Departed Californians Swing Election

NOV. 2, 2010


Given that a couple of million Californians have left the state in the past 20 years, most of them Republicans, it’s surprising that Democrats didn’t do better. Jerry Brown, as  I write, won by only 5 percentage points over Meg Whitman for governor; Gavin Newsom by 4 points over tax-increaser Abel Maldonado for lieutenant governor. Barbara Boxer appears to have won over Carly Fiorina.

If 2 million Republicans still were in the state, instead of elsewhere, the Republicans would be triumphing here much as they are throughout the country.

Brown’s victory will continue to drive mostly Republicans from the state. Perhaps Meg Whitman would have, too, if she had become governor. The state’s anti-business climate is just too severe for serious jobs creation — except in a few industries in the high-tech sector, such as Silicon Valley (although Apple just located its new server farm in North Carolina); or in the “clean” industries favored by AB32 and other environmental laws and regulations.

Another big problem was that Republicans just didn’t have good generalship, especially from Whitman and her team. “It was a lack of leadership,” Bob Pace told me; he’s a former Young Republican activist and in the 1990s was the associate representative of the Executive Committee of the California Republican Party. “They’re not growing the party at all here. In 1994, we won seven Assembly seats, threw out [longtime Democratic Assembly Speaker] Willie Brown, and took over the Assembly.”

With the Legislature gerrymandered beyond terrestrial reason, the Legislature will be the same in 2011: extreme, leftist, irrational, under the control — like Jerry Brown — of the state government workers’ unions. Moreover, the passage of Proposition 25 drops to a majority, from two-thirds, the requirement for passing a state budget. That makes the Republicans even more irrelevant than they already were.

After the Democrats running the Legislature pass even wilder spending programs with majority votes, and Gov. Brown signs them into law, the deficits will be higher, and there will be great pressure to increase taxes to pay for the spending. The state will be headed even more quickly down the High-Speed Railroad to bankruptcy (even though a state supposedly can’t declare bankruptcy).

Brown said that he wouldn’t raise taxes without a vote of the people. Another former governor, Gray Davis — also Brown’s chief of staff 30 years ago — said Brown would put taxes on the ballot for a special election he would call for next year. Voters generally have been against tax increases. But given the propaganda campaign waged against Prop. 23 by such mega-millionaires and billionaires as Bill Gates, James Cameron, Gov. Schwarzenegger and others, tax increases well could pass.

Also boding ill for the state are some of the results from the propositions. Prop. 19, which would have legalized marijuana, lost. Probably no surprise there. The hippie lettuce already is practically legal anyway. But throwing thousands of potheads in prison is good business for police and prison guards, two powerful union constituencies for both parties and all the major candidates.

Prop. 22 passed easily. It guarantees that redevelopment agencies will be funded in their quests to seize private property to give it to big-box stores and other powerful companies. It’s a twofer against jobs: It erodes the property rights that are essential to business and jobs creation. And it is “ballot-box budgeting,” meaning the Legislature will have less money it can tap before raising taxes.

Prop. 23, as mentioned, would have suspended the anti-jobs AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. It didn’t help that Meg Whitman, the putative pro-business candidate, also opposed Prop. 23. It’s fantastical that voters believed bureaucracies and state dictates could create jobs better than can entrepreneurs. Actually, the California entrepreneurs still will be creating jobs — in other states. Even if AB32 “worked,” California’s economy is but 2 percent of the global economy. So any reduction in greenhouse gases will have no effect on anything.

And as the national tide toward Republicans shows, the rest of the country hasn’t bought into the enviro-premises behind AB32. Indeed, as I reported here on, the Republicans who will be taking over the House plan on holding hearings questioning the very existence of man-caused global warming.

Dozens of other states not wedded to the global-warming paradigm will be wooing, and winning, California jobs.

Californians also should realize that, with Nancy Pelosi shoved out of the Speaker’s seat, the House isn’t going to approve any bailout for California. The rest of the country envies our weather, while laughing at our Moonbeam nuttiness.

Moreover, the federal government has its own massive problems, beginning with the $13 trillion debt run up under Republican President Bush and Democratic President Obama. There isn’t any money for bailing out California.

Another problem is that, as the nation as a whole continues to suffer, other states are going to begin offering more incentives for businesses to move there from California, especially the ultimate incentive of tax cuts.

Tonight, Republicans also gained at least nine governorships. That means that, as Gov. Brown attacks our businesses, pro-business Republicans will be beckoning from across the land.

The national political gridlock well could mean that nothing is done to resolve the national political and economic problems, leading them to get worse. That, again, would mean that states would be in a dog-eat-dog competition to attract businesses from each other. When the national economy is growing, there’s little reason for businesses to move. When the national economy is stagnant or declining, businesses look for better conditions to make profits and create jobs, in other states or other countries.

Starting tonight, the state’s focus now shifts from Gov. Schwarzenegger to Gov. Brown. He will be challenged early. “Start the recall,” Orange County resident Tim Braun told me when I asked what happens next. “Things aren’t going to get better. Within a year, people will be talking about a recall.”

It happened to Davis in 1993. I could happen to his former boss, the once and future Gov. Brown.

John Seiler is a reporter and analyst for His email: [email protected].

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