By Jason Wells and Mark Kellam
6:25 AM PST, November 7, 2012
Local Democratic incumbents for state offices and the U.S. House easily cleared challenges from their Republican opponents Tuesday.
Even in the hotly contested race for the 43rd Assembly District, incumbent Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) never lost a comfortable lead over Republican challenger Greg Krikorian, a Glendale school board member, as the election returns -- hampered by fog and air transit delays -- trickled in well past midnight.
With all precincts reporting, Gatto won the district with 60.5% of the electorate, or 72,797 votes to Kirkorian's 47,615, according to the California Secretary of State.
As the returns rolled in Tuesday night, Gatto said he was pleased with the numbers, even if they were preliminary.
“I’m encouraged by the results, so far, and I’m deeply grateful for all the voters who supported me, and I continue to be honored and humbled by their trust in me,” he said.
In the 25th District for state Senate, Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) also won by a wide margin -- 161,649 votes to the 106,344 garnered by her Republican challenger Gilbert Gonzales -- according to the California Secretary of State.
Gonzales, a former aide to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who now handles government affairs for Vons and Safeway, had opposed Propositions 30 and 38, competing tax measures to address the state’s multibillion-dollar deficit and fund education.
Liu, who has long positioned herself squarely in the education and social services camp in a heavily blue district, was behind Prop. 30 and had been sounding the alarm to constituents on impending spending cuts -- an issue many voters in exit poll interviews said was important.
Liu said she would carry on with her focus on “education, environment and infrastructure” while also working for state fiscal reform.
“We need to get a hold of this budget situation and get it right,” she said.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) maintained a commanding lead over his GOP challenger, Phil Jennerjahn, ending with 140,381 votes -- a 76% share -- to Jennerjahn's 44,433.
The two men provided voters with perhaps the clearest choice in terms of political differences on everything from Social Security to abortion. Jennerjahn’s far right positions clearly did not resonate in a district where Democratic Party registration far outpaces that of Republicans, 47.2% to 23%.
In a statement released as the outcome of the race became all but certain, Schiff said he looked froward to growing the small-business sector, investment in infrastructure and domestic manufacturing. He also called for strengthened bipartisan relationships.
“Every election is a chance to hit the reset button, and members of both parties would do well to set aside the acrimonies of the campaign trail and the past to find common-sense solutions to our problems,” Schiff said. “With all we have to accomplish legislatively in the next several weeks, and many important decisions to be made for the benefit of our country, this is more important than ever.”
But it was the Assembly race that saw the heaviest political combat, with each campaign accusing the other of mudslinging and misleading voters.
The tone of the campaign clearly affected voters, who on Tuesday repeatedly referred to the raucous campaign tactics in expressing their disdain for a process in which, for some, it was a matter of picking the lesser of two evils.
Kirkorian’s strategy emphasized his small-business and public education credentials, but it had to overcome Gatto’s incumbent power of attracting outside money and support built into a heavily Democratic district — despite angering local officials earlier this year by supporting Gov. Jerry Brown’s successful mission to dissolve municipal redevelopment agencies statewide.
But Gatto also had name recognition, having already fought several times to keep his seat after winning two special elections and a primary over a span of several months in 2010.
Staff writer Joe Piasecki contributed reporting.