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California Voters Send Message To Sacramento


Voters in California made up their minds on nine ballot initiatives in Tueday's election. The results were mixed, but the message to Sacramento lawmakers is clear.

DWANE BROWN (Host): The results on statewide propositions have a theme in California. We're joined on Morning Edition by nonpartisan Sacramento political consultant Leo Mcelroy. Leo, what do the ballot proposition results say to state lawmakers?

LEO MCELROY (Political Consultant): Well, I think it’s a rap on the knuckles if you take a look at them. Even in cases where the results seem to be contradictory like measures 25 and 26, people who supported 25 were opposed to 26 and vice versa. Well, the voters liked them both, because they both had elements of punishing the legislature. Twenty-six requires now that to pass fees, legislators must have a two-thirds vote. Twenty-five comes in and says if you don't pass the budget on time, you're not going to get paid at all and you're not going to get that back pay. And measure after measure does that. If you take a look at the ones that are in there, they restrict borrowing from special funds, for example, and hammer away at that. They do not want the legislature to deal with reapportioning congress and they especially do not want to turn the whole reapportionment process back to the legislature. So on measure after measure, we're seeing a public that says we don't think the legislature does much of a job and we want to take that power away from them, we want to restrict their power, let's thump 'em once again over the knuckles.

BROWN: And what do you think about the rejection of self-funded candidates like Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina in the California races?

MCELROY: You know, we keep sending this message year after year in California. Candidates come along and they pour a lot of money in, not to the extent that Meg Whitman did, but we've had self-funded candidates in the past -- Al Checchi, Darrell Issa, Steve Westley. You know, the political landscape is littered with the bones of those who have tried to buy public office by spending their own money. And here, and in races across the country again, the voters have rejected the concept that you can go in with a lot of money and buy your way into public office, it's just not going to do it and it's a pretty good motive for them to reject you.

BROWN: And the final question, Governor-Elect Jerry Brown returns to Sacramento as "the man," do you think he can move things to the middle?

MCELROY: Well, you know something, he might be the best qualified to do that. He's not coming in with a huge mandate to go sweeping off to the left, the public obviously wasn't headed in that direction. But, what he is coming in with is a wave of dissatisfaction with the way things have been done and the knowledge of how things work in Sacramento and that's a kind of a strong combination. Jerry Brown knows his way around the track, he's got the road map burned in his brain and he has the motive to go in there and try to turn things around. Maybe he can do it or maybe it can't be done.

BROWN: Nonpartisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy.

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