REVENGE OF THE BEAN COUNTERS

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REVENGE OF THE BEAN COUNTERS

Syphilis and taxes helped bring down Al Capone, not just Eliot Ness who got the headlines and legend for taking the mobster down. History and Hollywood didn’t give equal billing to US Treasury Department’saccountant Frank J. Wilson for nailing Capone for income tax evasion…In California politics, voters have not underestimated anyone in accounting or finance as unknown candidate David Evans nearly pulled off a June 3 upset, finishing 0.7 % or more than 29,000 votes behind for the right to run in November now claimed by Betty Yee or John Perez. Evans ran for Controller on $600 and his daughter’s social media campaign with a ballot title of Chief Financial Officer, finishing a strong fourth for California Controller but mathematically out of the running behind Assembly Speaker Perez (third place), who was more than 800 votes behind Board of Equalization member Yee (second place) as of Friday, June 27…

Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, John Burton and former Assembly Pro Tempore Speaker Fiona Ma. Photo courtesy of Fiona Ma.

Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, John Burton and former Assembly Pro Tempore Speaker Fiona Ma. Photo courtesy of Fiona Ma.

IF TREND FOLLOWS, YEE LEADS: With more than 6000 votes to count as of June 27 (mostly from Lake County), Perez and Yee mathematically had a chance of winning the second place right to face Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin. If Lake County’s remaining votes reflect its earlier results (Perez 26.0%, Evans 26.0%, Yee 18.6% and Swearengin 12.7%), Perez will gain on Yee’s lead of more than 800 votes. However, he’ll fall short and come more than 400 votes of overtaking Yee. With such a slim margin, Yee and Perez are in recount territory …

WHAT HURT PEREZ:  Could Perez have done better with a less partisan campaign and deemphasizing his lofty title as Speaker of the Assembly?  During the month of May, Perez – who represents a portion of LA – ran Bay Area commercials on a tagline of “Democratic values” as well as “fiscal discipline”. He bolstered that tag by claiming his partnership as Assembly Speaker with Governor Jerry Brown delivered three on-time balanced state budgets while eliminating deficits…

BIPARTISAN CONTROLLER: Perez’s playing to his party and legislative strengths might not have worked especially since current Controller John Chiang used his office as a nonpartisan bully pulpit. In 2008, he stopped Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger from slashing 200,000 state employee salaries to pay the state’s bills during a budget impasse. In 2011, Chiang docked the paychecks of the mostly Democratic legislature for not submitting a balanced state budget on time…

Controller John Chiang. Photo courtesy of John Chiang

Controller John Chiang. Photo courtesy of John Chiang

POCKET PROTECTING MA: In contrast to Perez’s tight race, Board of Equalization candidate (District 2)Fiona Ma of San Francisco didn’t have much competition and won comfortably with 68.9% of the vote as a “CPA/Taxpayer Representative”. The California Elections Code prevented her from listing her more political title of “former Assembly Speaker pro Tempore,” which was second in power to Perez’s Assembly Speaker title. Ma had more resources than Evans who far exceeded expectations. Reinforcing Ma’s credentials as a CPA, she was passing out pen protectors during her campaign – a nice tactic to attract nerdy male professionals such as accountants and programmers…

DON’T CALL ME SENATOR:  Alex Padilla, running for Secretary of State, did not have the financial wherewithal as Perez but both were in very competitive races. He ran with “California State Senator” as a ballot designation and came in first with over 1.2 million votes (30.2%) to run against second place finisher Pete Peterson, stumping on the ballot designation of “Educator/Institute Director”. Peterson finished comfortably ahead of indicted Leland Yee, left on the ballot also as “California State Senator” and finishing third with 9.4% of nearly 380,000 votes after his spring federal indictment on alleged bribery and arms dealing…Padilla out of San Fernando Valley of LA also ran Bay Area commercials. Unlike Perez’s ad touting his Speakership and party registration, Padilla didn’t mention his current office (state senator) or party (Democrat). The personal ad underscored his background (attended MIT on scholarship), family (immigrant dad was short order cook) and values (hard work, working across party lines) before ending with the tagline, “Alex Padilla, Secretary of State”…

Leland Yee speaking out on US Supreme Court video game case. Photo courtesy of Leland Yee.

Leland Yee speaking out on US Supreme Court video game case. Photo courtesy of Leland Yee.

KENTUCKY FRIED: Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and her husband Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican from Kentucky can’t coast yet as Washington DC’s power couple now that a US naturalized Aussie has weighed in for immigration reform. The former Mr. Wendi Deng (aka Rupert Murdoch) last week editorialized support for it, including granting non-criminal undocumented immigrants a path to US citizenship…

REFORM OR CONFORM: It’s a big deal since McConnell in May fought off rival Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin’s charges in GOP primary last May over whether either supported the US Senate’s 2013 immigration compromise, which included amnesty provisions. McConnell won with 60% of the vote while more than a third of the Bluegrass State vote backed Bevin after McConnell vowed to “crush” the same Tea Party whose candidate stunned the nation by upsetting Republican and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia last week. Like Kentucky’s hot primary, Cantor was defeated partially as a conservative selling out by supporting immigration reform. After Cantor’s demise, pundits and politicians have predicted no reform package to emerge this election year…

CHAO TIME OR CHAOS TIME:  Don’t expect the re-energized Tea Party to flock over to McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Alison Grimes. However, Bevin Tea Party supporters could sit the election out if they connect the dots between McConnell, Chao to Murdoch. Chao is a corporate board member for Murdoch’s media giant, News Corp., which carried Murdoch’s editorial. Grimes will have no problem accusing Chao-McConnell of selling out to Murdoch on amnesty provisions of immigration reform. That could help Grimes by turning off Tea Party Republicans who could sit out the November election on McConnell as they did with Cantor in Virginia. And it looks like Murdoch will have to teach his ex-wife’s art of cream pie spiking to Elaine to defend hubby Mitch over immigration reform in his quest to be US Senate Majority Leader …

MISS ME?: Email Samson Wong at potsticker@prodigy.net and  follow him at Twitter @SFPotstickers…

About the Author

Veteran columnist has appeared in up to 450,000 households weekly in the SF Independent, Examiner (2000-04) and AsianWeek since 1996. As Editor-in-Chief (2003-07), AsianWeek and Samson received wide recognition from the California Legislature, New American Media, League of Women Voters, GLAAD, Organization of Chinese Americans, SPUR and APA civic groups. Thru the SF Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections, SF Elections Task Force and Chinese American Voters Education Committee, Wong helped boost APA influence from 25,000 in the 1980s to over 50,000 voters by the early 1990s.