Unlike most people of my political ilk, I have a few fond memories of election night 2004. For one, I got to drink on the job. I also got to take a photographer on a wild goose chase for then-Mayor Matt Pear that led us to KMVT's studios, the city attorney's house and, finally, the Mayor himself.
Nationally, the results of the "voting" that day were equal parts horrifying and disastrous. But, at the local level, the Republican Party suffered two very significant losses.
The first -- Sally Lieber's crushing victory over Marie Dominguez Gasson in Assembly District 22 -- was no suprise at all. Gasson, a Santa Clara University student who turned 21 on election night, said herself that she was a sacrificial lamb. (Interestingly, she won about the same number of votes from Mountain View voters as did George Bush, indicating that the decider-in-chief had no qualities to recommend him beyond a 21-year old college student.)
Gasson raised several hundred dollars for her campaign, much of which she sent to Steve Poizner, the charming moderate billionaire that the GOP was hoping would lead them to a victory in Assembly District 21. That didn't happen either, of course, and, despite what his altered state, it didn't take Mountain View City Council member Mike Kasperzak long to grasp the lesson that even billionaire Republicans can not win state office in Northern Santa Clara County.
This is not because we have such good taste or such good candidates around here, but that the state legislature has so gerrymandered the electoral districts that seats almost never change parties in either house. (Bonus prize to anyone who can explain why we have two houses in the state legislature).
Kasperzak (right) and others tried to use this as an argument for letting Governor Schwarzenegger appoint some retired judges to redraw the district boundaries. Voters realized this wouldn't really accomplish much and rejected the proposal. A better idea comes from Steve Chessin, a Mountain View man active with Californians for Electoral Reform, a group promoting multi-member districts and instant run-off voting as solutions to what we have now.
Of course, the corporations, trade groups and unions that control the parties don't like this either, because they would lose their stranglehold on state politics. (Newspaper editors don't like it because it's complicated). So, long story short, Kasperzak changed his party affiliation this morning, leaving behind the party that was once grand but is now just old in favor of the one that is neither, at least partly in hopes that he can keep his political career alive.
Welcome to the losing team, Mike.