Four more years
Obama beats Romney as local Dems sweep and voters embrace Brown’s tax on the rich
By Kevin Uhrich 11/07/2012
“It’s right there. Florida is right there,” 23-year-old Frankie Acevedo exclaimed while watching votes being tabulated on CNN as he and co-worker Julio Menendez enjoyed an election-night dinner at Wokcano Restaurant and Lounge in Old Pasadena.
At that moment, around 7 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, President Barack Obama had slightly widened his slim lead in Florida, a battleground state, by a 2 percent margin against Republican challenger Mitt Romney — a 19,000-ballot increase from the statistical dead heat of a 660-vote gap less than an hour earlier.
“It’s game, it’s game” said the once concerned but now confident former Marine, high-fiving friends as the see-saw struggle played out on the popular restaurant’s big-screen TV.
“The right man is going to win,” the Pasadena resident said to the apparent approval of other patrons.
By that time, Nevada, which was once solidly behind Obama early on in the voting, had swung to Romney, but other key battleground states — Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire — were onboard with Obama, some by wide margins, others by one or two percentage points each.
By 8:15 p.m. — minutes after polls closed on the West Coast — Obama was leading Romney convincingly. And by 8:30 p.m., it was all over: Obama had taken nearly every battleground state, including Nevada. That state, where high Latino voter turnout turned the tide in the president’s favor, and the others (excluding Florida, where votes were still being counted on Wednesday morning), were enough for Obama to win 290 Electoral College votes of the 270 required to win, making it statistically impossible for Romney to catch up. By 8 a.m. Wednesday, Obama had captured 303 Electoral College ballots to Romney’s 197, according to CNN, making the president’s bid for a second term a reality.
Although Romney would not concede defeat until after 10 p.m. West Coast time, local Republicans were sullen as they gathered later that night at GOP headquarters on Colorado Boulevard in East Pasadena.
Lynn Gabriel, president of the Pasadena Republican Club, and Ed Barnum, treasurer of the headquarters, were cheerful but crestfallen. Not only had Republicans lost the presidential election, but they also ceded two congressional seats to incumbent Democrats, as well as newly redistricted state Assembly and Senate seats, the 41st and 25th, respectively, according to still unofficial polling results.
About the GOP’s only bright spot of the evening was in the race between Republican Matthew Lin, a San Marino physician and City Councilman, and Democrat Edwin Chau, a Montebello school board member heavily backed by Michael Eng, who was termed out of that Assembly seat after three two-year terms. Chau also had the support of Eng’s wife, Congresswoman Judy Chu. Chu also won re-election Tuesday to her newly redistricted and renumbered congressional district, the 27th Congressional District, which now includes Pasadena, against Republican Jack Orswell. Chu easily won the race with 63.4 percent of the vote.
In the race for Eng’s old seat in the 49th Assembly District seat, Lin led throughout the evening, but Chau pulled ahead overnight to win with 56.6 percent of the votes cast, according to election data provided by the California Secretary of State’s Office.
In the other local race for the Assembly, former Pasadena City Councilman Chris Holden easily beat his tea party-backed opponent, independent businesswoman Donna Lowe of Claremont. Holden ultimately won the seat, formerly the 44th Assembly District held by Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, with nearly 59 percent of the vote, according to the state election figures.
In the race for the 25th Senate District, formerly the 21st District, which now includes Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, South Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge, San Marino, Glendora, Claremont and part of Upland, longtime incumbent Democrat Carol Liu beat her Republican opponent, Gilbert Gonzalez, 60.7 percent to 39.3 percent.
And in the other local race for Congress, veteran Pasadena Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, who now, after redistricting, represents Glendale and Burbank, among other communities in his new 28th Congressional District, also won handily over political newcomer John Jennerjahn, 74 percent to 26 percent.
Some conservatives also took solace in voter rejection of a measure aimed at ending capital punishment, Proposition 34, as well as the defeat of education advocate and civil rights lawyer Molly Munger’s Proposition 38, which aimed to pour billions of dollars into elementary and high schools over the next 12 years through a sliding-scale tax which would burden rich and poor proportionately according to income. Munger’s proposition, according to the Secretary of State, was roundly rejected by voters by 72.3 percent of the ballots cast. A Pasadena resident and daughter of billionaire Charles Munger, Molly Munger pumped $44 million into the Yes on 38 campaign.
On the other hand, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30, a sales tax hike and increased income tax on the rich to help pay for primary, secondary and college education costs, was losing late into the night, but pulled ahead overnight to win by 53.9 percent of the 9.2 million votes cast in that election.
“I’m in shock,” Gabriel said of Obama’s win over Romney.
Nationwide, Obama won 51.1 percent to Romney’s 48.9 percent. Countywide, Obama won 59.1 percent to 38.6 percent of the more than 9.43 million votes cast in the presidential election.
The top third-party candidate in county balloting was Libertarian Gary Johnson, with 98,615 votes, or 1 percent. Comedian Roseanne Barr of the Peace and Freedom Party came in fifth of the six candidates, winning 36,914 votes.
“We are going to be a socialistic country, like Greece and some of the Western European countries,” said Gabriel. But, she said, “You know, it doesn’t matter to me. I have enough money to get me through very well for the rest of my life.”
It’s the next generation Gabriel, an optometrist, worries about, primarily due to the $6 trillion in debt the US has racked up since Obama took office in 2008. “Their children are never gong to have the life that I’ve had, and that’s sad,” she said.
Meanwhile, the scene at the Democratic Party election after-party at Burger Continental Restaurant on South Lake Avenue — right next door to Pasadena’s Democratic Headquarters — was one of jubilation.
“There were so many things about this campaign that were very problematic,” Pasadena Board of Education member Renatta Cooper said over the din of people elbowing for space in the crowded popular eatery.
“I felt that the refusal of the Republican Congress to work with the president, because they were so determined to make him a one-term president, I felt that it was so cynical and so unpatriotic and so wrong,” Cooper reflected. “But, you know, I have a lot of faith, and I just didn’t believe that was going to triumph. I was confident a month ago, and I never wavered. I knew we were going to win, and we did.”
Holden, who has been in local office nearly 25 years, was greeted by cheering well-wishers as he entered the bustling restaurant a few hours after polls closed.
“I’m excited. We’ve got a lot of friends here, people who I’ve known for a long time,” said Holden. “We’ve done all that we can do. We’ve left, as they say, nothing on the floor. We ran a smart campaign and we are very excited about taking the experience we’ve put together here in Pasadena, a bipartisan approach, and look forward to making that work in Sacramento.”
“This is a big win tonight for Democrats and for the country,” said Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, who has served on the council with Holden since running against him for the mayor’s position in 1999.
“I think the continuity of President Obama will be good for the country and help us move forward the way he talked about during the campaign,” Bogaard said. “My hope is that, after the last term, when people did obstruct the progress of the country, that there will be a more positive feeling,” said the mayor.
“I’m an optimist, and I’m hoping that people come together,” he said. “The candidates both veered toward the center in the final stages of the campaign, and I hope that indicates the direction we are going.”
Republican Robin Salzer, owner of Robin’s Woodfire Grill & BBQ, echoed Bogaard’s sentiments.
“The Republicans have the House, the Democrats have the Senate. I hope President Obama wants to leave a strong legacy, and I think this term I would like to see him work both sides of the aisle,” said Salzer, husband of former Pasadena Councilwoman and local real estate agent Ann-Marie Villicana, in an interview at the Republican campaign headquarters.
“[Obama] said earlier that this would be his last election, his last campaign. He has four years to bring the country back together. I think he has an opportunity to heal the country, to rebuild the country, to work across both sides of the aisle. Let’s put politics aside and do what’s right for the country and move forward. That’s the agenda I would like to see him put forward.”
Mike Alexander, president and co-founder of Teapac, the local branch of the tea party, said he was disappointed but not surprised by the election results. “We are in very difficult economic times and a lot of people rely on checks from the government and voted in a way that they think will continue. Unfortunately, they are in error,” said Alexander, who attended a tea party post-election party in the Romanesque Room of the Green Hotel in Old Pasadena.
“This country is on a glide path to economic destruction. That day of reckoning is going to come and it is important that when that day comes we are united to handle it,” Alexander said. “Tomorrow we’ll go right back to work educating people about the economic mess we’re in, to go back to work on the 2014 election and be there for when this whole thing comes apart. Voting for Barack and Democrats will not restore economic prosperity, period.”
Reporter Carl Kozlowski contributed to this story.
For more election results, visit cnn.com, http://vote.sos.ca.gov/returns/president and http://rrccmain.co.la.ca.us/0012_StateContest_Frame.htm.