Can partisan politics ever end in the United States? If everything goes well in the California primary, we may just see an end to politics as usual.
California will hold its first non-partisan primary on Tuesday (say what?), and analysts across the country will look to see whether the new electoral format might encourage more moderate candidates for office, potentially ending partisan gridlock.
Under a format, the two candidates for California office receiving the most votes will advance regardless of their party affiliation. This, as opposed to the traditional Party candidate vs. Party candidate and then Democrat vs. Republican system. Proponents say it will result in less partisanship. Hypothetically, two Democrats or two Republicans could be competing for the same congressional seat in the general election on November 6.
Then there is redistricting. Califoria's redrawing of U.S. congressional district boundaries is expected to set off the biggest political scramble in at least 10 years, once voters choose party candidates in Tuesday's primary polls, and possibly will pit incumbents from the same party against each other.
Where does GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and “I’m-still-here” candidate Ron Paul fit into all of this? California’s presidential primary won’t mean a thing, but tomorrow’s election could provide Paul with some more delegates through his “It’s the Delegates, Dummy” system.
The Los Angeles Times told readers, “Don’t sit this one out.” This will be one to remember.
PolicyMic will be providing LIVE updates throughout Tuesday’s vote (all times in EDT).
LIVE UPDATES: Wednesday 3:15 PM Some Musing on Prop: As much as Big Tobacco is a menace, what about agriculture? There are plenty of states that rely on tobacco as a cash crop, and many farmers who benefit more from tobacco/ barley (a component in tobacco products) than with other crops. You're also fighting them ... are they just as bad?
And a $1 tax? C'mon, that's a lot. California is a state that is in desperate need of cash, but a gov't can only implement so much sin tax before the electorate says enough. Sure, health is important, but you can fight every "bad" product and tax it through the roof. That said, was this tax even for health reasons, or could it have been for funding reasons?
Finally ... This is the same state that really wants to legalize pot. And here we are on a crusade against cigarettes? That seems hypocritical.
Wednesday 9 AM Proposition 29 -- the $1 Cigarette Tax -- Narrowly Fails, and here's why: The primary elections across the country have been intriguing. The one that steals the show is the battle for recall in Wisconsin, but other things are happening around the country — other very important things.
Take, for example, California. Some pundits onPolicyMic have been gracious enough to mention the bipartisan push that my state is now testing. I think this is a great idea for a state that mirrors the gridlock in Washington. However, if one watches television in California there is one issue that has dominated air time on the tube: Proposition 29.
Proposition 29 would have effectively taxed cigarettes by a dollar more per pack, a hefty price to pay for the bad habit. This new money would have gone to cancer research. It would have also been a big blow to tobacco companies, and they knew it.
But here is what I wonder: why would people not support this proposition? It taxes a product that, when used as directed, causes death. Think about it. Any other product that does this is immediately taken off shelves and the lawsuits begin. Even though the Yes on 29 campaign did a great job of framing this issue, they still lost. In one of their more effective ads, they
start by asking the viewers who they trust, big tobacco or the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and the American Cancer Society. This seems like a no-brainer, right?
I think the answer can be found in the misleading nature of the No on 29 ads. The No on 29 ads made it seem as if this was a new tax for everyone, not just smokers. They also made it seem like the tax money would immediately leave California for any frivolous reason this “new
bureaucracy” deemed important. Finally, they claimed that this new tax would not in any way fund cancer treatment. And this is true. It would not fund cancer treatment. It would fund
cancer research. And if we think about that, we might see why money going out of state would actually be a good thing given that many outstanding research facilities exist outside of
Yet again, however, we see money might win out over reason.
8:15 AM Cigarette Tax Measure Fails By Narrow Margin
With 100% of precincts reporting, Proposition 29, the ballot measure that would have added $1 to the cost of a pack of cigarettes, failed by a narrow margin.
No 1,958,047 (50.8%)
Yes 1,894,871 (49.2%)
A measure that would have raised the California state tax on a pack of cigarettes by a dollar has failed, but the vote was close.
With all precincts reporting, the Secretary of State's office says Proposition 29 lost, with 50.8 per cent of voters rejecting it, and 49.2% voting for it.
The measure carried in only 17 of California's 58 counties. It won majorities in the Bay Area and coastal counties, but lost almost all of inland California. Proposition 29 won majorities in Yolo and Solano Counties, but failed in Sacramento County.
Meanwhile, Proposition 28 (Term Limits), passed easily:
Yes 2,319,918 (61%)
No 1,456,749 (39%)
Midnight With results nearly dead even as Tuesday turned to Wednesday, both sides of the Proposition 29 (Cigarette Tax) contest acknowledged they won't know who won for some time. Here are results from The Associated Press as of 1:15 A.M.
No 1,705,549 (50% )
Yes 1,676,026 (50%)
Read Ben Adler's report on Prop 29 results here
Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of voters said yes to Proposition 28 (Term Limits)
Yes 2,053,535 (62%)
No 1,260,923 (38%)
Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has easily won her primary election race, advancing to the November ballot. She will face GOP-endorsed autism activist Elizabeth Emken. Read full story from SFGate
In the race for the 7th Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Gold River) and Elk Grove residentDr. Ami Bera, a Democrat who lost to Lungren in 2010, are headed for a rematch. As of 11:15 p.m. on Election Day, Lungren had 51.6 percent of the votes cast while Bera had 41.8 percent.
11:26 PM With only 4% reporting, Romney has secured the victory in California. 81.5% compared to Ron Paul's 9.1%.
9:45 PM From Michael J. Mishak and Anthony York at the LA Times: "Californians heading to the polls Tuesday will decide whether to tweak term limits for state lawmakers and raise cigarette taxes to fund cancer research - even as they try out a revamped primary system designed to reduce partisan gridlock here and in Washington. Under new primary rules, the top two finishers in races for state and federal offices will face off in November, regardless of party affiliation. The presidential contest is an exception. Candidates also are competing in new voting districts drawn by a citizens panel rather than the Legislature, which formerly engineered those districts to protect incumbents and maintain the influence of party bosses.
The outcome could reshape the way power is wielded in two capitals long defined by gridlock and brinkmanship. If more moderates are elected, it could eventually break the hold of labor unions on Democrats and anti-tax groups on Republicans. In Sacramento, a more centrist Legislature could mean an end to protracted budget wars as lawmakers find ways to resolve the state's chronic multibillion-dollar deficits. Despite the reconstituted state landscape, the election in some ways also represents business as usual, with corporate interests and labor unions spending big and campaigning hard to retain their clout."
6:07 PM Report from Harrison Chastang on the ground in San Francisco: "They're predicting the lowest turnout of any primary election ever in California. People here could care less about the presidential primary races since the Republican race was all but decided months ago, and the incumbent senate candidate is facing little opposition. Most voters I know hate that the primary is so late in that the state with the most delegates to the convention has no say in picking the nominee. The big issue here is the open primary and redistricting that could for the first time in 40 years give Democrats in the state legislature a supermajority that would prevent Republicans from blocking tax increases or ballot measures. The other big issue is a dollar cigarette tax measure. The tobacco industry has spent millions on ads against the measure and buying off the endorsements of non-profits like the California Hispanic and Black Chamber of Commerce that have received big money donations and sponsorships from the tobacco industry."
5:15 PM On the ground report from Stanford Computer Science faculty member John Gerth: "With record low turnout forecast, I think the SF Chronicle has it about right today. There's been virtually zero advertising for anyone in the Presidential race. Practically, the only coverage for California has been for recent fund-raising trips by Obama and Romney.
Indeed, the only significant ad volumes have been the tens of millions of dollars spent by the tobacco industry to defeat Prop 29 ($1/pack tax). The one other ballot measure is a tweak to term limits.
The top-2 primary structure for federal and state offices has generated some interest, but primarily in places where redistricting has coalesced incumbents. It will probably take a few more cycles to see if it has any real moderating impact as its proponents hoped."
Tuesday 3:15 p.m. Prop 8 Shot Down (Again) in California: In today's other California news, the anti-gay marriage bill Prop 8 was shot down in Ninth Circuit Court, likely setting up a 2013 Supreme Court showdown. Mark Kogan reports:
This morning, the Ninth Circuit issued a final denial for a rehearing en banc in the case concerning California’s Proposition 8 and its constitutionality, upholding its earlier ruling. The decision declaring the law unconstitutional was handed down in February of this year. With this denial of a request for a re-hearing, the only recourse remaining to the law’s supporters is to appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
Re-hearing’s en banc are rare things, particularly for a court as large as the Ninth Circuit. Normally, decisions at the federal appellate level are handed down by random three judge panels assembled out of the Circuit’s judges (the Ninth, being the largest Circuit, has 26 active judges). All parties have the right to request a re-hearing by the full court if they feel their panel came to the wrong conclusion. Such a re-hearing en banc is rarely granted. Due to the Ninth Circuit’s unique size, a re-hearing goes before 11 randomly selected judges rather than the full 26 judge court, something many legal critics have called arbitrary and not reflective of the court’s actual views.
The decision declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional was decided 2-1 in an opinion that concluded that the law served no other purpose than to “lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians.”
There is no question that the law’s supporters will now seek review before the Supreme Court but the question of whether the Justices decide to hear remains to be seen. Coupled with last week’s decision by the First Circuit in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional, the issue of gay marriage appears bound to end up before the nation’s highest Court sooner rather than later, but what form it will take is still anyone’s guess.
The decision on which case to take, or whether to take any, will hinge on a great deal of internal politics within the Court. A case seeking review needs the vote of four Justices at conference to be slated for review by the full Court. Different cases addressing the same subject matter can have vastly different outcomes and impacts depending on the specific facts, law, and procedural history of the case.
If either wing of the Court, conservative or liberal, wishes to grant review on the question of gay marriage they can easily do so. The trickier question is whether either side is comfortable with the risk of failing to secure Justice Anthony Kennedy’s swing vote for their opinion.
Justice Kennedy famously sided with the liberals on the Court in 2003 in the last major case concerning homosexuality to reach the Supreme Court, Lawrence v. Texas. There, Kennedy authored the opinion that declared a Texas law criminalizing homosexual intercourse as unconstitutional, stating that “the Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual.” The case explicitly overturned an earlier decision, Bowers v. Hardwick, which had upheld a nearly identical Georgia law in 1986.
With DOMA expected to get another drubbing courtesy of the Ninth Circuit in the fall of this year, the Supreme Court’s review of gay marriage may be inevitable in 2013. However, the question of how the Justices will decide and how wide-reaching their decision will be remains up in the air.
Tuesday 2:40 p.m. 24 names are on the primary ballot in the race for the U.S. Senate. Under a new primary system, the top two choices will compete in the general election regardless of party affiliation. Voters will also weigh in on a proposal to raise cigarette taxes by $1 a pack to fund cancer research.
Tuesday 12:45 p.m. An Explanation of the Top Two Primary System: A Top 2 Primary allows voters to vote for any candidate running in each race. The two candidates who receive the most votes in the Primary Election qualify for the General Election. A candidate must also receive at least 1% of the votes cast in that race to advance to the General Election. States with Top Two primary: California and Washington The Top 2 Primary applies to partisan office. In Washington, this includes the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the State Legislature, statewide partisan office such as Governor, and county partisan office such as County Commissioner.The Top 2 Primary does not apply to elections for: President and Vice President; or Political Party Precinct Committee Officer (PCO).
Tuesday 11:45 a.m. Feds to Monitor Election For Descrimination: The Justice Department is sending monitors to three California counties to watch for possible voter discrimination during the primary election.
With voters headed to the polls Tuesday, the agency said that it will monitor voting places in Alameda, Fresno and Riverside counties for compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act.
The act prohibits discrimination, intimidation or harassment in elections based on race or language.
The federal agency said Monday that Fresno and Riverside counties are required to provide voting assistance in Spanish.
Alameda County is required to provide assistance to Hispanic, Chinese, Vietnamese and Filipino voters.
Tuesday 11 a.m. Tuesday's statewide primary election is providing the first real test of sweeping voter-approved reforms aimed at making producing more competitive contests and more moderate candidates.
Those who headed the polls were confronted with a longer, more complicated ballot — the product of a new top-two primary system and redrawn legislative and congressional districts.
Monday 11 PM: A talk with Fred Karger, the openly gay candidate who worked for Gerald Ford, George HW Bush, and Ronald Reagan. Listen below: