Get Riehl: Voters Crash Tea Party

by Richard J. Riehl on November 8, 2012

No TeapartyYou could hear a collective sigh of relief in school district offices throughout California after voters approved Prop 30 on Tuesday. Not that happy days are here again for school funding. The Carlsbad school district has already cut costs by $6.1 million this year. Teachers, managers and other school workers pitched in with $2 million of that amount in pay cuts.

If Prop 30 had failed to pass, another $4.8 million would have been slashed from city schools, amounting to a hit of nearly $11 million in a single year.

But the best news from Tuesday’s election results is that the air is beginning to leak from the anti-tax Tea Party balloon. Maybe it’s the irony voters are beginning to see in the public’s eagerness to contribute millions to political campaigns to support candidates who pledge not to raise their taxes by a dime and who hate government so much they’ll say or do anything to win a seat in it.

Here are the losers who were on Carlsbad ballots, endorsed by either the Tri-City Tea Party, representing Oceanside, Vista and Carlsbad or the San Diego Tea Party. They were all endorsed as well by the new publisher of U-T San Diego’s North County Times, “Big Daddy Doug” Manchester (I refuse to use his preferred nickname, “Papa,” in deference to the memory of Ernest Hemingway, who earned the title).

Mitt Romney
Elizabeth Emken (U.S. Senate)
Brian Bilbray (52nd Congressional District)
Carl Demaio, (SD Mayor)
Jerry Kern, (Oceanside Mayor)
Nick Popaditch (53rd Congressional District)
Steve Danon (3rd District County Supervisor)
Jim Miller (Superior Court Judge, Office 25)
Chip Dykes (Oceanside City Council)
Sherry Hodges (76th Assembly District)

Hodges was proud to be the “inaugural signer” never to vote for tax increases designed by Gary Gonsalves, a local Grover Norquist wannabe and co-founder of Stop Taxing Us. The pledge was circulated to all local candidates, who were asked to sign, or refuse to sign it, on camera. Hodges was joined by eight true believers for a YouTube video of the event.

Two of her primary opponents, Farrah Douglas and Rocky Chavez, both Republicans, were not so eager. Douglas signed on camera. But her captive look, sitting at a table with Gonsalves standing behind her, flanked by his two grim lieutenants, is reminiscent of a hostage taking. Chavez agree to sign the pledge, but declined to be videotaped doing it.

I asked Douglas and Chavez why they had pledged allegiance to Gonsalves and not to the best interests of their constituents. They explained the Tea Party had the power to destroy their campaigns. But I got the feeling neither of them would ask permission from anybody before voting on any bill.

Douglas paid the price for not showing enough love for her Tea Party bullies when Hodges prevailed at the polls after launching a last ditch personal attack on her fellow Republican.

In the general election, following a strong endorsement from Douglas, Chavez survived yet another Hodges character assassination attack, defeating her by 58 to 42 percent. That’s called a landslide in politics.

The forest of “No on AA, CC, EE” signs littering roadsides over the last month enabled the anti-tax crowd to defeat bond issues for San Dieguito High School, Del Mar School District, and Mira Costa College. But they were all approved by the majority of voters, with Del Mar’s getting 53 percent, San Dieguito 54, and Mira Costa 54. Unfortunately, they needed 55 percent to pass.

Prop 30 got only 45 percent approval in San Diego County, but it passed with 54 percent statewide. Had it required a super majority Carlsbad students would have been the losers.

Although the Tea Party may not be over yet, Tuesday’s election results show its days may be numbered.

Richard Riehl writes from LaCosta. Contact him at

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