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THE NOONER for March 17, 2014

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  • Lots of changes are still being made to the district pages, with formal ballot titles, websites, and candidates being added/removed as counties update their candidate lists.

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Happy St. Patrick's Day! Our Los Angeles readers woke up to a 4.4 earthquake this morning, although tomorrow is more likely when they'll need Mother Nature's assistance getting out of bed. If Latino 105.7 is still playing Nelly's Hot in Herre at the time of today's Nooner (as it was at press time), my count should have it breaking about 1,000 consecutive plays this hour.

We're talking write-in candidates, ballot order advantage, the GOP Convention, Democratic nervousness, and much more after the jump.




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DEADLINE: Your e-mail is likely filling up with desperate pleas from state candidates today, as the first pre-election filing period closes at midnight. Candidates then have until next Monday to file the report.

BALLOT ORDER: On Friday, I shared the results of the statewide alphabet drawing for the June 3 election. There are two important caveats--candidates in multi-county Assembly and State Senate districts will have a different ballot order in each county, based on drawings held also on Thursday (if necessary). (Elections Code 13111(i)) Candidates running statewide appear in the Secretary of State's order beginning in Assembly District 1. For each of the other 79 Assembly Districts, the first candidate moves to the bottom and the next candidate moves up. So, if there are 10 candidates for governor, each would appear at the top of the ballot order in 8 counties. (Elections Code 13111(a))

Someone on Twitter raised the question of whether landing on the top of the ballot order in fact buoys a candidate. For that, we turn to the science of politics that we claimed as an undergraduate major but long ago forgot. 

Professors from Northwestern and UPenn studied city council and school board elections in California, who found a 5-point bump for the candidate in first place. This changed the result in 1 out of 10 races.

Of course, studying low-profile city council and school board races is different than legislative and congressional races where voters look for a preferred (or at least recognized) name.

WRITE-INS: While we wait for the carrier pigeons from 58 counties to carry nomination papers to the Secretary of State today for the assembling of an official list by March 27, we know that several legislative and congressional candidates are running unopposed on June 3. This appears to include the entire Assembly delegation in San Diego County, as well as in AD60 (Corona) and AD67 (Temecula). Can these candidates put their feet up?

Of course, with that lead-in, you're probably correctly guessing that the answer is "no."

Top-two changes the game for write-in candidates. Under the old primary system, parties were focused on getting candidates for every office on the primary ballot to ensure that their party spot would be occupied in November. However, since that is no longer guaranteed as only the top two--regardless of party--make it to November, a full field appears to be deemphasized.

Top-two eliminated write-in candidates from the November "runoff" election, something that was unsuccessfully challenged in court. However, a write-in candidacy is now much more attractive in situations where only one candidate files for the primary.

Instead of paying a $952.91 filing fee or collecting 1,500 in-lieu signatures to run a long-shot campaign for State Assembly, a potential candidate can wait to see if a favorite has nobody file to run against her. Then, between April 7 and May 20 (this cycle), a write-in candidate can make a simple filing, pay no fee, and collect only 40 valid signatures to be eligible to receive votes on June 3. Then, only one vote is needed (ostensibly, by the candidate herself) to gain a spot on the November ballot equal to that of the currently unchallenged favorite.

While I don't recall any attention paid to it, we had six such races in 2012--CD37, SD03, SD09, SD33, AD15, and AD31. In no cases did the write-in candidate win. In SD33, Lee Chauser received 3 write-in votes (0.3%) and thus earned the right to have equal ballot placement next to Ricardo Lara in November (when Chauser received 38,671 votes, or 19.6%). In other words, Chauser obtained 37 more valid signatures on his write-in legitimacy papers than he did write-in votes in the primary election.

Perhaps there should be a minimum threshhold for such candidates to earn a position on the November ballot. After all, if something happens to the candidate earing the top spot in the primary (winning the lottery, getting run over by a bus, getting convicted/sentenced to a felony), should a candidate who received 3 votes really earn the office, or should it be opened to a special election?

Anyway, the point is that when the "official" candidate list comes out next Thursday, don't take it as final, as in the solo candidate districts, it will be easy for a write-in to appear as an equal candidate come November.


  • Dems in Distress [Maureen Dowd @ NYT] - "At the heart of all this, really, is that the White House totally blew the rollout of the health care law and Democrats have not recovered. It provided a huge opening for Republicans, who had just shut down the government and were tanking in the polls and in despair themselves. Now there’s a lot of spring in the step of Republicans as spring approaches."
  • Obama Factor Adds to Fears of Democrats [Jonathan Martin and Ashley Parker @ NYT] - "Interviews with more than two dozen Democratic members of Congress, state party officials and strategists revealed a new urgency about the need to address the party's prospects. One Democratic lawmaker, who asked not to be identified, said Mr. Obama was becoming "poisonous" to the party’s candidates. At the same time, Democrats are pressing senior aides to Mr. Obama for help from the political network."

POLL POSIITON: 3 numbers in the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll that should worry Democrats [Chris Cilizza @ WaPo]:

  • 41. That's President Obama's overall job approval in the new NBC-WSJ survey, the lowest he has been in the history of the poll.
  • 44. That's the percentage of respondents who said that a "congressperson's position on national issues" would be more important in deciding their votes than the "congressperson's performance in taking care of problems in your district."
  • 33. One in three registered voters in the NBC-WSJ poll said that their vote for Congress this fall will be intended to signal opposition to President Obama.

DONNELLY'S DOMAIN: Tim Donnelly gets 'unofficial' endorsement at GOP convention [Michael Finnegan and Seema Mehta @ LAT] - "The audience reaction told the story: For Neel Kashkari, polite applause; for his GOP gubernatorial rival, Tim Donnelly, a prolonged roar of cheers . . . Kashkari's cool reception among party activists underscored the challenge he faces in his quest to be the Republican chosen by voters in June to challenge Gov. Jerry Brown’s bid for a fourth term in November."

  • Tim Donnelly: "If you know that there's a group that has not been voting because they're not inspired, and because we don't have candidates who are willing to at least stick to their guns . . . Oh, did I just say that?" [David Siders @ Sacramento Bee]
  • Neel Kashkari: I want the CAGOP to be "the biggest tent you've ever seen in your life." (spoken to a gathering of gay Republicans) (h/t John Myers)

GOV: John Hrabe looks at how the Chron pulled together Neel Kashkari's voting records in time to run a story on the day of his announcement. Hrabe's analysis strongly suggests that Kashkari's campaign provided the story and back-up to the Chron to minimize the story's impact by getting it out early. If true, well played, Aaron, well played.

SD14 (Fresno-Bakersfield): The California Democratic Party shows that it will compete against Andy Vidak in its effort to maintain a supermajority in the State Senate, giving Fresno Unified school board member Luis Chavez a $200,000 starting warchest. With Chavez nearly catching Vidak's cash on hand and with a 58.1 D partisan index, the district is now Leans Republican.

AD65 (North Orange County): O.C. Assembly candidate Kim aims to unify Asian voters [Martin Wisckol @ OCR]

CANDIDATE TWITTERVERSE: Twitter handles have been added for all congressional and State Senate candidates, and I hope to get to Assembly tonight. For subscribers, I have added the Twitter handles to the downloadable spreadsheet.

TOP TWITTERVERSE: We've had our first change to the Top 25 Twitter accounts to follow for California's 2014 elections. With the Chron's Joe Garaofoli moving from regular political coverage to business, he is dropped and The Bee's Christopher Cadelago is added.

LAUNCH: Nate Silver's new launches today. For the Ye Ol' Pool participants, here are the statistical predictions of the tournament, and for the grammarians, here's a debate of "data is" versus "data are."

ELECTIONTRACK: I'm happy to welcome Probolsky Research as the sponsor of the nightly ElectionTrack email. I am now adding occasional thoughts and analysis on state fundraising in the message that hit mailboxes at midnight covering the day's reports. Candidates now are obligated to report contributions of $1,000 or more within 24 hours. Here's a sample email, and you can sign up for the it in the box in the upper left here.

MOVIN' ON UP: Congratulations to Darrell Steinberg's (and my) alma mater UC Davis School of Law, which moved up two positions in the US News rankings to #36. Mark Glover writes in The Bee "In ranked subsets, the UCD law school was 22nd in the nation based on survey responses from law school deans and faculty, 24th in the assessment by participating lawyers and judges and 26th in the 'Most Diverse Law Schools' rankings."

Most California law schools (particularly Hastings, which dropped out of the top 50, and McGeorge, which dropped to last place among ranked law schools) are being heavily penalized in the rankings as there continues to be a huge mismatch between the number of law school graduates and entry-level positions for them to enter. The legal job market is picking up, but it's still very difficult for all-but the top of the class at the top schools to land a full-time job directly from law school.

Anyway, here are the California law schools included in the rankings, which are completely meaningless, unless you're justifying your degree over some other job candidate's:

  • #3: Stanford
  • #9: Berkeley
  • #16: UCLA
  • #20: USC
  • #36: UC Davis
  • #54: Pepperdine
  • #54: UC Hastings
  • #79: University of San Diego
  • #87: Loyola Marymount
  • #107: Santa Clara
  • #140: Chapman
  • #146: University of the Pacific: McGeorge

GOODBYE, ER, HELLO, NEWMAN: Newman from 'Seinfeld' is not dead, rumors were a hoax [David K. Li @ NYPost]




Leland Yee joins effort to stop affirmative action measure
Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross @
Three Asian American state senators - including San Francisco's own Leland Yee - are asking fellow lawmakers to shelve a measure aimed at allowing California's public universities to once again consider race in admissions.

California Has Tightest Restrictions On Law-enforcement Records, Access Advocates Say
Jim Miller @
Eighty-three percent of voters backed enshrining the state’s open-records law in the Constitution a decade ago. Even so, open-records advocates say California residents today have some of the least access to law enforcement records of anywhere in the country. Bills to tighten the restrictions, pushed by politically influential law enforcement unions, routinely sail through the Legislature. Attempts to provide more disclosure have been few and unsuccessful.

State GOP Pins Hopes For Renewal On Local Races
Carla Marinucci @
When Jim Brulte, chair of the California Republican Party, was asked this weekend whether his embattled party could win a single statewide office in 2014, he refused to predict victory. "This is a party that, whether we like it or not, has been in decline for over two decades," he told reporters at his party's three-day state convention in Burlingame, where hundreds of grassroots activists and candidates gathered to plan strategy. "Ask me in November."

Bill On Anonymous Political Donations Faces A Test In State Senate
Patrick McGreevy and Melanie Mason @
The legislation, which would require greater disclosure about who funds groups, can pass only if at least one Republican supports it.

Retiring Sen. Wyland Has Rare Analytical Approach To Education Policy
Dan Walters @
The state Senate’s education committee held an “informational hearing” recently on the recruitment and retention of quality teachers – no small matter in a public school system with such evident achievement shortcomings. Witnesses offered suggestions about what it takes to improve the quality of classroom instruction and members of the committee asked questions. And the most cogent questions and observations came from Sen. Mark Wyland, who will be leaving the Legislature due to term limits later this year.

Video: Boisterous GOP activists cheer Tim Donnelly
David Siders @
Boisterous party activists cheered Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly as he addressed the California Republican Party's biannual convention here Sunday, a demonstration of Donnelly's continued appeal to the party's conservative base.

Republican candidates for governor highlight divisions within California GOP
David Siders @
The gulf between the two Republican candidates for California governor could hardly be wider, and a weekend of campaigning laid bare not only the differences between them, but persistent fissures within the GOP. A vocal, conservative base rallied for Tim Donnelly, the tea party favorite, while Neel Kashkari lobbied a more moderate segment of the electorate, including young Republicans, minorities and the party’s donor and professional class.

GOP Candidates For Governor Fete Delegates At State Party Convention
Seema Mehta and Michael Finnegan @
BURLINGAME, Calif. -- Republican gubernatorial candidates feted delegates to their state party's weekend convention late into the night Saturday with parties, cocktails and music.

GOP Governor Candidates Donnelly, Kashkari Address Delegates At Convention
Today's high

Capitol Alert video: Boisterous GOP activists cheer Tim Donnelly
David Siders @
Boisterous party activists cheered Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly as he addressed the California Republican Party's biannual convention here Sunday, a demonstration of Donnelly's continued appeal to the party's conservative base.

Vallejo Bankrupt Again? 'We Are Not Going There'
Ed Mendel @
The Vallejo city council last week voted to close a $5.2 million gap in the current budget, showing no alarm that in a five-year forecast the gap reopens, mainly driven by rising pension costs.

Tim Donnelly Gets 'Unofficial' Endorsement At GOP Convention
Michael Finnegan and Seema Mehta @
The audience reaction told the story: For Neel Kashkari, polite applause; for his GOP gubernatorial rival, Tim Donnelly, a prolonged roar of cheers.

Fact Check: Kashkari overall voting rate 37.5 percent
no means is Kashkari alone in missing elections. Both GOP Assemblyman Tim Donnelly and Democratic Governor Jerry Brown have m @
Neel Kashkari has voted in 37.5 percent of elections since he turned 18, a figure that is undisputed by Kashkari’s campaign and is based on all available public records. He has voted in 15 out of 40 elections for which he was eligible.

Candidates For Governor Face Odd Vibe At GOP Convention In Burlingame
Josh Richman @
Though still a focus of delegates' attention, the top-of-the-ticket candidates for the first time in recent memory were receiving a distinct "you're on your own" vibe from the party's highest echelons. And their reactions matched their personas.

House Republican Leaders Craft Their Vision For An Alternative To Health-care Law
House Republican leaders are adopting an agreed-upon conservative approach to fixing the nation’s health-care system, in part to draw an election-year contrast with President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

California Energy Official Says State Wasn't Aware Of Crude By Rail Facilities
Curtis Tate @
A California Energy Commission official Friday said the agency wasn't aware that the state had become a destination for crude oil shipments by rail, even though Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal made note of it two months ago.

Why California GOP's "Reboot" Strategy Isn't Enough
One after another of the speakers at last weekend’s California Republican Party convention did an admirable job of staying on Chairman Jim Brulte’s message: “Rebuild. Renew. Reclaim.” But there was remarkably little, if any, discussion of what about the GOP’s message and program has put them in a spot where rebooting is the only option.

U.S. Imposes New Sanctions On 7 Russians, Several Ukrainians
Kathleen Hennessey and Christi Parsons @
President Obama has signed an order that imposes sanctions on seven Russian government officials, including a Putin adviser.

Q&A: Napolitano Asks For More Support For UC Research
Alexei Koseff @
University of California President Janet Napolitano was in Sacramento last week for UC’s graduate research advocacy day, meeting with legislators and hosting a luncheon to honor 22 graduate students.

Program Will Help Cash-strapped Teachers Fund Their Projects
Teresa Watanabe @
The L.A. Fund for Public Education will announce a groundbreaking initiative that will give teachers access to funding opportunities.

Orange News - The Sacramento Bee