Election’s a Wrap: A Reporter’s Notebook

Conversations with Dems and Reps About Xenophobia and Inexperience

The chair of Santa Barbara's Democratic Party, Daraka Larimore Hall, felt the national election was a wake-up call to progressives that what ails the nation is not being cured.
Paul Wellman

Just before midnight on Tuesday, Democratic Party leaders found it sardonically amusing that they had worried the chosen election night venue, The Mill on Haley Street, would be too crowded to accommodate the wild party they optimistically anticipated. But the mood there was bleak as a dwindling crowd of several dozen trickled out of the open-air courtyard as the night dragged on.

For the Democratic candidates who prevailed — Salud Carbajal (House of Representatives), Monique Limón (State Assembly), Hannah-Beth Jackson (State Senate) — the night was bittersweet. They were just beginning to process the implications of a Donald Trump administration.

Wearing a form fitting, off-white pantsuit — “in solidarity with women everywhere” — Limón remained optimistic about the future of the Democratic Party. “Look what we did locally,” she said. Others wore a sadder expression on their faces.

Across town at the Endless Summer Bar Cafe, where the Republicans have long gathered on election nights, the mood was initially surprised at Trump’s early run with electoral votes. Though many wore Trump gear and a Trump piñata hung in the front with an American flag in each hand, one person opined, “Even if he doesn’t get the party will never be the same.”

As of this writing, voter turnout in Santa Barbara County was 55 percent, with 53,900 votes left to be processed, according to the elections office. Key races are not expected to change.

The following is edited notes from conversations with Santa Barbara Democrats and Republicans throughout election night.

Daraka Larimore Hall, chair, Santa Barbara County Democratic Party

What do you make of tonight? This is a global trend — the xenophobic right rising all over the world, and this needs to be a wake-up call to progressives everywhere that after Brexit, we really have to rethink our strategies.

Where do you think Trump supporters are coming from? We are living in a bubble. We have to feel that racism is racism — and there is racism driving this vote for sure — but also see that the solution to it can’t really be calling them deplorable and being all, “The urbanite women and people of color are going to save us.” Nope. So you have to give them something to vote for.

Black votes — most loyal Democratic voting group. Poll them on gay marriage. Poll them on divorce. Poll them on all kinds of stuff. They are not with us. It’s getting better … but they are super loyal Democrats. What the hell does our party give to an out-of-work factory worker in Ohio? We sent their job overseas. We told them we wouldn’t. Our president is out there doing the hardest ball he’s done as president to pass TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership]. That’s how he spends his political capital? And then we’re like, oh, they voted against us? It’s not that we’d get them all if we moved in a more populous direction with economics, and I’m not trying to be naïve about it, but it’s really hard to run someone so intimately tied to Wall Street and so unpopular in so many ways and say, “Overcome your sexism and your racism and your class radar that this person is not on your side.” But we give them nothing.

Glum Democrats watch national results at The Mill Tuesday evening.
Paul Wellman

What now? Were going to have a gigantic battle about it.

Will the party move to the left? I don’t know. I guarantee that tomorrow Fox, Washington Post, are all are going to be, “This is Bernie’s fault.” … So we’re going to have a fight. It’s going to be shrill. My job here in California is to get people to focus on the California election, which is we are doing the right thing which is moving to the left, and I also think that’s good for the country but by no means will that be the hegemonic reaction. There is a whole sort of clique or network.

What do you think is going to happen on the Republican side? Good question. Really no idea. All these people who ran away from Trump … are all going to be running back. Trumpism is vindicated to me.

I think there will be battles, but whatever side you want to call it — non-Trump side — just lost. If Clinton had won, it’s not like the left in the Democratic Party would have been vanquished. Quite the opposite actually. Bernie and Elizabeth Warren are still super popular. They had this sophisticated plan for pushing her. We would have fought, we always fight — we’re Democrats — but I would not want to be a moderate [Republican].

This guy has no idea how to do politics. How does he manage his own caucuses? The guy is about to face rape charges … Mike Pence just snuck into power.

Dale Francisco, chair, Santa Barbara Republican Party

Most worried about if Clinton wins? Supreme Court. Unless Senate is resolute we’re going to get way liberal justices.

Worry if Trump wins? No political experience. We had Governor Schwarzenegger in California, and he wasn’t very effective. There are many unknowns with Trump, but I prefer those to the knowns of Hillary. He’s chosen to work with people who do have experience. He’s going to have to rely on others if he’s president. Appoint good people to give advice. I hope it all plays out well.

Jim Worthen, archconservative in the Republican Party Central Committee

Where you expecting these results? No, expected to win marginally.

Why are you chanting “Lock her up?” She’s broken many laws. Would’ve been arrested if not running for president. Either she’s stupid or … If she wasn’t Hillary Clinton we’d lock her up. Trump will come closer to 300. No way he’ll lose! Disappointed with Fox News, they should’ve called Georgia, Florida. They held off.

Fear if Hillary wins? It’ll be a rough four years, if she makes it through them or is impeached. She won’t get anything done without being unconstitutional. We don’t have a king … or a queen.

You mentioned there were two types of Hispanics. What are they? Really there are three types. One, Hispanic citizens. Two, Hispanic citizens and families that have relationships with illegals. They can be good relationships, too. Like an uncle who came here illegally. Three, Criminal illegals. The 23rd district in Texas has 70 percent Hispanic, but they voted out the Hispanic Democrat. Hispanic citizens are business people and family people. The closer you get to the border the more you realize how bad it is.

San Diego is different than San Francisco. It’s not their daughters being raped. It is unfair to middle and lower class. The come and commit murder and rape children. Trump is only talking about 20 percent that are bad.

Biggest fear if Trump is president? I supported Richard Nixon, and he was the worst person. The worst thing he did was the baseline budget. That’s why spending is going up. That’s the only thing I fear about Trump. But he ain’t going get away with it. Concerned he could give power away to establishment, that he could be manipulated by establishment.

Governor [Scott] Walker was my first choice. Trump was my third.

You have a show called Head to Head. Will you be talking about Trump? A great political analyst, Steve Franks, will be on the show Thursday. It’ll be called, “What the Hell Just Happened?!”

Were you anticipating these outcomes then? No, it would’ve fit if Hillary won. It could’ve gone either way.

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson

Santa Barbara City Councilmember Cathy Murillo (left) lets out a whoop for Hannah-Beth Jackson, who kept her seat in the State Senate.
Paul Wellman

You ran a very minimal campaign. How come? Early on we did a poll to see how essentially the community felt I was doing, and it was very strong, very favorable. I knew there were going to be a number of races that were going to be heavily contested and that most of the money and most of the energy was going to be directed there. I really felt that the work I’ve done over the last four years was my campaign.

Of course I have to ask you about the presidential race. What do you attribute to Donald Trump’s success? I think he’s tapped into people’s fear, and they are angry. People only have a misguided sense of what the problems are in this country, and he has tapped into that. I think that there are a lot of things that have gone into the election, as close as it is one way or the other. Anger and fear are very strong, powerful emotions that keep people from thinking. That’s my fear. People are making decisions based upon emotion rather than logic and reason.

We hear Trump supporters complain that we’ve become a “nanny state.” In terms of political correctness, do you think there is any truth to the notion that we have become too politically correct? I’m not sure what politically correct means. If politically correct means that we try to treat people with dignity and respect, then that’s [a good] thing. I think that notion is just an attempt to marginalize the efforts of many of us in California. And we are a very diverse state. We are all immigrants from somewhere at some time. California tends to celebrate its diversity. In order to celebrate diversity, you have to treat people with respect. And more welcome them than vilify them. So I think that the phrase politically correct really misdirectd what we are talking about. Treating people with dignity and respect is, I think, a good thing. What I think California is showing is that California is kind of in a bubble.

Assemblymember Das Williams, elected to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors in the June primary

Paul Wellman (file)

You will be sworn in as Santa Barbara County’s 1st District supervisor in January. Isla Vista falls in the 3rd District. Do you anticipate having to step back from Isla Vista? If so, how much? I would just say that Isla Vista is the largest population that is governed directly by the county, so it should matter not only to me but to [5th District Supervisor] Steve Lavagnino and does matter to [2nd District Supervisor] Janet Wolf. And Joan and I have talked about it because, obviously, I have a unique understanding of I.V., but she is really welcoming. To her it seems a blessing to have another supervisor as invested in her district. And I think it’s important for the future of the whole county. While there are a lot of people who make a lot of money here, it is a place that uses more services than it takes in in revenue for the county. So everything that happens out here affects every taxpayer in the whole county.

The 8 percent utility users tax, Measure F, requires a two-thirds majority to pass as opposed to the Community Services District, Measure E, which just requires a simple majority. What happens if the tax doesn’t pass? [It did not pass.] Even if we fall short, we will try again, because I think it will be the will of the majority to move forward with local government. It could wait for the next general election. Two years. The reason we don’t want that to happen is we don’t want memories to fade from the process. A lot of these people remember getting to help shape the services. This is an amazing operation here that has brought [Measures] E and F this far.

Blanca Garcia contributed to this story.


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