The progressive majority

What’s true for California and the nation is also true for Chico

Those of you who read Marc Cooper’s interview with Gov. Jerry Brown in our Nov. 1 issue are aware that many people, including some of Brown’s Democratic allies, were convinced he was botching the Proposition 30 campaign, operating a one-man show that was sure to lose.

Of course, they said the same thing when he was running for governor. Remember how he husbanded his money and watched Meg Whitman spend her millions before launching a last-minute campaign that led to victory?

Now that Prop. 30 has passed, they’re saying Brown’s a genius. Not only did the measure pass, it also played a leading role in winning Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature.

But don’t expect Brown to use this newfound power to go on a spending binge. He knows voters trust him to be frugal, and it’s also part of his makeup. This is a guy who can use a Zen vow one minute ("Desires are endless. I vow to cut them down.") and a biblical reference the next ("We need the prudence of Joseph going forward over the next seven years.") to underscore his determination to be careful with the people’s money.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the supermajorities shouldn’t be used to solve the state’s biggest problems. It’s important to recognize what happened in this election. In California, as well as nationally, a new progressive majority emerged composed of African Americans, Latinos, young people, women, gays and lesbians, you name it. What they weren’t was old, white and Republican.

Here’s the deal, though: This new majority needs to be fired up. It wants action. Prop. 30 fired it up in California, young people especially. Thanks to the new online registration, nearly a million more people signed up. Exit polls showed 28 percent of voters were 18 to 29, and two-thirds of them supported Prop. 30.

But elections come around every two years. The Democrats could easily lose their supermajorities—unless voters remain confident that the governor and his party are taking action to move California forward.

Council change-up: What’s true for California and the nation is also true for Chico, where voters showed their support for the City Council’s current 5-2 progressive majority by keeping it in place, albeit with some fresh faces.

Only one conservative, Sean Morgan, won a seat, while three progressives—Ann Schwab, Tami Ritter and Randall Stone—did so. Stone, who following the election was only eight votes ahead of Andrew Coolidge for the fourth spot on the panel, has pulled ahead in the tally of mail-in ballots by a virtually insuperable 268 votes.

Current Councilman Bob Evans’ loss was a surprise, and so was longtime Planning Commissioner Dave Kelley’s. Kelley’s careful positioning of himself as an unaligned moderate seemed smart at the time. On the whole, though, Chico voters weren’t looking for moderates. They favored the clearly aligned candidates—and, as it turned out, progressives more than conservatives.