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THE NOONER for July 27, 2012

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Thanks for all the great feedback on the new district election pages. I'm continually making improvements based on your feedback. The first two polls have been posted (CD26 and CD30).

TURN THAT FROWN UPSIDE DOWN

As Democrats gather in Anaheim, the news isn't good. Enthusiasm is down, the economy sucks, and several opportunities are slipping, or have slipped, away. [e.g. CD21, CD31]

However, it is still true that the Democrats have a solid shot at two-thirds in the State Senate, which could significantly increase the party's legislative effectiveness in Sacramento.

Let's review the landscape:

Democrats currently hold 25 seats in the State Senate. Those 25 are largely safe, with the only two even on the very broad radar being SD17 (Santa Barbara) and SD39 (San Diego). Democrats are assured one pick-up in north Central Coast district of SD17. So, they are very likely starting with 26 votes, one short of the 27 it takes to garner a two-thirds majority.

There are then three districts currently held by Republicans that Democrats have a shot at picking up: SD05 (San Joaquin), SD27 (Ventura), and SD31 (Riverside). They only need to win one of these to reach two-thirds for the 2013-14 session. 

However, to hold the two-thirds for four years, they likely need to win at least one more. Lou Correa's SD34 is likely unwinnable in an off-year by Democrats, although Jose Solorio may make a run for it. Thus, Dems would drop down one seat in 2014, unless Republican Anthony Cannella can be beat in SD12 (I wrote about this district on Tuesday).

Two-thirds matters because legislation can pass one house and then put the focus on the 2-5 Assembly Republicans that could determine the fate of legislation. For something like the the effort to lower parcel tax approval for schools to 55%, that could be significant.

In other good news for Democrats, the California Republican Party is broke. Carla Marinucci writes:

"Three months before the November election, the California Republican Party is so awash in red ink that its board has approved laying off staff and vacating the party's main headquarters in Sacramento, The Chronicle has learned."

The crisis emerged after state party officials, facing an $850,000 shortfall in late June, fell behind in rent, phone bills, payments to Internet vendors and printers, and worried they would have to cut employees' health care insurance payments, according to several Republican sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Since then, party officials have reportedly negotiated down the debt, but campaign finance reports to be released Tuesday are expected to show the California GOP to be at least $450,000 in the red, multiple sources said.

. . . [Chair Tom Del Becarro] "said the party will "reorient" in its Southern California office, "which fulfills a campaign promise of mine - which is to no longer be a 'party of Sacramento.' " Still, he said the party will maintain a presence there.

Is it me, or is that quote worthy of a giggle? Should the RNC similarly move from Washington, DC to Lincoln, Nebraska to not be the party of Washington?

Putting the California Republican Party up against the California Democratic Party is like sending the Sacramento Kings to the Olympics as the USA national team.

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CD30 Poll: 

  • Howard Berman - 29%
  • Brad Sherman - 46%
  • Other - 5%
  • Undecided - 21%

[The Feldman Group for Brad Sherman's campaign, n=502, July 14-18, +/-4.4%]

No, the race is not over. It's going to be ugly and the final outcome will be closer, although Sherman definitely has an edge. The question is how much effort Berman's allies, such as Dianne Feinstein, are willing to put in through an election cycle in which everyone is spread thin.

THE SLOW BLEED: The headlines continue to be bad for state and local governments looking for voters to open their wallets in November:

Supporters of tax measures are thinking "thank goodness it's August" and that people care more about the Olympics and the fact that Kristen cheated on Rob.

Roger Hernandez goes with the standard defense that his DUI blood test was an unreasonable search and seizure. Meanwhile, independent candidate Mike Meza endorses Republican Joe Gardner against Hernandez in AD48.

JUST ASKIN': Now that Los Angeles has banned pot dispensaries and plans to shut down the 800 that already exist, the question is which of those small cities are going to open the Home Depot-sized pot store to meet the needs of Angelenos? Vernon? Bell? Industry? There's mad money to be made . . .

GOING TO THE POLES: Tampa's strip clubs gear up for the GOP, including with a Sarah Palin look-alike.

LAUGHING IT OFF: Fred Willard goes on Jimmy Fallon to talk about his recent incident.

UH, NO COMMENT: Why prolonged sex is dangerous: it can get you killed [Thomas H. Maugh II @LAT]

Have a great weekend. I'm on Virgin America tomorrow morning heading for a week in Cancun before the Legislature returns. Don't worry, I'll still be offering up some Nooner goodness next week. 

TOP HEADLINES ON AROUNDTHECAPITOL.COM AS OF 12:00PM
Judge says suit against CalPERS over prison receiver pension may proceed
Jon Ortiz @
blogs.sacbee.com
A judge has cleared the way for a lawsuit to proceed against CalPERS over an unusual work arrangement that allows California Prison Receiver J. Clark Kelso to continue accruing state pension benefits even though his position was established by a federal court and he answers to a federal judge.

California's Elected Board Of Equalization Should Be Replaced By A Tax Court
Dan Walters @
sacbee.com
We should have a state revenue department, staffed by professionals and under the governor, that collects all state taxes, which are now scattered among several agencies. Appeals from its decisions should go to a state tax court, rather than to a body of politicians.

Much Of Hidden State Park Cash Was In Controversial Off-road Fund
Chris Megerian and Anthony York @
latimes.com
Tense relationship between park conservationists and recreation advocates is further strained by the discovery of a surplus hidden partly in an off-roading fund.

Hill Leaders May Punt Spending Bills To Next Year
Andrew Taylor @
sacbee.com
Congressional leaders are considering punting much of the remaining budget work of Congress to next year.

Luck, Timing And Prop. 13
Sherry Bebitch Jeffe @
nbclosangeles.com
If politics is a matter of luck and timing, a look back at Proposition 13 (also on his watch) might be instructive as Gov. Jerry Brown tries to save his proposed tax initiative.

Sacramento County Delays Vote On Budget For Corrections Services
Brad Branan @
sacbee.com
Sacramento County leaders are once again having a hard time approving a plan to handle thousands of offenders who once would have been the responsibility of the state.

California Legislator Seeks To Dismiss Evidence In His DUI Case
Jim Sanders @
blogs.sacbee.com
Assemblyman Roger Hernandez will ask a judge to throw out a blood analysis and other evidence against him Monday, the eve of his trial in Walnut Creek on suspicion of drunken driving.

Cash-strapped El Monte Wants To Tax Sugary Soft Drinks
Shelby Grad @
latimesblogs.latimes.com
El Monte is moving forward with a plan to seek a tax on sugary sodas to ease its financial problems. The proposal, one of the first of its kind in California, would add a 1-cent tax per ounce to the...

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos gives $2.5M to defend Washington gay marriage law
mercurynews.com
A referendum was certified for the ballot in May after gay marriage opponents in the group Preserve Marriage Washington turned in more than 240,000 signatures. It seeks to overturn the law signed in February.

Facebook's First Public Quarter Proves Solid - Ap State Business News - The Sacramento Bee
sacbee.com
NEW YORK -- Facebook is reporting stronger-than-expected revenue in the social media company's first earnings report since its rocky initial public offering two months ago.

Donors Who Bailed Out State Parks Want Their Money Back
Paul Rogers @
mercurynews.com
In light of scandal this week where $54 million in unreported funds was discovered in two state parks accounts, donors who helped keep parks open now want answers and action from state lawmakers

California Investigates Up To $2.3 Billion In Public Funds Hiding In Plain Sight
Local @
insidebayarea.com
An analysis by this newspaper of California's little-known 500-plus special funds -- like the ones that included $54 million in parks money shielded from the Department of Finance -- shows tens of millions of dollars in discrepancies in numerous accounts.

San Bruno Park district puts parcel tax on November ballot
Aaron Kinney @
mercurynews.com
The San Bruno Park School District board has decided to place a $199-per-parcel tax on the November ballot, making it the third San Mateo County district to ask voters to approve a funding measure this fall.

Dems Could Make History This Weekend
Wyatt Buchanan, Michael Collier, Richard Dunham, Bob Egelko, Joe Garofoli, Marisa Lagos, Carolyn Lochhead, Carla Marinucci, @
blog.sfgate.com
Dems could make history this weekend

Romney Mum On Foreign Policy After Meeting With Britain's Cameron
Maeve Reston @
latimes.com
After meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Mitt Romney kept to his pledge not to criticize President Obama's policies while abroad.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos gives $2.5M to support gay marriage
AP Member Choice Complete @
latimes.com
Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday said he was giving $2.5 million to the campaign to defend Washington state's gay marriage law, weighing in on an issue that is hotly debated in many places across the U.S.

The Caucus: Amazon's Founder Pledges $2.5 Million in Support of Same-Sex Marriage
MICHAEL D. SHEAR @
nytimes.com
The gift from Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon.com, and his wife, MacKenzie, has doubled the money available to the proponents of Referendum 74 in Washington State.

U.S. Olympic Committee wants Olympics footage out of campaign ads
Melanie Mason @
latimes.com
The U.S. Olympic Committee has a message for the presidential candidates and their supporters: leave the Games out of your politics.

The Caucus: Gun Control Group Calls On Presidential Candidates to Outline Plans
EMMARIE HUETTEMAN @
nytimes.com
The president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence challenged President Obama and Mitt Romney on Thursday to offer solutions in the wake of last week's deadly shooting in Colorado.

Cash Buyers Snap Up 30 Percent Of Houses Sold This Year In Sacramento
Hudson Sangree and Phillip Reese @
sacbee.com
Thanhtam Bui, left, and her mother, Daisy Nguyen, inspect a house for sale in South Natomas. Bui has made five offers and has been beaten out by cash buyers four times. Despite record low mortgage rates, all-cash deals financed 30 percent of local home purchases so far this year.

Homeowners With Underwater Mortgages May Be Stuck For Years
accessing this site, you accept our @
baycitizen.org
Although foreclosures in the state have hit a five-year low, real estate experts say millions of Californians who owe more ...

Teens Protest Chick-fil-a Gay Marriage Stance At New O.C. Branch
Tiffany Hsu @
latimes.com
The Chick-fil-A gay marriage controversy spilled into the Southland early Thursday morning, as a large group of teens protested the chain’s perceived anti-gay stance outside a newly opened Laguna Hills branch.