Around The Capitol

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THE NOONER for April 4, 2012

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Good morning from LA-LA Land, en route to Modesto, via SMurF. Actually, I'm in the air as eureka! sends out today's Nooner. In one of my favorite California pasttimes, let's take a look at the Assembly districts I'll be crossing through today.

I woke up at Hotel Angeleno, off the 405 and Sunset, landing it just in AD50.

AD50 continues to be one of the most bitterly fought Assembly primaries for the Democrats. Assemblymember Betsy Butler moved up here from her now swing district, with the support of Speaker John Perez and most of her Assembly colleagues. She faces off against gay rights activist Torie Osborn and Santa Monica mayor Richard Bloom. Carrying the Republican banner is attorney Brad Torgan, a leader for Log Cabin Republicans. Backers of Osborn were very unhappy with Butler's move north, although Butler was able to arm-twist her way into the Democratic Party's endorsement.

With only 19% Republican registration and Dem performance usually between 60-70%, it is likely that two Democrats will move on to November. With each having over $400,000 cash on hand as of March 17, Butler and Osborn continue to be the favorites. Bloom is generally playing the nice guy, has decent cash on hand ($134k), and waiting to see if the strong animosity between the Butler and Osborn camps leads to one of them falling. At this point, there may not be enough time for that to happen by June 5, and the Butler-Osborn feud will likely continue on to November. This would result in a very expensive toss-up election of two candidates with very few policy differences.

From here, I'll drive over the Sepulveda Pass to catch the 101 and head to BUR. I'll pass through AD45, where Bob Blumenfield will easily win for his final term on the green carpet.

Cutting across the south valley on the 101, I'll enter AD46, another hot race among Democrats. Here, the June 5 ballot will be crowded with 5 Democrats and 1 Republican. The top Democrats, Laurette Healey, Brian Johnson, Andrew Lachman, and Adrin Nazarian, have been jousting pretty much since the lines were drawn. Lachman, whose base on the westside was left out of the district, has fallen behind the pack in cash, with only $36k on hand through March 17. Charter schools exec Brian Johnson has tapped into school reformers such as Eli and Edith Broad and Silicon Valley angel Ron Conway, and has the most cash on hand ($218k), although with several donors giving over $3,900, much of the money can't be spent on the primary. Healey has $127k on hand, while Nazarian has $191k in the bank.

With only 18.7% of the voters in this district registered as Republicans and GOP performance usually 20-30%, it is very possible that two Democrats will face off in November. However, with four well-heeled Democrats and a Filipino Latino Democrat in Adriano Lecaros, that's five candidates vying for 70-80% of the vote. Even in this solidly Dem district, three of the five would likely have to average below 10% of the vote to allow the other two to proceed to November. This may be unlikely, and the winner on June 5 may very well be popping the champagne for a walk to November in a district that will send a Democrat to Sacramento.

I'll catch my flight at the Bob Hope airport, which is in Mike Gatto's AD43. Elected during a special in June of 2010, Gatto has two terms left, which is good fortune in this district nested in SD25 (which Carol Liu will win for a final term).

After a one-hour flight, I'll land in Roger Dickinson's AD07. Dickinson is term-limited in 2016, but would likely make a run for Darrell Steinberg's Senate seat in 2014. After driving I-5 and 99 (we drop the "the" freeway article now that we're in NorCal) through AD07, I'll be in AD09. Freshman Assemblymember Richard Pan moved to run in this seat and is the clear favorite among the six-member field. 

South on 99 just south of Lodi, I'll cross into the Stockton-Tracy AD13. In a district that largely featured swings between Dem and Rep members over the last twenty years, the district will likley stay in the Democratic column through the decade as Bay Area commuters continue to build up the 580 corridor. In this district, Stockton councilwoman Susan Eggman faces off against engineer and state employee Xochitl Paderes. While Eggman had been seen early on as the favorite (and maintains a significant financial advantage - $128k to $8k) with most establishment elected endorsements, Paderes has been locking up union endorsements and is trying to hang Stockton's anticipated bankruptcy around Eggman's neck. A question for Paderes is whether her supportive unions--firefighters and nurses--are willing to bankroll an IE campaign down the stretch in a year in which labor is already significantly stretched.

Finally, after passing through Kristin Olsen's AD12, I will arrive at Modesto Junior College, which is just barely in AD21.

In this district of Merced, Modesto and Los Banos, former staffer Adam Gray leads the fundraising and endorsement race and is a clear favorite to outpoll three other Democrats on June 5. On the Republican side, businessman Jack Mobley returns after losing to Cathleen Galgiani in 2010. This is a modestly Democratic seat and Gray shouldn't have a problem heading north to Sacramento in November. However, with Jerry Brown capturing less than 50% and outpolling Meg Whitman by only 2.5% in this district, it's one to watch carefully if a GOP tide emerges as November approaches.

That's it. I'll pass through one more district on the way home. After retracing my steps back north, I'll cross over into Mariko Yamada's safe AD04 as I cross the causeway from West Sacramento (Dickinson's AD07) to Davis.

And, that's the way I think about Assembly districts...

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TASTELESS: I refuse to link this morning to CalWatchdog, which is featuring an article with the headline "Good Riddance to Peter Douglas," the coastal conversation advocate who died Sunday night at the age of 69. I certainly didn't always agree with the Coastal Commission, but grave-stomping just ain't cool. I have despised politicians of both parties, but have always recognized their service and passion for what they believe when they pass on. A "legitimate" web site should do the same, and Fleischman should also drop the link to the piece.

TOP-TWO TANGO: PE's Jim Miller takes a look at the top-two primary, which Congressman Joe Baca calls the "kangaroo primary."

OAKSTERDAM: Backers of medical marijuana note the crickets eminating from the California governor's office over the raid on Oaksterdam University on Monday, while Libertarian presidential candidate and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson is crying foul.

GIVETH AND TAKETH: Yesterday, it was reported that Speaker John Perez's ballot measure committee contributed $100,000 into the campaign against paycheck protection/deception on March 21. Not to worry, Perez's committee reported receiving $100,000 from the California Teachers Association yesterday.


Proposition 8 Campaign Architect Leaves Sacramento Firm
Dan Smith @
Sacramento political consultant Frank Schubert, who guided Proposition 8's ban on same-sex marriage to victory in 2008, announced today that he is leaving the firm he founded.

Lawmakers To Consider Health Care Districts' Future
Jennifer Gollan and Katharine Mieszkowski @
After an investigation by The Bay Citizen revealed that many of California's taxpayer-funded health care districts no longer run hospitals -- a departure from their original mission -- the state Assembly's top watchdog committee plans to take a closer look at how those districts are using their resources.

California Senate Hopeful Touts Support For Herman Cain's '9-9-9'
Torey Van Oot @
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Hughes is playing up his support for Herman Cain, touting his endorsement of the former presidential hopeful's "9-9-9" tax plan in a fundraising appeal.

Lawsuit Seeks To Block California's New Dredge Mining Regulations - Business - The Sacramento Bee
Suction dredge mining, a gold prospecting technique that can cause long-buried mercury to be released into waterways, will stay under a state moratorium.

Lawmaker Urges Northrop Workers To Protest Military Budget Cuts
W.J. Hennigan @
U.S. defense budget cuts are expected to total about $87 billion over the next decade. Rep. Howard 'Buck' McKeon tells workers at Northrop's plant in Palmdale 'to stop this from happening.'

Agents in Oakland raid leader of medical marijuana movement
Lee Romney @
IRS and DEA officers seize files from Oaksterdam University, a marijuana trade school, and a dispensary run by Richard Lee, who helped put the Prop. 19 legalization measure on the ballot.

Maddow Uses UC Davis Course Catalog To Rebut Santorum Claim
Darrell Smith @
California's public universities do, in fact, teach American history. UC Davis' history department was thrown into the media spotlight when its course calendar was used to debunk Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum's claim Monday that California's public universities do not offer courses in American history.

State Launches Smaller Program For Adult Day Health Care
Matt Perry @
Monday's launch of California's new, smaller adult day health care program unleashed an emotional torrent of relief and anger for thousands of current clients and their providers after more than a year of threatened closures, lawsuits, patient assessments, rushed timelines and maddening uncertainty.

Plan for supervision of released prisoners off to a rough start
Jason Song @
About 6,000 prisoners were shifted to L.A. County supervision under a realignment law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last April. Many of the ex-criminals are not showing up for counseling appointments, some care centers are not being paid and bureaucrats are scrambling to correct foul-ups.

Region: Water Authority Studies Building Its Own Pipeline To Imperial Valley
passing Metropolitan @
The San Diego County Water Authority is studying a drastic solution to the soaring cost of bringing in Imperial Valley water through the Metropolitan Water District: building its own pipeline to bypass Metropolitan.

Students Pepper-sprayed At Santa Monica College Protest [updated]
Jill Jones @
About 100 students protesting a plan to offer high-priced courses at Santa Monica College this summer tried to storm into a meeting of the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees on Tuesday evening.

Marijuana Advocates Vow To Reopen Princeton Of Pot After Raid | Reuters
Ronnie Cohen @
1 of 8. Demonstrators hold signs in protest as federal agents conduct a raid on Oaksterdam University, a cannabis cultivation college, in Oakland, California April 2, 2012.

Conservative Consultant Finds His Calling
Dan Morain @
Frank Schubert is wearing his religion on his sleeve, a rarity in his line of work.

L.A. Leaders Back Revised Bullet-train Business Plan
Ari Bloomekatz @
The new plan cuts $30 billion off the cost by using existing regional passenger line tracks in some areas rather than building new tracks.

Rick Santorum Thinks California Universities Don’t Teach American History
Wyatt Buchanan, Michael Collier, Richard Dunham, Bob Egelko, Joe Garofoli, Marisa Lagos, Carolyn Lochhead, Carla Marinucci, @
Rick Santorum thinks California universities don’t teach American history

Besieged California Marijuana Advocate Vows To 'fight On' - Marijuana - The Sacramento Bee
Several properties belonging to medical marijuana advocate Richard Lee were raided by federal authorities Monday.

Republicans Examine Alternatives to Obama Health Plan
The lawmakers, optimistic about a possible Supreme Court ruling against the law, are giving past proposals a second look, with lowering health costs a priority.

California: Brad Sherman Leads Howard Berman In Internal Poll | At The Races
An internal poll for California Rep. Brad Sherman found him ahead of fellow Democratic Rep. Howard Berman by 27 points in a potential general election matchup that is expected to be a close race as November nears.

Groups Battle California Rules On Suction Dredge Mining
Carlos Alcala @
A coalition of groups opposed to suction dredge mining in California's waterways filed a new lawsuit Monday to block implementation of recently adopted regulations on the practice.

Six Water Mains Break In L.A. On Day DWP's Chief Seeks Rate Hikes
Thomas Curwen and Kate Linthicum @
General Manager Ron Nichols asks for a 5% water rate hike and a 10.5% power rate increase to address maintenance and environmental issues. The pipe breaks are blamed on work at a reservoir north of Beverly Hills.