Thursday, November 8, 2012

Did Los Alamos take my voting advice?

No question: Tuesday night was a huge win for the moral arc of the universe. I’m so used to voting for losers that seeing a very high percentage of what I supported win, across the country, was wonderful. So how about the specific endorsements I made on October 14 for Los Alamos?

First, though, an interlude for complaining (it wouldn’t be my blog without griping, now would it?). The local election coverage here is atrocious. Both the Monitor and the Post spent a lot of effort trying to share national results, doing so both awkwardly and slowly. I can guarantee that no one, nobody, not a single person comes to either of these organizations for national or even state results. This is the internet age, and there are dozens of organizations providing these results faster and better.

In any endeavor, one should consider one’s competitive edge; in this case, it’s offering local results that few outside Los Alamos County would be interested in. But even these weren’t really available. I don’t have a detailed critique, but here was my experience: I looked a few times, I saw nothing but disorganized jumbles of numbers that didn’t answer my question (i.e., who is winning or has won), and so I left.

For example, Stephanie Garcia Richard’s win was a big lost opportunity. A little statistics — that no one else was interested in doing! — could have called the race well before midnight. I think it’s a real shame that, particularly in this community, no one was interested in offering this sort of reporting.

Anyway. On to the good stuff!

Minnesota constitutional amendments. (Wait, that’s not Los Alamos! you protest. This is true, but I lived in Minnesota for 13 years and some great things happened up there on Tuesday.) There were two truly awful constitutional amendments on the ballot: one to enshrine marriage discrimination in the state constitution, and the other to require picture ID to vote and make other dumb voting changes that I don’t quite remember. The latter is particularly egregious because Minnesota has among the highest voting participation rates in the country, which most Minnesotans are rightfully proud of. Both failed.

Bond questions. Recommendation: Yes on all; result: Yes on all.

Constitutional amendments. Recommendation: No on 1, Yes on 2-5. Result: Yes on all. I’m not too bothered on losing Amendment 1; it was kind of an esoteric question and will have little impact, I suspect.

County charter amendments. Recommendation: Yes, No, No, Yes. Result: Yes on all. This one actually annoys me. I think it’s kind of embarrassing that so many people said with a straight face that the language improvements and the related thresholds (e.g., number of signatures required to initiate a recall) were inextricably bound — clearly, they’re not. I was also bothered that a key argument in favor of the amendments was, “smart people worked hard on these, so just trust us”; that’s patronizing. In many ways, Los Alamos seems very prone to groupthink, and I think that may have been what happened here.

Judge retentions. Recommendation: retain all; result: retain all.

County clerk. Recommendation: Hjelm; result: Stover. I think this was a big missed opportunity for Democrats. Nathan has good ideas but just can’t express them well to a general audience. (All that said, I’m pretty skeptical that the position should be partisan, since a key responsibility is overseeing elections.)

County council. Recommendation: Sheehey, Redondo, Henderson. Result: Henderson, Girrens (R), Sheehey. This was the best result that could be reasonably expected, increasing Democratic representation from 1 to 3 out of 7 (I’m unsure if the remaining 4 are all Republicans or if there are some independents in the mix), though I’m a little frustrated because I was not impressed by the Democratic candidates. Again, a missed opportunity in that Michael Redondo really didn’t seem ready for the post — perhaps a better candidate could have made it D+3.

NM House, District 43. Recommendation: Garcia Richard; result: Garcia Richard. This one I’m really pleased by. I think Stephanie will make an excellent representative. I realized that she reminds me of my sister a little bit, who I have occasionally been pestering to run for office.

Stephanie did not win Los Alamos County, losing by 767 votes or about 7.5%. However, she won big in the smaller communities that make up the rest of her district, which was enough to put her over the top by about 3%.

Court of appeals. Recommendation: Zamora; result: Zamora.

NM Supreme Court. Recommendation: Vigil; result: Vigil.

US House, District 3. Recommendation: Lujan; result: Lujan. Shamefully, in Los Alamos County, Lujan beat Tea Party nutcase Byrd by only 8% (he won the district by 25%).

US Senate. Recommendation: Heinrich; result: Heinrich. Again shamefully, Heather Wilson won Los Alamos County by 12 points.

President. Recommendation: Obama; result: Obama, with 332 electoral votes, which is about the most that could be reasonably expected. And Los Alamos County went blue again! (The last time before 2008 was JFK.) Even though they called it at about 9:15pm, I was so amped up that I didn’t really get to bed until perhaps 1am. He gave a very good acceptance speech.

The end!

As an aside, it is worth noting that every few years, we as American citizens decide who the most powerful people on the planet should be. Furthermore, if we tell them to go, they go, and this all happens peacefully. In the course of humanity, and even to some extent now, this is quite remarkable.

All in all, it was a superb night and a big step to keep us on the right side of history. I am proud of my country.

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