Green versus blue. That’s an underlying theme of this year’s election nationwide as the Democrats are trying to hold on to the Senate as well as big majorities in the California legislature.
It is a theme being played out on the Central Coast where a normally reliable cadre of “blue” Democrats, namely school teachers, public employees and safety workers, are showing up in ads urging a “no” vote on Measure P, which would ban “high-frequency” oil and gas operations in Santa Barbara County.
The vote pits these reliably Democratic workers against environmentalists who have turned Measure P into a litmus test for “green” credentials.
Meanwhile, in Ventura County, the city of Port Hueneme’s Measure M debate pits unionized laborers at the Port of Hueneme versus city officials hungry to levy new tolls on the port’s businesses. While the port has made multi-million dollar investments to green-up its operations, that’s not enough for some opponents of the Oxnard Harbor District, which oversees port operations.
The rising rift between green and blue appears to be lost on billionaire big-spenders like Tom Steyer, who has made opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline another litmus test for funding and green credentials. It may yet cost the Democrats control over the Senate as formerly shrill Republicans moderate their tone and their stance to appeal to women and Latino voters on economic and national security issues.
But one person who does get the need to bridge the green-blue divide is Gov. Jerry Brown. His green credentials are solid thanks to the state’s tough greenhouse gas emissions law and his support for an increasingly expensive high-speed rail project.
But he is personally spending campaign money and personal capital in support of the Proposition 1 and 2 ballot initiatives to build water projects and restore fiscal discipline through a combination of spending caps and the creation of a rainy-day fund. These are programs that have a broad appeal to moderate voters of both parties, including construction unions that would greatly benefit from the water bond projects.
The ability to balance California’s sometimes conflicting green and blue agendas are one reason why Brown currently enjoys a 20-something percentage point lead in most polling. Other politicians in the state and region should sit up and take notice.