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Rick -> Rick's Election Analyses -> Jun. 7, 2016

Tuesday, 2016-06-07 presidential primary election

Notes by Rick Moen

Last updated 2016-12-18

This election rundown will cover offices and issues votable at our precinct 3402 in West Menlo Park, California. Unless you live close by, your ballot will differ to some degree.



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Three Semi-Closed Primaries & Three Closed Primaries

What you will be permitted to vote for (for a couple of this ballot's electoral issues) differs based on whether by Monday, May 23, 2016 you are registered with membership in one of the six qualified political parties — or in none of them: Voters can register without party affiliation (popularly called "voting independent", but officially "no party preference").

Two items on this ballot are political-party functions, what the State of California calls "party-nominated offices": the presidential primary (for which each of the six parties has a ballot) and selection of a party's county central committee officials (for which two of the six parties have ballots). Each party sets its own rules for party-nominated offices, and can notify the state before each primary election if it will permit no-party-preference voters to participate in its presidential candidate selection. By contrast, party central committee members may be voted only by that party's registered voters. (All the other votable issues in the June 2016 election are "voter-nominated offices" run by the state of California under its "top-two primary" scheme, plus two ballot propositions.)

For the June 2016 primary, three of the six qualified parties will permit no-party-preference voters (and voters registered with a non-qualified party, which amounts to the same thing) to vote in their primary elections for President:

So, for example, Democratic Party-registered voters and no-party-preference voters may participate in the Democratic Party primary races for President. No other voters may participate.

For the June 2016 primary, three of the six qualified parties forbid participation by no-party-preference voters. Only voters registered with them may participate in their primary elections for President:

So, for example, Republican Party-registered voters may participate in Republican Party primary races for President. No other voters (including no-party-preference voters) may participate.



How to Check Your Voter Registration

Registration deadline is 15 calendar days before each election; in this case, Monday, May 23, 2016. Some counties permit checking and correcting registration online, and California also has a statewide voter registration Web site. I would recommend checking your county information first. If you see signs of trouble or have doubts or find no information, contact your county registrar of voters immediately. Or, just visit that office in person, bringing state photo ID or passport.



Candidate Information

I've had a small epiphany: It's 2016, and our Official Voter Information Pamphlets suck.

As Senatorial candidate Jason Hanania pointed out, the state charges candidates $25 per word to include a Candidate Statement — thus over $6,000 for a full-paragraph statement, plus a $3,480 Filing Fee, thus difficulty staying under the Federal Elections Commission cap of $5,000 in campaign expenditures, exceeding which brings many expensive other requirements and a host of other ills.

All of that is unnecessary: It's 2016, we have the Web, and nobody need pay by the word. Therefore, for each candidate, I have hyperlinked the candidate Web site or best other Web resource. The Web can give you much deeper and better information than the Official Voter Information Pamphlet. Use it.



President of the USA

(party-nominated office)

As a reminder, each state's primary election is how each party in the state selects delegates to attend the party national convention, each pledged to vote on the first ballot for one specific named candidate. Some parties, notably the Democratic Party, also send unpledged delegates ("superdelegates"). The various delegates then select that party's presidential candidate (and running mate) during its national convention, who then, in the fall, run against other parties' presidential slates in the general election.


Democratic Party ballot (open to Democratic and no-party-preference voters):

(vote for one)

Certified write-in candidates:

California's Democratic Party awards 475 pledged delegates, 12% of the total pledged delegates available nationwide. They are divided into some awarded to each of the 53 Congressional districts (more-populous districts get allocated more delegates) and others awarded statewide, partitioned among all candidates who received at least 15% of the vote.

The district-level delegates are awarded proportional to vote in each district, and the others proportional to vote statewide. Breakdown: 53 "party leader or elected official" (PLEO) pledged delegates, one per Congressional district. Add 317 other pledged "district-level" delegates allocated to the Congressional districts proportional to their population (with 30 alternates). Add 105 statewide at-large pledged delegates (with 10 alternates). 53 + 317 + 105 = 475. In addition to the 475 pledged delegates, there are also 73 unpledged " superdelegates" (unpledged PLEOs), party leaders and elected officials, free to vote for anyone at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, July 25-28.

My household's Congressional district, District 18, is allocated 8 "district-level" pledged delegates plus 1 PLEO pledged delegate.

See Josh Putnam's comments (1, 2), for more.

As a Democratic-registered voter (or no-party-preference voter voting a Democratic ballot), your vote will help determine allocation of pledged delegates in your Congressional district, and allocation of pledged statewide delegates, among the seven qualified candidates. At the convention, the mix of pledged delegates will make some candidates' factions stronger than others, and influence the party platform, even if your preferred candidate doesn't win outright. The strength of delegate balances would also matter in the event of a contested convention.

Statewide, polls prior to the election show Democratic voter support of about 53% for Clinton, 42% Sanders, 5% other.

Outcome: As of 2016-08-11, politico.com stated the outcome as:

The state's official popular vote totals a/o 2016-06-09 were:

It should be noted that politico.com's total number of 3,475,720 votes is about 33% lower than the actual official figure of 5,173,338 Democratic primary votes cast, showing how bad is even the leading coverage.

Remarkably, the Secretary of State's information doesn't estimate the delegate-count outcomes that actually matter. Nor, as of 2016-06-09, did the party Web site. Some delegates were seated a fortnight after the primary, and the official delegate list was released on July 14th.

Democratic's Party's nominating convention was July 25-28 in Philadelphia, PA.


Republican Party ballot (open to Republican voters only):

(vote for one)

Certified write-in candidates:

Technically, of the non-write-in candidates, only Kasich, Trump, and Cruz considered themselves (going into the California primary election) still in the race, but a Republican voter could validly vote for any of the above.

California's Republican Party awards all the state's 172 delegates (7% of those available nationwide) as pledged delegates bound to vote (on the first ballot at the Republican convention in Cleveland, July 18-21) for whichever candidate has a plurality of votes. Based on recent polls, Donald Trump is expected to take all 172. 13 delegates are awarded based on the plurality of the statewide vote, and three delegates are awarded for each of the 53 Congressional districts based on the plurality vote in that district. Breakdown: 53 * 3 = 159 district level delegates. 159 district-level delegates + 13 at-large delegates = 172 total.

See Josh Putnam's comments (1, 2), for more.

As a Republican-registered voter, your vote isn't likely to tip the plurality vote balance either statewide or in your Congressional district (most Congressional districts), but who knows? Odd things happen. At the convention, the mix of pledged delegates will make some candidates' factions stronger than others, and influence the party platform, even if your preferred candidate doesn't win outright. The strength of delegate balances would also matter in the event of a contested convention.

Statewide, polls prior to the election show Republican voter support of about 51% for Trump, 21% for Cruz, and 18% for Kasich.

Outcome: As of 2016-08-11, politico.com stated the outcome as:

The state's official po pular vote totals a/o 2016-06-09 were:

It should be noted that politico.com's total number of 1,560,820 votes is about 30% lower than the actual official figure of 2,227,306 Republican primary votes cast, showing how bad is even the leading coverage.

Remarkably, the Secretary of State's information doesn't even estimate the delegate-count outcomes that actually matter. Nor, as of 2016-06-09, did the party Web site. However, there is at least a list of names of delegates available to serve pledged for Trump and for Cruz, listed by district.

Republican's Party's nominating convention was July 18-21 in Cleveland, OH.


American Independent Party ballot (open to American Independent and no-party-preference voters):

(vote for one)

There were no qualified write-in candidates for the AIP presidential primary.

Outcome (unofficial a/o 2015-06-09): Statewide results: omitted here because only 30,502 AIP votes were cast statewide, out of 8.5 million estimated total votes cast.

AIP of California's nominating convention plans for 2016, if any, are obscure. The Party Web site also leaves unclear whether the state party is now a brand of American Party of the United States or of America's Party or some other ultra-paleo-right-wing national group, of which there are many. In 2008, there was a factional dispute and AIP of California disaffiliated with Constitution Party of Colorado (of which California AIP was then a brand), but who's in charge other than (locally) Mark Seidenberg and Markham Robinson of Vacaville, Solano County, is unclear.


Green Party ballot (open to Green voters only):

(vote for one)

There were no qualified write-in candidates for the Green Party presidential primary.

Outcome (unofficial a/o 2015-06-09): Statewide results: omitted here because only 10,123 Green Party votes were cast statewide, out of 8.5 million estimated total votes cast.

Green Party of the United States's nominating convention was held Aug. 4-7 in Houston, TX, picking physician Jill Stein as nominee for President and Ajamu Baraka for VP.


Libertarian Party ballot (open to Libertarian and no-party-preference voters):

(vote for one)

There were no qualified write-in candidates for the Libertarian Party presidential primary.

Outcome (unofficial a/o 2015-06-09): Statewide results: omitted here because only 21,495 Libertarian Party votes were cast statewide, out of 8.5 million estimated total votes cast.

Libertarian Party's nominating convention was May 27-30, oddly before the California and some other primaries, picking Gary Johnson as nominee for President and William Weld for VP.


Peace & Freedom Party ballot (open to Peace & Freedom voters only):

(vote for one)

There were no qualified write-in candidates for the Peace & Freedom Party presidential primary.

Statewide results: omitted here because only 3,644 Peace & Freedom Party votes were cast statewide, out of 8.5 million estimated total votes cast.

Peace & Freedom Party's nominating convention will be Aug. 13-14 in Sacramento.

RM partisan analysis: Omitted. You'll already have decided. I'm voting Sanders, in case you care.

A more interesting question is whether tactical voting makes sense, i.e., changing to a party you would not not normally vote in, to help a candidate win whom you consider easier for your party to beat in the fall. Or, let's say you think your party's presidential choice is so predetermined (or uninteresting) that you'd rather encourage one of the minor parties by temporarily re-registering with that party. Either way, you will need to judge suitability, based on your assessment of your local Congressional district and the statewide vote. Remember: You may register or change your party affiliation for the June primary only through Monday, May 23rd.



Vice-President of the USA

(party-nominated office)

In case you're wondering how you vote in the primary election for Vice-President: You don't.

Underlining the basic fact that primary elections are functions of the self-governing private political associations called "political parties", you as voter have not even an indirect say in "your" party's VP pick, even less than you have for its Presidential candidate. The VP candidate gets selected at the party's nominating convention by the selected Presidential nominee and (in theory) the attending delegates.



Members of the Party's County Central Committee, San Mateo County's 3rd District - coastside, Redwood Shores, San Carlos, West Menlo)

(party-nominated office)


Democratic Party ballot (open to Democratic voters only):

(vote for no more than six)

Outcome (official): county-reported: Harris 13.7%, O'Farrell 13.6%, Levinson 13.3%, Brennan 12.9%, Dorshkind 12.8%, Loew 12.3%, Salvatierra 12.0%, Slater-Carter 9.4%.


Republican Party ballot (open to Republican voters only):

(vote for no more than eight)

RM partisan analysis: I won't even try. If you care about the strength of your local party organisation, get to know who's done useful work and support such people for its County Central Committee.

Outcome (official): county-reported: Boyle 10.3%, Lawrence 10.1%, di Santo 9.5%, Scherf 9.1%, Foster 9.0%, Preston 8.1%, McDonnell 8.0%, Grocott 7.7%, Royse 6.8%, Tzifas 5.4%, Gelineau 4.7%, Oberhelman 4.4%, Oehlert 4.1%, Stone 2.7%.


Three of the other qualified parties (AIP, Libertarian, Peace & Freedom) do not have County Central Committees in California. The fourth, Green Party, is omitted from local ballots because an insufficient number of candidates applied.



USA Senator

(voter-nominated office - top two vote-winners will advance to 2016-11-08 general election)

(vote for one)

Certified write-in candidates:

Senator Barbara Boxer is retiring, thus not running again, thus this incredible resulting chaos — this state's first Senatorial contest in 24 years.

Santa Rosa Press-Democrat article
Mother Jones article
Riverside Press-Enterprise article
Ballotpedia rates the seat safely Democratic.

RM partisan analysis: Kamala Harris is an odds-on favourite for advancing to the general election, but the second slot (courtesy of California's "top two" primary) is somewhat in play, mostly between Democrat Sanchez and Republican rivals Del Beccaro, Sundheim, and Unz — as the rest are obscure, and in some cases of doubtful sanity.

My prediction: Harris and Sanchez. I'm voting tactically for Loretta Sanchez, to help give her the necessary edge over those GOP rivals (and because I judge that Harris doesn't need my help): In an extremely fragmented race with 34 qualified candidates, small numbers of votes may count to make one candidate's small pile higher than another's small pile.

Irrespective of your political views, if you even mildly favour any of this zoo of candidates, he/she really needs your vote, to have a chance at that vital second slot.

Outcome (official a/o 2016-06-09): statewide result: Harris 39.9%, Sanchez 18.9%, Sundheim 7.8%, Wyman 4.7%, Beccaro 4.3%, Conlon 3.1%, everyone else below 3%.



18th Congressional District - southwest San Mateo County

(voter-nominated office - top two vote-winners will advance to 2016-11-08 general election)

(vote for one)

There were no qualified write-in candidates for the 18th Congressional District.

Santa Cruz Sentinel coverage
Daily Journal coverage
Stanford Daily interviews Bob Harlow
Ballotpedia rates this seat as safely Democratic.

RM partisan analysis: This is Dr. Fox's second round against Rep. Eshoo: In 2014, he got 32% of votes cast to Eshoo's 68%. I'm voting tactically for Bob Harlow in faint hopes of getting him into the second slot instead of Fox, and to encourage Harlow to continue attempting public office. Despite many likeable things about Dr. Fox, I dislike his positions on women's reproductive freedom (he's for further restrictions), his desire to privatise the VA, his support for school vouchers (which he calls "school choice") to further attack the public school system, and his liking for Austrian School austerity economic planning. So, I prefer him as a kindly doctor, and not a Congressman.

Outcome (official a/o 2016-06-09): districtwide result: Eshoo 68.2%, Fox 24.4%, Harlow 7.4%.



State Senator, 13th District - San Mateo County south of San Bruno Mountain

(voter-nominated office - top two vote-winners will advance to 2016-11-08 general election)

(vote for one)

There were no qualified write-in candidates for the 13th State Senate District.

Daily Journal analysis (1, 2).

If, as expected, Hill prevails in the June and November elections, he will be in his second of three permitted four-year terms.

RM partisan analysis: Jerry Hill is in my opinion a competent realist, and literate about state economics, and simply a better potential public servant than the other two. So, Jerry Hill gets my vote again.

Outcome (official a/o 2016-06-09): districtwide result: Jerry Hill 75.8%, Ciardella 18.6%, Webster 5.7%.



State Assembly Member, 24th District - Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Portola Valley, Woodside, and most of coastside San Mateo County

(voter-nominated office - top two vote-winners will advance to 2016-11-08 general election)

(vote for one)

There were no qualified write-in candidates for the 24th State Assembly District.

Incumbent Richard S. Gordon is termed out, thus not running.

San Jose Mercury News analysis and endorsement
Candidates' debate
Video interviews
Daily Journal coverage

RM partisan analysis: As usual, I agree with the San Jose Mercury News, including its point that the 24th State Assembly District is so overwhelmingly Democratic that even a highly meritorious Republican like Councilman Ohtaki has no chance in the fall general election. The district in this case is blessed in having four standout choices among the eight qualified candidates: Berman, Veenker, Ohtaki, and Kasperzak. Any of them would be a fine choice, in my opinion. I'm voting for Berman.

Outcome (official a/o 2016-06-09): districtwide result: Berman 28.2%, Veenker 22.2%, Ohtaki 19.8%, Kasperzak 10.4%, Chang 10.9%, Inks 4.2%, Cabrera 2.4%, Reddy 1.9%.



San Mateo County Board of Supervisors

(voter-nominated offices - top two vote-winners will advance to 2016-11-08 general election)

(vote for one)

1st District (west SM, Hillsborough, Burlingame to east SSF)

4th District (RC, Menlo Park, EPA)

5th District (DC, Brisbane, west SSF, Colma)

Outcome (official a/o 2016-06-09) county-reported: Pine (100%) and Slocom (100%) won (unopposed). In the 5th District, Canepa 46.5%, Guingona 22.24%, Lentz 17.30%, Fisicaro 14.00%.



Statewide Measures

Proposition 50: Suspension of Legislators. Legislative Constitutional Amendment.

(requires majority voter approval statewide)

Authorizes the Legislature to suspend members, including without salary and benefits. Prohibits suspended members from using powers of office or legislative resources. Provides suspension may end on specified date or by vote of member's house. Fiscal impact: No effect on state spending in most years. Minor state savings in some years.

Los Angeles Times editorial
San Francisco Chronicle article
League of Women Voters analysis
CA Fwd editorial
CALmatters editorial

RM partisan analysis: I am conflicted about this Legislature-initiated state constitutional amendment — but I think I'm slightly in favour. It is an almost visceral reaction to three separate, and now resolved, criminal cases against three state Senators, Leland Yee, Ron Calderon, and Rod Wright, who have all left office.

The three Senators were suspended from office (in effect, reversibly ejected), the first California Senators ever to be so treated, but kept their full pay and benefits while their criminal cases were underway. Most in the Senate felt they were clearly wrong-doers who should not be (in effect) getting paid vacations while suspended, but couldn't justify voting to expel them, because suppose their trial judges found them innocent? So, proponents say this is a technical fix to permit better implementing the intent of a suspension from office, adding the ability to suspend salary and benefits in addition to the lawmaker's powers of office.

Opponents cite as problematic the lack of requirement for any specific grounds before suspension, and say any lawmaker whose maverick stances offends 2/3 of his/her legislative house (the initiative's required voting margin for any suspension vote) can be punished financially for merely political sins.

On balance, I think proponents have the better case. Any abuse of this power, worst case, can be corrected as a political matter by voters though means up to and including their power to recall elected officers.

Outcome (official a/o 2016-06-09): statewide result: Yes 75.6%, no 24.4%.



Measures in Bay Area Counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, and San Francisco counties):

Measure AA: San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority

(requires 2/3 approval across the sum of the nine counties, to pass)

To protect San Francisco Bay for future generations by reducing trash, pollution, and harmful toxins, improving water quality, protecting communities from floods, and increasing shoreline public access, shall the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority authorize a parcel tax of $12 per year, raising approximately $25 million annually for twenty years with independent citizen oversight, audits, and all funds staying local?

Santa Rosa Press-Democrat editorial
San Francisco Bay Guardian editorial (scroll down to "regional wetlands")
The Almanac article
San Francisco Chronicle article
San Mateo Daily Journal editorial
Jeffrey D. Rhoads / Resilient Shore editorial
Half Moon Bay Review article
Sonoma West Times and News article
Bay Area News Group (SJ Mercury News / Contra Costa Times) editorial
Petaluma Argus Courier article
San Francisco Chronicle editorial and endorsement (1, 2)
Sonoma Index-Tribune article
Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo editorial and endorsement
Marina Times article
San Jose Mercury News article
San Jose Mercury News editorial and endorsement
Bay Area Reporter editorial and endorsement
Daily Journal editorial and endorsement
Petaluma Argus Courier editorial and endorsement
Senator Feinstein as proponents' honourary campaign co-chair (announcement)
Intent of Measure AA is to protect moneyed interests' shoreline properties at others' expense (reader letter)
Portrero View editorial and endorsement
ThinkProgress article
NPR Morning Edition article
Richmond Standard article
Opponent groups' arguments (1, 2)
KQED-FM Science article
Fairfield-Suisun Daily Republic editorial and opposition

RM partisan analysis: This is a flat, $12/year per-parcel tax mandate for the next 20 years that has been proposed by San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, a subcommittee of ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments, an advisory-only, appointive regional planning agency to coordinate land use, housing, environmental quality, and economic development for the nine Bay Area counties and 101 Bay Area cities, which along with interested non-profit organisations, are voluntary members). It would generate $25 million a year to "reduce trash, pollution and harmful toxins, improving water quality, restoring habitat for fish, birds and wildlife, protecting communities from floods and increasing shoreline access".

I see a minor thing wrong with this, and three major ones.

The minor problem is that it's not obvious why real estate owners in Healdsburg, Gilroy, Tracy, and Bodega Bay, each 50+ miles and many hills away, should be paying for S.F. Bay wetlands restoration. (And three of the nine counties, Marin, Solano, and Sonoma, don't even have appointive representation on the Authority's Board of Directors.)

One major problem is that this tax is structured to be outrageously regressive: A property owner with a huge estate in Belvedere pays $12, and so does a poor wage-earner owning a small bungalow in East Palo Alto. Yikes. Surely this should be an ad-valorum tax, not a fixed-per-parcel one, if it must be administered as a tax on real estate.

[2016-06-10 note: Measure AA was required to have a 2/3 voting majority across the affected 9 counties because 1996's Proposition 218 ("Right to Vote on Taxes Act"), an initiative constitutional amendment imposed that 2/3 voting requirement: Every parcel tax be levied as a special tax (a tax legally dedicated for specific purposes) is required to be subject to two-thirds voter approval. Parcel taxes are a workaround to 1978's Proposition 13, which applied only to ad-valorum taxes on real property, limiting such taxes to 1% of assessed value per year and severely limited increases and reassessments. As parcel taxes are not ad-valorum, they are outside Prop. 13's remit. And they are of course highly regressive.]

And also, where does this stop, and how does the voter hold such a special agency with a guaranteed money pipeline accountable? Next time any special agency wants a bankable revenue stream, are we going to slap on another parcel tax? How does this particular unelected subcommittee of ABAG get reined in and controlled by the voters? By whom? How, when the purse strings cannot be closed?

Last, as the Bay Guardian and Santa Rosa Press-Democrat articles (above) point out, the funds would be earmarked in part to enrich private business interests. Not OK at all. Arguably the Bay Area does need proper regional government, but it should not be outsourced to moneyed private interests through inattention.

So, I really don't think so. $25M/year isn't much in the Bay Area, and the proposal's laudable goals should be funded, but practically any other way of doing so seems wiser. I'm voting hell no.

Outcome (unofficial a/o 2016-06-08): nine-county-wide result: Passed with "yes" 69.3%, "no" 30.7%. Counties approving were Alameda (74.6%), Marin (72.4%), San Mateo (71.4%), and Santa Clara (69.4%). Counties rejecting were Contra Costa (64.7%), Sonoma (63.2%), Napa (57.1%), and Solano (53.3%).