What’s in a Name? Depends if It’s In the File or On the Ballot

A terrific resource for those interested in California’s Assembly or Senate is the Daily File each house publishes, not surprisingly, every day.

Among the information to be gleaned is how many pieces of legislation have been introduced – 1,427 in the Assembly through March 22 and 939 in the Senate.

The files contain compendiums of legislative committees and their membership, committee meeting times and bills slated for consideration as well as important deadlines and holidays such as Spring Recess – April 14 through April 25 — and June 3, the last day to pass bills out of their house of origin.

The files will be significantly fatter around June 1 than the relatively scrawny specimens they are now.

That’s because perhaps the most important function of the files is to list which measures are on “Third Reading,” the only bills eligible, without some rule-waiving, to be voted on by the full 40-member Senate or 80-member Assembly.

The Senate’s Daily File offers more information than the Assembly, including a seating chart that shows its 15 Republicans bunched on the left side of the chamber.

In a somewhat illuminating section, the file also lists the occupation of each of its members.

The Assembly merely offers the names of its 80 members and their Capitol offices and telephone numbers.

Beneath the listing of the Assembly’s members, the file does note that Assemblyman Jeff Gorrell, a Ventura Republican, is “currently deployed in the U.S Navy from March 18, 2011 until 2012,” giving at least a clue as to what at least one of his occupations is.

Presumably, legislators can pick what they want to call themselves, just as candidates – within limits – can select their ballot designation.

Section 13107 of the Elections Code – and 12 pages of regulations generated by the Secretary of State’s Office – maps out with some specificity what candidates can call themselves in their three-word designation. “Legislator/Rancher/Physician” is cited in the regulations as an example of an acceptable designation.

It’s doubtful senators would impose such proscriptions on themselves in their own Daily File.

Interestingly, 24 senators identify themselves in the file as “Full-time Legislators.”

This given a Public Policy Institute Survey released March 23 showing the approval rating of the Legislature at 16 percent, up from a low of 9 percent in November.

Three senators say they are an “Attorney,” including President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat.

Apparently, Steinberg felt “Attorney” wasn’t the best identification of himself for his constituents, choosing instead “State Senator” as his November ballot designation.

Sen. Ellen Corbett, a San Leandro Democrat, also identifies herself as an attorney in the file but abandoned it on the ballot in favor of telling voters she is a sitting senator.

On the flip side, Sen. Juan Vargas, a San Diego Democrat, chose “Attorney at Law” for his ballot designation then switched to “Full-time Legislator” in the file.

Of the winning candidates for the 20 Senate seats on the November ballot, 12 said they were either a senator, a member of the Assembly or, in the case of Fresno Democratic Sen. Michael Rubio, a county supervisor.

Corbett, Sen. Alex Padilla, a Los Angeles Democrat, and Sen. Lou Correa, a Santa Ana Democrat, identified themselves as members of the “California State Senate.”

(Presumably to ensure voters didn’t think they were members of, say, the Nevada or Wisconsin state senate.)

Sen. Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat and former Assemblyman, used the more generic “California State Legislator” on the ballot, fairly close to his “Full-time Legislator” designation in the file.

Incumbent Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat who lists his occupation in the file as “Child Psychologist,” ditched that on the ballot for “State Senator.”

Sen. Doug La Malfa, a Redding Republican,is consistent. He lists himself both in the file and on the ballot as a “Family Farmer.”

(The heavier-than-normal March rains are predicted to lead to smaller yields for nieces and nephews but should generate a bumper crop of both second cousins and stepdaughters.)

Elsewhere in the file, Sen. Ed Hernandez, a Baldwin Park Democrat, lists his occupation as “Optometrist.” He was the more official sounding “Doctor of Optometry” on the November ballot.

Sen. Alan Lowenthal, a termed-out Long Beach Democrat, says he is a “professor” in the file. His official Senate biography says he is a “retired professor of community psychology from California State University, Long Beach, where he taught since 1969.”

This may have been a solid background for entering politics since community psychology and its study of how individuals interact within communities and societies as a whole often includes forays into related fields like sociology, public policy and political science.

Senate GOP Leader Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga and Sen. Sharon Runner, a Lancaster Republican, say they are a “Small Business Owner.”

Republican Senators Bob Huff of Glendora and Mark Wyland of Escondido say they are a “Small Businessman.”

(In truth, none of the four are that diminutive.)

Freshman Sen. Ted Gains, a Roseville Republican, describes himself as an “Independent Business Owner.”

(As opposed to an enslaved or subservient business owner.)

Sen. Ted Lieu, a Torrance Democra and lawyert, says in the file he is a “Military Reservist.”

Democratic Senators Lois Wolk of Davis and Mark DeSaulnier of Antioch are two-fers.

DeSaulnier is a “Retired Restaurant Owner/Legislator” while Wolk is a “Teacher/Legislator.”

In November’s Assembly races, most incumbents of both parties said, in various forms, they were members of the lower house.

In a relentless anti-incumbent environment, Assemblyman Jared Huffman, a San Raphael Democrat, must have a very safe district to list himself as simply, “Incumbent.”

A goodly number of “Small Business Owners” also ran for Assembly seats.

Other Assembly candidates, not all of them successful, listed occupations including “Foster Parent Trainer,” “Bus Driver,” “Bank Teller,” “Webmaster,” “Guest Services Associate,” “Carpenter,” “Referee” and “Retired Fraud Investigator.”

The aptly named Lisa Ann Green of Venice was the Green Party candidate for the 53rd Assembly District.

Her equally fitting ballot designation was “Organic Product Creator.”

Would Green have changed that to “Full-time Legislator” if she had won?


1 Comment »

  1. How about “Public trough feeder”, “Graft Recipient”, “Family Embarrassment”, “Gay Nutsy Boy”, or “Professional Race Hustler”. There are any number of good ones that haven’t been used yet.

    Comment by Mattie Gibson — 3.26.2011 @ 9:46 am

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