Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Carey McWIlliams Election

Carey McWilliams was an editor of the Nation and a supporter of a lot of left wing causes. And last night's election would have been something McWilliams might have been proud of. In the first instance, the GOP was taken out of power in the House. In the second, several conservative senators were knocked out. The pickup of House seats was a bit less than normal for a president in the middle of a war. Since the Civil War the out party picks up an average of 36 seats in the house. For that to happen the dems would have to win almost every race that is still uncalled.

At the same time there were a lot of things McWilliams would not have liked about the election. Moderate democrats won in several key races. Pelosi may find her new caucus a bit unwieldy.

I thought of McWilliams because for most of the night California was (in the phrase he coined for one of his books) "The Great Exception." The GOP governor won big. So did the GOP candidate for Insurance Commissioner. In several races (Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State the republican kept it close for the evening. The California House delegation changed by one - Pombo was defeated. John Doolittle seems to have won. He would have been the second turn for the dems. Doolittle gets the churlish comment for the night. He said in one of his election interviews that getting elected to a new term when his party loses the majority was not exactly positive - "things only get done by the majority." What a jerk.

The Senate (where the wartime average loss is 5 seats) looks like it will be decided in the next couple of days. Both the Montana and Virginia seats are probably going to recount. In both cases, at this point, the GOP candidate is behind. That would mean a net pickup of 6 with control also going to the dems.

The key in many races seems to have been moderation - as one blogger commented there are a whole lot more Dinos and Rinos (democrats and republicans in name only). Let's see how that holds up. In a strange sense one of the biggest RINOS, Lincoln Chaffee, lost to someone who was less anti-war and a bit less inclined to jump on certain economic issues. It will be interesting to see how Joe Lieberman presents himself in these next two years. It is unlikely that he will reject the majority position of the dems assuming that they hold on to both seats. But I would expect him to be even more independent.

William Jefferson, the frozen asset congressman seems to have won, although if you count the democrat votes against him (there was more than one candidate) he lost. So did Heather Wilson (NM) and Deborah Pryce (Ohio). Chris Shays (CT) won but Nancy Johnson (CT) did not. The Michigan affirmative action proposal, which is a clone of California's prop 209 (which restricts the ability to use preferences) passed by almost 2:1. Bans on same sex marriage(with one exception) seem to have all passed, as did measures to raise the minimum wage. But so did measures to use English as the official language. Seven of the nine measures restricting eminent domain seizures passed (and in California it was close). Surprisingly the $1 million lottery proposal (give a voter a million bucks) went down in Arizona. Also Arizona and California were mirror images - AZ agreed with eminent domain and rejected cigarette taxes and California rejected eminent domain and rejected cigarette taxes. Arizona also adopted a series of very restrictive measures on immigrants.

On the propositions in California, all of the bonds passed - which will move us very close to a perilous level of debt. And all of the liberal sops (a tax in cigarettes and oil and public financing and a parcel tax for education) failed. The one non-borrowing prop that passed was one to put more restrictions on sexual predators.

If both houses are in control, albeit narrow, of the dems look for some partisan shenanigans. Actually, look for that anyway. But look for that especially if both houses turn. The new Judiciary chair has blathered about instituting impeachment proceedings. I expect that if he does, the houses will revert in 2008.

There were several key local races in Sacramento. The proposal to raise taxes to build a new sports arena (Proposition Q&R) went down to a stunning defeat. Proponents immediately said they were working on a new proposal - maybe this time they will tell us what it is before we have to vote on it! The proposal to expand the service area of SMUD (our municipal utility) also went down.

Finally, there was the razor thin votes in a number of races. Heather Wilson (NM) if she wins will be victorious by 1300 votes. Similar margins are hanging for both the Montana and Virginia senate races. Perhaps the closest race I saw last night was for a State Senate seat in Orange County, where the republican is ahead by 13 votes.

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