California 2012 Legislative Election Returns Show that, Except in One Race, Two-Republican Races Did Not Result in More “Moderates”

When California’s Proposition 14 was on the ballot in June 2010, almost every large California newspaper endorsed it, and the reason for the endorsement was invariably that the newspapers believed the top-two system would reduce the number of anti-tax California state legislators, and instead would boost the election of “moderate” Republicans. In this context, “moderate” always meant a Republican who would not take a hard line against any tax increases.

Proposition 14 boosters were especially hopeful that in legislative races with two Republicans on the November ballot, and no other candidates, that the Democrats and independents in those districts would vote for the more “moderate” Republican, leading to more such Republicans in the legislature.

However, the 2012 election shows these ideas about how Proposition 14 would work were mostly incorrect. California had seven legislative races with two Republicans on the ballot in November, and in only one of them did a “moderate” (on taxes) defeat a hard-line anti-tax Republican. That was the Assembly race in the 5th district, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, where Frank Bigelow defeated Rico Oller. Bigelow had refused to sign the “no tax increase” pledge whereas Oller had signed it.

In Assembly District One in northeast California, both Republicans on the November ballot, Brian Dahle and Rick Bosetti were equally opposed to tax increases. The winner, Brian Dahle, was endorsed by the Tea Party, whereas the other Republican, Rick Bosetti, was endorsed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a well-known anti-tax group in California.

In Assembly District Six, in the northeast Sacramento suburbs, both Republicans were equally opposed to tax increases. The winner, incumbent Beth Gaines, was endorsed by the Howard Jarvis Association.

In Assembly District 23, in Fresno, the more conservative Republican, Jim Patterson, defeated the other Republican, Bob Whalen. Patterson emphasized the label “conservative” in his campaign ads, whereas Whalen stressed that he had been endorsed by unions and by three current or past Democratic members of the Fresno city council.

In Assembly District 67, in southwest Riverside County, both Republicans were equally anti-tax. Melissa Melendez defeated Phil Paule, and both are listed as Tea Party candidates. Melendez attacked Paule for having voted to raise water rates while he was a member of the water board, but Paule defended himself by pointing out that water rates are not taxes.

In Assembly District 72, in Orange County, Travis Allen defeated Troy Edgar. Allen’s campaign message was “Stop the endless calls for higher and higher taxes”, although Edgar also said he was opposed to raising taxes.

In Assembly District 76, in northwest San Diego County, Rocky Chavez defeated Sherry Hodges. Chavez had been endorsed by the Howard Jarvis Association and had said he would not vote for any tax increase. Hodges had said, “There may be a time to raise taxes.”

This blog post does not include the instances at which Republican “moderates” failed to place first or second in the June primary and thus were not on the November ballot.

There were no State Senate races with just two Republicans on the ballot.

The reason that the theory used by most California editorial writers doesn’t work is that when there are two Republicans on the November ballot, and one Republican gets a reputation for being the choice of liberals and Democrats, the word gets around in that district, and then the other Republican benefits from a backlash.


California 2012 Legislative Election Returns Show that, Except in One Race, Two-Republican Races Did Not Result in More “Moderates” — 3 Comments

  1. Gerrymander math in ALL EVIL regimes —

    PACK enemies – crack the rest of the total area.

    Result – 1/2 (or less) votes x 1/2 pack/crack gerrymander districts = 1/4 indirectly CONTROL — i.e. EVIL robot party hack Donkeys or Elephants — depending on which gang rigs the gerrymander districts — aka political concentration camps (which would make Stalin and Hitler proud).

    Very good luck in CA (in being able to survive) with having super-left wing Donkeys in control of both houses of the CA legislature in 2013-2014.
    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  2. This is in reality a straw-man argument. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association opposed Proposition 14. I suppose that next Richard Winger will produce an analysis for Democrat-Democrat races showing that candidates endorsed by the public sector unions that also opposed Proposition 14 were successful.

    It reminds me of when the League of Women Voters opposed an elected school board in San Francisco, claiming that appointed boards were essential to a democracy. That is, it was the essence of rule by the People (or more properly voters) that there not be elections by which they could exercise that authority.

    Why did the League of Women Voters take this position? Because they did not like the people who were proposing the elected board, and feared that they would be elected to the school board. Similarly, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association and the public sector unions opposed Proposition 14 because they feared that they were losing their leverage in the partisan primary.

    If we look at the actual vote totals, in three of the seven districts, the 2nd place candidate in the primary was elected. In two of the races, the leader from the primary had a landslide victory. The entire electorate was clearly decisive in the general election in at least those 5 elections.

    AD-1 Dahle led Bosetti 34.2% to 28.5% in the primary, which had also had one Democrat, Libertarian, and Green candidate. Dahle won 65.5% to 34.5% suggesting that he attracted most of their support. Dahle is a 16-year Lassen County Supervisor, suggesting that he is not an ideologue. He was also endorsed by public sector unions. I couldn’t find your “Tea Party” endorsement. I did find a report where Bosetti had said that he had missed a joint appearance before a tea party group because he was attending his son’s wedding in Massachusetts.

    AD-5 Oller led the primary 33.9% to 28.9% for Bigelow, with two Democrats, another Republican, and an independent. As you noted, Bigelow won the general election 52.6% to 47.4%.

    AD-6 Beth Gaines led Pugno in the primary with a 37.1% to 31.9% margin, with a Democrat also running. In the general election Gaines won 69.2% to 30.8%. Gaines is the incumbent and the wife of Ted Gaines, who was the assemblyman for the district, and now a senator. Pugno received a smaller share of the vote in the general election than he did in the primary, indicating that almost all the independent and Democrat support went to Gaines.

    AD-23 Patterson led Whalen 39.4% to 25.5 in the primary against two other Republicans and a Democrat. Patterson won the general election 54.2% to 45.8%. Patterson is the former mayor of Fresno (1993-2001), Whalen a city councilman in the suburb of Clovis, who served as mayor under a rotation system (not elected as mayor).

    Whalen is also an Assistant DA in Fresno County, and his endorsements were from the Police and Firefighters unions/associations of Fresno and Clovis. If he “stressed” them in the campaign it would be to demonstrate his tough on crime credentials. He also had the endorsement of the current Assemblywoman who decided not to seek re-election and that additional public officials. Patterson appeared to have more business endorsements, and his web site emphasized his business credentials, with his mayorship mentioned in passing.

    Neither candidate took the no taxes pledge.

    Whalen’s web site touted his conservative views:

    “…Bob Whalen has earned a reputation as a ‘tough on crime’ advocate and ‘friend of the taxpayer’ who has been a popular figure in Fresno County Republican circles.”

    “On the Council, Bob Whalen established himself as a no-nonsense fiscal conservative who has fought for fiscal discipline and has opposed tax increases.”

    While Patterson’s had a title of “Conservative”, his web site focused on specific pragmatic reforms that would promote business growth.

    Local coverage by the Fresno Bee indicated that there was little ideological differences between the two. Patterson had better name recognition which defeated the better funded Whalen. I would not put too much credibility in Blaz Gutierrez as an independent observer.

    It is pretty clear that your characterization of Patterson as the more conservative candidate is erroneous.

    AD-67 Paule led Melendez in the primary by a 27.7% to 23.3% in a race with 5 Republicans. Melendez won in the general election 52.2% to 47.8%. Paule is an area director for Rep. Darrell Issa. Melendez a city councilwoman in Lake Elsinore. Paule led on mail votes received before election day, which suggests that Melendez was winning the support of election day voters who were more Democratic and independent.

    AD-72 Edgar led Allen in the primary, 28.0% to 19.9%, in a race that had two Democrats and another Republican. Edgar had the endorsement of the district’s mayors. Allen received the endorsement of all three eliminated candidates, two Democrats and one Republican, and won 55.7% to 44.3%.

    AD-76 Chavez had a 38.8% to 32.6% lead in the primary among the three Republicans. Chavez extended that lead to 57.9% to 42.1% in the general election, gaining about 2/3 of the switched votes. Chavez was also endorsed by the 3rd place candidate in the primary.

    Let’s review. There were 7 Assembly districts where the two individual candidates who received the most votes from their fellow citizens, regardless of party affiliation, both had a party preference for the Republican Party.

    In 3 of those districts, the second-place candidate, who probably would have been eliminated under the old partisan primary system won. They did this by attracting the support of those who had supported other candidates, who had not voted, and perhaps some of those who changed their June vote after they more thoroughly examined the two finalists.

    In 3 other districts, the leader after the primary captured the overwhelming majority of the other votes. That is, the voters made a tentative choice in the primary, which they decisively confirmed in the general election.

    In all six cases, it is clear that Democrats and independents were decisive.

    Only in AD-23 were the results strikingly similar, and it is quite possible that Patterson’s service as the non-partisan mayor of Fresno was decisive.

  3. is the website of the Christian Conservatives of Alabama. You can do better than that can’t you?

    As a city councilman in Redding, Bosetti had clashed with labor unions, who probably retaliated by backing Dahle. If they were two peas in a pod, why did Dahle gain 31% to 6% in the general election? Why do you hate All the voters choosing who represents them?

    Look up Blaz Gutierrez and see what kinds of issues he ordinarily reports on. Try to figure out why he would be commenting on that race, and why we should you rely on his analysis? Patterson’s and Whalen’s campaign websites are still up, why not go to an original source?

    Whalen did not stress that he had been endorsed by labor unions. He stressed that he had been endorsed by the police and firefighters, whose organizations happen to be unions. He is an assistant DA in Fresno. In Texas at least it is quite ordinary for politicians to seek the endorsement of law enforcement organizations of all sorts.

    Patterson, even though he was the elected mayor of Fresno, emphasized his business background. Why do you consider that immoderate? Whalen had lots of name endorsements. He was also endorsed by the current Republican assemblywoman who decided not to seek re-election. AD-23 has exactly two cities. It has 3/5 of Fresno and Clovis. Fresno has 5 times the population of Clovis. Both have non-partisan elections. If you were a city councilman from Clovis, who had served as mayor under a charter where a member of the council is appointed mayor, it is natural to seek the endorsements of council members from the larger city. Whalen had a slicker website, and spent more money on his campaign. Does that make him more moderate?

    In AD-72 Travis Allen campaign message was
    “Californians are taxed enough – and our tax rate is one of the highest in the country.”

    Your source says:

    “He points to support from all of the other primary candidates – Joe Dovinh, a Democrat; Long Pham, Republican; and Albert Ayala, Democrat. The Huntington Beach political newcomer said he wants to improve the business climate in the state.”

    Clearly the more immoderate candidate.

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