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THE NOONER for April 11, 2012

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Today, my travels take me to Temecula via the Ontario Intergalactic Airport. Temecula is the site of one of the Assembly shoe-ins, where, in Escondido councilmember Marie Waldron, AD75 will deliver another member of the growing members of the conservative women caucus.

On the way from ONT to Temecula, we'll pass through AD67, another open strongly GOP district, where Kevin Jeffries is termed out. The district features five Republican candidates and no candidates from NPP or other parties. 

Endorsements from elected Republicans are all over the place in this race. Two candidates come from the Lake Elsinore City Council - Bob Magee and Melissa Melendez. Magee has picked up the support of more moderate elected officials, including Paul Cook and Bill Emmerson. Meanwhile, Melendez has Joel Anderson and Shannon Grove. Former Darrell Issa district director and water board member Phil Paule has the support of Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff and Assemblymember Diane Harkey

On the money front, the "cash on hand" leader is in second tier candidate Ken Dickson, an attorney and school board member in Murrieta Valley, who has mostly self-financed with $101k in loans. Melendez raised the most in the 1/1-3/17 period, although the haul reflects several "loans" totaling over $60,000 from individuals, including only $7,500 from the candidate. It's a strange filing, as many of these were taken on March 16, and many exceed the amount that individuals can contribute in the primary. Without knowing whether these are truly loans or contributions, it's impossible to truly assess her cash on hand situation.

Magee is in third place in cash on hand (COH: $48,497) and Paule's fundraising has not really taken off (COH: $15,660). The fifth GOP candidate, William Akana, has yet to file any fundraising reports.

With four men and one woman all splitting the Republican votes, I would wager that Melendez will make the top two. With Dickson (with money) and Paule (without money) peeling off splitting conservative voters, Bob Magee has to be the other favorite for top-two.

Finally, while facing a Dem and two Rep candidates, Norma Torres should have no problem winning her third and final term for Ontario's AD52.

The three Senate districts that generally run east-west across this stretch are all even-numbered and thus not open until 2014.

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LOOKING AHEAD: I'm ready to take a fresh look at SD19 (Central Coast) race (Hodge, Jackson and Stoker) next week. Please send in your insights and observations (on background, not for attribution).

CD26 $$$: Leading up to the April 15 filing deadline for federal races, candidates that feel they can fluff their feathers are doing so. Timm Herdt reports that Tony Strickland will file $770,000 in contributions with $720,000 on hand for the CD26 race. Timm also reports that the other candidates will report:

  • Julia Brownley (D): $280,000
  • Linda Parks (NPP): $150,000
  • David Cruz Thayne (D): $100,000

BUDGETARY BLUES: If you're looking for good state budget news, don't look here or here.

TOP HEADLINES ON AROUNDTHECAPITOL.COM AS OF 12:00PM
Ranked-Choice Voting Attacked In Oakland
Robert Gammon @
eastbayexpress.com
Ex-state Senator Don Perata and his campaign manager Larry Tramutola were flummoxed by ranked-choice voting in the 2010 Oakland mayor's race. After losing to Jean Quan, Perata said he didn't "understand" how to run a campaign with Oakland's new voting system. And before the campaign got underway, Perata launched a behind-the-scenes effort to block ranked-choice voting from being used. Now, seventeen months after losing the election, one of Tramutola's disciples is spearheading a ballot-measure drive to get rid of ranked-choice voting in Oakland. The group plans to gather signatures to put its anti-ranked-choice measure on the November ballot.

Dianne Feinstein Praises Jerry Brown's High-speed Rail Plan
Torey Van Oot @
blogs.sacbee.com
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein praised Gov. Jerry Brown's revised approach on California's high-speed rail project today, but cautioned that the federal funding for the project could depend on final cost projections.

Politicians Should Act Instead Of Expecting Budget Miracle
Dan Walters @
sacbee.com
The Capitol is preoccupied with Gov. Jerry Brown's efforts to persuade voters to raise taxes and the complicating effects of a rival tax measure sponsored by civil rights attorney Molly Munger. With deadlines looming, will Brown and his union allies collect enough signatures to place their measure on the June ballot? Will Munger cave in to pressure from Brown, et al., to back off? If both are on the ballot, would it doom both?

Metropolitan Water District Approves Two-year Budget With 5 Percent Increases Each Year
Bradley J. Hikes @
nctimes.com
Metropolitan Water District's board of directors has approved a two-year budget with water rate increases averaging 5 percent in January 2013 and 5 percent again a year later.

Let's Bring Back The Idea Of A Free UC Education
Michael Hiltzik @
latimes.com
As tuition increases threaten to place a University of California education out of the reach of working-class and middle-class students, it's time to reinvigorate the notion of a free UC education.

CalSTRS Investments Gain, But Pension Gap Widens
Jon Ortiz @
sacbee.com
CalSTRS' investments earned big profits last year, but the gap between its assets and its obligations to pensioners still widened, according to figures its board will discuss later this week.

Feinstein Calls Treasurer's Actions 'Big Betrayal'
Judy Lin @
mercurynews.com
Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Tuesday there was never any indication that her former campaign treasurer was mismanaging her re-election account before the treasurers arrest last year in a widespread embezzlement case.

Poll: Half Of Americans Expect Supreme Court's Health-care Decision To Be Political
Robert Barnes and Scott Clement @
washingtonpost.com
More Americans think Supreme Court justices will be acting mainly on their partisan political views than on a neutral reading of the law when they decide the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care law, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Obama goes on offensive over taxes on wealthy
Jackie Calmes @
mercurynews.com
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- All but certain now that his Republican opponent will be Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama has made his proposed "Buffett Rule" minimum tax for the wealthiest Americans like Romney a centerpiece of his re-election campaign, defying the political risk of being seen as a

CalPERS Wants To Shed Some Private Equity Investments
Dale Kasler @
sacbee.com
CalPERS, still retooling its massive portfolio, is trying to sell off $1.5 billion in private equity investments. The big pension fund has hired investment banker UBS to sell the investments. Marketing efforts should begin as early as this week, said a source familiar with CalPERS' plans but not authorized to discuss the matter.

Court Rules Pension Ballot Wording Unlawful
Local @
mercurynews.com
Unionized city workers claimed victory in appellate decision that Measure B preamble unduly argued support, but city leaders say measure will proceed to the ballot with only token changes.

It's A Million-dollar Campaign Already
Timm Herdt @
blogs.venturacountystar.com
Republican Sen. Tony Strickland solidified his reputation as a first-rate fundraiser today, issuing a press release announcing that he raised $770,000 in the first quarter for his campaign in the 26th Congressional District. In addition, he didn't have to spend a whole lot to do it, as he says his report will show a cash balance of $720,000.

Vernon Election Mired In Fraud Allegations
Shelby Grad @
latimesblogs.latimes.com
The first competitive election in the city of Vernon in years was thrown into chaos late Tuesday amid accusations of voter fraud before officials could even begin counting the ballots.

California Controller Outlines Shortfall, Says Key Months Ahead - Capitol And California - The Sacramento Bee
sacbee.com
As state leaders hope for a surprise uptick in revenue this spring, state Controller John Chiang reported Tuesday that California lagged last month by $233.5 million, or 4.2 percent.

Fracking Bill Moves Forward In California Legislature
latimesblogs.latimes.com
With oil companies touting the potential of hydraulic fracturing in California, state lawmakers considered the first of several bills Tuesday to address the controversial oil extraction method commonly known as "fracking."

California pension crusader says accusers embezzled money
Jon Ortiz @
blogs.sacbee.com
Marcia Fritz, perhaps the most public face of California's public pension reform movement, has answered a lawsuit that she violated labor laws and failed to contribute to former employees' retirement accounts -- and filed a civil complaint of her own claiming her accusers embezzled thousands from the accounting firm she once owned.

Massachusetts Senate Race Testing Politics of Likability
nytimes.com
For all her fans and campaign riches, Elizabeth Warren has a lot of work ahead to persuade voters in Massachusetts to oust Senator Scott P. Brown.

Schools turn to voters to help dig out of budget hole
Sharon Noguchi @
mercurynews.com
In mail-only elections, the Santa Clara Unified School District and the Saratoga Elementary school district seek to pass parcel taxes to supplement the property taxes that support their schools.

Video has Feinstein speaking about loss of millions to treasurer Kinde Durkee
Torey Van Oot @
blogs.sacbee.com
Sen. Dianne Feinstein spoke up about being a victim of what's thought to be the nation's largest campaign treasurer fraud ever prosecuted, calling the situation a "very hard thing.

Feinstein: Economy Is Improving
Brian Joseph @
totalbuzz.ocregister.com
Speaking in Sacramento on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said the economy is improving but more work needs to be done to encourage manufacturing across the country while California specifically needs to be more friendly to business.

How Rick Santorum's Exit Hurts California Gop
Randy Shandobil @
sfgate.com
Rick Santorum's decision to drop out of the presidential race may have brought a sigh of relief to Mitt Romney and the Republican establishment, but sometimes what is good for a political party nationally harms the...

Giant water agency approves rate hikes in S. Calif
ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press @
utsandiego.com
California's giant water wholesaler approved a smaller rate increase Tuesday than its staff proposed, but it wasn't low enough to satisfy officials who claim a "shadow government" has seized control of the agency and is targeting consumers in San Diego.

Arnold Schwarzenegger asks Facebook fans for help on memoir
Torey Van Oot @
blogs.sacbee.com
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is looking for stories.... about himself.