Monday, November 3, 2008

The lay of the land

With one day to go, we decided to take a survey of the local electoral landscape.

Congress, 11th District:
Incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney is poised to reclaim his seat -- a poll taken two weeks ago gave him an 11-point lead over challenger Dean Andal, but the conservative from Stockton is known as a strong closer. Andal was the underdog in previous races, especially for his first campaign for an Assembly seat, and he has always pulled it out in the end.

As I wrote this, my phone buzzed with another mayoral phone ad. Conventional wisdom has the three-way race for the mayor's seat whittled down to two main contenders: Mayor Brent Ives and challenger Celeste Garamendi. Councilwoman Evelyn Tolbert, though widely popular, has simply been dwarfed in the fundraising category this election cycle. Her pledge to not take more than $99 per donation -- that happens to be the threshold above which donations must be reported -- hampered her in comparison to Ives and his backers (he's also been given plenty of "independent" support from a PAC called For A Better Tracy, which was organized by developer Tony Souza to batter Garamendi and Councilwoman Irene Sundberg) and Garamendi and her coalition of donors. This race might be too close to call on Election Night.

City Council:
A five-man race for two seats is largely down to three contenders: Councilman Steve Abercrombie, Councilwoman Sundberg, and former police captain Mike Maciel. While challenger Larry Hite is well-known in the community and Larry Gamino has done some great work as a South Side activist and earned a Tracy Press endorsement, it would be a real shocker if one of the two Larrys pulled off an election victory.

Polling data doesn't exist for Measures S (TUSD bond) and T (term limits for mayor and council), but there's been neither sight nor sound of organized Measure S opposition. Tracy Unified has proven itself extremely reliable in handling the money from its most recent bond issue (Measure E in 2006), and voters will probably trust the board of trustees again to use taxpayer money wisely to upgrade middle and elemetary schools. As for Measure T, term limits have been popular in other jurisdictions, passing almost every time they appear on a ballot. Again, no polling data exists for this specific measure, but I wouldn't be surprised if Tracy voters gave it a green light.

The most contested one on the ballot is Proposition 8, and it's coming down to a dead heat. The question seems to be: how many social conservatives vs. how many social liberals will come out for this initiative given that the presidential race for California is all but decided.

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