How I'm voting, Part 2: CA Voter-Nominated Offices (2018)

October 14, 2018

The second in my series giving some opinions on California's election. For California's ballot initiatives, see part 1.

United States Senator: Feinstein

Policy-wise, it's a wash; both are party-line Democrats, pushing environmental issues, women's rights, and opposing Trump.

The question is, who do you want as your senator?

Feinstein is the incumbent; she's facing a challenge from the left by Kevin de Léon, a new Democrat of the AOC school. Like many of his type, he's pushing a populist agenda that emphasizes conflict, and unworkable policies like "Medicare-for-all", an unaffordable plan with zero chance of passage, given its politics.

I also admire how Feinstein conducts herself as a Senator. During the Kavanaugh confirmation, Sen. Harris was shouting and walking out; Feinstein let things run their course. Note that both got to the same place—a vote against—but Feinstein got there while upholding the dignity of the Senate, while Harris insisted on theatrics. My HOA work has given me an even greater appreciation of the need for civility in politics; it's rare.

Governor of California: Toss-up

This is a hard one.

Newsom is an artful dodger; a stuffed-shirt politician without substance. He says he supports "housing reform", but won't get specific on where he stands on controversial issues like Prop 13. His campaign reeks of arrogance and privilege—refusing the Cox campaign's requests for debate, declining to put a statement in the Voter Guide—the not-so-subtle message is, "We've got this thing locked up; on to bigger and better things".

I really want to vote for Cox, except he's a climate denier whose policies hew a little too close to Trump's. He also wants to roll back gas taxes, a step away from the settled economic consensus, and growing popular consensus, that we should tax carbon.

Realistically, Newsom's going to win; I think I'll vote for Cox just to show that victory is no sure thing.

Lieutenant Governor of California: Hernandez

Not much difference overall. I think Hernandez is slightly more qualified and care about his issues (chiefly immigration reform) more than hers. Hernandez is also more of a known quantity.

Chronicle endorsement of Hernandez

Secretary of State: Meuser

Objectively speaking, the CA Secretary of State is doing a poor job: inaccurate voter rolls, non-functional software, exorbitant filing fees. Have you been to the DMV recently? Should the minimum franchise tax be $800?

I also like that Meuser is well-read, as the link above shows. I don't like the nativist tone of his voter registration efforts but overall I think some change here could be a good thing.

Controller: Betty Yee

Most of what I've read (Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News) suggests Yee is qualified to do the job, and did a reasonable job in her first term.

Roditis's candidate statement is nonsense:

The Controller’s office doesn’t think you pay enough taxes. They want to tax your doctor’s visit, childcare, home and vehicle repairs, haircut, you name it they want to tax it. The result, you will pay hundreds if not thousands more a year in taxes. No on a Service and Labor Tax. We can’t afford it. As Controller, I will fight to make California affordable, not seeking new ways to tax you.

Roditis can't do a thing here. He's running for Controller, the executive agency responsible for policies set in the legislature. He doesn't set policy; he does what the legislature tells him to do.

Treasurer: Conlon

Both are qualified. Fiona Ma seems to have done a good job in her last term. Conlon wants to focus on unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities, a ticking time bomb that never gets the attention it deserves (look at Illinois to see how that story ends)

Attorney General: Bailey

As I've written before, the Bay Area has a serious problem with crime. Bailey seems like the candidate who will be a little tougher on crime, so he gets my vote. I don't want the AG wasting time "fighting predatory for-profit colleges that steal from our students"—the real crime is the cost of college in general, and if someone can figure out how to get rich educating people, all the better.

Insurance Commissioner: Poizner

Better-qualified (second term, great education), more specific proposals on what he'll do, and good track record of fighting insurance fraud. Also endorsed by the Chronicle.

He's running as an independent, which is baller.

District 2 Board of Equalization: No preference

Flip a coin. Malia Cohen is going to win because she's a Democrat, with her hard-left agenda of "people's interests before special interests", being a "fearless advocate of working people", and "championing the $15 minimum wage".

I would vote for Burns but he's a hardcore prop 13 supporter which I can't do. He also has zero chance of winning in California 13, a district with a D+40 PVI.

Superintendent of Instruction: Marshall Tuck

Public schools are an utter joke. OUSD (Oakland Unified School District) was plauged by an accounting scandal that led to a resignation earlier this year and now they're in hot water after being accused of violating Title IX after they cut a bunch of athletic programs. I don't know what it will take to get public schools back on track but I'd prefer we don't do more of the same.

The priority needs to be students and educational outcomes, not entrenched bureaucracy and unions; Tuck seems less in hock to them overall.


Tomorrow, I'll do Oakland's ballot initiatives.