For the first time anywhere in the nation, voters have ousted three state Supreme Court justices in a single election. The defeat of California Supreme Court Chief Justice Rose Bird, along with Justices Cruz Reynoso and Joseph Grodin, means the tenor of the state's highest court will shift sharply. The Bird court, with its liberal reputation, was known for expanding the rights of criminal defendants, consumers, racial minorities, homosexuals, tenants, and women - and for overturning death sentences.
Republican Gov. George Deukmejian, architect of the 1977 bill to reinstate the death penalty in California, will now name three replacements, bringing to five the number of appointments he has made to the seven-member court. The new, more conservative court will be more likely to uphold capital sentences, more likely to support rights of property owners and business interests, and less likely to favor public funding for abortions.
In addition, the governor's trouncing of Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley (D) fuels speculation that he may be a strong vice-presidential contender in 1988, particularly if George Bush wins the GOP presidential nomination.
A narrow win by Democratic US Sen. Alan Cranston prevented a clean sweep for Republicans in California's top statewide offices. President Reagan's intense campaigning in his home state failed to pull it out for Republican challenger Ed Zschau.
Elsewhere in the Pacific region, the vote hewed slightly toward the Democrats. They picked up a US Senate seat in Washington when Brock Adams defeated incumbent Sen. Slade Gorton (R), one of the Class of '80 who arrived at the Capitol with the first Reagan landslide. Idaho, on the other hand, returned freshman Republican Sen. Steven D. Symms for another term.
The region also added one Democrat to the ranks of its governors, bucking the nationwide trend that turned over a net of eight gubernatorial seats to the GOP. Neil Goldschmidt (D) becomes governor of Oregon, a position long dominated by Republicans. Deukmejian will be the only remaining Republican governor in the six-state region.
Of the other Democratic governors who won in the Pacific states, none was an incumbent. Cecil B. Andrus (D) of Idaho squeaked in by fewer than 3,500 votes, while Hawaii's John Waihee (D) won by an easy margin.
Two Republican women reaching for gubernatorial chairs fell short. Norma Paulus (R) of Oregon lost to Mr. Goldschmidt, and Arliss Sturgulewski (R) of Alaska was defeated by Steve Cowper (D).
On ballot measures and initiatives, voters generally took the middle ground, rejecting extremist proposals.
Oregon voters, for example, refused to legalize possession of marijuana for personal use.
On the other hand, California voters overwhelmingly defeated a heavy-handed measure designed to prevent the spread of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), which called for widespread testing and possible quarantine of people who are said to be carrying the virus.