A Few Good Fits for Desperately Hungry Republicans

PHOTO BY RBERTEIG

The wave that swept Republicans back into power in blue states such as Colorado, Maryland, Maine, and Massachusetts didn’t quite reach California, the state that once produced Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. In fact, every Republican candidate for statewide constitutional office lost. Governor Jerry Brown creamed his Republican opponent—and Brown didn’t even run a campaign. Democrats maintained strong majorities in both legislative houses. So why are California GOP officials so giddy about how the election played out?

Two reasons come to mind. First, Republicans won three critical state senate races and stopped the Democrats from holding a supermajority in that body. Election night results looked good for Republican prospects in the state assembly, too, though the final counts in two races will determine whether the GOP prevents a Democratic supermajority in the lower house. Democrats need at least two-thirds of those seats to meet the state constitution’s threshold for passing tax increases. Republicans, as a rule, oppose every new tax increase in a state that already has the nation’s highest individual income-tax rate.

Second, while it still has no idea how to win a statewide election, the California GOP has figured out how to win in targeted districts—even in some that lean Democratic. In the last legislative session, Democrats lost their supermajority in the state senate after scandal drove three legislators from office. One was convicted of voter fraud and perjury, and two others face federal corruption charges. But Republicans chose not to focus on Democratic foibles. Instead, under the leadership of former state senator Jim Brulte, the party put its resources into a handful of winnable races.

Sacramento-based GOP political consultant Jeff Randle said that the Republicans “had to show incremental progress [Tuesday] night and we did that by winning with really good candidates.” Randle, who helps recruit viable candidates through the Trailblazers program, credited the party’s successes to its newfound emphasis on “finding candidates that match their districts.” The best example may be Senator Andy Vidak, a Spanish-speaking cherry farmer from the San Joaquin Valley. Though Democrats enjoy a 20-point voter-registration edge in Vidak’s heavily Latino district, voters in the politically moderate farm region tend to favor independence. Vidak, a cowboy hat-wearing conservative populist, beat his Democratic rival, Fresno school board trustee Luis Chavez, by 10 points.

Republicans also held a senate seat that many pollsters and professional political operatives predicted they would lose. Anthony Cannella, the former mayor of the San Joaquin Valley city of Ceres and son of former Democratic state assemblyman Sal Cannella, prevailed in part by drawing union support away from his Democratic challenger, Shawn Bagley. And Republicans scored a key win in ethnically diverse and politically competitive central Orange County, where county supervisor Janet Nguyen won a state senate seat in a race in which Republicans effectively tapped Asian support. Asians now represent 12 percent of California voters, and they turn out in higher percentages than many other ethnic groups. So Nguyen was another GOP candidate who matched well with her district.

In the assembly, the Republicans did well in all but one of their targeted races. In the eastern Bay Area, the socially moderate Catherine Baker took a hard line on public-employee unions, strongly opposing the 2013 Bay Area Rapid Transit strike in a district that spans Orinda and Walnut Creek east of the Berkeley Hills to the Tri-Valley—in other words, a district full of voting commuters hard hit by two four-day work stoppages in July and October of last year. Pending a final count of absentee and provisional ballots, Baker leads Democrat and union activist Tim Sbranti in the contest for an open assembly seat. Retired police officer Tom Lackey unseated the Democratic incumbent in the Palmdale area, and Korean-American Young Kim, a former staffer for veteran Republican congressman Ed Royce, ousted incumbent assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, 56 percent to 44 percent, in northern Orange County.

One could argue, however, that the Democrats should never have held some of these seats in the first place. “It’s true Republicans did well, but that’s only because Democrats overreached so far,” said Grant Gillham, a political consultant and former Republican staffer. “You’re living in an alley, eating out of garbage cans and you find half of a Big Mac and you think you’ve hit the jackpot. That’s the situation with Republicans now,” he said, jokingly. He’s got a point, but half a Big Mac is looking pretty good to a desperately hungry party.

This piece was originally published on by City Journal.

GOP Compromise

GOP Compromise

Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

The Democratic Wave

Democratic Wave

Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

Democratic Wave

Democratic Wave

Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

Dems Lose State Senate Supermajority

With impressive showings in Orange County and the Central Valley, Republicans have succeeded in blocking a Democratic super-majority in the State Senate.

Republican Senators Andy Vidak and Anthony Cannella easily won reelection in their Central Valley districts, while Orange County Supervisor Janet Nugyen clobbered former Asm. Jose Solorio by twenty points in a highly-contested open seat. The GOP victories come just eight months after corruption scandals cost California Democrats their super-majority in the State Senate and give Senate Republicans some leverage in votes on taxes and procedural motions in the upper house.

Two years ago, the Senate Democratic Caucus under Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg won every contested race. This time around, Senate Democrats under new leader Kevin de Leon struggled in districts that are considered safe Democratic seats.

In the 12th Senate District, Cannella, a first-term Republican, cruised to reelection against Democrat Shawn Bagley, a produce-broker and businessman from Salinas. With 97 percent of precincts reporting, the Republican lawmaker nearly doubled up on his opponent, capturing 62 percent to Bagley’s 38 percent of the vote.

Although Democrats hold a 13-point advantage in voter registration, Cannella built a sizable war chest, which staved off serious challengers. A moderate Republican, Cannella won over independent voters and moderate Democrats by co-sponsoring legislation to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. He also pushed national Republicans to adopt comprehensive immigration reform and voted in favor of the Dream Act, a controversial bill to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain conditional permanent residency and in-state tuition benefits.

State Senate 14: Vidak’s impressive win

In the 14th Senate District, early returns showed a potential upset of Vidak, who won the seat in a 2013 special election. But, with 90 percent of precincts reporting, Vidak had established a comfortable 11-point lead over Fresno School Board Trustee Luis Chavez.

Republicans across the state benefited from a combination of low voter turnout and Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision to ignore a serious statewide campaign. However, they have reason to celebrate Vidak’s win as progress in reaching moderate Democrats and independent voters.

On paper, Democrats should win the 14th State Senate race every time. Democrats have 20 point advantage in voter registration in the district that is also half Latino. According to absentee ballot data from Political Data, Inc., this year’s absentee turnout was higher than 2010 and almost as high as 2012.

Vidak, the legislature’s leading critic of high-speed rail, has questioned pay-to-play politics in the contracting process and called for the public to re-vote on the controversial project. He also stood firm in calling for the Senate to expel several members accused of corruption and bribery.

State Senate 34: Nguyen’s Win

In the 34th Senate District, Nguyen, a first generation Vietnamese-American immigrant, withstood a barrage of negative attacks to defeat former Assemblyman Jose Solorio by 20 points. With 99.1 percent of precincts reporting, as of 12:55 a.m., Nguyen had 70,438 votes, compared to 46,867 for Solorio, a trustee on the Rancho Santiago Community College District Board.

Nguyen, the youngest supervisor in Orange County’s history, is headed to Sacramento thanks to a strong turnout by Vietnamese-American voters. Asian turnout among absentee voters, according to data made available by Political Data, Inc., was up significantly in the district, where 80 percent of the district’s Asian voters are Vietnamese. The race was considered to be one of the most competitive legislative races in the state. Surprisingly, Nguyen added to her vote total from the June 3rd primary, when she captured 52 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

Republicans also performed well in the 32nd Senate District, where Downey Councilman Mario Guerra kept Democrat Tony Mendoza on the ropes in a safe Democratic seat. With 97.5 percent of precincts reporting as of 2:02 a.m., Mendoza had 51.6 percent of the vote, a 3 percent advantage over Guerra.

Senate intra-party feuds

Under California’s Top 2 elections system, the highest vote-getters in the June primary advance to the November election. In two Democratic intra-party feuds, the moderate candidates prevailed in closely-contested races. In the 6th Senate District, Assemblyman Richard Pan defeated fellow Democratic lawmaker Roger Dickinson by roughly six points.

In the 26th Senate District, liberal activist Sandra Fluke was blown out by fellow Democrat Ben Allen. A member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School Board, Allen held a nearly 2-1 lead over the women’s rights activist who became a darling of the left after her national spat with conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh. With 84 percent of precincts reporting as of 2:02 a.m., Allen had 61 percent to Fluke’s 38.8 percent. The Torrance-based seat was previously held by moderate Democrat Ted Lieu, who was winning his campaign to replace retiring Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Beverly Hills.

The only Senate contest between two Republicans remained too close to call. With 63 percent of precincts reporting, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone held a six point lead over former Republican Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia in the 28th Senate District.

This article was originally published on CalWatchdog.com

Democrats Defeated

Democrats Defeated

Gary McCoy, Cagle Cartoons

The Democratic Wall in CA has Leaks

The Republican election day tide which saw a gain of 7 senate seats, 13 House seats and 3 governorships across the nation banged into the Sierra Nevada wall that has often separated California metaphorically from the rest of the country with Democrats once again sweeping all the statewide offices. But this time there were leaks in the wall. Republicans apparently accomplished the party’s modest goal of keeping the Democrats from capturing a two-thirds majority in the Legislature.

The Republicans might have made a bigger splash if more money was directed toward a couple of statewide candidates in competitive races. Both Secretary of State candidate Pete Peterson and Controller candidate Ashley Swearengin came within five-percent of their opponents without substantial financial support.

As part of the national trend boosting Republicans in Congress, tight races could fall to Republicans with Doug Ose and Carl DeMaio holding narrow leads early this morning. Incumbent Republican congress members Jeff Denham and David Valadao, who were supposed to be in danger when the election campaigns began, won handily. There may even be an unexpected upset of long time Democratic Congressman Jim Costa to Johnny Tacherra in CD 16.

The Secretary of State’s website is monitoring four razor thin races on a special page of the website. The close races are defined as within two-percentage points. Those races include the Costa-Tacherra contest along with two other congressional races: Brownley-Gorrell in CD 26 (current edge to Brownley, the Democrat) and Peters-DeMaio in CD 52 (current edge to DeMaio, the Republican.)

The fourth contest on that site is an all-Democratic contest for Assembly District 39, in which Assembly Revenue and Taxation Chairman Raul Bocanegra is less than one-percentage point behind Patty Lopez. Bocanegra easily took the primary with over 62% of the vote but is in danger of losing the seat to Lopez, an education advocate. Bocanegra is a leading Democrat who tried to work with the business community.

As of this writing, Governor Jerry Brown has a 17.5% advantage over Neel Kashkari. When Brown ran for re-election in his first stint in the office 36 years ago he defeated Attorney General Evelle Younger by 19.5% of the vote. It’s hard to compare the two contests, Younger being much better known at that time than Kashkari is now, but Brown not really mounting a campaign this time.

Brown’s coattails when he chose to get involved in races did not seem very effective. He campaigned in Assembly District 16 for Tim Sbranti who as of this writing is nearly 4-percentage points behind Republican Catharine Baker. He attended a rally for incumbent Al Muratsuchi in AD 66 who has apparently lost to Republican David Hadley. Meanwhile, Brown’s many radio ads in Southern California on behalf of Jose Solorio feel flat as he lost by 20-points to Republican Janet Nguyen in Senate District 34.

This piece was originally published on Fox and Hounds Daily

CA Teachers Brace for Impact on Election Day

The expensive race for California superintendent of public instruction may have the biggest education impact of any election Tuesday.

Regardless of its outcome, the race will send shockwaves across the country and set the national tone for how strong unionized teachers remain in an era of rapid change for public education.

The showdown is between incumbent superintendent Tom Torlakson and challenger Marshall Tuck, both Democrats. Torlakson easily won the primary over the summer, taking 46 percent of the vote to Tuck’s 29 percent (California uses a nonpartisan primary in which the top two candidates advance to the general election, regardless of party). Since then, however, the gap has narrowed tremendously, and the final outcome is completely uncertain. The final polls prior to Election Day show the candidates tied with 28 percent support each, while an incredible 44 percent of voters are undecided.

Torlakson is a pro-union Democrat, an individual representing the symbiotic relationship between Democrats and organized labor that has existed since before the World War II. A former science teacher, Torlakson spent years in California’s State Assembly and Senate, where he helped boost funding for after-school programs and low-performing schools by billions of dollars. As the state’s top education official, he has helped lead the legal battle against the Vergara v. California decision that gutted California’s tenure law and other generous job security protections that have made it excruciatingly difficult and costly for teachers in the state to be fired. He opposes using standardized test scores to evaluate teachers, is skeptical of charter schooling, and favors traditional union goals such as reducing class sizes.

Tuck, on the other hand, represents every trend in the Democratic Party that teachers fear. Unlike Torlakson, Tuck has never been a public school teacher, and his primary experience is as an administrator for various charter school efforts. He supports the Vergara court ruling, wants to tie teacher pay to performance and has pledged to shake up California schools that he says have grown too comfortable with poor performances on standardized tests. More broadly, he embodies a new movement in the Democratic Party, one willing to question whether the interests of teacher unions and students perfectly coincide. A win by Tuck would be an electoral vindication for Democrats who take up the mantle of aggressive school reform rather than the pro-union status quo.

Tuck also represents the growing role of business leaders in influencing educational policy. His campaign has been substantially helped by the generosity of a few big donors from the business world. Billionaire Eli Broad, the founder of SunAmerica and a major proponent of education reform, has given him at least a million dollars. Other big donors include former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Silicon Valley investor Arthur Rock, and Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton. Among teachers, distrust for the intentions of these current and former moguls runs high, with many arguing the money comes not from altruism but rather from a desire to expand the operations of for-profit standardized testing companies, charter schools, and technology firms.

Tuck’s business ties have been furiously attacked, with one ad from the American Federation of Teachers labeling him a “Wall Street banker” (he worked in finance for a short period after college) and saying he would “turn our schools over to for-profit corporations.”

Tuck may have Wall Street on his side, but teachers have ensured he has no money advantage. The 325,000-member California Teachers Association and several other labor groups groups backing Torlakson have spent nearly $14 million to support his candidacy directly, along with another $7 million on issue ads that reflect positively on him. They’ve also spent close to $3 million on ads attacking Tuck. Altogether, spending in the race has surpassed $30 million, more than any other race in the state and among the most expensive non-gubernatorial state elections in the country’s history.

In this deep blue state, the final outcome of the race will be a critical bellwether about the state of education reform in the United States. For decades, teachers unions have provided Democratic candidates with money and volunteer muscle, helping them to win office and in return being rewarded with the strong pensions, benefits and job protections that offset relatively low salaries. Should Torlakson hang on, it will show that the public education establishment, despite all the attacks upon it from reformers, remain a tremendous force to be reckoned with and a potential kingmaker in Democratic politics. Should Tuck triumph, however, it will represent an overthrow of the old order, a changing of the guard that could last for years.

This piece was originally published at The Daily Caller News Foundation

Secretary of State 2014: Tight race, cautious candidates

It’s one of the few competitive statewide races in California. And befitting a close contest, Democrat Alex Padilla and Republican Pete Peterson share remarkably close visions for the job of secretary of state.

CalWatchdog.com asked the two candidates a half dozen questions about the job. The responses from both candidates, which are posted in their entirety below, show frequent agreement on the major issues as well as a similar level of caution in the curve balls we threw their way.

Both Padilla and Peterson intend to use technology to improve the office that oversees everything from the state’s election system to business registration. Both the Democrat and the Republican want to increase transparency in the state’s campaign finance disclosure system and promote greater civic engagement in the political process. Both candidates believe it should be faster and easier to start a business in California.

The pair are so similar on the issues that editorial boards have resorted to tacit endorsements of both candidates and consider each to be an improvement over the embattled incumbent, Debra Bowen, who is leaving due to term limits and has admitted having problems with depression.

“Whether you select Pete Peterson or state Sen. Alex Padilla, our expectation is that a problem-plagued, underperforming office will receive the caliber of leadership that has been lacking under two-term Democratic incumbent Debra Bowen,” the Fresno Bee observed in its editorial endorsement for Peterson.

Alex PadillaPraise for Bill Jones, Jerry Brown

The similarities even extend to their opinion of recent secretaries of state.

“Bill Jones successfully used technology to increase transparency, placing campaign finance information online, and posting live election results online in statewide elections,” Padilla said of the Republican who held the job from 1995 to 2003. Padilla also offered praise for Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who held the post from 1971 to 1975.

In response to the same question, Peterson, who has said he is modeling his campaign off of Brown’s past secretary-of state campaign in 1970, offered similar praise for Jones.

“Bill Jones is my Honorary Campaign Chair, and in several ways, it feels that we are both approaching the office in similar environments,” Peterson said. “Bill came to an office that had become bureaucratic and antiquated. Over his two terms, he transformed the office into one that used technology (like Cal-Access) to make government more transparent and responsive.”

Pete PetersonBoth cautious, avoid strong positions on controversial issues

On civic engagement, Padilla said he’d “prioritize greater civic education through schools and community groups.” That’s not far from Peterson’s belief that the state “can be doing a better job in civics education at the high-school level to encourage greater youth civic participation.”

But everyone supports improving civics education. What about a controversial proposal to increase youth involvement in politics by lowering the voting age?

In last month’s Scottish independence referendum, 16 and 17 year olds were allowed to vote. It was a resounding success. Young people took the franchise seriously, registered to vote and then turned out in droves.

“Across Scotland, 90.1 percent of 121,497 16 and 17-year-olds have registered to vote,” one U.K. newspaper reported.

According to the Guardian, “Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, was so impressed, in fact, that he declared there was ‘not a shred of evidence for arguing that 16- and 17-year-olds should not be allowed to vote’.”

Polling showed a huge disparity in public opinion between younger voters who supported independence and older voters who opposed it.

Here in California, neither candidate for the state’s top election post was willing to embrace lowering the voting age. Both candidates demurred — only going so far as to embrace pre-registration for young voters.

Neither candidate champions disenfranchised voters with disabilities

Padilla and Peterson were similarly reluctant to champion the cause of advancing voting-rights complaints by people with disabilities.

VIDEO: Pete Peterson — Modernizing the secretary of state & cutting red tapeEarlier this year, a complaint filed by the Disability and Abuse Project alleged that Los Angeles Superior Court judges used literacy tests to deny voting rights to thousands of people with autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities.

The group’s analysis of 61 conservatorship cases in Los Angeles County found that 90 percent of individuals were denied voting rights. With more than 40,000 conservatorships in California, the group extrapolates that thousands of Californians could be illegally deprived of their franchise.

Surely, the candidates for secretary of state would have an opinion about this denial of voting rights?

Padilla seemed completely unaware of the problem, offering a generic statement. “Every citizen has the right to vote and to have that vote counted,” he said. “While many people with disabilities prefer the convenience of vote-by-mail, there are privacy concerns, and some prefer to go to the polls.”

But his reply doesn’t begin to address the disenfranchisement occurring across the state, nor does it offer an opinion on whether “competency tests” should exist.

Peterson proved to be more familiar with the issue but said only that “he was hoping a court or Justice Dept decision might bring clarity to what the appropriate level of capacity should be.”

Peterson offers more specifics on transparency, business fee

About the only difference between the candidates was Peterson’s willingness to offer more specifics about his plans if elected to the position.

Peterson said he’d work to lower the business registration fee from $800 per year to $100, a level comparable with other states. He also definitely pledged to post his calendar online, a move that would aid the press and public, who currently are required to submit formal public records requests to get that information.

“I am committed to putting my calendar online so Californians know what their SoS is doing,” Peterson said.

Padilla didn’t directly answer the question, saying, “I will comply with the Public Records Act.”

While Peterson had more definitive positions on openness and transparency, he was less forthcoming about his vote for governor in the June 3 primary. In the new Top Two system, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown got the most votes. For the second slot, the battle was between two Republicans: Assemblyman Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari. Kashkari won and faces Brown on Nov. 4.

Padilla voted Brown.

Peterson has refused to endorse a candidate, but said he likes Kashkari’s stance on education issues.

Text of the CalWatchdog.com interviews

What follows is the full Q&A CalWatchdog.com conducted with the candidates.

Question: In the June Primary, whom did you vote for governor?

Padilla: Jerry Brown

Peterson: While I’m not endorsing candidates, I can repeat what we discussed in an earlier email exchange, that I like Neel’s focus on jobs and education. And, more recently, I was disappointed with Governor Brown’s decision to oppose the Vergara verdict, which I view (as the judge did, and Neel does) as a civil rights decision.

Question: In Scotland, 16 and 17 year olds were allowed to vote on the independence referendum. Should we lower the voting age in California?

Padilla: I support legislation to allow 15-, 16-, and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, so that they are automatically eligible to vote when they turn 18. And to increase turnout among young voters, I will prioritize greater civic education through schools and community groups.

Peterson: I don’t support lowering the voting age, but we can be doing a better job in civics education at the high school level to encourage greater youth civic participation, and I will be making proposals in this area. I do support the pre-registration of 17 year olds, and know we must reform our motor-voter registration system to make this easier to do.

Question: Business documents: As secretary of state, will you commit to putting all business registration documents online? Right now, there’s a processing delay and fee for copies. It’s unclear why the documents cannot be posted online. What other changes can we expect in the area of the office’s business programs?

Padilla: We need to make it easier and quicker to start a business in California. The first stop for entrepreneurs starting a new business is the Secretary of State’s office, and the business filing process should take no more than five business days. In the past, business owners have waited weeks, or even months, to get their registrations approved. That’s unacceptable. And yes, I will work to enable businesses to file online.

Peterson: I am committed to transitioning as many business filing processes to an online platform as soon as possible – particularly business registration and the filing of Statements of Information by LLCs. I am also committed to bringing transparency to how the $800/yr Business Franchise Tax is “spent” in Sacramento, then I will fight to reduce to $100 – similar to other states we compete against for small business jobs.

I am also exited about reforming the SoS office into a data gathering office on our “small business climate”, modifying our business registration and dissolution forms to survey businesses as to why the starting up in, and (unfortunately) leaving the state or closing. I want to make this data available on an annual basis.

Question: Openness and Transparency: Will you promise to post your calendar online? How will your administration interpret the California Public Records Act? Under what circumstances will you pursue an exemption from disclosure? What can voters expect in the area of openness and transparency?

Padilla: I will comply with the Public Records Act. I have proudly sponsored legislation to increase transparency and help restore trust in government, including requiring weekly disclosure of all campaign contributions and online disclosure of all advertisements. I will continue to push for greater disclosure if elected Secretary of State.

Peterson: First, I am committed to putting the SoS budget up online in a format that’s understandable by a 10-year old and an 80-year old. I have done some of this work with cities, and advise a data visualization company in Mountain View called OpenGov.com. Whether that platform or similar, we need transparency to how money is being spent in this agency.

I am committed to putting my calendar online so Californians know what their SoS is doing.

I’m not sure how to answer the PRA question. I have been a long-time advocate for government transparency, and promise to bring this perspective to the SoS office.

On a related matter, I am committed to fully cataloging the data resources compiled by the SoS office (in both voter engagement and business engagement), and making that data available (in a secure but “open” format) to all Californians who want to develop their own applications and visualizations. I look forward to working with civic tech organizations (like MapLight, others) to help them develop applications that are helpful to all Californians – whether in campaign finance reporting or business data reporting.

Question: Of recent CA Secretaries of State, who do you think did the best job, and most closely reflects your approach to the office?

Padilla: I admire Jerry Brown for sponsoring legislation to reform campaign finance reporting, and when that failed, he worked with citizen groups to pass the Political Reform Act of 1974.

I respect Bruce McPherson [Republican secretary of state from 2005-07] for visiting with election officials in each of California’s 58 counties, as I have during my campaign. Listening and learning from local elected officials is crucial to understanding how our elections work on the ground.

Bill Jones successfully used technology to increase transparency, placing campaign finance information online, and posting live election results online in statewide elections.

Debra Bowen did the right thing in decertifying unauditable electronic voting machines when legitimate questions were raised about the reliability and security of the vote.

Peterson: Over the last 20 years, Republicans have proven to be excellent Secretaries of State. Bill Jones is my Honorary Campaign Chair, and in several ways, it feels that we are both approaching the office in similar environments. Bill came to an office that had become bureaucratic and antiquated. Over his two terms, he transformed the office into one that used technology (like Cal-Access) to make government more transparent and responsive. He’s also known by “good government” advocates as conducting the operations of the office in a non-partisan way. He worked well with staff, and demonstrated a real commitment – again, over two terms – to the office.

I also know that Bruce McPherson was an excellent Secretary of State in his (almost) two years in the office. He, too, brought a non-partisan commitment to the office.

Question: In late July, Pete Peterson said he was “looking into the story” of disabled citizens being denied their right to vote. The complaint alleges people with disabilities were barred from voting. What are your thoughts on the disenfranchisement of disabled voters?

Padilla: Every citizen has the right to vote and to have that vote counted. While many people with disabilities prefer the convenience of vote-by-mail, there are privacy concerns, and some prefer to go to the polls. For those who prefer poll voting, counties are working to accommodate people with disabilities. In some counties, for example, there are provisions for curbside voting.

Peterson: I think what I said is that I wanted to “[follow] the case” as I was hoping a court or Justice Dept decision might bring clarity to what the appropriate level of capacity should be.

Question: Should Debra Bowen resign? Are you concerned about the administration of the upcoming election?

Padilla: The nuts and bolts of elections are administered at the local level, by county clerks and elections officials. I’ve met with elections officials in every one of California’s 58 counties and they are prepared for the November 2014 election.

I do not think it is necessary for Secretary Bowen to resign and I believe it would be disruptive this close to the election. During Secretary Bowen’s eight years in office, we have had 7 regular elections and 46 special elections, and we have not had controversies such as butterfly ballots or hanging chads. I intend to be a more active and visible Secretary of State as we work to modernize the office.

Peterson: The premise of my campaign has been that the office has not had committed, creative leadership for many years, and has regressed (relative to other states) in both voter engagement and business engagement. As of today, I don’t think we have a clear sense of how much time the Secretary is committing to the operations of the office, so I can’t say to what degree administration of the office is suffering.

This article was originally published on CalWatchdog.com

Grabbing a Piece of CA

Out of state donors

 

Wolverton, Cagle Cartoons