California Politics: Turkey of the Year Awards

It’s that time of year again, when families gather around the groaning board to give thanks for…whatever. And we bestow our annual “Turkeys of the Year” awards on some deserving political animals.

Here we go.

• Mitt Romney—the erstwhile GOP nominee for President not only managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but is now being shunned by his own party for continuing to “get it” politically wrong. However, now he’ll have more time to oversee construction of his car elevator, right here in sunny California.

• The Munger siblings—Sister Molly poured nearly $50,000,000 of her own money into Prop. 38, an initiative that would raise the income tax rate on most Californians to fund education. An alternative to Governor Jerry Brown’s Prop. 30, (which targets those who make more than $250,000 a year), to fund education and help relieve the state’s budget deficit) Prop, 38 went down in flames on the November ballot, with a 72% “No” vote, while Prop. 30 passed with a 55% “Yes” vote.

Brother Charles was the second top donor to California initiative campaigns—after his sister.

According to, he gave gave $37 million, primarily to pass Proposition 32, which would curb unions' political power, and to oppose Proposition 30.

Together the Mungers accounted for over one-fifth of the total spending on California initiatives on the November ballot. And they lost—BIG!

• Americans for Responsible Leadership (ARL)—This Arizona-based nonprofit unwittingly gave a huge “in-kind” contribution to the Governor’s Prop. 30 campaign. Right before the November election and without disclosing individual contributors, ARL donated $11 million, to California’s Small Business Action Committee PAC, to defeat Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative and to pass Prop. 32.

Brown embraced the dust-up over such a large, mysterious contribution against his plan, planting enough doubt in voters’ minds to help sway public opinion toward Prop. 30. Proposition 32 also tanked.

• California’s Republican Party—the state GOP lost 4 seats in the state’s Congressional delegation and is now all but irrelevant in the state legislature, because the Democratic Party has gained a “supermajority” in both houses.

And the GOP can thank the party’s staunch support of Propositions 11 and 20, passed in 2008 and 2010 for making California more Blue. These initiatives took redistricting out of the hands of partisan incumbents and gave it to an independent citizens’ commission. In addition, this year--for the first time, the state’s GOP registration dipped below 30%.

• The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (abetted by California’s Democratic Party)—The Citizens’ Redistricting Commission carved out a new Democratic Congressional District, CD 31 in the Inland Empire.

But the Democrats’ preferred candidate, Pete Aguilar, snoozed through the first “top-two” primary, perhaps thinking he was running against only three lesser known Democratic candidates. Aguilar came in third behind the two Republican candidates–both better known, setting up a Republican versus Republican run-off in a district House Democrats counted on to shrink the GOP majority.

• Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks)—No, not because Sherman beat 15-term Congressman Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) in an incumbent versus incumbent contest historic for its nastiness and cost.

During the campaign, Sherman repeatedly bashed Berman, the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, for taking too many overseas trips. But that didn’t stop the victorious Sherman from campaigning to replace Berman—as ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

But the California Democratic Congressional caucus, most of whose members supported Berman in the campaign, denounced Sherman, particularly for a mailer—sent by a Super PAC and designed to attract GOP and Independent voters, linking Berman to Maxine Waters, Barney Frank and Barbara Boxer. Sherman has withdrawn from the committee fray.

Now, who’s your nominee for Political Turkey of the Year? Tell us. And tell us why.

And Happy Thanksgiving one and all!

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