This just in: we’re not the Wisconsin of the West. There were some big winners and losers in last week’s election and the principal players themselves have gotten the bulk of the attention. Here are a few of the most noteworthy victors and flops besides the candidates themselves. Let’s start with the triumphs:
1) Labor-Community Alliances: San Diego elected the first genuinely progressive mayor in its history even though the Filner forces were outspent. While labor money clearly was central to keeping Filner in the hunt, it is the ground game that wins close elections. On that note, the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council teamed with Alliance San Diego, the Center on Policy Initiatives, ACCE, the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, Planned Parenthood, the Environmental Health Coalition, students, education advocates, civil rights groups, and many others to knock on doors, work long hours on phone banks, and organize a historic local Get Out the Vote operation for Filner, against Prop 32, and for Prop 30.
Most of the media attention has focused on labor money but this labor-community alliance is what changed the game. It brought out younger voters and historically underrepresented communities, transformed the landscape of San Diego politics, and tossed the old guard out of power for the first time. If the coalition that elected Filner holds together and keeps working, it will reshape the future of the city.
2) Students: Student power showed up big, and young people helped shape their own destinies by voting and working for Obama’s reelection, education funding in California, and Filner for mayor in San Diego. By ignoring the cynics and passing Proposition Z along with Proposition 30 at the statewide level, students from K-12 to the community colleges, CSUs, and UCs will not just avoid $6 billion dollars of cuts, but will also see new resources come into their schools.
With the Republicans potentially irrelevant at the statewide level because of the likely Democratic supermajority in the legislature, the Grover Norquist crowd will not be able to block revenue increases or fees, and budgets can’t be held up by recalcitrant ideologues. Thus, if the Democrats can effectively govern and school funding advocates keep the pressure on them, the era of education austerity might be on its way out.
3) Democracy: At the national, statewide, and local level big money lost and people power won. If the Lincoln Club, Charles and Molly Munger, and the Koch brothers et al had succeeded in buying the election, it would have shown that the plutocrats were indeed in the driver’s seat. Instead, they got spanked.
It would be a mistake to think that the millionaires club has been vanquished, but it is good to see their naked power grab fail on multiple fronts this time around. They went for the jugular and ended up with a likely Democratic supermajority and a victory for progressive taxes in California by inspiring a historic backlash. This struggle, however, is far from over.
1) The San Diego Union-Tribune: After turning our city’s only newspaper into a pathetic joke in the service of Carl DeMaio and opposing every candidate endorsed by labor or progressive groups, the house of Manchester LOST on every front. Editorials on the front page, bogus polling, blurring the line between the news and opinion, the SDUT pulled out all the stops in their single-minded effort to kill the myth of objectivity once and for all. They are losing readers in droves and eating a steady diet of crow, but don’t hope for anything but more of the same. As their post-election missives indicate, they are trapped in their ideological bubble and can’t get out.
2) San Diego’s Corporate Education Reform Crew: Despite having the SDUT, the Voice of San Diego, Jerry Sanders, Tony Young, San Diegans for Greater Schools and Up for Ed on their side, Bill Ponder and Mark Powell got smoked. Marne Foster literally wiped the floor with Ponder and Powell went down hard to the union-backed incumbent John Lee Evans. So much for the idea that San Diegans are clamoring for the snake oil that they are selling. On the Prop Z front, the corporate education reformers behind the VOSD were defeated on a tax measure in San Diego of all places. All the union bashing and anti-tax demagoguery at their disposal didn’t do squat. Maybe, horror of horrors, San Diegans actually see that their schools, while not perfect, have been doing a pretty good job under impossible circumstances.
3) Stop them Before they Campaign Again!: Jerry Sanders, Bonnie Dumanis, Richard Rider, and the local anti-tax wingnuts also got vanquished on all fronts.
Sanders was a big fat zero in terms of moving votes both in the primary and in the general elections. His school board robo calls left our fine city unmoved as well. Good thing he got the Chamber gig. He’s really been working for them all along anyway and it’s clear he doesn’t have a promising career in sales.
Note to Richard Rider and company: Prop 30 and Prop Z won because everyone knows you are full of poop. The day after the election, the newspapers across the state were chock full of stories about cuts being averted at all levels, school years extended, etc. You knew you were lying and so did we.
A special lemon award goes to Dumanis for her übersleazy robocall against Filner in the last days before the election. She sounded like she was gurgling vicious ad hominems underwater on my answering machine. District Attorney Dumanis, are you supposed to be a fair watchdog now? Give us a break. You have gone from being the favorite of the old guard in the mayor’s race to the biggest loser in San Diego in less than a year. Heck of a job, Bonnie!