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

Constitutional Offices Line of Succession (September 2014)

I was going through the old research and decided to update part of it and provide it here; the current line of succession for each of California’s constitutional offices.

First, a word of explanation; there are several ways to make it onto this list. Because of this, and to keep things clear, the names have been color-coded to indicate how each person made it onto the list.

  • Elected Officeholder. These are the elected officials themselves. They currently hold each of the offices because they were elected to them.
  • Lieutenant Governor Succeeds. In the case of a vacancy in the Governor’s office, the State Constitution (in Article V, Sec. 10) provides that the Lieutenant Governor will assume that office.
  • Chief Deputies [in Acting capacity]. California Government Code, Section 1775 permits the Chief Deputies of each constitutional officeholder to exercise the duties of the officeholder until a replacement is appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature. So although the confirmed Governor’s appointment is higher  in the line of succession, the Chief Deputies will often serve in an “acting” capacity until the successor is confirmed.
  • As noted above, although the Chief Deputies are able to fill the constitutional offices in an acting capacity, the usual method of filling constitutional offices other than that of Governor is by a Governor’s appointment (according to Article V, Sec. 5 of the State Constitution)
  • Line of Succession California Government Code, Section 12058 assigns a line of succession for the Governor’s office, which includes the following officials;
    • Senate President Pro Tem
    • Assembly Speaker
    • Secretary of State
    • Attorney General
    • Treasurer
    • Controller
    • Superintendent of Public Instruction
    • Insurance Commissioner
    • Chair of the State Board of Equalization
  • In the case of the Governor, following the constitutional officers in the line of succession are the Disaster Acting Governors (according to Government Code Sections 12061-12063). As noted in the chart, the list of Disaster Acting Governors was last updated in August 1967 by Governor Reagan. Of the seven Disaster Acting Governors appointed by Reagan, only one, Earl Smittcamp, is still alive today.
  • Last on the chart are the Disaster Acting Constitutionals. In addition to the Governor, “Disaster Acting” officials are authorized by the Government Code (sections 12700-12702)  for the offices of Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, and Attorney General). Most of the Disaster Acting lists haven’t been updated in decades, with the
    • Lieutenant Governor (last updated 1976)
    • Secretary of State (last updated 1982)
    • Controller (last updated 1971)
    • Treasurer (last updated 2009)
    • Attorney General (last updated 1991)
The Line of Succession for California's constitutional offices

The Line of Succession for California’s constitutional offices