When Kamala Harris finally defeated Steve Cooley last week in the California attorney general's race, it gave Democrats a clean sweep of all elected statewide offices in the November election. It also further deepened one of the great political mysteries of 2010: Why did the Republican wave that swept the country completely miss California? The GOP took control of the US House of Representatives and almost snatched the US Senate, too. Yet in California, being a Republican candidate was practically the kiss of death.
The GOP lost every major contest in California, and failed to pick up a single Congressional seat. In the final tight race in the state, East Bay Democratic Congressman Jerry McNerney was declared the winner last week over Republican David Harmer even though the national Republican Party had targeted McNerney's Eleventh District seat as a potential pickup.
So what happened? In retrospect it now seems clear that the Tea Party Movement led the GOP too far into the red for a blue state like California. Political analysts also noted to the Contra Costa Times over the weekend that the Republicans' strident stance against illegal immigration was toxic in a state with so many Latino voters.
No group may have understood that better than the California Nurses' Association. The influential union had nurtured and pushed illegal immigrant housekeeper Nicky Diaz to come forward with her story about Meg Whitman, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Diaz was angry at Whitman for firing her and effectively tossing her to the curb, so the union referred her to celebrity attorney Gloria Allred. It was a fatal blow for the Republican gubernatorial candidate and helped solidify in voters' minds that the GOP was anti-Latino.
The California backlash against the Republican Party also helped take down Cooley, the popular district attorney of Los Angeles County. In fact, the Cooley campaign argued last week that if the attorney general's office had been considered nonpartisan, he would have won. But with the scarlet "R" next to his name, his chances were doomed. There is some evidence to back up their assertion. As a nonpartisan district attorney, Cooley repeatedly won reelection in Los Angeles County by substantial margins. But running as a Republican, he lost to Harris in his home county by 14 percentage points.
As for Harris, the anti-Republican fervor was definitely a plus. Her staunch opposition to the death penalty in a state where capital punishment remains popular made her a vulnerable candidate. But in the end, she rode the anti-GOP wave to victory, defeating Cooley by about 70,000 votes. Her win also was historic. She became the first woman, African-American, and Indian-American to be elected state attorney general. And her hands-off approach to medical cannabis promises to make marijuana advocates rest easier each night.
Oakland to Issue IDs to Immigrants
The City of Oakland will soon begin issuing municipal identification cards to residents who may otherwise have difficulty in obtaining proper IDs, the Oakland Tribune and Chronicle reported. Under the program authored by Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente and Mayor-elect Jean Quan, the municipal IDs also will work as debit cards — a nationwide first. The IDs also will be honored by Oakland cops, and city officials hope that the cards will encourage people who witness crimes or are crime victims to cooperate with police officers.
Quan Gets the Boot
All that time and effort campaigning apparently had a downside for Mayor-elect Quan. She said that she and her husband, Floyd Huen, who walked about two-thirds of the city knocking on doors during the campaign, were so busy trying to beat Don Perata that they neglected to pay their outstanding parking tickets. And so an Oakland police technician had a parking boot placed on Quan's Toyota Prius last week. Quan quickly paid off the $1,000 in tickets and got the boot removed — but not before the Chronicle found out about it.
Bay Guardian Wins Again
The California Supreme Court turned down a request by the SF Weekly to review a $20 million-plus judgment won by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Chronicle reported. The ruling essentially meant that the Guardian won its case against the SF Weekly, after proving in court that the Weekly illegally sold ads at below-cost in order to put the Guardian out of business. However, the Guardian is still fighting with the Weekly's parent company, Village Voice Media, in an effort to collect on its judgment. The two sides are in settlement talks.
California's bullet train could be the first victim of the Republican takeover of Congress. The San Mateo County Times reported that House GOP members want to yank $2 billion in federal stimulus funding for the high-speed train. ... La Niña is the likely cause of the recent cold snap in the Bay Area, but despite the heavy rains and snow in the Sierra, it's unclear whether the cooling of Pacific Ocean currents will lead to a wet winter in Northern California. ... The new toll lane on Interstate 680 in the East Bay is getting mixed reviews. Transportation officials say it's working as expected while motorists contend that it has made traffic worse, the Chronicle reported. ... And outgoing San Leandro mayor Tony Santos is refusing to concede to defeat even though he is not officially contesting his loss to challenger Stephen Cassidy, the Daily Review reported. Santos contends that ranked-choice voting cost him the election. But Santos was for the new voting system before he was against it.