Anniversary of Jonestown

Leo J. Ryan

Friday marks the thirty-third anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre, the cult mass-suicide that killed 918 people in and around the Jonestown compound in Guyana. The dead also included a congressional delegation (led by Congressman Leo Ryan) that was seeking information about alleged abuses by the leadership of the community.

It’s unfortunate that today, Congressman Ryan is remembered primarily for his murder in Jonestown. During his years in the Assembly (1959-1972), Ryan played a significant role in the operation of the legislature. In 1966, Ryan was led the opposition to Proposition 1A, which created California’s full-time legislature.

California State Assembly seal

A year later, Ryan authored the resolution (HR 410 of 1967) that established the design of the seal of the California State Assembly (which is still used today).

During the same period, Ryan also wrote a book about the legislature titled Understanding California Government and Politics. In it, Ryan describes the many interests that compete for the attention of a legislator, and offers some excellent advice to constituents who are thinking about contacting their legislators;

“You have a state legislator within easy reach of you. He does have an office. If you need information, call him. If you would like to have him speak to your class, invite him. When they have the time, most legislators will be interested in meeting you. You will find them sympathetic to your interests and far from unapproachable.”

Congressman Matthew G. Martinez died

Former Congressman Matthew Martinez, who represented AD-59 for the 1981-1982 session and was a member of Congress from 1982 to 2000, died October 15th at his home in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

LA Times Article: “Former Rep. Matthew G. ‘Marty’ Martinez dies at 82

Special Elections Timing in 2013

The 2011 Redistricting has led to a significant number of legislators who will be changing district numbers in the 2012 election. One interesting impact is in the State Senate, where the four year terms are likely to cause a number of vacancies as members jockey for their new districts. Although it’s still early to figure out exactly which legislators will end up running for which districts, one thing that we can figure out is when the special elections will be.

California’s election code says that Special General Elections (run-offs) are to be scheduled for a Tuesday between 112 and 126 days after the Governor calls the election. An extra two weeks of flex time is available because the Governor is given two weeks from the time of a vacancy to call the election.

Because Senators are unlikely to resign from their current Senate seats until after they’ve actually won the election to their new seats, the earliest that vacancies are likely to occur is the day after the 2012 General Election (which would be November 7th). The latest that a Senator is likely to resign their previous Senate seat is December 3rd, which is the first day of the new legislative session (the day they would be sworn into their new office).

If a Senator waits until December 3rd to resign their current Senate seat, and the Governor waits two weeks to call the special election, and then schedules it out as far as he can, the Special General would fall on April 16th and the Special Primary (which is 8 weeks before the General) would fall on March 12th .

If the Senator resigns on the first day after the general election (which would be November 7th), and the Governor called the election the same day, and scheduled it for as soon as possible, the Special General Election would fall on February 27th (and the primary would fall on New Years Day or Christmas). Therefore, the earliest we’re likely to see a Special Elections scheduled are March 5th (with a January 8th Special Primary).

2013 “First Round” Special Election Date Ranges
Vacancy: November 7th to December 3, 2012
Primary: January 8* to March 12, 2013
General (Run-off): March 5 to April 16, 2013

“Follow-up Special Elections” (resulting from Assemblymembers being elected to the Senate in Special Elections in the January to April range above would fall somewhere between March and September

2013 “Follow-up” Special Election Date Ranges
Vacancy: January 9th to April 30, 2013
Primary: March 12 to July 9, 2013
General (Run-off): May 7 to September 3, 2013