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ENDORSEMENTS: Yes, there have been significant endorsements of candidates by major organizations lately. I don't write them here, as I don't want to have the role of valuing what is significant and what may not be as much so. I occasionally list party endorsements in toss-up races and endorsements by incumbents, if made, for their successors, which I also list on AroundTheCapitol's district pages.
It's another day on which big stories kept me away from perusing what I'm sure on are other good ones across the papers and sites. But, after six hours of writing (which is actually a lot of research), my clock has run out. I have unedited headlines below the classifieds, and you should also visit Rough&Tumble for the full news breadth.
Meanwhile, below I apologize and talk about our new major candidate for governor, the gubernatorial forum last night, a new PAC for the competitive California congressional districts, and Congressman Kevin McCarthy's presence on the short-list should John Kelly leave the role as White House chief of staff. Yes, my head is spinning this morning.
BOOM! This morning, Amanda Renteria filed to run as a Democrat for governor. If the name sounds familiar, she was the Democratic nominee against David Valadao in the Democrats' perennial target district of CA21 (Valadao). Following her loss to Valadao, she served as national political director of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Last year, the Stanford and Harvard MBA grad joined Attorney General Xavier Becerra's office as director of operations.
It's awfully late to be starting a statewide campaign. There are only 111 days before the top two primary election. But, it builds her name recognition and she is the only candidate from the "Valley."
What it really is, however, is a blow to Democrats Antonio Villaraigosa and Delaine Eastin. It is great news for Gavin Newsom and pretty good news for Republicans.
First let's look at the Central Valley. Newsom and Villaraigosa are tied there at 19% among likely voters, according to the PPIC poll, and 20% are undecided. That's a relatively lowest share of undecideds among the five regions, but I would surmise there are more undecideds south of Stockton and more decided voters in the greater Sacramento area. Renteria could grab a lot of these and perhaps some of Newsom and Villaraigosa voters.
Villaraigosa is close to Clinton, as evidenced by the Super PAC that the Bee's Christopher Cadelago reported on in January. The Super PAC was formed by Clinton and Obama strategists. Both Newsom and Villaraigosa were national co-chairs of Clinton's 2008 primary campaign, which she lost to Obama.
Obviously, a Latina candidate with a pedigree like Renteria's is likely to draw votes--both existing an undecideds--from Villaraigosa. And, just last night at the forum I talk about below, Eastin was praised for being a woman who stood up to run in a field of men, something her fellow men obviously had to applaud. Well, that distinction appears to be gone, unless qualified as "first major candidate willing...".
For Republicans, the good news is that the pie "major" Democrats is now sliced by five. We're talking a Denny's pie slice rather than a Marie Callendar's slice. That makes it slightly easier for the Republicans to grab a spot in top two and has Paul Mitchell saying "I told you so." That said, there are still whispers of other GOP candidates as well.
The not-so-good news for Republicans is that they've been having little ability to get their message through. Travis Allen desperately needs earned media, and only gets it by attacking his opponents and has been unable to share the gas tax repeal spotlight with Carl DeMaio. John Cox is going to the right of more moderate Doug Ose, something that helps him in June but hurts him in November. We don't have any reliable polling on Ose, since he joined last month.
Further, when it comes to likely June voters watching the yet-to-be-announced debates, there will now likely be five Democrats on the stage and three Republicans. The five Democrats will include an Asian-American, a Latino, a Latina, the only female state Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the straight white guy who began the issue of legal same-sex marriage in California 14 years ago this week, and paving the way to the law of the nation in 2015.
That's a hell of a buffet bar for Democrats to choose from, and the three Republicans are all white males, two of whom are wealthy and one of whom isn't and whose campaign is financially underwater.
Republicans need Renteria's entrance to spread the Democrats more evenly. Republicans need a smoke-filled room to hone in on a candidate who can rise against the leading Democrats. Those are two very difficult bets to make, and we are only talking about the primary.
MY BAD: One thing about me you should know Noonerites, I admit when I'm wrong. Typing out this scribe each day, it will happen.
Yesterday, I was wrong. I tweeted out my error as soon as I recognized it.
I reacted negatively to the subject line of am email for John Chiang's campaign for governor. I saw the subject line "NEW DIGITAL AD HIGHLIGHTS CHIANG’S RECORD AS ‘THE MOST ACCOMPLISHED MAN IN CALIFORNIA’" and like most fundraising emails, I didn't open it. If I opened all of the campaign email I get each day, I wouldn't get anything else done.
By later in the day, word obviously got to me that the subject line was tied to a humorous parody video inside. So, my bad, and my apologies to John.
GOV: Last night, I attended the "Our Time to Engage, Inform, Vote" gubernatorial forum focusing on issues affecting African-American women that was held at the Crest Theatre here in Sacramento. On stage were John Chiang, Delaine Eastin, and Antonio Villaraigosa.
Gavin Newsom was at a town hall and the LA County Democratic Central Committee meeting in Los Angeles, while his wife Jennifer was in the audience. He launches a "Courage for a Change" campaign this morning with a town hall in Ventura and a new web video with the theme. Expect Newsom to focus on Southern California, as he has 45% of the primary vote in the SF Bay Area, but 13-15% elsewhere. The Central Valley's 19% is likely elevated primarily by the greater Sacramento area, where he is relatively well known.
Chiang and Villaraigosa made not-so-subtle jabs against Newsom for not attending. Chiang said "When you make a pledge to attend this historic event, you have to attend." Villaraigosa said "I came. I come from a community where it’s important to show up."
As with all of the events we've seen thus far, this was a forum and not a debate. Each drew from their personal backgrounds, bringing humanity to their policy positions. Each took aim at Washington, DC, which is no surprise--81% of June likely voters disapprove of President Trump's job approval, including 75% of women and 93% of Democrats. There are no data specifically on African-American women, but one would surmise that the candidates definitely connected with the audience on hits on the White House.
One of the biggest issues as discussed in this space several times is single-payer health care, and it was discussed last night. All four major Democrats support a single-payer style system. Eastin and Newsom expressly support SB 562, the single-payer bill sponsored by the California Nurses Association that has been held up in Rules Committee by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon until a detailed funding plan is put forward.
Even if a plan is brought forward (CNA and other advocates would cite the U. Mass "Pollin report"), the beating Rendon has taken for stalling the bill, the gubernatorial campaign, and a cautious Jerry Brown makes the bill moving forward this year very unlikely.
Eastin said "When I am governor, we will get [single-payer health care] done. I promise you.”
Chiang and Villaraigosa take a more nuanced approach. Both want universal coverage, and profess single-payer but have nuanced ways to get there.
Villaraigosa touts his attempts to expand Medi-Cal and his role in creating the state's Healthy Families expansion for children, which increased eligibility for Medi-Cal to two-and-a-half times the federal poverty level with mostly federal funds. Villaraigosa stated that 75% of the beneficiaries of Healthy Families are children of color.
Chiang said that he supports a single-payer system, "Medicare for all" and support for ObamaCare (Affordable Care Act).
The candidates are warming up for the Democratic Party's convention, where the issue will be front and center.
Finally the line of the night goes to Delaine Eastin who, addressing sexual harassment in the Legislature, said "It's about time that we stop using public money to protect these thugs."
The LAT's Phil Willon has more on the forum.
RUMORS: CNN reports this morning that California congressman and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA23) is one of the names being discussed as the next White House chief of staff if John Kelly falls over the Rob Porter domestic violence situation which led to Porter's resignation. The bench for CA23 would include Assemblymember Vince Fong (who was McCarthy's district director), who at 38 could spend the time in the House to climb the seniority ranks.
Clearly, McCarthy is one of the President's favorite members of Congress, even if he is from the Golden State. However, he may not want the job, which is notoriously tough and there's no such thing as a term (remember Priebus?). McCarthy is completely safe in his district and, at 53, has several more terms should he want them. If Republicans lose the House this year, the thought on the Hill is that Ryan would step down.
McCarthy was in the field when Ryan became Speaker to replace John Boehner, but pulled out over rumors of an affair with a colleague and a public gaffe on the Benghazi investigation. McCarthy denied the affair, and it likely wouldn't stop him from becoming House Republican Leader (if they chose to follow Pelosi's change in title from "House Minority Leader").
ANOTHER PAC: The LAT's Christine Mai-Duc writes that campaign strategist Joe Trippi and pollster Paul Maslin have joined forces to create a new PAC to play in California House races. The new effort joins the PACs led former congressmembers Ellen Tauscher ("Flip the 14"--focused on all House Republicans) and Mike Honda ("Red-to-Blue CA"--focused on the seven GOP districts won by Clinton and formerly run by Michael Eggman), who is now running for CA10. The Trippi/Maslin CA-BAM (as Mai-Duc writes, "get it?) PAC is playing in primaries.
Three issues are going on here. First, the new PAC as mentioned is playing in the primaries, something the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is not in the position to publicly do. Secondly, there are big donors out there that want to get money to these races and have lost faith in the national committees. Donors can also max out to national party committees and give $5,000 to each of these targeted PACs on California races. Finally, players gotta play--each committee has separate campaign and media consultants--more people are getting a piece of the action. It's all in the game, yo'.
With its launch Tuesday, organizers are already pushing polling that shows Emily’s List-backed Katie Hill is their favored candidate in Rep. Steve Knight’s 25th Congressional District. A polling memo released by the group says Hill’s strength “comes from her ability to garner support beyond the Democratic base.” One of Hill’s primary opponents, two-time challenger Brian Caforio, received more than 70% of votes from in a recent pre-endorsement conference of party activists and is poised to receive the state party endorsement at next week’s convention.
“[Democrats] have won a lot of swing districts...in California by getting in early in the primaries,” said Josh Pulliam, the committee’s political consultant. “We want to bring that same approach to this open primary system.”
Pulliam says CA-BAM is already in the field with a poll in Rep. Darrell Issa’s 49th Congressional District, which has attracted at least five Democratic candidates and several other Republicans since Issa announced he would retire. The group is also looking at other closely watched House races in Orange County, including seats held by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, Mimi Walters and Ed Royce, who is also retiring.
Pulliam said after spending money to ensure the best-positioned Democrat gets through the June 6 primary, the group will train their efforts against GOP incumbents in the general.
There is also chattering among people not involved in first two efforts of frustration over goal of targetting all 14 districts held by the GOP. There is no chance of flipping CA01 (LaMalfa), CA08 (Cook), CA23 (McCarthy), and CA42 (Calvert). The other three in "Flip the 14" and not on the agenda of "Red-to-Blue CA" are CA04 (McClintock) CA22 (Nunes), CA50 (Hunter).
I know there are high hopes in the foothills of taking out Tom McClintock, and more than him being a carpet-bagger with a conservative record would be needed. In contrast, Nunes has his liabilities given the mess around the House Intelligence committee, but I don't think that's going to be changing a lot of voters in Tulare County. Hunter is very vulnerable because of the legal issues around campaign finance and allegations by his colleagues (off the record) of women. I'll only comment on the former, which I did the other day.
Red-to-Blue CA is more focused, but there are concerns about the affiliation with Eggman, who said he wasn't going to run and did. I have seen no legal issues, but some big donors and bundlers are looking for a clean avenue with a narrow focus with no connection to a campaign, something that CA-BAM is likely to emphasize. Meanwhile, Red-to-Blue has built a broad small-donor online giving base and will have resources.
"Flip the 14" ended 2017 with $70,151, while Red-to-Blue CA closed the year with $188,865. CA-BAM actually opened last May, and at the end of the year had $4,894 in cash and $47,758 in debt for campaign consulting and polling. But, Trippi's name ID and success coming off the underdog win by Doug Jones in the U.S. Alabama Senate special makes him key to quickly raising big money quickly.
ISN'T THAT SPECIAL, revised:
AD39 (East San Fernando Valley - Bocanegra)
AD45 (West San Fernando Valley - Dababneh)
AD54 (Culver City - Ridley-Thomas)
*Both Cochrane (AD39) and Dunwoody (AD54) may have had insufficient signatures. LA County will confirm around 5pm today.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Jacqui Avila-Bell, Tim Shelley, and Angie Wei! A #CAKEDAYSGONEBY greeting to Tim's wife Lorie Shelley, whose birthday was yesterday!
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