Lessons from the Election
I have never seen such a divisive local campaign season in the dozen years I've lived in Alameda. So much mud-slinging from some candidates and their supporters, outside interference from disgraced corporations, and accusations of corruption.
Yet somehow, the candidates who focused on the positive managed to do pretty well. I am very pleased that Marie Gilmore will be our next mayor, by quite a large margin over Matarrese and DeHaan. I think she will do very well. It won't be hard to improve upon the do-nothing reign of Beverly Johnson, who unfortunately managed to come in second (at least, as of this writing while we wait for the last mail-in ballots to be counted) with her high name recognition overpowering her lack of a serious campaign. Rob Bonta ran a positive and energetic campaign, and got the highest vote count, so he will be our new Vice-Mayor for the next two years.
I'm happy to see that Lena Tam will be returning for another appointed half-term; hopefully the mist will have cleared by the time she is ready for her 2012 council campaign if she is interested in continuing. I only wish that Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, who is extremely qualified for city council, will try for the "third time's a charm" approach and throw her hat in the ring early in the 2012 season so she can rack up some well-deserved endorsements from the groups (e.g. unions, Democratic clubs) that gave Gilmore, Bonta, and Tam such a boost.
Of course, there are those in Alameda who are unsatisfied, and who are convinced that SunCal has won this election. A commenter on Lauren Do's blog summed it up well: "Gilmore, Bonta and Tam will have to work very hard to prove they owe SunCal nothing, and as we know, proving a negative is almost impossible." For those in Alameda who have shown that they believe in "Guilty until proven innocent," it will be hard to erase those expectations.
The other big news locally is Robert Raburn's huge victory over incumbent Carole Ward Allen. I had a good feeling that Alamedans would be voting for Robert in high numbers, but it's clear that his campaign and his message resonated throughout the district. Robert stopped by the tally-watching/victory party last night in Alameda, where almost all of the local winning candidates eventually found themselves, entering the room to a thunderous round of applause.
(Note: My son, Alameda's youngest political wonk, gathered up these folks for a group photo and took the above picture...)
On the other hand, I wasn't too pleased with the state propositions. At least we managed to defeat Proposition 23, the worst of them. However, the progressive Proposition 19 didn't make it — no surprise considering there was no institutional support behind it. And the passage of 26 is going to be bad news for California. Hopefully we can figure out a way out of it.
On the other hand, Democrats did great in the California offices. Values defeated dollars when we kept Barbara Boxer and elected Brown, despite the millions spent by Fiorina and Whitman. The rest of the state officeholders did well, too. I'm crossing my fingers that Kamala Harris (pictured) manages to stay ahead of her challenger when the last of the votes are finally counted over the next few days. She'll be a dynamite Attorney General.
Nationally, a Disaster
On the other hand... (channeling Fiddler on the Roof here...)
I think Jim Dean, chairman of Democracy for America, summed it up best:
The biggest lesson from last night is actually pretty simple. For Democrats to win in the future, they need to fight for the people they represent and stop cutting deals to water down reform with the same corporate interests who will turn around and spend unlimited amounts of money to defeat Democrats year after year.
One possible bright spot is that our neighboring congressman Jerry McNerney appears to have defeated his challenger. But only by 121 votes. There will probably be recounts and late additions to the count, so this is a nail-biter.