Republicans Win More Senate Seats, Democrats California

Mark Laluan

ELECTION WRAP UP

A tide of voter dissatisfaction, economic turmoil and base mobilization has swept the Republican Party back into power after four years in the political wilderness.

As of Wednesday, Republicans have taken 239 seats in the House of Representatives, Democrats took 185 seats and 11 seats remain contested.

In the Senate, Democrats have taken 11 seats, Republicans 23 seats, with 3 seats remaining contested.

Control of the House rested on possessing a simple majority of 218; a threshold which Republicans, who gained 60 Democratic held sets, crossed early in the evening this Tuesday.

Current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will likely be replaced by Republican Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) in the spring when the new Congress will take office.

Moving along into leadership positions with Boehner are several figures who could pose problems for the Obama administration’s planned agenda over the next two years.

Mike Pence (R-Idaho), current chair of the Republican Party caucus in the House, has been a constant advocate of social conservative beliefs and is due to expand his influence with an injection of Tea Party affiliates in the House.

Dave Camp (R-Mich.) is due to chair the influential Ways and Means Committee, which controls all legislation related to taxation and revenue generation.

Camp has shown himself to be more centrist than his colleagues, having unapologetically voted for President George W. Bush’s bank bailouts.

Yet with Republican leadership committed to gutting President Barack Obama’s health care reform package, Camp’s position on Ways and Means may determine if this and other items on Obama’s agenda will get funding.

Darrel Issa (R-Calif.) is due to chair the Committee on Oversight and Government, which has the power to investigate any program or policy of the federal government.

Issa is thus in a strong position to investigate fulfill the demands of Tea Partiers to look into aspects of Obama administration policies, ranging from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to Obama’s domestic policies.

Locally, Republican David Harmer may take away California’s 11th Congressional District from incumbent Jerry McNerney (D-Calif). In general, the respective Democratic and Republican share in California’s House seats has remained somewhat static this election.

Democrats have retained control of the Senate and have eked out a morale victory with their Senate leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) beating off an election challenge from the Republican- and Tea Party-backed candidate Sharon Angle, as well as Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) handily beating Republican Carly Fiorina by an 11-point margin.

In addition, controversial Tea Party-backed candidate Christine O’Donnell of Delaware ran out of steam amid a campaign strewn with foot-in-mouth comments ranging from pronouncements
on pre-marital sex to witchcraft.

More mainstream Republican candidates, ranging from Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who took Obama’s old Senate seat in Illinois; Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who triumphed over former Florida Governor Charlie Crist (I-Fla.); John Boozman (R-Ark.), who unseated incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ar.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who narrowly won his race against Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) and Ron Johnson (R-Minn.), who unseated long time Senator Russ Feingold (D-Minn.), found success with a broad cross-section of Americans.

While the trend nationwide was towards electing Republican candidates, California bucked the trend by electing a straight Democratic ticket for statewide offices.

When asked why California has not bought into the anti-incumbent trend displayed throughout election results nationwide, Associated Students Vice President of External Affairs Joe Tafoya indicated that California’s priorities might be different than those of the rest of the nation.

“Well, the anti-incumbent trend is the basic nature of midterm elections. I contend that other states are falling victim to, what I hope, is purely a reactionary movement—one that will fizzle by the next election.

California appears to have its bearings on to a long-term vision by the voters,” said Tafoya.

Sitting Attorney General Jerry Brown beat Republican Meg Whitman in the race to become Governor by 13 percent, despite her almost $160 million in campaign spending.

A similar gap was present in the victory of current Mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom’s victory over Abel Maldonado for the Lieutenant Governorship.

The only exception to the Democratic sweep of statewide offices is the still undecided as of press time—race between Republican Steve Cooley and Democrat Kamala Harris for Attorney
General.

Statewide propositions and ballot initiatives provided a mixed back for Californians of all political constitutions. Propositions 19 and 25 functioned on Election Day as a weathervane for Californian opinion.

Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana in spite of a federal ban, failed to pass. Proposition 25, which would eliminate the two-thirds majority required to pass a budget, was approved by voters.

Locally, Democrats swept Alameda County’s State Assembly seats in the 14th, 15th, 16th, 18th and 20th Congressional districts, as well as the 10th Senate district.

Nadia Lockyer, wife of Democratic State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, won a seat as Alameda
County Supervisor for the 2nd District. Results for municipal elections are delayed as of this writing on account of the introduction of ranked choice voting (RCV) in Alameda County.

RCV prevents runoff elections by giving different weights to voting for first, second, third place and so on.

Candidates are then eliminated and have their votes transferred to other candidates on the basis of the voter’s preference ranking of candidates for first, second third place and so on.

Victory is then decided by the first candidate to gain more than 50 percent of the total vote.

Because of the tabulation required, we may not know the results for such local races as the race for Oakland mayor until next week at the earliest.