(Nov. 8) Democratic control of state offices in California could create more stormy weather for California agriculture, while Florida and Texas leaders look for continued support from Republican-controlled legislatures and state offices in those two states after the Nov. 5 election.

Florida Republican Jeb Bush won a second term as governor, overcoming a challenge by Democrat Bill McBride. He became the only Republican governor to capture re-election in Florida.

In Texas, Republican Rick Perry held on to beat Democrat Tony Sanchez in a big-spending race.

California Democratic Gov. Gray Davis won re-election, but with less of a margin than anticipated. Republicans could not capitalize on voter discontent with his handling of power and the state budget.

In Texas, John McClung, president of the Texas Produce Association, Mission, said the state political scene remains fairly friendly to business and agriculture.

“Almost everything in Texas is as we wanted it to be,” he said.

That won’t necessarily mean a lot of funding for fruit and vegetable projects.

“We have had a receptive legislature for years. It’s receptive, but it is broke,” he said.

One federal issue that could affect Texas and other border states, McClung said, is pending homeland security legislation. That legislation could create delays in imports as the new agency is in transition, he said.

Meanwhile, House Republican Henry Bonilla, chairman of the agriculture appropriations subcommittee, won a close race in Texas that would have had significant national implications had he lost.

In Florida, the Republican posted a clean sweep.

“We are delighted Jeb Bush is re-elected and Charles Bronson is agriculture commissioner,” said Mike Stuart, president of the Orlando-based Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association.

He said Republicans have strengthened their hold on the state’s legislative body.

Meanwhile, Florida added two U.S. House seats, both won by Republicans. However, Stuart said Florida agriculture lost an advocate in District 5 Democratic incumbent Karen Thurman, who was a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. She lost to Republican challenger Ginny Brown-Waite in a race that was targeted by the Republican Party.

In California, one closely watched U.S. House of Representatives race was the election of Dennis Cardoza, a Democrat who won the seat held in the 107th Congress by Gary Condit. Cardoza beat Condit in the primary race and then beat Republican Dick Monteith on Nov. 5.

“That race was difficult. We had two great friends running,” said Jasper Hempel, senior vice president of government and legal affairs for the Western Growers, Newport Beach, Calif.

Democrat Janet Napolitano defeated Republican Matt Salmon in the race for the governor’s office in Arizona. Hempel said WGA supported both candidates in different ways and said WGA could work well with Napolitano. No significant shifts were noted in Arizona’s Legislature.

The outlook for agriculture was seen as bleaker at the state level in California.

Hempel said the only changes there were that Republicans picked up two seats in the assembly, making the count 48 Democrats and 32 Republicans. In the Senate, the numbers stayed at 26 Democrats and 14 Republicans.

The polar opposite of Florida, Hempel said Democrats in California control all statewide offices. In addition, he said moderate Democrats were being squeezed by redrawing of districts and predicted a continuation of anti-agriculture and anti-business legislation in 2003.

“It’s discouraging. We know we will be on the defensive, but we hasten to add that Western Growers will be proactive,” he said, noting water and labor as two likely issues of focus.