A year after his crushing defeat in the special election, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger won a second term Tuesday by a landslide over Democrat Phil Angelides, and voters passed a vast bond package that launches California’s biggest public construction boom in decades.
In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Dianne Feinstein won reelection in a romp over Republican challenger Richard Mountjoy. Another Democrat, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, won the race for attorney general, a new milestone in the former governor’s zigzag career path.
Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the Democrat who lost his bid for governor in the 2003 recall, suffered another defeat in his campaign for state insurance commissioner. The Republican winner was Silicon Valley businessman Steve Poizner. I
In the contest for state treasurer, Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer, a Democrat, trounced Republican rival Claude Parrish. The Democrat running for state controller, John Chiang, widened his narrow lead early this morning over Republican Tony Strickland.
Two other races were neck-and-neck: the battle for lieutenant governor between Republican Tom McClintock and Democrat John Garamendi, and the contest for secretary of state between Republican incumbent Bruce McPherson and Democratic challenger Debra Bowen. Democrats in both of those contests gained a slight edge as the vote count proceeded beyond midnight.
For Schwarzenegger, the huge victory over Democratic challenger Angelides ran against a political tide that swamped other Republicans across the nation, costing the GOP control of the U.S. House of Representatives and threatening its hold on the Senate.
At his Beverly Hilton victory party in Beverly Hills, Schwarzenegger’s wife, Maria Shriver, introduced him to hundreds of cheering supporters as a man “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
With that, jets of air sprayed the ballroom with green, orange and white confetti, and Schwarzenegger ascended the stage.
Just after 10 p.m., he told the crowd that Angelides had conceded in a “very gracious and very kind phone call.” Over the next four years, he vowed: “I will protect your values and I will protect your dreams.
“What a fantastic evening,” he said. “You know I love doing sequels.”
Earlier, in a private VIP room, Schwarzenegger greeted well-wishers, including such celebrities as actors Rob Lowe and Sylvester Stallone.
In Sacramento, several hundred Angelides supporters applauded Democratic congressional victories displayed on giant television screens as they awaited his concession speech. Angelides addressed them shortly after Schwarzenegger left the stage in Beverly Hills.
“I wish Gov. Schwarzenegger and his family all the best,” Angelides said.
Of the 13 statewide ballot measures, Proposition 83, a measure to toughen penalties on sex offenders, passed by a landslide, as did Proposition 1A, a proposal to stop lawmakers from raiding a transportation fund.
Running well behind this morning was Proposition 85, a measure to require parental notification for minors seeking an abortion. Also lagging wasProposition 90, a plan to curb eminent domain.
Overall, returns late Tuesday night suggested California voters were rejecting tax hikes, but approving bond plans. Combined, the bonds call for the state to borrow nearly $43 billion. With interest, it would cost nearly $84 billion to repay over three decades.
Among the two most high-profile tax measures, voters turned down Proposition 87, a plan to impose an oil tax to raise money for alternative fuel, and also appeared to reject Proposition 86, a tobacco tax to raise money for healthcare.
Voters roundly defeated Proposition 88, a plan to increase property taxes for schools, and Proposition 89, a nurses’ union measure to increase corporate taxes to finance political campaigns.
Holding a comfortable lead this morning was Proposition 84, a $5.4-billion parks and water bond.
All four of the bond measures in the package pushed by Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers were heading toward approval: .Propositions 1B, a $19.9-billion highway and mass transit plan; 1C, a $2.8-billion housing bond; 1D, a $10.4-billion plan to build and repair schools; and 1E, a $4.1-billion levee upgrade.
State Senate President pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland), who spearheaded the bond campaign, said the construction program would “make a real difference to the lives of millions of Californians, who will find it easier to get to work, will send their children to better schools, will live in safer, more affordable housing and will live with less fear of catastrophic floods.”
The state expected 4.9 million Californians to vote at polling stations Tuesday, and another 3.8 million to cast absentee ballots, but the final turnout number -- likely to be just over half of registered voters -- is weeks away.
Overall, minimal disruptions occurred, most of them snafus such as paper jams and polling places that opened late, said Ashley Snee Giovannettone, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office.
For many Californians, the election’s main draw was the national midterm vote, even if the state’s political map offered few opportunities to influence which party controls Congress.
“I’m anti-Bush and wanted to stick it to him,” said Santa Monica resident Sandy Jones, a woman in her 30s who voted a straight Democratic ticket.
In San Francisco, Feinstein echoed those remarks, albeit with more restraint, when she took to the stage at a Democratic celebration and told about 200 cheering supporters that the party had apparently taken control of the House.
“This looks like it’s going to be a very good night for people who want a new direction,” Feinstein said, beaming beneath a large “Dianne 2006" banner. The top race in California was the one for governor. Schwarzenegger’s reelection caps a remarkable comeback from the political collapse he suffered last year, when he pursued a combative agenda that enraged organized labor and the Democrats who control the Legislature.
His moves to curb their clout and restrain state spending touched off a television ad assault that badly damaged his image.
For months, teachers, nurses and firefighters told viewers that Schwarzenegger had broken his word -- mainly his vow to champion public education. In the special election one year ago, voters roundly rejected his four ballot measures.
Chastened by defeat, Schwarzenegger launched his reelection drive with profuse public apologies that ultimately led many Californians to forgive him, as attested by Tuesday’s balloting.
The governor also shook up his staff, hiring a tightly disciplined bipartisan team to chart his path to a second term. He named a no-nonsense Democrat, Susan Kennedy, to run his administration as chief of staff, a job she once held under Gov. Gray Davis.
And he named two Republican veterans of President Bush’s political operation to oversee his reelection team: chief strategist Matthew Dowd and campaign manager Steve Schmidt.
By all accounts, they ran a nearly flawless campaign. Schwarzenegger’s communications shop choreographed virtually every moment he spent in public, whether in a cornfield with farmers outside Bakersfield or on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
Key to his winning formula was bipartisan cooperation with state lawmakers. For the first time in six years, California’s governor and Legislature met the deadline for passing a budget. They agreed to put the historic $37-billion, public-works package on the November ballot. Together, they raised the state’s minimum wage, approved prescription-drug discounts and agreed to mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, putting California in the vanguard of efforts to fight global warming.
The bipartisanship enabled Schwarzenegger to broaden his appeal to Democrats and independents, an essential task in a state where just over a third of registered voters are Republican. On Tuesday, Granada Hills hotel manager Jay McMahon, 42, a Democrat who voted for Schwarzenegger, said he appreciated that “Arnold has compromised with Democrats in Sacramento to work together.”
“Many things are getting done,” he said.
Luck too played an important role in Schwarzenegger’s recovery -- most of all a brutal Democratic primary that crowned Angelides as his challenger. The treasurer was popular with liberals, a huge voting bloc in the primary. But he was poorly suited to compete on the broader terrain of a general election, given his long record of supporting tax hikes.
“All Democrats have to take stock of this devastating defeat,” said Garry South, chief strategist for Angelides’ more moderate primary rival, state Controller Steve Westly. “This is not an unremittingly liberal state.”
The primary also sullied Angelides on the environment, with Westly’s ads highlighting his background as a former developer with a history of run-ins with regulators over wetlands pollution. And the primary left him nearly broke, unable to respond effectively to Schwarzenegger ads that showed Angelides walking backward as an announcer mocked his record on taxes, the environment and crime.
Compounding the Democrat’s troubles was his failure to articulate a coherent message or market a personality that Sacramento insiders of both major parties have long described as prickly and arrogant. To soften his image, his early ads featured testimonials from his three daughters, two of whom accompanied him Tuesday to a polling station near the family’s Sacramento home.
“I have no regrets in this race,” Angelides said. “I have nothing but fullness in my heart. I know we stood up for what is right. We stood up without retreat, without backing down, without looking at the polls. We stood up for the people who needed a voice.”
Schwarzenegger struck a similar note of satisfaction after he and his wife voted near their Brentwood compound.
“I think that the campaign was, in comparison to other campaigns, very positive, very upbeat,” Schwarzenegger said.
With polls showing him holding his wide lead to the end, Schwarzenegger spent much of the campaign’s final weeks promoting the bond package. Its vast sweep of public construction projects offered him not just a platform for reelection, but also for his legacy.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
California exit poll 2006
Q: When did you decide on how you would vote today?
voters voters BTRToday 9% 8% BTROver the weekend 3% 4% BTRBefore the weekend 91% 88%
Q: Which issues were most important to you when deciding your vote today? (top five responses)
Illegal immigration: 32%
State’s budget: 17%
Ethics/personal integrity: 18%
Q: Why did you vote for your candidate today? (top two responses)
Strong leadership qualities: 40%
Has a clear vision of California’s future: 33%
Is the best of a bad lot: 20%
Cares about people like me: 19%
Q: What is your impression of: (among all voters)
Q: Which candidate would best handle: (among all voters)
*--* BTR Illegal Public
State’s BTR immigration education Environment budget BTRSchwarzenegger 46% 46% 44% 53% BTRAngelides 28 36 35 31
Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Arnold Schwarzenegger is handling his job as governor? (among all voters)
Q: Do you think things in California are generally:
*--* BTR Going in the right Seriously off on the BTR direction wrong track BTRAll voters 62% 38% BTRSchwarzenegger voters 81% 19% BTRAngelides voters 38% 62%
Note: Based on preliminary exit poll results.
Numbers may not total 100% where multiple responses were accepted or some answer categories are not shown.
How the poll was conducted: The Los Angeles Times Poll interviewed 3,676 voters as they exited 64 polling places across California on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Precincts were chosen based on the pattern of turnout in past statewide elections. The survey was a self-administered, confidential questionnaire in English and Spanish. The margin of sampling error for the entire sample is plus or minus 2 percentage points; for some subgroups, the error margin may be higher. The survey was adjusted to account for absentee voters and those who declined to participate when approached, using demographic estimates collected by interviewers and a pre-election survey of absentee voters. Interviews were conducted by Davis Research of Calabasas.
This chart is also available at www.latimes.com
Source: L.A. Times exit poll
The House of Representatives
218 seats needed to control the House
*--* DEMOCRATS REPUBLICANS UNDECIDED 226 191 18
Democrats need 51 seats to control the Senate; Republicans need 50*
*--* DEMOCRATS REPUBLICANS UNDECIDED 49 49 2
Results as of 1 a.m. Pacific time.
*Vice President Dick Cheney would cast tie-breaking vote.
*--* ANGELIDES SCHWARZENEGGER Votes Votes 38.0% 57.1% 1,807,120 2,720,747
Vote totals as of 12:15 a.m. Pacific time with 66% of precincts reporting
STATE BOND MEASURES
*--* Gasoline tax Transportation Modernizations limits projects of schools Prop 1A Prop 1B Prop 1D Yes Yes Yes 76.8% 60.7% 55.4% No No No 23.2% 39.3% 44.6%
Vote totals as of 12:15 a.m. Pacific time with 66.3% of precincts reporting