How leaders become leaders

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RETURNING A FAVOR -- During the campaign season, Los Angeles Congressman Xavier Becerra made multiple trips to Ventura County to help fellow Democrat Julia Brownley campaign in the 26th District. He attended rallies and walked precincts with her in Latino neighborhoods.

That's what those who become leaders, both in Congress and other endeavors, do -- help their allies, who in turn will remember that help at the appropriate time.

For Brownley, that time came quickly. At her first opportunity to cast a vote, at a Democratic caucus meeting this week, Brownley nominated Becerra for the position of chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, to which he was elected by acclamation, becoming the fourth highest-ranking Democrat in the House.

BLOWING OUT CANDLES FROM THE GALLERY? -- When freshman Assemblyman Scott Wilk is sworn in on Monday, he will bring along quite a crowd of volunteers who worked on his campaign in Simi Valley and elsewhere in the 38th District. He told me expects about 50 people to come up from the district.

None will be more important than his mother, who will sit in the gallery to watch her son take the oath of office. It will be a special birthday moment on the day she turns 80.

ANOTHER SIGN OF A CHANGING COUNTY -- Some of the results on Election Day, notably Brownley's victory in the congressional race, revealed just how much the politics of Ventura County has shifted as a result of evolving demographics. But nothing speaks more loudly of the shift than the final countywide result on Proposition 30, the temporary tax increase that balanced this year's state budget and averted $6 billion in education spending cuts.

After the last provisional ballot was counted and the vote certified, Proposition 30 narrowly carried Ventura County -- 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent, or by 1,788 votes out of about 318,000 cast.

It is an unlikely result in a county that is the only Southern California county that has not yet passed a local sales tax increase to pay for transportation improvements, and home to an electorate that has a well-deserved reputation of being a very tough sell on proposed tax increases.

EXPECT SOME COMPETITION -- Encouraged by their local victories, it is likely that more than a few county Democrats will take an interest in becoming delegates to the California Democratic Party conventions the next two years.

Elections for those positions will take place either Saturday Jan. 12 or Sunday, Jan. 13, depending on the Assembly district. Six men and six women will be elected from each of the state's 80 Assembly districts.


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95 percent accurate
Over the last 25 presidential elections, Ventura County voters have backed the winner 24 times, or over 95 percent of the time. It is one of only a handful of counties in the nation that has been such a predictable bellwether.
about Timm Herdt
Timm Herdt
The Ventura County Star's Sacramento Bureau Chief Timm Herdt on state issues and politics from Sacramento to Ventura County. He can be contacted at