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THE NOONER for November 26, 2012

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AD50 UPDATE: Richard Bloom increases his lead to 430 votes over Betsy Butler. The remaining ballots left county-wide should be around 154,757.


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SAN BERDON'T: San Bernardino's 'Toxic Politics' Snarl Calpers Debt [James Nash & Steven Church @ Businessweek] - "The council in San Bernardino, a city of 200,000 about 60 miles (100 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, is to meet tonight in its final scheduled session in advance of the court-imposed deadline for the austerity budget, known as a pendency plan."

Speaking of the poisonous politics in the 909, former Assemblymember John Longville taking on soon-to-be former Congressman Joe Baca in an op-ed over the weekend:

"I first encountered his misogynist attitudes a quarter-century ago, when he insisted on referring to my wife as my "girlfriend" because Vicki kept her own last name when we married, an insult for which he refused to apologize even after she was killed by a drunken driver in 1991."

Please, Joe, stop embarrassing us. Accept your defeat and shut up. Instead of bad-mouthing your successor and her supporters, use your mouth to lick your wounds in private. Sour grapes produce a foul whine."

And, NPR gives us the story of how Michael Bloomberg ousted Joe Baca

Oddly, if Baca had run in his "home" district CD31, he would have likely been the favorite over Gary Miller or Bob Dutton, and Bloomberg would not have played there. Instead, Baca, worried about a 2014 difficult mid-term, aimed west to CD35, setting up the face-off against Gloria Negrete McLeod, "triggering" the attention of Bloomberg.

Of course, all eyes are now on SD20, soon to be vacant when Gloria Negrete McLeod resigns for her January 3 swearing in to the 113th Congress. And, the biggest question is whether a Baca will run, or if it will be Assemblymember Norma Torres versus soon-to-be former Assemblymember Wilmer Amina Carter, both of whom have already opened Senate accounts for 2014. Both have ample money launch a quick special election campaign--Torres had $106,523 on hand as of October 20, while Carter had $78,492 as of June 30.

Carter took the 62nd Assembly district in 2006 when then-Assemblymember Joe Baca, Jr. challenged then-Assemblymember Gloria Negrete McLeod for the 32nd State Senate district. McLeod triumphed and served 6 years in the upper house before beating Joe Baca, Sr. for the new 31st congressional district on November 6. The 32nd State Senate district will convert to SD20 in 2014, which will add the voters of Chino from the district while dropping the eastern half of San Bernardino. Here's an overlap map of the two districts.

The special election is expected to be called for May 7, with the "primary" occurring eight weeks before (March 4), although depending on the exact day McLeod resigns there could be up to a two week deviation. Because the winner will serve less than half the term before 2014, the winner will be eligible to run both in 2014 and 2018 under the old term limits law. Thus, if a candidate first elected before June's Proposition 28 wins, they could serve 9.5 years. If someone wins who has not served previously in the Legislature, the winner could serve 12 years under Prop. 28.

While most observers would have expected this to be a typical battle between the Baca and McLeod camps, a wrinkle developed this year that showed friction between Torres and Baca. After Torres gave Baca the support of her delegates to the state party convention to cast their endorsement ballots for Baca against McLeod, Baca neglected to endorse Norma's son, Robert Torres, in his bid for the Pomona City Council. Robert lost to Debra Martin by by 221 votes. Baca didn't endorse anyone in the district 6 race, most likely to avoid angering Pomona voters in this area he had not represented before. 

Of course, 2012 also featured a proxy war between the Baca and McLeod factions in AD47, in which Cheryl Brown easily beat Joe Baca, Jr., who was attempting to return to the green carpet of the lower house. Brown, a publisher and Carter staffer, easily won by 56.2%-43.8%, and had the support of Negrete McLeod, Carter, and a diverse array of Inland Empire electeds including CD41 Republican candidate John Tavaglione. Baca, Jr. had the support of members of the Latino Legislative Caucus and elected officials close to the Baca camp.

While Baca, Sr. might ordinarily be willing to sit this race out, the "Fall of the House of Baca" meme is irritating the outgoing congressman, according to sources close to the camp, and he feels he was unjustly ejected from office by Bloomberg's outside spending and that the DCCC should have stood up for him. While most observe that Torres has remained loyal to the Bacas, the SD32 special election may be too much for the family that has held state or federal office for 20 years. Baca, Jr. still has a seat on the Rialto City Council and remains the only family member in office. 

Baca, Sr. could run for SD32 and, if successful, he would be eligible to run for two terms, as he only served a year in the State Senate before the congressional vacancy was created by the death of George Brown. Baca's race against Brown's widow, Marta Macias Brown, was considered uncouth, as widows had won 35 of the previous 36 such contests. The race fed into the criticisms echoed in the above John Longville op-ed about Baca not being supportive of female political candidates.

Or, Baca, Sr. can take a backseat to Baca, Jr., or simply show that there is no riff with Torres and support her as the favorite in the senate seat. It's possible Carter won't run, as her husband has been ill leading to many absences over the last year. That said--on everyone's account--it's terribly hard for politicians to pass up an opportunity like a special election, and the 909 is full of politicians.

There is one other thing to consider. As a special election under the top-two rules, a candidate can win by getting 50% in the "primary" and avoid a top-two runoff. However, if more than 2 Democrats get in, look for a move for Republicans to position either a Republican or independent. With the historic divide in Democratic camps and the specter of a low-turnout runoff special election, it could be an ounce of hope in an otherwise dispiriting cycle for the GOP. 

I've tried to provide a fair (albeit not complete) assessment of the facts above, but if I have any wrong, please let me know!

Kibbles and bits:


Unions Hail Demise Of Riordan Pension-reform Ballot Measure Effort
David Zahniser @
Representatives of Los Angeles city labor unions on Monday hailed the announcement that former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan had pulled the plug on his ballot measure to roll back pension benefits for city employees, calling it an expensive and poorly thought out proposal.

Leland Yee To Run For Secretary Of State
Marisa Lagos @
State Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat who has made voter access and open government among his main priorities as a lawmaker, will run for secretary of state when he is termed out of the Legislature in two years.

CalSTRS: Action On Long-delayed Rate Increase?
Ed Mendel @
More money for the underfunded California State Teachers Retirement System may be considered by the Legislature next year, thanks to new attention from lawmakers and a state budget deficit narrowed by a voter-approved tax increase this month.

Gay Group Softens Ground For Supreme Court
Carolyn Lochhead @
Flush with recent gay rights victories, the Human Rights Campaign launched a new ad Sunday to press the same-sex marriage case as the Supreme Court decides this week whether to consider the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

Democratic Power In California's Capitol Has Limits
Dan Walters @
The supermajorities have sparked lots of radio talk show and blogosphere speculation about what could happen – but what actually does happen is likely to be much more modest.

California Election Count Keeps Getting Longer :: Fox&hounds
Two weeks after election day, Secretary of State Debra Bowen is reporting that there are still about 1 million ballots still to be counted.

Jerry Brown Preparing For Life Without Top Aide
Outside of his wife, Anne, nobody has been a closer adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown over the last six years than Jim Humes. Now, the governor must prepare for political life without him. Brown's appointment of Humes to the 1st...

Immigration Likely To Be Major Issue For Congress
President Barack Obama's re-election and the increased attention to the voting power of Latinos in America may lead Congress to soon undertake its first serious look at changing immigration laws since the George W. Bush era.

States Take Tougher Line On Secret Political Money Than Feds
California isn't the only place where there's been a crackdown on anonymous political donations. Authorities in Idaho and Montana, among others, have also taken a harder look at nonprofits that have flooded the country with campaign money that has been...

U.S. Supreme Court Poised To Take Up Gay Marriage
Justices will weigh challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act and Californias Proposition 8 when they meet Friday to consider what same-sex marriage cases to review.

Independent Candidates Sparse Despite Voter Gains
Even as California voters increasingly turn away from political party labels, Democratic and Republican candidates dominate the state's elections.

Democrat Leland Yee announces 2014 CA secretary of state bid
Torey Van Oot @
The author of California's new law allowing residents to use the Internet to register to vote wants to be the state's next elections chief.

Cap-and-trade Spending Legally Limited
Wyatt Buchanan @
Among the revenue that will strengthen California's general fund this year is cash from the state's new cap-and-trade program to limit greenhouse-gas emissions - about half a billion dollars - but officials may be legally barred from spending much of that money.

Former Mayor Richard Riordan Drops His Pension Ballot Initiative - La Daily News

Political Blotter: Boxer, Senate Dems urge fairer student-loan deals for troops
Josh Richman @
Senator Barbara Boxer and other Senate Democrats want fairer student-loan financing for military service members; also, giving thanks for a never-boring political year.

One California State Worker On A Mission To See Union Books
Jon Ortiz @
Mariam Noujaim's quest started when she asked her union why the state pays for crossing guards near the DMV offices where she works.

Romney’s Final Share Of The Vote? You Guessed It: 47 Percent.
Call it irony or call it coincidence: Mitt Romney’s share of the popular vote in the 2012 presidential race is very likely to be 47 percent.

Buffett: Hike tax on $500K earners
Bobby Cervantes @
The billionaire proposes a higher threshold for an increased tax on the wealthy than President Obama.

After Congressional Race Defeat, Bob Dutton Plans Return To Private Sector
Andrew Edwards @
State Senate Republican leader Bob Dutton, defeated Nov. 6 in his run for Congress, says he plans to remain active in Inland Empire affairs while making a switch from the public to private sector.

Reforming California: Easier Said Than Done
Evan Halper @
California has a long history of deflecting efforts to make the state function better. Experts say now is not the time to give up trying.

Richard Riordan drops L.A. measure targeting city pensions
Torey Van Oot @
Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan has dropped his push to put a measure to cut pension benefits for city employees on a spring ballot.

Bid to get LA pension measure on ballot dropped
The Associated Press @
Organizers have dropped a bid to get a Los Angeles pension reform measure on the May ballot.

String Of Deficits Might Finally End
Daniel Weintraub @
For as long as many Californians can remember, it seems, the state government has been struggling with budget deficits. Year after year, lawmakers and governors adopt a budget that is supposedly balanced, only to discover – shocking – that the assumptions behind the spending plan were fanciful, or conditions changed, and the red ink overflowed.

One California State Worker On A Mission To See Union Books - Capitol And California - The Sacramento Bee
Mariam Noujaim's quest started when she asked her union why the state pays for crossing guards near the DMV offices where she works.

Riordan abruptly ends bid to get L.A. pension measure on ballot
David Zahniser and Kate Linthicum @
Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan's push for a May ballot measure to cut pension benefits of city employees abruptly collapsed Monday, with a spokesman saying Riordan had suspended signature-gathering efforts.