Home Political Beat AS IT HAPPENED: Election night 2010

AS IT HAPPENED: Election night 2010

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Supporters for Jerry Brown gather at the Fox Theater to await his victory speech in his bid for California governor. (Vanessa Guerra/ CALIFORNIA BEAT)

Democrats Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer defied the red tide that swept Republicans into office nationwide Tuesday, winning the hotly contested California gubernatorial and Senate races over well-funded Republican opponents.

Meanwhile, voters sent Proposition 19, the measure to legalize marijuana, up in a cloud of smoke, defeating it 53-46, but backed a measure to eliminate the two-thirds requirement for passing a state budget.

These are the updates we put out Election Night as the returns rolled in.

02:20 PDT — We close this live blog with a few observations on very close races.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, a Democrat, has just pulled ahead of her Republican opponent, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, after trailing all night in the race for attorney general. She now holds a 0.5-percentage-point lead — slightly less than 30,000 votes — with 86% of precincts reporting.

And the 11th Congressional District race between Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney and Republican challenger David Harmer looks to be one of the closest in the nation. The latest figures from the Secretary of State’s office show Harmer clinging to a 23-vote lead. Absentee and provisional ballots will likely decide this race, and an automatic recount is expected.

Look for our recap of an eventful night early Wednesday morning.

01:05 PDT — Debra Brown joins fellow Democratic incumbents holding onto their statewide offices, securing her title as California’s Secretary of State.

In the California Assembly, the Beat projects Assemblymembers Joan Buchanan, Nancy Skinner, Mary Hayashi, and Sandre Swanson will hold onto their seats as well. Buchanan faced the closest race, ultimately beating out Republican challenger Abram Wilson.

00:40 PDT — Over in Oakland, the 10-way mayor’s race is set to be decided by voters’ second and third preferences. Former state senator Don Perata has the most first preference votes — 35% of votes — but has nowhere near a majority. Councilmembers Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan are trailing with 24% and 20% of first preferences, respectively, with SF State professor Joe Tuman drawing 12%.

Second and third preference votes from the ranked-choice voting process will be tallied on Friday.

00:35 PDT — Meanwhile, incumbent Democratic Congressman Jerry McNerney, fighting for his political life in the 11th Congressional District against a GOP tidal wave which has already swept Democrats out of power with historic gains for the GOP, is making something of a comeback. He’s down 48-47 now to Republican challenger David Harmer — 1,691 votes — with 88% of precincts in.

00:27 PDT — Some results from San Francisco, where all precincts are now reporting (though it’s likely there are still many votes left to be counted).

Proposition B, the highly controversial measure to increase city employees’ contributions to their health and pension plans, appears to have been soundly defeated by a 58-42 margin. Proposition B was fiercely opposed by the city’s powerful public employee unions and nearly every city official except the measure’s primary backer, Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

Meanwhile, Proposition A, a bond measure to fund earthquake retrofits, is receiving slightly less than the 2/3 margin needed to pass, receiving 64% support from voters.

And the controversial “sit/lie” measure — Proposition L, which would prohibit sitting or lying on sidewalks during the day — appeared to be headed for passage, with the measure leading 53-46.

23:35 PDT– Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has conceded the race to Democrat Jerry Brown. In her concession speech she thanked her supporters, telling them that while “tonight has not turned out quite as we had hoped […] you were part of something important.”

“We did not achieve the victory we worked so hard for,” she said, “but we love California and we still believe that it can be a better place […] It is time for Californians to unite behind the common cause of turning around this state.”

23:24 PDT — The races for state treasurer and controller have been called for their democratic incumbents, Bill Lockyer and John Chiang respectively.

23:12 PDT — Senate contender Carly Fiorina speaks to supporters to tell them she is not going to concede the race to incumbent Barbara Boxer, calling it a “dead heat tie.” She says of news organizations who have already called the race, “maybe that was not a smart thing to do.”

Boxer spoke to her supporters shortly after Fiorina finished her speech, saying that while this was the “toughest and roughest campaign of my life,” she is confident she will come out on top.

“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this victory,” she said, citing votes from liberal-leaning Los Angeles and Alameda County have not yet been counted.

23:05 PDT — Jerry Brown just wrapped up a speech to supporters at the Fox Theater in Oakland.

“These are real divisions […] I take as my challenge forging a common purpose […] based not just on compromise, but on a vision of what California can be,” Brown said.

His Republican challenger Meg Whitman has not yet conceded the race. Brown acknowledged that the final vote has not yet been tallied, but said “they haven’t gotten in all the votes yet, but it’s good enough for government work.”

22:55 PDT — Proposition 23, which would have suspended A.B. 32, California’s initiative to curb global warming until the state’s jobless rate drops to 5.5 percent, is losing 58-42 percent. The Clean Air bill, which is scheduled to be enacted in 2012, would lower the state’s emissions levels to 1990 levels by the year 2020.

21:35 PDT — Two controversial San Francisco Propositions gained wide margins in early returns from the San Francisco Department of Elections. Proposition L, the city’s sit/ lie ordinance proposal, was up to a big lead with 63 percent of voters approving the measure and 37 percent oppositing it. Proposition G, the measure that would reform MUNI operators’ pay, was leading 71 to 29 percent.

Proposition B, a pension reform initiative spearheaded by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, was close, with 48 percent of voters saying yes; 52 percent voted no in early returns.

21:10 PDT — In the crowded race for Oakland mayor, Don Perata is in the lead with 38 percent of the vote, Jean Quan at 25 percent, Rebecca Kaplan at 17 percent and Joe Tuman at 13 percent. Only 11 percent of precincts are reporting. The final result is not expected until later in the week, due to the city’s new ranked choice voting process.

20:52 PDT — With about 16 percent of expected votes counted, the break-down of California ballot propositions has Prop 19 down 55 to 45 percent. Other props losing are 21 (58-42), 23 (61-39), 24 (59-41) and 27 (61-39).

Prop 20 is currently winning 65-25. Prop 22 is also doing well at 64-36. Both props 25 and 26 are also ahead.

Most statewide returns include more mail-in entries and have not yet counted more of the urban and coastal areas, which tend to lean more liberal.

20:49 PDT — The race for California governor has been called for Democrat Jerry Brown, beating out his Republican challenger Meg Whitman.

20:44 PDT — The race for the Senate has been called by the AP for incumbent Barbara Boxer, winning against her Republican challenger Carly Fiorina.

20:27 PDT — In the closely watched 11th Congressional District race, Republican challenger David Harmer is slightly ahead of Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney 49-46 in early returns. About half of the expected votes from conservative San Joaquin County have been counted, but votes from Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, where McNerney may do better, have been slower to arrive so far.

But McNerney trails 51-45 in the early returns from Contra Costa County, not a good sign for him.

The California Secretary of State’s election results website appears to be down, unfortunately.

20:15 PDT — Interesting tidbits from the exit polls:

  • 21% of voters were Hispanic, and they went for Brown at a 2-1 clip.
  • The exit poll also suggests that Proposition 19, the measure to legalize marijuana, is trailing.

20:06 PDT — Early exit polling numbers show Democrats Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer with leads over their Republican challengers. Early exit polls have a much higher margin of error than regular polls, so it its still too early to say who has won.

20:00 PDT — Polls are now closed in California. We’re waiting on early exit poll numbers, which will be out momentarily.

19:55 PDT — While we wait for polls to close in five minutes …

Bay Area voters are also voting on a whole host of measures, including more than 70 tax and bond measures and measures targeting city employee benefits in San Francisco and San Jose. San Francisco voters will also decide whether sitting or lying on sidewalks should be prohibited during the day — a measure targeted at aggressive panhandling.

Oakland voters are choosing a new mayor, while some East Bay voters will have their say in one of the few competitive Congressional districts in California — though with the GOP already certain to take control of the House, the national significance of the race has diminished.

For more on Bay Area races, see our preview story on local races.

19:45 PDT — In addition to the governor’s and senate races at the top of the ticket, we also have eight state measures on the ballot today.

The highest profile measures are Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana, Proposition 23, which would suspend the state’s global warming control law, and Proposition 25, which would eliminate the two-thirds vote requirement for passing state budgets. What little pre-election polling there is shows Proposition 19 and 23 both losing, while Proposition 25 is ahead.

For more on the statewide ballot, see our preview story.

19:30 PDT — Welcome to our election night live blog. Polls close in California in half an hour, but around the nation, a picture has already emerged.

Backed by a wave of voter discontent — 54% of voters in this election nationally disapprove of Barack Obama’s job performance, according to early figures from an exit poll conducted for the Associated Press and major television networks — and boosted by a distinct “enthusiasm gap” between Republican and Democratic base voters, Republicans are projected to take back the House of Representatives. Many projections show Republicans gaining more than 50 seats from Democrats.

But in the Senate, wins by embattled Democrats in Delaware, where controversial Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell lost, Connecticut, and West Virginia have Democrats on track to retain control.

And in California, Democrats can point to recent polls which show both Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman Barbara Boxer with leads over their Republican opponents.