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Polis Report

Rotisserie Legislature

By Eric Johnson

In politics, as in baseball, it's possible to tell a lot about a the players by looking at the stats. At-bats, on-base percentages, ERAs, batting averages--the numbers don't tell the whole story, but they're the best quick-and-dirty way to get a handle on how well the ballplayer (or lawmaker) is doing.

Silicon Valley sent three first-time Assembly members to Sacramento this season, or session. We crunched the numbers to see how the rookies scored.

Elaine Alquist led in at-bats. That is to say, the 96 bills on which she is listed as co-author beat Jim Cunneen's 84 and Mike Honda's 54. Honda was out in front in solo shots--bills on which he was the sole author--with 12, over Alquist's six and Cunneen's 10. And the three ranked in the same in bills on which they are listed as primary author.

In baseball, AB's are not considered that important; merely indicating that a player is healthy and showing up at the park. It's almost the same thing in state politics. At the ballpark, batting average counts more than any other stat (except maybe home runs, and the deeply sad fact is that there's no political corollary to a homer.)

The numbers show that Jim Cunneen is the Silicon Valley Slugger. Of the 10 bills that he carried solo, seven were signed into law. That's a .700 percentage, which makes him the Tony Gwynn of California politics. Alquist pushed seven out of 11 bills through while Honda went three-for-12.

As co-author, Cunneen also showed league-leading effectiveness with a .708 Lawmaking Average, compared to Alquist's .635 and Honda's .333.

Cunneen's stellar record could be chalked up to the fact that as the lone Republican among the valley's representatives, he had better luck getting his stuff past Gov. Pete Wilson. But another telling stat shows that Cunneen hits from both sides of the aisle--he is listed along with Democrat co-authors on almost half of his bills.

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From the Sept. 18-24, 1997 issue of Metro.

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