Shane Goldmacher is a former reporter for Capitol Weekly. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where he served as editor of the Berkeley Political Review.

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  • 1A: 76.9-23.1
    1B: 61.3-38.7
    1C: 57.4-42.6
    1D: 56.6-43.4
    1E: 64-36
    83: 70.6-29.4
    84: 53.7-46.3
    85: 45.9-54.1
    86: 48-52
    87: 45.2-54.8
    88: 23-77
    89: 25.5-74.5
    90: 47.6-52.4

    U.S. Sen.
    Feinstein 59.7
    Mountjoy 34.9
    Schwarzenegger 55.8
    Angelides 39.2
    Lt. Gov
    Garamendi 49.5
    McClintock 44.9
    Atty. Gen.
    Brown 56.7
    Poochigian 37.9
    Sec. of state
    Bowen 48.5
    McPherson 44.7
    Lockyer 54.8
    Parrish 37
    Chiang 50.9
    Strickland 40.1
    Insur. Comm.
    Poizner 50.7
    Bustamante 38.9

    For complete election results click here.

    Angelides 48.2
    Westly 43.1
    Lt. Gov
    Garamendi 42.9
    Speier 39.3
    Figueroa 17.8
    Atty. Gen.
    Brown 63.2
    Delgadillo 36.8
    Sec. of state
    Bowen 61.1
    Ortiz 38.9
    Parrish 56.4
    Richman 43.6
    Democratic primary
    Chiang 53.4
    Dunn 46.6
    Republican primary
    Strickland 40.9
    Maldonado 36.9
    Insur. Comm.
    Bustamante 70.5
    Kraft 29.5
    Supt. of Schools
    O'Connell 52.5, avoids run-off

    For complete election results click here.

    73: 47.4-52.6
    74: 45-55
    75: 46.6-53.4
    76: 38-62
    77: 40.5-59.5
    78: 41.5-58.5
    79: 38.9-61.1
    80: 34.3-65.7

    For complete election results click here.

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    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    Mod Squad Inaction

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    "Mod Squad" kills Dem enviro bills

    By Shane Goldmacher (published September 22nd, 2005)

    On the last day of session, bill after environmental bill came up for a vote on the Assembly floor. And bill after bill was defeated as a group of self-styled moderate Democrats--known as the 'Mod Squad'--refused to support legislation authored by their fellow Democrats.

    Everything from mapping out naturally occurring asbestos to enhanced penalties for severe air polluters failed passage, as the Mod Squad of business-friendly Democrats joined a united Republican caucus to stymie the expansion of environmental protections.

    As session came to a close, five bills that several environment groups identified as top priorities died on the Assembly floor with united Republican opposition and a handful of abstaining or no-voting Democrats. The bills were killed after five Democrats –Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg, Nicole Parra of Hanford, Gloria Negrete McLeod of Chino, Ron Calderon of Montebello, and Barbara Matthews of Tracy – cast "no" votes on each of the bills, angering fellow Democrats in the process.

    "This is a product of the Moderate Caucus deciding, contrary to the interest of many of their constituents, to side with the oil companies," said Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, describing the vote on SB 109.

    The so-called Moderate Caucus was first organized as a campaign finance committee in 1998 by then-Assemblyman (and now Congressman) Dennis Cardoza, who wanted to raise corporate money for Democrats that traditionally had flowed to Republicans. But only in the last couple of years has the Mod Squad flexed their political muscle. The caucus currently has fifteen members, 10 of which are Latino, with Assemblymen Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, and Canciamilla serving as "co-conveners."

    In June 2004, the Moderate Caucus circulated its first ever "action alert" listing a dozen bills--sponsored by fellow Democrats--to be targeted for defeat. Circulated only to other moderate members, the list angered both the Democratic leadership and the environmental lobby. Such "action alerts" are now common for the Mod Squad, which meets at least once a month, and sometimes more than once a day toward the end of session.

    "We distribute reminders to our members of bills we have discussed…We do an internal analysis. And then we discuss the bills. I know that might sound unique to some people--we talk about policy in detail," said Canciamilla, who was removed as chair of the Water, Parks and Wildlife committee by Speaker Fabian Nuñez last year.

    "The ‘Mod Squad’ is the single greatest impediment to progressive environmental legislation in Sacramento," wrote the California League of Conservation Voters in their annual legislative scorecard last year. "Sure, they cast the easy votes, but when every friend is needed on strong environmental legislation, the Mod Squad is usually missing in action or an enemy combatant."

    Pete Price, a lobbyist with the League was not any more pleased with the results this year: "All I know is these are Democrats who are much less likely to support good environmental bills and that happened again this year."

    On August 30, the CLCV distributed a memo to legislators listing twenty-nine bills "of [the] greatest importance to CLCV and other environmental organizations". Thirteen never made it out of the Legislature, a surprisingly low percentage when Democrats hold solid majorities in both houses.

    Bill Magavern, a senior representative for Sierra Club California, says that the moderate Democrats are of increased importance because Republicans are united in opposition to environmental legislation.

    "We need to get all our votes from the Democratic caucus, including the business Democrats who are taking lots of money from corporate polluters," said Magavern.

    Democrats hold 47 seats in the Assembly, and need 41 votes to pass any legislation. With more than a dozen members of the loosely organized Mod Squad, every environmental bill--and indeed every bill lacking Republican support--must garner some moderate support. In contrast, in the 40-member Senate, Democrats occupy 25 seats, with only two, maybe three, moderates among them.

    "They are not monolithic," adds Magavern. "You look at those that define themselves as moderate Democrats individually, from Assemblyman Joe Nation, who has a nearly perfect [environmental] record to Assemblywoman Barbara Matthews, who votes more like a Republican."

    While the Mod Squad flexed its muscle at the end of session, more environmental legislation saw its demise on the Assembly floor earlier this year. Among those bills backed by environmental groups but never made it off the Assembly floor were a trio of bills--AB 289, AB 1360, and AB 1430--which would have limited the trading of pollution credits between mobile (i.e. cars) and stationary (i.e. manufacturing plants) sources.

    Some environmental legislation never even makes it to a floor vote. Partisan politicking doomed SB 1, the "million solar roofs" initiative pushed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. And other bills, like Sen. Christine Kehoe’s SB 757, which would have required that state agencies focus on alternative fuels to reduce petroleum demand, are never brought to a vote on the Assembly floor because the authors do not have Mod Squad support. Canciamilla says that many of the Mod Squad’s complaints could be addressed in policy committees.

    "The committees are slanted much further to the left, so it is very difficult to, not necessarily to stop, but to fix environmental legislation in committee. There is no time taken, no serious policy debate. So we are left to the floor."

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