POLITICAL WRANGLING: BIGGERS WINNERS AND LOSERS—WHO WEREN’T ON THE BALLOT

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By Buck Shott

November 9, 2012 (San Diego) –Some of the biggest winners and losers in this election weren’t candidates—though they’ll clearly be feeling the impacts of the election outcomes.

So who in town needs crying towels, and who should be popping champagne?  From our region’s not-so-influential media mogul to techie geeks who proved social media can help defeat special interests, here are our picks for the biggest post-election winners and losers:

THE LOSERS:

 Doug “Papa” Manchester is surely the biggest loser in San Diego.  He spent millions to  buy San Diego’s biggest newspaper (U-T San Diego) to use as his personal propaganda tool for promoting candidates and causes that he backs.  He even wrapped the front page in glowing editorials for Carl DeMaio and Mitt Romney-- invoking criticisms for violating every ethical standard in journalism—only to see both lose.  Bad investment—now let’s hope he’ll cut his losses and sell out to someone who actually cares about journalistic integrity.

SDG&E and its shareholders must be having some nervous moments now that Bob Filner has been elected mayor. After all, he’s vowed to form a local energy cooperative to compete against SDG&E, giving us all the option to buy power from a rival that buys the bulk of its energy from rooftop solar produced locally. Just imagine, no more paying our utility bills to a corporation that caused our region’s worst wildfires and had the gall to ask ratepayers to pay for them! I for one can’t wait to see Filner pull the plug on SDG&E. 

The Chargers will need to come up with a new strategy to meet their goals, since Mayor-elect Filner has said he doesn’t think taxpayers should foot the bill for a new football stadium.

Special interests:  It’s getting tough to buy voters in California.   An anti-consumer ballot initiative bankrolled by Mercury Insurance went down for the second election in a row (though Monsanto did manage to kill a food-labeling initiative by a modest margin).  Locally, a La Mesa Council candidate backed by a last-minute $37,000 mailer funded by out-of-state realtors finished dead last. 

THE WINNERS:

Students in public schools were on voters’ A list. Now that Prop 30 has passed, restoring a large portion of funds slashed from education budgets, California State University promptly reduced tuitions. Across the state,  districts may now start hiring back teachers and reducing class sizes, as well as restoring courses and programs that fell to the budget axe. 

Social media played a role in local and national races. Thanks to the power of YouTube videos and Facebook,  a grassroots group called Much Better Choices ran professional-caliber Swift-boat style ads targeting Congressman Brian Bilbray, all on a shoestring budget.  Indiscreet Facebook posts by losing judicial candidate Jim Miller drew broad media attention. Even national candidates learned that you can’t escape your past online--Mitt Romney dissed disaster relief back in the primary—only to see his comments roar through cyberspace after Hurricane Sandy left voters across the East Coast eager to receive some of that “immoral” federal aid.

Labor unions flexed their muscle to defeat Prop 32, which sought to quash the power of unions.  The unions responded by getting out the force in force—also electing pro-labor candidates across San Diego. “When are they going to learn not to mess with the unions?” quipped a beaming Lorena Gonzalez, top boss at the San Diego Imperial-Counties Labor Council.

Alpine families stand to finally get the new high school promised in two bond measures that voters approved.  Amid a Grand Jury probe into alleged misappropriation of bond monies, one incumbent on the Grossmont Union High School Board got ousted, replaced by Jim Stieringer, who says he will support a new Alpine High School-- at last.