The U.S. Goes Right, California Goes Left

Significant progressive wins in the Left Coast on election night

We all know election night took a turn to the right at the national level. But here in California, the results were all about the progressives. The California legislature saw Democrats get major pickups to move forward on a progressive agenda, although as KPCC radio reported, they may have just failed to achieve a 2/3 supermajority with some races still being counted.

Among the state ballot initiatives, the wins for the environment included:

  • A yes vote to legalize marijuana with Proposition 64, which could finally bring illegal grow operations under environmental regulations (although it’s unclear if federal environmental laws would pertain, or if grow operations overall would increase in otherwise non-agricultural areas, a subject Eric has covered); and
  • A no vote on Proposition 53, which would have made high speed rail in particular more difficult to build by requiring voter approval on all new revenue bonds.

Perhaps more importantly, votes at the local level were strong on land use and transportation. The big ones, as I laid out on Tuesday morning:

  • Measure M in Los Angeles passed with almost 70% approval. This puts the region on a dominant leadership path on transit, with $120 billion now slated to improve transportation in the region (for perspective, that’s a four-fold increase in funds over Measure R in 2008, which has already led to five new transit lines under construction or opened in the region).
  • Measure RR in the Bay Area passed the two-thirds hurdle, meaning BART will be revamped and improved for faster service — and also with funds to study a possible second tube under the Bay.
  • Measure LV in Santa Monica went down, meaning NIMBY politics won’t play in the seaside community, and also potentially foreshadowing failure on a city-wide initiative that anti-housing groups are planning (which Jonathan blogged about last year).

And around the country, transit measures seemed to be doing well. Voters in Seattle approved funding for a 62-mile rail extension, while Atlanta approved more light rail funding.

So on an otherwise dark night for progressive causes around the country, cities and states are still leading the way, while California solidifies its position as a dominant Democratic state.

Meanwhile, for those interested in the future of the Republican Party in California, I’ll be hosting a City Visions radio show on the topic at 7pm tonight, with guests:

  • Jimmy Camp, former Director of Operations of the Republican Party of California
  • Harmeet Dhillon, Republican National Committeewoman
  • Markos Moulitsas, Founder and Publisher of Daily Kos

Despite the national win for Republicans, California’s experience could foreshadow headwinds for the national party.  Hope you can tune in or live-stream.

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