CJAC: Civil Justice Association of California

Election Wrap-Up

Posted on 11/09/2012 @ 12:00 PM

Tags: Legislature, Legal Climate, Legal Reform

With election day behind us, here is an update on where we stand with ballot measures and state legislative races. While it is important to note that over three million ballots statewide have not yet been processed, many important contests have been decided.

Ballot Measures

Proposition 37 has thankfully been defeated, earning only 47% of the vote. This initiative would have made California the only state in the nation to require labeling of genetically modified food and would have been enforced through private litigation. The "No" side made the threat of lawsuits a key piece of the campaign in the final weeks, and the "Yes" campaign was overwhelmed financially. The defeat of Prop 37 is a huge win for California business, particularly the food industry. Thanks to all who helped!

As far as other high profile initiatives, Governor Brown's tax measure - Proposition 30 - passed with 53.9% of the vote, preventing trigger cuts to the state budget that would have happened if the initiative failed.

Additionally, Proposition 32 failed, earning only 43.9% of the vote. This controversial measure would have prevented payroll deductions for political dues without an employee's written consent, in addition to banning direct contributions from corporations and unions to candidates. Unions made defeating Prop 32 their top priority and spent over $60 million to ensure that happened.

State Legislature

The Democrats appear to have reached a 2/3 super majority in both the State Senate and State Assembly (a 2/3 vote of the Legislature is required to raise taxes, override gubernatorial vetoes, along with some other actions).

In the Senate, the Democrats needed to win one of three competitive seats to reach 2/3, and they won two. In SD 27, current Senator Fran Pavley defeated Republican Todd Zink by five points, and in SD 31 retired Air Force Colonel Richard Roth defeated Republican Assemblymember Jeff Miller by seven points.

At this point the Republicans are winning in SD 5, where Assemblymember Bill Berryhill is beating Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani by two points.

Assuming Berryhill holds on to his lead, going into 2013 the Democrats will have 28 seats in the Senate and Republicans would have 12.

On the Assembly side, it looks as though the Democrats have pulled off quite a surprise by winning six competitive seats, which would get them to the 54 votes they need to reach a 2/3 majority.

Many expected the Democrats could get within one or two seats of 2/3 this year, but they were not expected to win 54 seats. The surprise came in AD 65 in Orange County, where Fullerton Mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva is leading Republican Assemblymember Chris Norby by just over 1,200 votes.

Another Assembly race that is still very close is AD 32, where Bakersfield City Councilmember Rudy Salas on the Democratic side is clinging to a 268 vote lead over Republican Pedro Rios.

If the Democrats hold on to their leads in these two districts, they would have 54 seats in the Assembly and the Republicans would have 26.

Top Two Primary / Redistricting

On another note, we are excited about what will hopefully remain positive results from the new top two primary and independent redistricting process, both of which went into effect this election cycle.

Two incumbents that have been strong allies of the plaintiffs' bar, Assemblymembers Betsy Butler and Michael Allen, were forced to move into new districts to run for re-election in 2012, and they ended up facing viable challengers in those districts who were also Democrats.

At the moment, Betsy Butler is trailing Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom by 218 votes in AD 50, and Michael Allen is trailing San Rafael City Councilmember Marc Levine by 1,663 votes in AD 10. If Bloom and Levine are able to hold on, the plaintiffs' bar will have lost two of their strongest allies in the Legislature, and it would not have been possible without the top two primary and independent redistricting.

In other key Democrat v. Democrat races, there were big wins for Assemblymember Jerry Hill in SD 13, who defeated former Assemblymember Sally Lieber by over 30 points, and Raul Bocanegra in AD 39, who beat Los Angeles City Councilmember Richard Alarcon by 17 points. CJAC strongly supported both Hill and Bocanegra.

Altogether, CJAC supported 20 winning candidates in open seats this year. We offer a sincere congratulations to each of them!

California continues to become more and more Democratic, and it appears this has resulted in a Legislature that is now under complete control by Democrats. This means we must make more Democrats understand the need for legal reform in California. Fortunately, the top two primary provides an avenue to elect more Democrats who appreciate the impact of lawsuit abuse, and we are seeing some success with this already.

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