Ready or not, election season is here! At least in California, where our primary is on June 5. The Fabulous Wife and I vote by mail. I’m looking over the ballot right now, and must admit I have no clue who I’m going to vote for.
California’s primary system is different from other states. All the candidates for a position are lumped together — no separate election for Democrats, Republicans, or third parties — and the top two vote-getters run against each other in November. That usually means there are tons of competitors for each position. If the top vote-getters are both Democrats, both Republicans, or whatever, so be it.
Since California is a Democratic state and the Bay Area is a Democratic region, the question for a left-of-center citizen like me is whether to vote for the likely winner in November (to make certain that person survives the primary) or to vote for the second-most-likely liberal candidate in an attempt to shut out the right (because the Republican Party in this state has yet to learn from Arnold Schwarzenegger and its other moderates that except in rural areas, most Californians are immune to its wingnut contagion).
There are 32 candidates for US Senator. The incumbent, Dianne Feinstein, is running for re-election. She’s 788 years old, making her a match for Prince Philip (see The Fabulous Wife’s last post) and hyper-cautious. I’d prefer someone fresher and bolder, but which of the 31 other candidates do I vote for? The only name I recognize is Kevin DeLeon, a state senator, and from what I’ve heard he’s an asshole. So do I vote Feinstein to assure a halfway acceptable option in November? Or do I vote DeLeon in hopes most people vote Feinstein and DeLeon finishes second, shutting out the Republicans?
Same thing with the race for Governor. There are 27 candidates. Gavin Newsom, the current Lieutenant Governor and former Mayor of San Francisco, is the favorite, but I’m not a fan. He’s too pretty and glib. Do I vote for him to make sure an electable Democrat is on the November ballot, or do I vote for Antonio Villaraigosa, John Chiang, or Delaine Eastin?
The contest for Lieutenant Governor is easier. There are only 11 candidates, and all of them are underwhelming. One, Democrat Eleni Kounalakis, has been running ads non-stop since April. I looked her up. She has never held elective office. Her greatest political achievement is serving as US ambassador to Hungary. Who is financing her? I don’t know. All I know is that her resume doesn’t qualify her for the number two spot in California government. It shouldn’t take long to identify a worthier candidate.
Even the local ballot is crowded. Our State Assembly seat is open, and 12 people (only one a Republican) are vying for it. California’s big issue is housing. We need more of it, fast. But I want it built in an environmentally sound manner, i.e. in urban cores near public transit rather than in suburbs or new developments. All the candidates favor more housing — but they’re coy about how to build it. So I’ll be coy about which one of them I vote for.
And then there are all the offices and propositions I don’t know or care about (and I’m a reasonably well-informed voter). Internet, I’m at your mercy! Hey, doesn’t the League of Women Voters has an election website? Maybe I can learn something from it.
Sigh. I’ve delayed long enough. Time to knuckle down and fill out the ballot. Churchill is overrated, but I’m on board with his lament that democracy is the worst form of government — except for all the others.