With the fate of the Republic at stake, not to mention control of the Santa Barbara school board, voters on Tuesday will help provide long-awaited answers to some critical questions we’ll be following on Election Night.
Here is a quick look at eight that are consequential, intriguing or, at least, entertaining.
1) When will we know who won the House? It’s hard to overstate the depths of despair to which Democrats will descend if their strenuous and spirited effort to pick the Republican lock on federal power through winning control of the House of Representatives fails - but it may be weeks before final results are in.
The half-dozen purple congressional seats in California that are crucial to the Dem push could all come down to a few hundred provisional ballots counted around, oh say, Thanksgiving – giving Donald Trump plenty of time to try to delegitimize the outcome, 240 characters at a time.
2) What’s the betting line on Salud? Rep. Salud Carbajal’s re-election should be clear by about, um, 8:06 p.m., so the key question for political junkies here is how many points he’ll win by over Republican Justin Fareed, the Harold Stassen of the 24th Congressional District..
Vinny “The Vig” Vermicelli, Newsmaker’s Las Vegas Bureau Chief, has set the point spread at 9, and we hear murmurs Salud’s circle is laying down stacks of cash, taking their boy and giving the points.
3) Will the G-force defeat Measure G? Veteran strategist Mary Rose faces the knottiest challenge of any local political consultant, as she seeks to pass Measure G, which would establish an 11-member independent commission to draw new district maps for the five-member Board of Supervisors.
Not only does the G campaign need to win a larger majority of votes than Measure H, a rival ballot initiative backed by Republican and oil company money, but also must differentiate its product from San Luis Obispo’s Measure G, an environmentalist-backed bid to ban fracking, which has drawn an $8 million TV ad campaign financed by the petroleum industry that has spilled into our county, incessantly cramming a “No on G” message into the eyeballs and ear drums of SB voters.
4) What if city voters turn down Measure B? The Legislature and outgoing Governor Jerry Brown a few years ago passed the Voter Participation Rights Act, which requires cities to move their local elections to an even-year cycle, when turnout (especially Democratic turnout) is higher, replacing the off-off-year, odd-numbered year balloting by which Santa Barbarans have long elected their city council.
Rejection of the measure will leave the city open to a lawsuit by the state (and create a nightmare legal scenario City Attorney Ariel Calonne described as “You can’t win, you can’t lose and you can’t settle”) but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if SB’s notoriously cranky voters thumb their noses at Sacramento because, after all, We've Always Done It that Way.
5) Will voters read to the end on school board hopefuls? Unlike statewide elections with multi-candidate fields, where the order in which the wannabes’ names appear on ballots is rotated by legislative district, the top-to-bottom positions of the eight contenders for SBUSD trustee were chosen by lot, and will appear in the same sequence for all district voters.
It may seem a goofy point, but after all the substantive forums and controversies, some insiders warn that weary voters who haven’t paid much attention to the campaign get slapdash near the end of a long ballot, rushing to finish by checking the first names that sound acceptable amid a sea of unknowns – a thoroughly unproven theory that should please Ricardo Cota and Mark Alvarado, who are 1-2 at the top – and bug Rose Munoz and Jim Gribble, bringing up the rear at 7-8.
6) What will Judy do? The spectacle of a platoon of rich guys ginning up the campaign for Montecito’s Water and Sanitary Districts with an absurd amount of money and a lamentable display of power politics has been brazen and bizarre.
It will become downright shameful if their play succeeds in ousting the inestimable Judy Ishkanian, a model good citizen and civic treasure who has conscientiously performed thankless and tedious labors on the sanitation board for over a dozen years.
7) How much does San Roque care about the Mesa? It’s a good bet that Darcel Elliott’s call for construction of 7,000 units of housing for out-of-area students would not bedazzle nearby neighbors of City College.
But her challenge to incumbent SBCC trustee Marsha Croninger is being waged cross-town, in (all rise) Trustee Area 5 – which includes the Riviera, Upper East Side, Mission Canyon and San Roque, and may be home to more NIMBYs than anywhere in town.
8) Can outsiders prevail in Sacramento? It’s a slam dunk that Gavin Newsom, the oleaginous and self-regarding lieutenant governor, will succeed Governor Gandalf, and that fellow Dems will capture nearly all the other constitutional offices.
But Republican-turned-No Party Preference Insurance Commissioner candidate Steve Poizner could make history by becoming the first independent elected in California (and, along the way, point the way for other GOP pols who suffer from the state party's badly damaged brand) while Marshall Tuck, an enfant terrible charter school champion and rebel Dem, could further thwart the party establishment by capturing the non-partisan office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction post.
Don't forget to vote.
P.S. Newsmakers will be pitching in on KEYT's election night coverage on Tuesday. See you on the 8, 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts.
Images: Not the League of Women Voters; President of the United States and friend; Newsmakers Las Vegas Bureau; Mary Rose; Ariel Calonne; People who don't read to the end of their ballot; Judy Ishkanian; Go Vaqueros!; Steve Poizner; The House that Palminteri Built.