SACRAMENTO (AP/CBS SF) — Joe Biden won California and its 55 electoral votes Tuesday, tightening the Democrats’ grip on the nation’s most populous state.
California has voted for the Democratic presidential nominee in every election since 1992. Four years ago, Hillary Clinton trounced Donald Trump by more than 4 million votes. The president’s trips to California during the campaign mainly were fundraising efforts.
“If we continue under this administration, America will be a lost cause. We will lose hope,” said Harry Rochester, 40, a home care nurse from San Francisco who voted for Biden.
The election came under the pall of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 17,600 people in the state so far, including Alameda County sheriff’s Deputy Oscar Rocha in July. His widow, Maureen Ennor-Rocha, cast her ballot for Trump on Tuesday.
“This is my first voting day without him, so I think that might be part of my anxiety,” she said. “We fly the blue line flag, we believe in protecting our police.”
Biden’s running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, made history as the first Black woman to be a vice presidential nominee for a major political party. She’s also the first Democrat from California to appear on a major party presidential ticket.
It’s been decades since the Republicans were the dominant party in California. Starting in 1952, the GOP won nine of 10 presidential elections and the state helped send Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan to the White House.
But when Bill Clinton defeated President George H.W. Bush in 1992, it started a streak that has now reached eight straight victories for the Democrats, including Biden.
California Republicans were more focused on reclaiming some U.S. House seats after a string of losses two years ago. That included four districts that contain either all or parts of Orange County, a one-time Republican stronghold. Republicans now hold just seven of the state’s 53 House seats.
Among the tightest contests: The 25th District north of Los Angeles, where GOP Rep. Mike Garcia is again trying to hold off Democrat Christy Smith after defeating her in a May special election for a seat left open by Democrat Katie Hill’s resignation amid a House ethics probe involving sexual misconduct. Also, the 21st District in the Central Valley, where former Republican Rep. David Valadao is trying to reclaim his seat from Democratic Rep. TJ Cox, who defeated Valadao by 862 votes in 2018.
Republican Darrell Issa has moved to a neighboring district to try to get back into the U.S. House. The former longtime congressman left office in 2018 and now is running in the 50th District mainly in San Diego County. The seat was left open when GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty to a corruption charge and resigned.
Most of the Bay Area House seats that were up for re-election Tuesday night found Democratic incumbents leading by large margins. San Francisco Representative and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Oakland’s Rep. Barbara Lee, Contra Costa County Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, San Francisco/San Mateo County Rep. Jackie Speier and San Jose Representatives Ro Khanna and Zoe Lofgren all dominated their races, taking anywhere from 77 percent to over 90 percent of the vote.
Anna Eshoo, another South Bay Representative, was leading her Democratic competitor Rishi Kumar by nearly 67 percent to 33 percent.
Meanwhile, voters were weighing a dozen statewide ballot measures that could overhaul property tax formulas, overturn a prohibition on affirmative action and redefine the billion-dollar business models of ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft.
The most expensive campaign involved an intense struggle between business and labor groups over the future of app-based ride-hailing and delivery companies.
At stake is a 2019 law that requires companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash to treat their drivers as employees, guaranteeing them benefits like overtime, sick leave and expense reimbursement. The companies underwrote Proposition 22 to try to keep their business model that treats drivers as independent contractors.
The companies raised about $200 million to campaign for the measure, while labor unions raised more than $20 million to fight it. A state appeals court has ruled Uber and Lyft must comply with the law, likely making Proposition 22 their last hope.
Voters also will decide whether to raise commercial property taxes by up to $12.5 billion per year by triggering a new assessment every three years, with some exemptions for smaller companies.
Supporters have framed the debate around increasing funding for schools and local governments, who rely primarily on property taxes to pay for their services. Opponents have decried the proposition as a job-killing tax hike in the middle of a pandemic-induced economic downturn.
One of the more emotional measures on the ballot is Proposition 16, which would end the state’s ban on affirmative action programs for government hiring and contracting and admissions to public colleges and universities. The state’s Democratic-controlled Legislature put it on the ballot this year, believing the racial justice protests since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis made it the right time to end the ban.
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