In describing Congress, most people use words like gridlock, discord, anger, Machiavellian, dysfunctional. If asked to describe Sacramento, different words come to mind – words for getting things done, such as cooperation, practicality, accomplishment.
Anthony Cannella has played an important role in creating that perception of state government, which is why we recommend voters send him back to the Senate to represent the sprawling 12th District.
Foremost among many reasons, Cannella has done a good job. He and several others helped put an historic water bond on this year’s ballot. It is the first such bond in a generation and gives the state a chance to build much-needed storage infrastructure. But that’s not all. Cannella also:
• Wrote the law that increases financial transparency for state agencies;
• Authored a bill to make children safer as they walk or ride their bicycles to school;
• Wrote a bill adding criminal penalties for anyone using phones or the Internet to send “revenge porn” – even when victims have taken their own photos.
• Cast the lone Republican vote in favor of Senate Bill 52, which would have identified the top donors to any proposition; the bill failed, but Cannella was right.
To get things done in a Democrat-dominated Senate, Republican Cannella (a former engineer) hasn’t just crossed aisles – he’s built substantial bridges. To get his revenge-porn bill passed, for instance, Cannella worked with noted Assembly liberal Bob Wiechowski ... and conservative Brian Jones ... and liberal Lorena Gonzalez.
Labels don’t fit him. Organizations often grade legislators, most falling on one end of the spectrum or the other. Not Cannella. From the American Conservative Union he gets a 64 and a 77 from the National Rifle Association – low for a Republican, stratospheric for a Democrat. But the California Communities United Institute, which represents the poor, LBGT community and people of color, also gave him a 77 (highest of any Republican) and the California Labor Federation gave him a 42, compared to the single-digits most Republicans get. The Congress of Seniors rated Cannella a 53 compared to Democrat Cathleen Galgiani’s 85 and Republican Tom Berryhill’s 38. He’s been endorsed by the AFL-CIO and the National Federation of Independent Businesses. You get the picture.
Is Cannella a fence-straddler? Hardly. He was the first Republican to refuse to sign Grover Norquist’s national anti-tax pledge, ignoring the ensuing threats. Others soon followed. When you can raise $2.1 million in campaign contributions, as Cannella has since 2010, threats from 2,700 miles carry less weight.
We haven’t agreed with all of Cannella’s positions. He flatly rejected the historic groundwater legislation eventually signed into law this month, giving up any opportunity to impact the final law. He voted against increasing the state’s minimum wage, which would have hurt many of his constituents if it had not passed anyway. At the same time, he voted for tax breaks on new equipment for manufacturers. But he also voted in favor of smartphone kill switches (which should cut down on theft) and for nonprofit donor disclosure, a significant transparency measure.
Cannella is entirely likely to support more bills we don’t like; we can live with that. More important is that his approach is not doctrinaire or dictated by anyone – party, pals or donors. We don’t think Cannella’s vote is for sale or even for rent.
Shawn Bagley of Salinas is Cannella’s opponent; nice fellow, well-spoken and knows agriculture. But he’s never held elective office and doesn’t seem especially prepared to build the political bridges Cannella has been designing, constructing and crossing to get things done. That’s hugely important in a district that spans six counties, including all of Merced and large portions of Stanislaus.
This is an easy choice. We strongly encourage voters to return Anthony Cannella to the California Senate.