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Key races still up for grabs in 2022 midterm election

 November 9, 2022 at 1:54 PM PST

S1: It's the day after elections.

S2: And votes are still being tallied in big races or investigations. More gridlock. And it's going to be another wild ride for the next two years in American politics. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen CAVANAUGH. This is KPBS midday edition. Undersheriff Kelly Martinez pulls ahead in the race for San Diego County sheriff.

S3: The voters have really paid attention during this race to experience how important the sheriff is. The San Diego County.

S2: Will look at who's leading the Chula Vista mayor's race. Plus , break down San Diego's races and state propositions. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Election Day may be over , but a number of key races across the country have still yet to be decided. California's 49th District is one of them. Incumbent Democrat Mike Levin is currently leading with 51% of the vote against Republican challenger Brian Marriott , who has 49%. The race is still too close to call. Joining me now with the bigger picture on this district race is Thad Couser , a political science professor and co-director of the Yankelovich Center at UC San Diego. Thad , welcome. Thanks. Happy post Election Day. Happy post-election day. Is this election shaking out the way you thought it would ? Well , first , let's remember , there are districts all across California. The 49th congressional is one of them. They're just too close to call right now. Less fewer than half the votes really across the state have been counted. These are legitimately cast votes still to be arriving by people who have chosen to vote in different ways at different times. And those votes are going to be different than the ones that we've counted already. So it's too early to definitively write anyone's post-mortem. What we've seen nationally is a red wave that didn't really emerge in the way the Republicans were hoping. Republicans seem likely to take back the House to deliver the speakership to Kevin McCarthy. But how many Republicans from California will he bring back with him on those flights to Washington , D.C. ? That remains to be seen. Right now. It doesn't look. Marriott Brian Marriott has not yet booked a ticket on that flight. You know , we're hearing a lot of red Ripple talk. It's early , but what are some of your takeaways from this election ? Well , I think the overall takeaway is that Americans party loyalties have somewhat insulated the Democratic Party in this in this particular election from some of the fluctuations that you see based on what people think of the president and what people think of the economy. They don't like the president right now. They don't like the economy right now. But the the party loyalty that attaches Democrats to to to to their party's candidates in Congress and attach to some of those independents who lean with the Democrats , that seems to be holding firm. We seem to see a strong correlation between congressional vote and and what people's parties are , and that is making it less likely that any of those voters abandon the Democratic Party. And that's been a bulwark against some of the losses that Democrats are expected to take , given Joe Biden ratings , given the economy. That said , are there any races across the country that you're keeping an eye on ? Yeah. So we're going to be looking really closely at Georgia that seems to be headed for yet another runoff in December that may determine which party controls Congress. One of the things I've been keeping a close eye on is where those Donald Trump candidates are and how they're doing so far. There have been some successes , J.D. Vance in Ohio , but some of the candidates that Donald Trump is really backing have performed poorly. Some of the candidates who took strong stands saying that the 2020 election was stolen have performed poorly. And other Republicans who've been a bit outside of the Donald Trump orbit like like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis , have performed extremely well , carrying California , Florida by about the same margin that it looks like Gavin Newsom will carry California by and perhaps presaging a future presidential matchup. Getting to the 49th Congressman Mike Levin , originally led by a wide margin. But Marriott saw a jump in the polls in recent weeks. What was behind that ? Yeah , I think you saw this whole election shift more closely to the Republicans favor over the last month as as gas prices rose again all across the nation , but especially in California. And and Republicans were able to to spend a lot of money. So if , you know , if you had a television set , you were you were sick of myriad and 11 commercials. Spending was got got to be relatively even. And in many of these races and the fact that Joe Biden visited last week was a sign that just how fragile this district is and just how much Democrats want to protect incumbents like Mike Levin , who are part of that blue wave in 2018 and trying to survive this red wave. What were some of the biggest issues that separate these candidates for voters ? Well , the big issues the both parties were campaigning on across the nation were the big issues that that these candidates were talking about. And San Diego's 49th for for Brian Marriott. He was talking about jobs , gas prices and everything that seems to be going wrong in America. Let's let's throw out the party responsible for that. Whereas Mike Leavitt was talking about abortion rights , gun control , and and and really his his defense of abortion rights , he was putting that front center , as Democrats were doing across the country , that that approach seems to be paying off. For many Democrats , it was touting his environmental credentials at a church near and dear to his heart and his career. But also he was talking about the issue. On which he can build bridges with Republicans , including his strong support of veterans and in his opposition to the San Onofre to two nuclear waste being stored in San Onofre. All of those are issues that if he survives , he can credit his ability to appeal to Republicans and independents in Orange County to reaching across the aisle with issues like those. There are a lot of votes left to be counted. Marriott was encouraging his supporters to vote on Election Day. Could we see the red wave come in the next few days ? Well , I think those Election Day votes are the ones that came in and were counted during the evening , the late hours of the evening. And that's why this district shifted a bit to the right in the vote totals. But there are a lot of ballots still out there in in this district and in seats across California. Those include legitimately cast ballots , ones that were sent , mailed in or dropped off at a at a vote center on Election Day , mailed in on election Day , that that can arrive for as long as the mail takes to deliver. And also overseas active duty military ballots that will be arriving still. So so none of these votes are just random. Samples of the votes have been cast so far. So far , they're cast by different people for different reasons. They may break differently. Overall , we generally see a blue shift in the week after an election , but people have been changing how they vote and when they vote so much in American elections that we're just going to have to sit back , be patient and wait for every vote to be counted. What do you think that means for the bigger congressional picture across the nation ? Well , you know , California and and Colorado , Oregon and Washington are really the states that are going to take the longest to count ballots , because that's where we do the most voting by mail. In most of those states across the Midwest and the East Coast. We see the lion's share of votes have already been counted. We can make more firm analysis and diagnoses. What we see in this election , the big story , it was not a red wave. The Democrats won more races than they likely should have given the economy , given the unpopularity of Joe Biden. But still , this was a red ripple that is going to deliver , most likely the House to Republican control. That means going to see more investigations , more gridlock , and and it's going to be another wild ride for the next two years in American politics. Do you have any sense of how many election deniers won their races across the country and what the implications of that are ? Yeah , so this was a good night for people who wanted to preserve democracy in America. You saw people on both sides of the aisle. So Brian Kemp , the the Republican governor of Georgia , who couldn't who wouldn't who refused to try to find those 11,000 votes for Donald Trump , who defended Georgia's elections. He had a good night , won by a large margin. And some of the election denier candidates who were most vocal lost their races. But there are candidates who have cast doubt on the 2020 election results , who have been elevated to secretary of state positions and to other important positions and elections. And so the controversy over over vote fraud and trust in elections that that shouldn't exist based on how free and fair elections are and how many legal process we have to challenge them. But that controversy likely will not go away as we move into 2024. And thank you so much for your insight. Thanks for having me. We'll be joined again by Thad Couser later in the program to discuss the propositions on this election's ballot. So stay with. Us.

S1: Us. San Diego residents will be getting a new county sheriff for the first time in 12 years. And right now , Undersheriff Kelly Martinez is holding a 14 point lead over former city prosecutor John Hammersley. Martinez campaigned on her 37 years of experience in the sheriff's department. And even though this is a nonpartisan office , her recent switch to the Democratic Party probably didn't hurt in blue San Diego. John hammered Ling's vow to shake up the sheriff's department. Doesn't seem to have resonated with voters. Joining me is KPBS investigative reporter Claire TRAGESER. And , Claire , welcome.

S4: Thank you.

S1: This was very much a battle between an insider and an outsider of the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

S4: And then like you mentioned also , obviously , there's the fact that she switched to being a Democrat in 2020 and had the support of some big name local Democratic leaders like Mayor Todd Gloria and I spoke with Martinez last night on election night , and she sounded really confident.

S3: The voters have really paid attention during this race to my experience and how important the sheriff is to San Diego County. That's really critical to public safety. And it's important that the right person is sheriff. And this is someone who has the experience that I've got to get the job that has been doing the job.

S1: Now , the sheriff runs San Diego County. Jails and jail deaths may exceed an all time record this year. But neither Martinez nor Hammer Ling rolled out a comprehensive plan to reduce the number.

S4: So , you know , when I asked her about this during the campaign , she said we need to improve people's mental health , give them opportunities and support while they're in custody. So , you know , that means that they're maybe not ending up in jail or if they are , there's there's more support there. And then the other really big thing she talked about is stopping drugs from getting into the jail. And so she said that they've added body scanners , scanners , drug detection dogs and have a team that's working on it in terms of the mail processing. So she kind of talked about about those things. And the hope is that that makes a difference. The issue is that there continue to be more and more jail deaths. We have , I think , 21 now this year , which is a record and the year is not over. So it seems like there's still more work to be done in that area.

S1: Now , there remain many San Diegans who are not convinced. A long time veteran of the sheriff's department can make the changes in policing and jail safety that need to be made.

S4: And so , you know , I think that one thing would be to work with some of those Democratic leaders more closely to to make changes as she could work with the county Board of Supervisors , which is now majority Democrat , on different reforms , which is something that her predecessor , Bill Gore , was more reluctant to do. He kind of , you know , wanted to be able to do things his own way and didn't want them to necessarily make decisions for him. So I you know , I can't speak for individual voters , obviously , but it seems like if she was more open to addressing reforms , acknowledging more reforms need to be done and working with leaders on that , that that that might do a little bit to to convince people who otherwise weren't convinced.

S1: And it's worth mentioning Kelly Martinez looks like she's going to be San Diego County's first female sheriff.

S4: Yeah , that's right. And it's you know , gender didn't really play much of a role in this race , but that is a historic thing. So I don't really expect that that will play out in her in her role running the department. But I guess we'll see.

S1: I guess we'll see. I've been speaking with KPBS , investigative reporter Claire TRAGESER. Claire , thanks a lot.

S4: Thank you.

S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday edition.

S2: I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen CAVANAUGH. The Chula Vista mayoral race between Amar Camp and Aja and John McCann was characterized as a race between new ideas and experience. So far , voters are choosing experience in John McCann as he pulls ahead with a little more than 55% of the vote. A major campaign , AJA has about 45% of the vote. KPBS reporter Gustavo Solis has been covering this race from the beginning and joins us now. Gustavo , welcome. Hello. Have enough votes being counted to call this race ? I don't think so. I mean , you just said it right ? John McCann has a comfortable ten point lead right now , but he hasn't announced victory and Amara Campanella just hasn't conceded. And to put things in context , right. About 34,000 votes have been counted so far. During the previous mayoral election in 2018 , there were more than 70,000 votes counted. Now , obviously , that was a presidential election. So you expect the voter turnout to be higher. Like I said , John McCain has a comfortable lead. I personally don't see it changing , but there are enough uncounted votes to swing this race right now. Remind us who John McCann is and how you think he'd work with the makeup of the city council. Well , John McCann is he's been a Chula Vista councilmember for 16 years. He's a Republican. He owns a multimillion dollar property management business. And he served in the Navy during the war in Iraq. People in Chula Vista recognize his name. He's been there for decades. They know him. They know who he is. And in terms of how he'll work with the council , I think that's super interesting right now. There's going to be a lot of turnover in the Chula Vista City Council right now. There are two open seats. Actually , three , if you count the one , Steve Padilla will vacate if he wins the state Senate race. And none of the people running for those open seats have held public office in Chula Vista before. So if the results hold up , that means John McCann will be the most tenured politician in Chula Vista. He'll be the experience leader in a city council full of relative newcomers. Some of the big issues affecting Chula Vista residents are budget shortfalls for city services. Privacy issues surrounding surveillance and licensing for marijuana businesses. What will be McCann's approach to dealing with those issues ? Well , in terms of surveillance , I wouldn't expect John McCain to be a reformer or even call for more oversight. I've interviewed John several times , and he's always been extremely reluctant to criticize anything the police department does. I mean , he's even been reluctant to call out the fact that the police department was sharing license plate reader data with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for years. So on that front , I wouldn't expect much pushback in terms of cannabis. John McCain does not want to increase the number of cannabis licenses in Chula Vista. He does recognize there were hiccups with the application process early on. But in his view , those are kind of over. I don't know if he is unaware or just doesn't particularly care or is troubled by the fact that multiple cannabis businesses are suing the city right now because of their permitting process. Do you have any sense of how a major campaign Aja might lead and address these issues ? So our campaign manager has been a little bit more vocal about his criticism of the police department's use of some surveillance technology , but he's also supportive of the police department. He kind of sees it as an issue of education. If the public were more aware of what these programs would actually do , they might be more okay with it. He's a little bit more on the privacy side than than John McCann would be , but I wouldn't say by much. In terms of the budget deficit , I mean , John McCann and Kemp and Aja have very similar ideas in terms of bringing more businesses to the city by cutting the red tape. The thing that differentiates Summer Camp and Aja is that he wants to be a lot more aggressive when it comes to asking for federal and state funding. This is discretionary funding that the city can apply for and get that. In recent years , the mayor and City Council of Chula Vista have just not signed paperwork to get federal money that , you know , it's taxpayer dollars , it's low to the city. So he would be more aggressive in kind of bringing outside money to the city. Another race you covered is the Chula Vista City attorney race , Simon Silva , who passed away in September after battling cancer , was on the ballot. And there was a great deal of controversy about that. Let's take a listen to what his challenger , Dan Smith.

S4: Had to say.

S3: By not informing them , I think it's a great disservice to not allow them to make that decision. It's almost as though the the party , the elites decided that they would make the decision for the voters.

S2: So what was Dan Smith talking about there ? Well , the San Diego County Democratic Party has continued to endorse Silva , even though they know that electing him will force the city to spend between 1.5 and $2 million on a special election. What you just heard was Dan Smith calling out the Democratic Party for promoting the candidate , but not telling voters that that candidate is dead. So what have voters decided up to this point ? This is one of the closest races in all of San Diego County right now. I mean , when I went to bed last night , Silva was up with 52% of the vote. This morning , I woke up and Smith closed the gap to within 149 votes. It's pretty much an even split right now , a 5050 race. What message do you think voters are sending with that decision so far ? It's just bizarre to me that this race is even that close , right. I mean , it makes me wonder whether Chula Vista voters are aware of the fact that they're voting for someone who cannot hold office or if they know that voting for Silva will force them to spend 2 million on a special election. Well , these are two races we will keep our eyes on. I've been speaking with KPBS reporter Gustavo Solis. Gustavo , thank you so much. Oh , thank you. California voters overwhelmingly supported enshrining the right to an abortion and contraception in the state constitution Tuesday. Back again to break down the big takeaways from Prop one and the six other propositions on the ballot is that Kazu , a political science professor and co-director of the Yankelovich Center at UC San Diego. Thad , welcome again. Thanks. Let's start with Prop one. This added the right to abortion and contraceptive use to the state constitution. How important was this measure for Californians ? Well , voters spoke and it was the single thing that they supported the most in this California election , said Prop one , outpolled any any candidate. Right. Gavin Newsom , Alex Padilla , any of the popular Democratic candidates , none of them captured as many votes as as this proposition enshrining the right to abortion. So so it's an issue where there's a clear consensus in this state. Sports betting lost big in California with the nos leading on props 26 and 27. This is not a huge surprise. It's what the polls have been saying. Talk about what their failure to pass signifies. Yeah , So ? Well , everyone predicted this based on the polls. Let's take a moment to realize that $600 million was spent in total between these two propositions , and Californians resoundingly rejected them both. And I think these measures , 26 and 27 , kind of gotten this death spiral of attacking each other and bringing each other down. And and I don't think this shows as much that Californians are opposed to any form of sports gaming. You know , it's let's Californians go to Las Vegas and bet on sports. And many other states have have enacted legal regimes for doing it. I think they didn't like the fact that that they seemed to be bullied and bought into doing this fight by two ballot measures that were looking to monopolize the profits of sports gaming. Voters supported increasing spending on school arts funding with Prop 28. What are your takeaways from that victory ? Yeah , this was another big win where voters want to see that billion dollars going into schools which have been focusing on reading , writing and arithmetic , but but haven't had support for arts. And so that's going to make a big difference for whether it's a school orchestra , you know , a drawing program , painting program , or we're going to see more art in California. K-through-12 education. Another measure where millions were spent on advertising was Prop 29. This measure would regulate the staffing of kidney dialysis clinics. This is the third time it's come before voters and failed. Will this be the last time ? I don't think so , because the unions who push this are also engaged in a complex bargaining or for their workers with the two main companies that control dialysis in California. And these views , this and these initiatives , these three failed initiatives as much as a bargaining chip. If we're going to if you don't do what we want in bargaining , we're going to take another thing to the ballot. You're going have to spend another hundred million dollars to defeat it. And so we may see potentially another dialysis measure on the ballot in the future , some time in California , Proposition 30 , which would have tax the rich to pay for electric vehicle infrastructure and other kitchen sink items , is also currently failing in the vote. Why do you think voters didn't support that idea ? And this is one where the environmental community split on both sides. The Democratic Party said yes. Gavin Newsom , its leader , said vote no on that because he thought it was really a giveaway to lift , which was the group that was the rideshare company that was providing the lion's share of dollars from there. So so I think this was voters being , again , skeptical of the money behind an initiative and the source of that money and thinking we're not quite sure what this thing does , but we think maybe it helps out Lyft more than anyone and voting against it. Finally , Proposition 31 upholds a state law barring the sale of flavored tobacco products. Winning with 62% of the vote. What are your takeaways ? Your California voters have voted against Big tobacco again and again through taxes on tobacco and cigarettes at multiple times. And and what we see around here was backing what the legislature did with trying to to stop a marketing campaign that's really trying to get kids hooked on tobacco through through flavorings. And. And so I wasn't surprised , but it was a big vote of confidence in what the legislature did to to regulate flavored tobacco. I've been speaking with that. Kazu , a political science professor and co-director of the Yankelovich Center at UC San Diego. There. Thank you so much for joining us today. Thanks for having me.

S1: There were plenty of local San Diego candidates and issues on the ballot , including four San Diego City Council seats. In addition , voters had to decide on building height limits and trash pickup fees. So joining me to run down the results of San Diego City races is KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen. Andrew , welcome.

S5: Hi , Maureen.

S1: So the most hotly contested city council race was in District two. Incumbent Democrat Jen Campbell faced Republican Linda Lucas. And Campbell has a comfortable lead at this point. Tell us more about the race.

S5: Yeah , so Jen Campbell has made some enemies over the past four years because of some positions that she's taken. For example , brokering a compromise on short term home rentals , figuring out how to regulate them , also supporting lifting the height limit in the Midway district , which is in District two. So for that reason , she faced a recall effort which failed. She faced the most number of challengers out of any council race in the primary. And it ultimately worked to her benefit that the challenger who made it through to the general election happened to be Republican , Linda Lucas. And the GOP brand has really suffered in San Diego since 2016 and the Trump presidency. And as long as that remains true , I think that these cases where we get a Democrat versus Republican in a city race , in the in a general election , the Republican will for the foreseeable future have a really tough battle to actually win.

S1: Now one open seat in District six had two Democrats running. Right now , Kent Lee has a commanding lead.

S5: A lot of the major endorsements in this race. He was endorsed by the Democratic Party , San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. A lot of the interest groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the Labor Council. His opponent was Tommy Howe , a former radio host. And Tommy Howe really sought to frame this race in terms of neighborhoods first , protecting what we have now. Resisting change and showing skepticism to this track that San Diego was on. The idea that we need to build as much housing as we can in order to relieve the supply shortage that we have and make housing a little bit more affordable for folks. Kent Lee really , in contrast , really embraced the efforts to city's efforts to build more housing and find ways to add density to these suburban style single family neighborhoods that San Diego has so many of many of them in District six , by the way , like Mira mesa or a university city. Figure out how to add density to those neighborhoods while also protecting the quality of life that folks enjoy now. District six was also created as the Asian Empowerment District. The incumbent Chris Kate , who is termed out , was seen as the Asian representation on the City Council , and that will continue under Kent Lee. And I think a lot of folks felt like it really is important to have that AAPI representation on the city Council. I did speak briefly with Kent Lee after the first results dropped last night , and here's a bit of what he said.

S2: Our race is always been one about optimism and belief that we still have a lot of opportunity in the city despite all the challenges that we face , and that if we can work together to find ways to tackle some of the challenges that we face , that we have an opportunity to really make an impact.

S1: Let's take a step back and talk a little bit about this. All new all Democrat San Diego City Council , something that was really unthinkable just a short time ago.

S5: Yeah , And it's not just the city council , that's all Democrat. It's the entire city government , or rather the elected offices. So because we have a Democratic mayor and city attorney , the voter registration in the city of San Diego has shifted significantly in Democrats favor. A harbinger of that trend was when District five , which covers the sort of northern inland neighborhoods , became a Democratic plurality , and they elected in 2020. Marni von WILPERT , a Democrat who has really found a way to speak to those voters , not in terms of of left and right , but just in terms of , you know , representing their interests. Some of these changes , I think , come from demographic trends. You have , you know , younger progressives moving to San Diego , just also the urbanization of many San Diego neighborhoods. Of course , we can't declare San Diego will be a blue city forever , but for the foreseeable future , it does appear that any Republican who's trying to seek office in the city of San Diego will have a very , very uphill battle.

S1: Now , two of the most watched city ballot measures are too close to call. First of all , measure B , that would allow the city to impose trash pickup fees on single family homes.

S5: I don't think that we will know the results for several days. Last I checked , the no side was winning by a couple of thousand votes. But in terms of , you know , what this ballot measure means , this issue of free trash pickup for single family homes has long been seen in San Diego politics as a third rail. You just do not ask folks in single family homes to impose fees on themselves for trash collection , even though folks in apartments and condos have to pay separately for that service. And and , you know , there's a real , I think , an objectively a real fairness issue there. But if this measure fails , San Diego will just continue the status quo. It'll continue to have to use general fund dollars to pay for trash collection for all of these homes. And and that trash collection is getting a lot more expensive. The city will is now starting to have to recycle organic waste. So collecting kitchen scraps basically and separate those. And that's because of a state law that's , you know , new costs that are being added on to the Environmental Services Department. And those costs , you know , the money that the city will spend on that whole service is money that it cannot spend on other priorities like parks , libraries , road repair and public safety.

S1: We have little soundbite from San Diego County Taxpayers Association CEO Hany Hong , who opposed the measure. But even he says it's unfair. Let's hear from him.

S3: Just goes to show how contentious this is. The city of San Diego. And I think that a lot of folks.

S2: Everybody agrees that the system is unfair and we need to change it.

S1: Another squeaker is Measure C , the Midway district height limit.

S5: The question is whether the Midway District should be included with all of the other neighborhoods in the coastal height limit of 30 feet for all new construction , which applies to pretty much everywhere in the city west of Interstate five , Midway District is in a coastal neighborhood. And , you know , it doesn't really have coastal views that that folks , you know , feel like they might need to protect by keeping the height limit low. However , there was some baggage with this whole issue since the 2020 race. You know , the reason we had to vote on this again was that there was a lawsuit claiming that the city had not properly analyzed the environmental impacts of allowing taller buildings in the Midway district. So , you know , the opponents to measure C were able to , you know , claim that the city that that there was some sort of malfeasance going on , that they didn't follow the law. I think a turn out in this case is probably a very big factor. Just the fact that not as many people cast ballots in San Diego and we generally know that , you know , the more ballots that are cast , the more progressive the vote tends to be. So if this measure does fail , it's a very big question what's going to happen with the sports arena redevelopment proposal , which does not pencil. Building a new sports arena and about 4000 new apartments there , as well as some park space and other amenities. That whole plan does not pencil if the project is limited to 30 feet. I spoke with John Uo , who chairs the Midway Community Planning Group. Last night , after the initial ballots dropped , he said he was very anxious watching these results come through. But ultimately he sees the question as about the city's ability to build more housing.

S3: Really what I want to see is a San Diego that rewards people who work hard. I want to see a San Diego that enables upward mobility from various different socioeconomic classes. I want to see a San Diego that prioritizes good jobs for workers.

S5: And I'll just add , Maureen , there is the lawsuit that blocked the city from implementing the 2020 ballot measure to raise the midway height limit is being appealed. So even if Measure C fails , there is a backup plan that the city has in its back pocket that could go to the Court of Appeal , ultimately even to the state Supreme Court , that , you know , could just basically drag this question out even longer.

S1: Measures D and Measure H now have comfortable leads. In fact , Measure H seems to be a solid winner. Remind us about those measures.

S5: Measure D would repeal the ban that was passed in , I believe , 2012 on project labor agreements. These are basically contracts between the city of San Diego and construction worker unions in order to provide the labor that that does public works projects. And so , you know , this was backed by unions very strongly. And it's a rather esoteric question to voters. Not many people even know what a project labor agreement is , but it had the backing of the Democratic Party and there was a lot of money spent by unions in order to make sure that it passes. And that money appears to to have really swayed voters in its favor. Measure H was a pretty simple question of whether child care should be allowed in city parks. So , you know , many city parks have rec centers or other buildings where child care could be allowed , but it's not a permissible use under the city charter. And so that question , you know , voters seem to have pretty easily said , yes , we're fine with child care taking place on city parks.

S1:

S5: And presumably will be doing that in the following days , probably around the same time. That's how it's been in the past. And remember , a ballot that was mailed just has to be postmarked by Election Day. So , you know , if theoretically somebody was on vacation in Florida and they dropped their mail ballot in the mailbox on Tuesday and it got postmarked. And picked up by then. It could take a few days to arrive to the registrar so that could , you know , stretch this out several days and and we'll just have to be patient on waiting for the final results.

S1: I've been speaking with KPBS , metro reporter Andrew Bohn. And Andrew , thank you.

S5: Thank you , Maureen.

S1: This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Jade Heineman. Voters across the state said yes to Proposition one. That's the amendment to the state constitution that protects reproductive rights , including abortion. Prop one got 68% of the vote. Here's what Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins had to say last night.

S6: The voters have spoken in California. We join many across this country who cast their vote today in support of reproductive rights , reproductive justice and reproductive freedom.

S1: The proposition gained support among state legislators when it became clear the Supreme Court was poised to strike down Rho v Wade. Supporters say having the amendment in the state constitution further secures abortion rights for Californians. But with the political balance in Washington still undecided , it's unclear if Prop one will be a shield against federal encroachments. Joining me is Maggie Schroeder , a San Diego lawyer and former president of the Lawyers Club of San Diego. And Maggie , welcome back to mid-day.

S4: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

S1:

S4:

S1: Because there are state laws already protecting abortion. Some have said this amendment was more political theater than a necessary protection.

S4: So this amendment obviously in California , we currently allow abortion up to 24 weeks. Proposition one , as you said , amends the California Constitution to expressly include an individual's fundamental right to reproductive freedom. What this does , as well as it and you sort of alluded to this earlier , that , you know , some leaders in Congress are poised and it is their mission to impose a nationwide abortion ban. And while this wouldn't prevent that , I believe it certainly provides some additional firepower for the state of California and our attorney general to fight against a nationwide abortion ban and to preserve the right to an abortion in the state of California.

S1: Now , concerns have been raised about the ultimate legality of Proposition one.

S4: But I think because it passed I mean , because it was put up to the voters to choose the proposition also tracks with the California Supreme Court language and the California Supreme Court , actually , four years before Rove versus Wade recognized a right to an abortion. That was in 1969. And in that opinion , the California Supreme Court talked about the fundamental right of a woman to have an abortion. And so because of this language of the amendment or of the constitutional amendment tracks with that , I don't anticipate that any legal challenges would be successful.

S1:

S4: The reason for that is two things. First , proponents of this bill have been clear that their intent is just to reaffirm the right to an abortion in California. And as I said before , the text of the measure does track with the language that has been used by the California Supreme Court. The broad language here is consistent with other constitutional amendments. For example , the right to bear arms. So constitutional amendments are they tend to be left broad and then they leave it to the courts and the legislature to further elaborate on the details and the restrictions of that amendment. For example , the fundamental right to an abortion. Every state that recognizes this and nationwide , it still allows for some restrictions. Right. So even in California and the right to an abortion is not unlimited. It's restricted after 24 weeks. So , you know , while I think that there will be legal challenges , I think ultimately they'll be unsuccessful. And I don't think that courts will ignore the sort of the history of the proposition where proponents have said this isn't this is not meant to further expand the right to an abortion. It's just meant to enshrine it in the state constitution.

S1: Now , California wasn't the only state with abortion on the ballot when Row V Wade was struck down in June. There was speculation that the issue of abortion rights would drive supporters to the polls in. November.

S4: The right to an abortion was on the ballot in both Michigan and Vermont. Voters in both of those states affirmed abortion rights , which is exciting. And notably , Kentucky actually had a ballot measure which would have denied constitutional protections for abortion. And Kentucky voters resoundingly rejected that ballot measure , which I think is really it makes a strong statement and is a victory for abortion rights supporters.

S1:

S4: So technically no. And so what would happen if Republicans in Congress were successful in passing legislation enacting a nationwide abortion ban after 15 weeks , which is what Senator Lindsey Graham has proposed that technically would restrict abortion. It would ban abortions nationwide , including in California after that 15 week mark. However , you know , first of all , it's a long road to get there. And I can imagine that almost immediately the California attorney general would file a lawsuit , which would go up to the U.S. Supreme Court. And the justices would then determine whether abortion is something that Congress has the power to regulate under the commerce clause. California would argue that the state , the health , the sovereignty to legislate , the fundamental rights of privacy and now to the right of an abortion. And because the right to an abortion is now enshrined in the state constitution , as I previewed earlier , it does give the attorney general a little bit more firepower in that regard. The other point I would make there is , you know , this has always been and Republicans have said this , the US Supreme Court has said this , that they believe that abortion rights is an issue that should be left to the states. In fact , in the Dobbs opinion , which overruled Roe versus Wade , the Supreme Court took that position and said , you know , the right to an abortion is something that the states should decide. So , you know , would it have the immediate impact of a nationwide abortion ban ? And. Are there tools in California and other states arsenals to fight against that which ultimately would go to the U.S. Supreme Court ? I believe there are. Perhaps that's just me being optimistic. But but I do think this is at least a step in the right direction to protect the rights of women and people who can become pregnant.

S1: I've been speaking with Maggie Schroeder , San Diego lawyer and former president of the Lawyers Club in San Diego. Maggie , thank you so much.

S4: Thank you , Maureen. It was a pleasure.

Voting may be over, but a number of key races across the country have yet to be decided. In California’s 49th Congressional District, incumbent Democrat Mike Levin had 51% of the vote as of Wednesday morning to opponent Republican Brian Maryott’s 49%. Then, undersheriff Kelly Martinez currently holds a 14-point lead over former city prosecutor John Hemmerling in the race to become San Diego’s next sheriff. Next, in the majority Democrat city of Chula Vista mayor's race, Republican John McCann has a 10-point lead over Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar. Then, a closer look at where California’s propositions stand the day after the election. And, a roundup of the races and measures in the city of San Diego. Finally, a closer look at the passage of Prop 1 and what it means for abortion rights in California.