For the first time in roughly 45 years, Democrats hold a slim majority in San Luis Obispo County.
It’s symbolic, but not that big of a deal — among coastal counties, SLO is still much redder than most.
Yet judging by the way some local conservatives are carrying on, you’d think Proposition 13 had been overturned ... or AOC had announced plans to move to Paso ... or President Trump had decided not to seek re-election.
Check out these Tribune Facebook rants in response to the news:
- “Just a couple of clicks away from a sanctuary county.”
- “I was so sorry that I left SLO, now maybe it was a good thing.”
- “So sad. They’ve come to ruin neighborhoods everywhere.”
- “How stupid. Thought people of SLO were smarter and more informed.”
- “It means that it won’t be long before this once incredibly awesome, diverse, and welcoming place will become just a miniature version of those wonderful places LA and SF.”
- “Democrats are destroying California.”
Please. Dems had a lead of 714 registered voters as of Aug. 23, out of a total of 172,468 voters.
And this isn’t exactly a surprise. The county has been purple — not true blue or red — for some years now, and by the time the 2020 elections roll around, the majority may have flipped back and forth a few times.
Besides, in a purple county like ours, the total number of red vs. blue voters doesn’t matter as much as how those voters are distributed, and on that count, Republicans still have an edge.
Three of the five county supervisory districts — 1, 4 and 5 — are majority Republican.
District 1 is so solidly red that, barring an unforeseen circumstance, John Peschong might as well be appointed county supervisor for life.
Republicans also are in the majority in four of the seven cities — Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Paso Robles and Pismo Beach, though margins are small in AG and Pismo.
The city of San Luis Obispo is the one big Democratic stronghold; Democrats have more than twice as many registered voters as Republicans.
While Democrats — and Democratic ideals — hold sway within the SLO city limits and on the North Coast, there’s no guarantee that Dems will make inroads in the more conservative North and South County areas.
That’s especially true given the large contingent of No Party Preference (NPP) voters — 41,684 — spread throughout the county.
According to the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, surveys from past years have shown that 43% of NPP voters lean Democratic; 31% Republican; and 26% are neutral.
While local elections are theoretically nonpartisan, that’s becoming less and less the case, especially with the Board of Supervisors, which has been sharply divided between a 3-member Republican majority and two Democrats.
Only one challenger has announced so far: Ellen Beraud, a former Atascadero council member, who will take on Republican Debbie Arnold in District 5.
The other two incumbents up for re-election — Peschong and Democrat Adam Hill — could get free rides.
If that’s the case, all eyes will be on District 5, and it could get brutal.
In the meantime, Republicans really should chill out.
They retain control of the county Board of Supervisors (not to mention the presidency, the Senate and U.S. Supreme Court); Donald Trump is running for re-election; AOC lives on the other side of the country; and Proposition 13 is alive and well — for now.