Opponents of Governor Jerry Brown and the California Democratic Party have been slamming the California High Speed Rail Authority for years. The political strategy seemed to be working. Four years after voters approved a tax increase to fund a segment of what was promised to be a high speed train connecting Sacramento to San Diego, the project had morphed and grown more expensive. Voters were angry. Or so the polls said.
Earlier this year, the legislature approved a plan to build 130 miles of high speed rail in the central valley despite near-unanimous Republican opposition. One of the questions this election was whether Republicans could capitalize on the opposition to make gains at the ballot box.
Backed by funding from the oil and coal industries, and the non-stop nattering on the popular John and Ken Show, Republicans thought High Speed Rail was a winning issue.
They were wrong.
Despite a handful of Senators moving from the State Senate to Congress, Republicans actually lost ground in the Senate and now the Democrats have a super-majority in both legislative chambers. In other words, if this election was about high speed rail, voters gave Brown and his Democratic allies the ability to do what they want even if every Republican legislator votes against them.
“High Speed Rail had a goodnight, if indirectly,” wrote Robert Cruickshank at the advocacy California High Speed Rail Blog.
This ad didn’t work.
In Ventura County, Julia Brownley defeated Tony Strickland despite an organized campaign to paint her as a supporter of high taxes because of her support for California High Speed Rail. While the race was rated as a toss-up, Brownley won a Congressional seat held by Republicans by four points.
But while rail backers got good news, there was a dark lining for cyclists. State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-LB) was elected to Congress. While the extremely bike-friendly Lowenthal will be a welcome addition to Capitol Hill, his presence removes a key cycling champion from the halls of Sacramento where he authored and supported both of the recently vetoed 3-Feet Passing Bills.