Before we close the book: Some election reflections

letters@thetribunenews.comNovember 7, 2012 

Cuesta College student Paul Boes votes Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Luis Obispo.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

Congratulations, voters. You survived another brutal campaign cycle, and you deserve a long, long break from all things electoral. Before we close the book on Election 2012, though, here’s our take on some of the results:

Biggest relief: Passage of Proposition 30, which seemed headed for defeat in early returns in spite of Gov. Brown’s optimism. It wound up winning handily — a big relief for local school districts — and for that, we congratulate California voters for letting enlightened self-interest carry the day.

Now, Sacramento politicians had better not blow it by siphoning Prop. 30 tax revenue away from education or they will never, ever get a nickel of additional tax money as long as we all shall live.

Biggest anticlimax: The Capps/Maldo race. After subjecting us to 42 TV ads every hour (OK, we exaggerate, but only slightly) we thought we’d at least be treated to a fight to the finish — maybe even a demand for a recount. But in the end, it wasn’t even close. Lois Capps won by almost 10 percentage points. She also led in every county in her congressional district, including right here in SLO.

Nastiest local campaign: Again, Capps/Maldo. Between the accusations and counter-accusations of cheating on taxes and failing to report income, it was a sleazy race from start to finish. We hope to never see its like again.

They must be doing something right award: To local governments, which saw every one of their ballot measures approved, including a half-cent sales tax increase in Paso Robles and a $35 million bond to upgrade Templeton school facilities.

Classiest candidate in a local race: SLO City Council candidate Jeff Aranguena. He was articulate, knowledgeable and personable during the campaign. Also, he had the good sense to stay out of the squabble initiated by candidate Kevin Rice, who accused John Ashbaugh of a slew of minor campaign violations that included filing a form three days late. Jeff, we hope we haven’t seen the last of you.

Unclassiest candidate in a local race: Kevin Rice (see above)

Wake us up when it’s over: In the Paso Robles mayor’s race, write-in candidates outnumbered the lone candidate on the ballot (incumbent Duane Picanco). Picanco was way out in front — write-ins totaled just 14.3 percent of votes cast — but it still could be days before the final tally is known, since the elections staff will have to hand tally the write-in ballots. On second thought, let us sleep.

Reminder that every vote counts: Again we turn to Paso Robles, where 44 votes separated winning, second-place City Council candidate Fred Strong from Jim Reed, who finished third. Grover Beach’s results were even closer; a charter city measure passed by just 11 votes. And in the California Valley Community Services District, where three seats were decided, only two votes separated the third- and fourth-place candidates.

Evidence that money talks … but it doesn’t necessarily buy elections: Molly Munger’s Prop. 38 — a measure that competed with Gov. Brown’s Prop. 30 — was supported by only 27 percent of California voters, even though Munger poured more than $44 million into the campaign.

Losing candidates we hope we never hear from again: Todd “legitimate rape” Akin. Second place: Joe the Plumber.

Denier of the night award: Karl Rove, for doubting the veracity of his own employer, Fox News, when it declared Obama the winner.

Classiest concession speech: Mitt Romney was gracious, personable and, unlike Karl Rove, he knew when it was over, saving the nation a whole lot of grief.

The unvarnished truth award: Goes to the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, who observed that Democrats still control the White House and the Senate, while Republicans retain the majority in the House. "Two years, $3 billion dollars, and we are clearly in the same place as where we started.”


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