Ayear ago, we dubbed Tuesday's election the Fabian Nunez Memorial Primary, in recognition of the role the Assembly speaker's ambition played in moving California's presidential primaries up to February. It was a salute as much as a jab. And we like the way things are turning out.
Sure, Nunez (D-Los Angeles) and his colleagues in the Assembly and state Senate saddled California with three statewide elections this year instead of two (get ready for June 3, and Nov. 4 will be here before you know it). And yes, it was in the service of his crass bid for more time in office. You see, Nunez wanted to amend the term-limits law that was about to evict him from his seat. But if he was going to run again in June, he had to get the voters to change the law sometime earlier, and he knew he wasn't going to be able to get a special election just for his benefit. But if it also meant voters here getting to weigh in earlier in the presidential primaries, it seemed like a good deal.
In fact, it is a very good deal. For the first time in recent memory, California is in the thick of the debate. Candidates are coming here not just to raise money but to win votes. Californians are among the nation's key decision-makers in determining whether John McCain, Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee will be the Republican presidential nominee, and whether Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama will be the Democrats' choice. Nor is it just any presidential race, but one in which tens of thousands of new voters are joining the process and helping to set the national direction. Last week's Republican debate in Simi Valley and Democratic debate in Hollywood were perhaps the most important in the candidates' numerous faceoffs.
We were hoping for still more. We assumed that Tuesday's ballot would also include a measure yanking away from Nunez, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland) and everyone else in elected office the power to draw their own district lines. They flaked on us.
But we got two out of three, and the third will come soon enough: Voters here will likely get a redistricting reform measure in November. This page likes the term-limits reform on Tuesday's ballot. Meanwhile, California finally has its proper role in the nation's most important decision. We said it a year ago, and we say it again: It's all good.