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THE NOONER for June 7, 2012

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CONTEST UPDATE: We'll have to wait on a few races before the final contest results can be tallied and winners declare.

We should have the outstanding absentee and provisional ballot report by tomorrow, with most people believing there are between 750,000-950,000 outstanding. If that's correct, the actual number of people casting ballots will be below the 1964 level, when there were fewer than one-half the number of California residents. What an embarassment.

...which is why I believe it's time to go to all mail-in ballots like our neighbor to the north. City clerks have been calling for this for awhile, as creating and staffing all those precincts is costly. Sure, it changes the GOTV game. But, of the 5 million ballots cast on Tuesday, between 60-70% were likely cast as absentee. So, in polling places around the state, paid (albeit lowly) pollworkers sat waiting for voters. 

Going all-mail wouldn't dramatically increase turnout. Those that care to vote cast ballots, whether in person or in the mail. Oregon's primary had 38.24% turnout, which isn't all that better than what will likely be 28-30% turnout for our election this week.

OUTSTANDING BALLOTS (h/t Kevin Yamamura and Stuart Waldman):

  • Los Angeles: 162,108 (43,411 provisional)
  • Orange: 113,000
  • Riverside 49,000
  • San Francisco: 31,000

Birther Orly Taitz says she lost because voting machines were rigged.

#DCCCFAIL: The top-two primary requires changing the political playbook and, unfortunately, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and supporters didn't get the message. The DCCC-friendly House Majority PAC spent $711,306 to elect Julia Brownley in CD26, although overlooked CD31

In contrast, the only significant IE for Pete Aguilar, Restoring Our Community, spent $160,000, mostly for phone banking. That effort was funded by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians ($25k) and the California Credit Union League ($250k), and it looks like the committee spent half and assumed the other half would be for November. In contrast, the National Association of Realtors spent $321,157 and $481,325 from two committees on behalf of Gary Miller.

Local party activists blocked an endorsement of Aguilar, feeling he has been too moderate as mayor of Redlands. This alone probably cost the Democrats the seat, as three other Democrats gobbled up 13,495 votes. If Aguilar could have had only 1,100 of those votes, the seat would be a top pickup target for Nancy Pelosi's campaign to get the gavel back. She needs every opportunity to go her way, and Tuesday night was not a good one for that effort.

I don't know that top-two is really going to have the "moderating" effect to the extent that proponents believed. However, a lesson was learned in CD31 on Tuesday--party endorsements and an ugly game of clearing the field will be essential in this new world.

ROTHENBERG'S RATINGS: The Rothenberg Report updated its ratings in several California districts yesterday, and the news wasn't good for Democrats.

#CA9-->D Favored to Lean D
#CA16-->Safe D to D favored
#CA21-->Lean R to Safe R
#CA26-->Tossup/Tilt R to Lean R
#CA31-->Lean D to Safe R
#CA41-->D Favored to Toss-Up/Tilt D
#CA47--> D Favored to Lean D

SALTY: OC Labor Council exec dir Tefere Gebre on the top-place finish (and likely November election) of Tom Daly in AD69: "'Are we going to recycle the same assholes over and over again?' Gebre asked. 'If that's the case, then what the [expletive] am I doing here?'"

Not a good night for Democrats and labor.


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Pension Votes In Cities Put Pressure On Gov. Brown
Joe Garofoli @
After voters in San Jose and San Diego, two of California's largest cities, rolled back public employee pensions in Tuesday's election, pressure is mounting on Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature to take similar action...

California Pension Cuts May Have Ripple Effect
Elliot Spagat @
Decisive victories for ballot proposals cutting retirement benefits for government workers in two of the largest cities in the U.S. emboldened advocates seeking to curb pensions in state capitols and city halls across the nation.

Bleary-eyed Prop. 29 Campaigns In Wait-and-see Mode
Kevin Yamamura @
Tobacco companies have reason to be confident after waking up with a 51-49 lead against an initiative that would raise cigarette taxes by $1 per pack in California, but neither side was prepared to declare the Proposition 29 race over this morning.

Two Sacramento-area Assembly Candidates Wait To Learn Who They'll Face In The Fall
Jim Sanders @
Beth Gaines and Ken Cooley knew Wednesday that they'd won a spot on the November ballot for a Sacramento-area Assembly seat – but they couldn't be sure who they'll run against.

Jerry Brown Names Union Rep To Personnel Administration Post
David Siders @
Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed a labor union representative to be deputy director of legislative affairs at the Department of Personnel Administration.

Union Power Challenged With Pension Reforms :: Fox&hounds
The political landscape shifted yesterday with decisive votes on pension reform in two major California cities and the gubernatorial recall result in Wisconsin. Public employee union power, which has come to dominate the state political process, especially here in California, was found vulnerable.

More Than $1 Million Spent On Home Renovations For CSU Presidents
With classes being cut and costs rising, money spent on renovations at the residences of incoming California State University presidents elicits dismay.

'Birther' Senate Candidate Suspects Election Fraud
Martin Wisckol @
Laguna Niguel attorney Orly Taitz, best known for lawsuits alleging Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen, suspects her fourth place finish in the U.S. Senate race is the result of ballot-counting machines rigged against her, she writes on her blog this morning.

Higher Tobacco Tax? It's Still A No-brainer
George Skelton @
Even if Proposition 29 fails, the Legislature should seize the opportunity to raise desperately needed revenue and save crucial programs.

Tobacco-tax Measure Likely To Lose In Close Race
Local @
With about 1 million absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted, the Secretary of States Office reported that Proposition 29 was losing by a razor-thin margin.

Nearly 800,000 Ca Ballots Left To Count In Largest Counties
Hannah Madans @
Preliminary election results may be in, but some races won't be called until officials can count provisional ballots and mail-in votes that were dropped off at polling places Tuesday.

Labor's Losses Appear To Be Pension Reformers' Gains
Unions steep losses at the polls Tuesday gave new hope to pension reformers throughout California and perhaps new impetus to Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders to strike a deal on lowering the cost of public-employee pensions.

Election 2012: No Letup In State Senate Fight | Breaking News | - Press-enterprise
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Jerry Brown's pick for LA district attorney poised to lose
David Siders @
Gov. Jerry Brown hardly involved himself in the statewide primary election Tuesday, but in the few contests in which the Democratic governor did endorse a candidate or issue public praise, his record wasn't great.

Kern voters adopt medical marijuana shop limits
The Associated Press @
Kern County voters have passed a ballot measure that restricts where medical marijuana dispensaries can be located, one of the first such limits to be approved by residents rather than lawmakers.

Prop. 29's tobacco tax teeters on edge of defeat
Phil Willon @
The measure is trailing by 63,000 votes, though ballots remain uncounted. Anti-tax advocates say results could signal trouble for governor's tax plan.

Ethics Panel Moves Ahead On Maxine Waters Investigation
John Bresnahan @
The decision is a major blow to Waters. | AP Photo

California state workers ask
Jon Ortiz @
Several jittery state workers have called and email in the last week asking whether their pay might be withheld if lawmakers don't reach a budget deal by the June 30 fiscal year-end.

Washington gay marriage opponents file to block new law
Kim Murphy @
SEATTLE -- Washington state's same-sex marriage law was blocked from taking effect Wednesday when opponents submitted more than 230,000 signatures calling for a referendum on the measure -- opening yet another contentious battleground for one of the nation's most divisive issues.

Old Lions Challenged In New Political Order
Dan Morain @
Bill Bloomfield probably won't win his congressional race in November, no matter how much he spends. But he has emerged as a poster politician for California's new political order.

Dan Walters Daily: Tuesday's important votes? Pension reform
Dan Walters @
Dan Walters says that the California primary's most important results had to do with local measures on public pension reform in San Jose and San Diego.

California tobacco tax backers hope uncounted ballots turn tide
Backers of a tobacco tax initiative said Wednesday they were prepared to wait days, if not weeks, to see if uncounted ballots turn the tide in their favor.