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THE NOONER for December 5, 2011

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The Bob Hertzberg for State Senate campaign appears to be over, following a poo-pooing of the idea by one of his leading backers, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. Steinberg sent an e-mail to members of the Senate Democratic Caucus late Friday with an unconditional endorsement of Fran Pavley and a request that members max out to her coffers. This followed a Capitol Weekly story with a quote from Hertzberg indicating he was considering a run "for the purpose of helping the Democratic Caucus."

Steinberg had thought (and probably still does) that Hertzberg would be a stronger candidate than Fran Pavley against Senator Tony Strickland for SD27, which stretches from Malibu through Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley to Stevenson Ranch. While the district has a 6.4% Dem registration margin, Whitman edged Brown here by 1% in 2010 and Obama beat McCain by the small (by California standards) margin of 3.8%. The coastal and west side enviros just don't carry the new district the way they do Pavley's current SD23.

In Steinberg's original plan, Pavley would be fine, as she has a condo in Oxnard from which to run for SD19. However, Pavley wants none of the nastiness that is already replaying the 2010 script in Santa Barbara. Pavley considered the idea, but when it was clear that Hannah-Beth Jackson was staying in the race, Pavley decided to stay and fight in the more difficult SD27. With the prospect of three incumbent Senate Democratic women being challenged by men (Loni Hancock by Sandre Swanson and Carol Liu by Anthony Portantino) and the number of women Senate Dems dropping from nine to four, Steinberg had too much heat from the double-X caucus to continue playing chess.

Of course, all is not settled in SD27. First, there is the referendum. Secondly, as I wrote a couple of weeks ago, since it looks like Elton Gallegly isn't going to run in CD26 (opting either retirement or CD25), Strickland may run for Congress. This would likely lead termed-out Assemblyman Cameron Smyth to run for SD27, which could actually make Democrats' prospects even more difficult.

Speaking of the nastiness that is SD19, on Thursday night, Santa Barbara County Democratic Central Committee chair Daraka Larimore-Hall was asked to answer for his seemingly critical comments of candidate Jason Hodge. Larimore-Hall accused Hodge of trying to ride the coattails of his new wife, Assemblymember Fiona Ma, while claiming to be an outsider. A motion was made to remove Larimore-Hall, which was easily defeated.

"People who are for Jason and those who are against me pulled a maneuver and it failed miserably," said Larimore-Hall.

If Larimore-Hall has a big problem with "coattails" candidates linked by marriage, perhaps he should run against local Congresswoman Lois Capps, who the party unified around to keep the seat that her late husband held for less than a year.

Meanwhile, both Hannah-Beth Jackson and Jason Hodge continue to pick up big endorsements in what looks to be a traditional fight between enviros and labor. Jackson picked up the California League of Conservation Voters, while Hodge picked up the Tri-Counties Labor Council.

GOV BROWN APPROVE/DISAPPROVE [Field Poll]
Late November 2011: 47%/36%
September 2011: 49%/32%
June 2011: 46%/31% 
April 2011: 48%/21% 

Arnold Schwarzenegger's closing approve/disapprove: 23%/68%
Gray Davis's closing approve/disapprove: 22%/70% 
Pete Wilson's closing approve/disapprove: 52%/45% 

RANDOM SAMPLE: George Joseph's Mercury Insurance initiative to allow preferential rates based on a driver's coverage history submitted enough signatures to move to the random sample stage, the Secretary of State's Office told county officials Friday. Here are the numbers:

Signatures submitted: 726,394
Valid signatures required: 504,760 
Random sample validity needed to avoid full count: 76.4%
Random sample validity needed to avoid immediate failure: 66% 

SHOCKING: Voters don't want to see automatic cuts in January (26%-65% good idea/bad idea). Wonder how'd they feel about triggered tax increases?

NO SURPRISE HERE: Pelosi playing favorites in Berman-Sherman race? [David Catanese @ Politico]

INFIGHTING ISN'T JUST FOR DEMS: Morrell and Dutton already battling it out [Neil Nisperos @ Inland Valley Daily Bulletin]

STILL DOWN: The Secretary of State's Cal-Access campaign finance database is still down, and now projected to be back up by this evening.

PERFECT SUNDAY: Niners win, Broncos win, and Raiders lose. 

And, we have the headlines...

TOP HEADLINES ON AROUNDTHECAPITOL.COM AS OF 12:00PM
Judge Rules State Assembly Must Disclose Lawmakers' Budget Records
Joe Piasecki @
latimes.com
The decision by a Sacramento Superior Court judge is a victory for newspapers, including The Times, that sued the legislative body after records requests were denied.

Orange County Revolt Rekindles Old Republican Feud
Dan Walters @
sacbee.com
Nature, it's been said, abhors a vacuum, which explains why big differences in atmospheric pressure generate high winds, as Californians experienced last week.

Parties Roll Out Dueling Payroll Tax Proposals
Manu Raju and Jake Sherman @
politico.com
House Republicans and Senate Democrats are on a collision course over extending a payroll tax break as the two sides intensify their legislative gamesmanship ahead of a crucial year-end deadline.

Brown Pension Reform: Local Workers Pay More
calpensions.com
But a CalPERS fact sheet prepared for a legislative hearing last week showed that nearly all of the local government employees in the giant system, with the exception of non-teaching school employees, are paying less than half of the normal cost.

Editorial: Legislators dither and pander on pensions
sacbee.com
Gov. Jerry Brown showed up personally to pitch his 12-point pension plan before a joint Assembly- Senate Committee on Thursday.

Jerry Brown's Rating May Be Better Than It Looks
Joe Garofoli @
sfgate.com
A new survey shows that Gov. Jerry Brown has the second-lowest first-year approval rating of any California governor in a half-century, "but that's as good as he could possibly hope for in a bad situation," said Field...

Field Poll: Voters Oppose Automatic Budget Cuts | Breaking News | Pe.com - The Press-enterprise
pe.com
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Judge rules state Assembly must disclose lawmakers' budget records
Joe Piasecki @
latimes.com
The decision by a Sacramento Superior Court judge is a victory for newspapers, including The Times, that sued the legislative body after records requests were denied.

When Unity Was All-American
George Skelton @
latimes.com
Pearl Harbor attack brought us together in a way we seem to have forgotten

Morrell And Dutton Already Battling It Out
Neil Nisperos @
sbsun.com
Election Day may be about 11 months away, but campaigning for the 40th Assembly District seat has quickly progressed.

Obama prods Congress on payroll tax as Democrats unveil new plan
latimes.com
Senate Democrats are offering a new proposal to extend the payroll tax holiday, a strategy designed to reach out to Republicans who have shown little interest in continuing the $1,000 tax break for working Americans that expires at the end of the year.

G.O.P. Hopefuls Pressed To Prove Their Conservatism
Jim Rutenberg and Trip Gabriel @
nytimes.com
With the Republican field reshaped by the suspension of Herman Cain’s campaign, six Republican presidential candidates tried to show their conservative credentials during a policy-heavy forum shown on Fox News Channel on Saturday night.

Lawmaker's background plays into UC pepper spray hearing
Michael Gardner @
signonsandiego.com
San Diego Assemblyman Marty Block remembers as a teenager sitting transfixed to the television as police in riot gear violently broke up a protest outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

East Bay Mom Says Her Film 'Race To Nowhere' Is Sparking Education Reform Nationwide
Theresa Harrington @
mercurynews.com
Lafayette resident asks schools to pledge Homework-Free weekends and holiday breaks

Republicans Caught Between A Tax Break And A Hard Place
Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau @
latimes.com
GOP leaders in Congress know blocking a tax break for workers after saving one for the wealthy would be politically toxic, but they're having a hard time convincing their rank and file.

California's Presidential Race May Decide Who Controls House Of Representatives :: Fox&hounds
foxandhoundsdaily.com
The survey suggests that if Romney heads the GOP ticket, Republicans might do all right in the congressional contests; if Gingrich heads the ticket, they could take a bath.

Russians vote amid signs ruling party's dominance is slipping
Sergei L. Loiko @
latimes.com
Russians went to the polls Sunday to choose lawmakers amid accusations of election fraud and signs that the ruling United Russia faction could see its overwhelming majority in parliament shrink or even disappear.

Counties Dilemma: How To Use Funds For Inmates
Marisa Lagos @
sfgate.com
In a nondescript classroom one block from the San Francisco Hall of Justice, 10 men gathered on a recent night for a parenting class. They went around the room, sharing the high and low points of their weeks. One man...

High Speed Rail: Big Infrastructure Project For Another Gov. Brown :: Fox&hounds
foxandhoundsdaily.com
Now, however, the younger Brown wants to be the builder. Despite the pile of evidence that the high speed rail project is turning out to be a boondoggle with ever growing costs and pie-in-the-sky rider predictions, the governor still backs the project.

The Buzz: Supporters Of Repealing California's Death Penalty Net $1.2 Million In Contributions
sacbee.com
A group seeking to ask California voters to repeal the death penalty has netted nearly $1.2 million in recent weeks to aid its drive to qualify for the 2012 ballot.

Live stream: Obama speaks on payroll tax extension
mercurynews.com
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama will make his case for extending payroll tax cuts when he speaks Monday from the White House.

Parties release dueling tax proposals
Manu Raju and Jake Sherman @
politico.com
Harry Reid unveils a $180-billion plan to extend a payroll tax break, GOPers present a broader $200-billion plan.