The Age of Lockyer Draws to a Close


An age in California’s political history is ending. One of the longest-serving elected officials in state history will be leaving office shortly after New Years, drawing to a close a career that started during the Nixon Administration. In California history, thirty-five people have served in the Legislature for more than a quarter-century, and only five are still living. Lockyer is the only one still in elected office.

Lockyer won a seat on the San Leandro School District Board in 1964, and by 1973 was the Chair of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee and an Administrative Assistant to Assemblyman Robert W. Crown.

Late on the night of May 20, 1973, Crown was hit and killed by a car while jogging through a crosswalk. According to an LA Times article;


ALAMEDA (UPI) – Assemblyman Robert Crown (D-Alameda), a physical fitness buff and 17-year veteran of the California Legislature, died early today of injuries suffered when he was hit by a car while jogging…
One auto halted at the intersection and another, driven by Charles E. Shuler Jr., 41, Alameda, apparently went around the stopped vehicle and hit the legislator, police said.
Los Angeles Times, May 21, 1973; pg 3

Lockyer filed as a candidate in the special election, and won with nearly two-thirds of the vote. He served for eight years before being elected to the State Senate in 1982. Served as President pro Tempore, California State Senate from 1994 until he termed out in 1998. During his 26 years in the Legislature, his tenure overlapped with those of nearly 300 legislators, from Randy Collier and Ralph Dills (first elected in the 1930s) to Bob Hertzberg and Jim Nielsen (still serving today).

What makes Lockyer stand out is that he is the last of the long-term legislators to leave state office. The thing about long-term legislators is that they see farther into the future when considering legislation, as hopefully the new 12-year members will. They’re also less likely to fall for the tricks that tend to snare newer members (“What’s the big deal about accepting a campaign contribution inside the Capitol, anyways?”). Lockyer has seen what happens when the wrong corners get cut, and it made him cautious. Lockyer’s caution made him reliable, and his reliability made him appealing to voters who were looking for a little stability to counterbalance their more eccentric votes (like a movie-star Governor). In his final election, Lockyer received more votes than any other state elected official in state history except Jesse Unruh.

Now, as Lockyer leaves office, his final replacement will be John Chiang, who was two years old when Lockyer won his first election. There’s something to think about.

16 Things to Watch on Election Night

As the 2014 election wraps up, here are some statistics and historical facts to watch for when you see the results.



TENURE: Jerry Brown is already the longest-serving Governor in State history (his tenure surpassed Earl Warren’s in October 2013). With all other living former Governors term limited to eight years (except George Deukmejian, who also left office before term limits), it’s unlikely that we will see a longer-serving Governor anytime in the near future.

Also worth noting is the total number of votes that Brown receives. In the 1986 General Election, Jesse Unruh was elected Controller with 5,589,633 votes, becoming the California constitutional officer to receive the highest number of votes ever. I have a sneaking suspicion that we may see that record broken this year by either Brown or Chiang.



If elected, Ashley Swearengin would be California’s first Republican state Controller since Houston Flournoy was elected in 1970. Flournoy is interesting because he eventually went on to be the Republican who lost to Jerry Brown, giving him his first term.


Superintendent of Public Instruction

Tom Torlakson came very close to winning reelection in the primary, but Marshall Tuck has been running a strong campaign since then. If Torlakson is defeated, he will be the first Superintendent of Public Instruction to be defeated in a reelection bid since Wilson Riles in 1982.

Congressional District 7
If Doug Ose wins, it will be the first time an incumbent Democratic congressman was defeated in a reelection bid by a Republican since 1994 (when three incumbents were replaced; Daniel Hamburg, Richard H. Lehman, and Lynn Schenk)



Congressional Districts 11 and 33

Pete Stark, who left office in 2013, currently holds record as California’s longest-serving Congressman (for his 40 years between 1973 and 2013). Congressmen Henry Waxman and George Miller, both of whom are not running for reelection, will leave office in January after 14,611 days in office (an exact tie with Stark).

Congressional District 12
Assuming that she is reelected (she has defeated this same opponent twice before), Nancy Pelosi will become the longest-serving current member of California’s congressional delegation.

Congressional District 17
If Ro Khanna wins, it will be the first time an incumbent Democratic congressman was defeated in a reelection bid by a member of their own party since 2012 (when Howard Berman, Joe Baca, Laura Richardson, and Pete Stark left office that way). Being the “first person to do something that hasn’t been done since two years ago” doesn’t seem that impressive, but it actually is.

Congressional District 26
As noted in Congressional District 7; if Jeff Gorell wins, it will be the first time an incumbent Democratic congressman was defeated in a reelection bid by a Republican since 1994 (when three incumbents were replaced; Daniel Hamburg, Richard H. Lehman, and Lynn Schenk)

There will only ever be ONE Ralph Dills


State Senate District 04

If he is reelected, this will be Jim Nielsen’s fifth time winning election to the State Senate. The last time a person won their fifth senate election was 1994, when Diane Watson and Ken Maddy won their 5th elections, Ruben Ayala won his seventh, and Ralph Dills won his eighth.

Senator Z

State Senate District 14

If Luis Chavez unseats incumbent Andy Vidak, he will be the first Democrat since George Zenovich in 1978 to win that particular district number (Senate District 14).

State Senate District 28
With two Republicans (Bonnie Garcia and Jeff Stone) on the ballot in  SD 28, it’s guaranteed that one of them will become the first Republican to win in that district number since Bill Symons Jr. won it in 1962.

State Assembly District 36
The race in AD36 is one of the most contested in the state, and Steve Fox has a very real chance of losing. If he does, it will be the first time in twenty years that an incumbent Democratic state legislator was defeated for a reelection bid by a Republican.


State Assembly District 40

Redistricting makes district numbers jump around every ten years, but it’s still impressive that until Mike Morrell won it in 2012, no Republican had been elected to represent Assembly District 40 since the Great Depression (1938). Can Marc Steinorth be the first Republican to win it and hold it for a full term (Morrell moved to the Senate just 16 months into the term) or will Kathleen Henry bring it back into the Democratic win column?
It’s worth noting that the Senate District which was Republican for the longest time (SD-35) hadn’t elected a Democrat since Harry C. Westover in 1936 when Rod Wright won it in 2012. Like Morrell, Wright departed before finishing his ground-breaking term.


State Assembly District 57

If Ian Calderon loses in AD57, Rita Topalian would be the first Republican since Charles J. Conrad in 1970 to hold that District Number. Conrad was a Republican movie star who decided to pursue elected office in California, but actually did it decades before Reagan or Muscles.

State Assembly District 65
Like AD 36, the race in AD 65 is highly contested, and it could be several days before we know the final outcome. If Quirk-Silva loses her reelection, it will be the first time in twenty years that an incumbent Democratic state legislator was defeated for a reelection bid by a Republican.

Earl Smittcamp, King of Post-Apocalyptic California, Has Died


Reagan and Smittcamp

Earl Smittcamp, a long-time farmer who spent nearly 50 years in the line of succession to California’s Governor, died today.

Governor Reagan appointed Smittcamp as Disaster Acting Governor #6 in 1967, placing him 14th in the line of succession after California’s statewide elected officials and the five Disaster Acting Governors ahead of him. As noted in a 2011 post on this blog, a law created the Disaster Acting Governors in 1958 amid concerns that a massive Soviet atomic attack on Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Francisco could kill all of the state’s elected officials and lead to the end of the civilian government of the state. 

After the 1966 election, Ronald Reagan moved into the Governor’s office and soon appointed a new group of seven new Disaster Governors. In addition to Smittcamp (designated as “Disaster Acting Governor #6″), the six others were Carlyle Reed (#1), Victor Lundy (#2), R. Gwin Follis (#3), Y. Frank Freeman (#4), Virgil Pinkley (#5), and A. W. Bramwell (#7). Two years later, Reagan appointed Robert L. Vickers to fill the vacancy created when Freeman died in 1969.

No additional Acting Governors were appointed after 1969, and over the years the appointees died of old age until (following the death of Vickers in 2011) Smittcamp became the highest ranking Disaster Acting Governor (11th in line of succession). At the time of his death, Smittcamp had spent more than 47 years in the line of succession, longer than any other person in state history.

Alan Lafaso, Sean Wallentine, Joel Angeles, Mike Gipson, Richard Zeiger, James M. Humes, Dave Stirling, Steve Coony, Collin Wong-Martinusen, Bill Bagley, Evan L. Goldberge, Chris Garland, Earl Smittcamp

The Line of Succession for California’s constitutional offices