As the Republican election tidal wave swept across the country, it crested in California and wreaked havoc for Democrats before petering out in Hawaii, where Democrats retained the Governor's Mansion, a U.S. Senate seat, and both seats in the U.S. House.
In a schizophrenic episode, California voters split their ballots mainly between Republican and Democrats with a very small percentage going to the Libertarian, Peace & Freedom, Green, and American Independent/U.S. Taxpayers parties. They rejected Texas carpetbagger Michael Huffington and kept Diane Feinstein in the U.S. Senate. They had a Brown out and decided to re-Pete Wilson as governor. They then continued to split their ticket and voted for Republicans to fill the state constitutional offices of attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, and insurance commissioner, and for Democrats to retain the offices of lieutenant governor, controller, and state superintendent of education.
Then the Republican tidal wave drowned the overwhelming Democratic control of the 80-member California Assembly. At this writing, two Assembly races are too close to call. The balance of power hinges on the final tally of those two races which could result in 40 to 40 tie or could result in the Republicans having a one-vote majority. Either way it looks as though Willie Brown's long tenure (12 years) as speaker of the Assembly has come to an end.
The most important and alarming thing that has happened in the Assembly elections is the number of incumbent and new members who were financed by the Capitol Commonwealth Group/Allied Business PAC (CCG/ABP). That number now stands at 30. This means that three-fourths of the Republican members of the Assembly have been heavily financed by the radical Religious Right.
The CCG/ABP is made up of five multimillionaires, headed by Home Savings and Loan heir Howard F. Ahmanson Jr., who has said in newspaper interviews his goal in life is to see that we have Biblical law integrated into our everyday lives. CCG/ABP has made no bones about finding and financing from their own pockets "like-minded" candidates. Most were "supported/endorsed" by the California Christian Coalition, California Gunowners Campaign Fund, and the California Prolife Council PAC.
In the 40-member California Senate, the CCG/ABP were able to add three new members to join several incumbents so they will dominate the Republican caucus. Republicans lack one seat of having the majority in the Senate where it now looks as though the make up will be Democrats 21, Republicans 17, and two Independents who normally vote with the Democrats.
CCG/ABP member Rob Hurtt Jr., elected to the Senate in 1993, is in a position to become minority leader of the Senate. Hurtt and Ahmanson both helped to found and are the primary financial angels of the Capitol Resource Institute, Focus on the Family's public policy organization in California.
Project Tocsin is predicting in the next two years the CCG/ABP radical Religious Right will be introducing many regressive laws concerning abortion, homosexuality, HIV/AIDS, and public education on both state and national levels.
Also important in the next two years is the toll term limits will take on any member of the legislature elected in 1990 or before. Moving to other political or lucrative lobbying positions will result in special elections to fill the vacancies. CCG/ABP has had more than an excellent record of capturing seats in special elections.
Jerry Sloan is co-chair of the Sacramento-based Project Tocsin, the research branch of the newly formed Sentinel Institute for Research and Education.