Capitol Alert

Blue wave crashes down on California senator who threatened lobbyist

The California state senator who drunkenly threatened to “bitch slap” a female lobbyist at a Sacramento bar this summer will soon be out of office.

Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, conceded defeat in his bid for a seat on the state’s elected tax board — the Board of Equalization — on Tuesday. It’s the first time a Democrat has captured the San Diego-based seat in at least four decades.

When the bar confrontation erupted this summer, the California Nurses Association immediately called on Anderson to resign from the Senate and end his candidacy for tax board.

He persisted, though, vowing to come out on top in an area Republicans have traditionally dominated. But that historical stronghold flipped blue, dealing yet another blow to a party that has been overwhelmed by Democratic gains in the midterms.

A Senate investigation ultimately found he threatened Stephanie Roberson, director of government relations for the nurses association, during an evening fundraiser at The Diplomat Steakhouse.

Anderson declined to discuss his political future or comment on why he thought he lost, but he offered a congratulatory message to his opponent in a statement he provided The Bee on Tuesday morning.

“I feel privileged to have served the people of Senate District 38, and I am grateful for the last 12 years,” Anderson wrote. “The people have spoken, and I am happy to help Mike Schaefer in any way that I can. At the end of the day, we serve the will of the people.”

Anderson’s defeat comes amid rising Democratic gains in Southern California.

Paul Mitchell, a political consultant and vice president of the bipartisan voter data firm Political Data, said the senator’s party affiliation is ultimately what did him in. “He had an ‘R’ next to his name and other guy had a ‘D.’ Totally a function of this enormous wave. He was collateral damage.”

Schaefer’s win gives Democrats their first BOE victory in California’s four southernmost counties in at least four decades, according to historian Alex Vassar.

The board’s constitutional duty to oversee property tax collection remains, but lawmakers in 2017 stripped the bulk of its other authority and replaced it with two new tax-collecting agencies.