place in America where a state actually said, 'Let's raise our taxes.'"

But it was not entirely clear to the audience that the speech he was delivering was a victory declaration.

As he was leaving the stage, a reporter asked him if it was.

"Yeah," he said. "Well, we're ahead. All the indications are that (Proposition) 30's going to win."

Brown said it was his "last talk" for the night but that he will hold a news conference on Wednesday at the Capitol.

In remarks to a few hundred supporters at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Brown said his campaign was "up against some pretty tough opposition."

"Here we are," he said. "We have a vote of the people, I think the only place in America where a state actually said, 'Let's raise our taxes for our kids, for our schools, for our California Dream."


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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