City inches toward the left

La Cañada Flintridge voters have been painting the town a little bluer.

A burst of new Democratic Party registrations prior to the election of President Obama, ongoing declines in Republican Party registrations and an increasing number of decline-to-state voters are changing the topography of the city's political map.

Republican registrations in La Cañada Flintridge have dropped 9.3% since October 2004, just prior to George W. Bush's re-election, shrinking from 7,482 to 6,787 today, according to the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder's Office. Also, despite the rise of the Tea Party movement, Republican registrations have continued to decline more than 2% since the election of President Barack Obama.

The largest increase in voter identification since Bush's re-election has been for decline-to-state voters, which increased 31% from 2,037 in October 2004 to 2,668 at the close of new voter registrations on Oct. 18.

Democrats gained 621 La Cañada Flintridge voters in the twilight of the Bush years, moving from 3,610 registered voters in 2004 to 4,231 in 2008 — an 18% increase. Today Democrats number 4,257 in town, with 26 new registrations since Obama's election.

Total voter registration for La Cañada is 14,165, an increase of 669 voters since 2004.

La Cañada Flintridge Republican Committee Chairman Al Restivo said he believes declining Republican registrations have less to do with people changing their minds than it has with people changing their addresses.

"It's a demographic shift in the community. We're getting a lot of wealthy liberals from Hollywood and places like that — new, younger people with a different philosophy," said Restivo. "People don't change. They get in a moving van and take their politics and voting choice with them. I don't think Republicans are changing to Democrats or any Democrats have changed to Republicans."

Joe Mealy, past president of the Cañada Crescenta Democratic Club, said he suspects the shift is less a result of liberal voters moving into town than the Republican Party moving away from the values of local voters.

"Historically, La Cañada's been a more Republican area. I think the issue is the Republican Party has moved so far to the right that I think a lot of people in La Cañada Flintridge are unhappy with it. [The Republican Party is] out of touch," said Mealy, producer and co-director of the Karl Rove documentary "Bush's Brain."

Dave Wilcox, president of the Foothill Republican Assembly (a branch of the California Republican Assembly), said he thinks many voters frustrated with the Republican Party have remained conservative, but re-registered as decline-to-state.

"In 1980 we had a conservative president, and in 2000 we had it all. But what did they do? They frittered it all away, which has made Republicans really mad, including me. It's largely disgruntled Republicans who have been registering as decline-to-state," said Wilcox, a lecturer at USC's Vitterbi School of Engineering.

Both Restivo and Wilcox said they believe many Tea Party voters remain conservative but have registered as decline-to-state and will show up in great numbers to vote conservative at the ballot box.

Current Cañada Crescenta Democratic Club President Dana Runge, a JPL engineer, sees election day going the other way.

"We're seeing a trend where the Republican Party is being heavily influenced by a far-right conservative wing of the party, and La Cañada Flintridge is by and large a very moderate neighborhood," she said.

In 2008, La Cañada Flintridge voters backed Obama over Republican John McCain by just 10 votes, 5,660 to 5,650.

Locally this year, Tea Party-backed Republican candidate Alvaro Day and Libertarian Eytan Kollin are challenging incumbent Democratic state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, a former mayor of La Cañada Flintridge. Also, longtime Republican Congressman David Drier is facing a challenge from Democrat Russ Warner, as well as from Libertarian Randall Weissbuch and American Independent Party member David Miller.

In statewide races, the latest Los Angeles Times/USC poll reports former Gov. Jerry Brown leading Republican challenger Meg Whitman 52 to 39% and Carly Fiorina trailing 8 points in her bid for Sen. Barbara Boxer's job.

Both local Democratic and Republican group leaders emphasized the importance of Proposition 25, which would reduce the legislative requirement to pass a budget from a two-thirds vote to a simple majority.

Mealy said local Democrats should support the measure as a way to end gridlock in Sacramento. Despite the proposition's language about leaving the two-thirds legislative requirement for raising taxes, Restivo and Wilcox said its passage would ultimately increase government spending.

Local Republicans are opposed to Proposition 19, which would decriminalize marijuana at the state level, while the Cañada Crescenta Democratic Club made no endorsement.

"I have concerns, but it's more an issue of personal choice," said Mealy.

Voter registration in La Cañada Flintridge, 2004 to present:

October 2004October 2008October 2010



Decline to state 2,037 2,4862,668

TOTALS13,496 14,08414,165

Source: L.A. County Registrar-Recorder's Office

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