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Hello Noonerites! I hope you're enjoying a long weekend. It's going to be a wild short week in the Capitol beginning tomorrow, as the State Senate wrestles with the results of the Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) and their peers in the Assembly contemplate the allegations against Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), which now includes a new public one that was released with a Right to Sue by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing on Saturday.
As Senate Rules gathers tomorrow (call of the chair--closed session) to decide how to move forward with a recommendation on Mendoza, the chatter has to be whether Mendoza will really name names if he is suspended without pay or expelled. His lawsuit calls out Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León for bias in the involuntary extension of his paid leave of absence, but multiple sources tell me that he says he has been treated unfairly and Mendoza likes to say "What about so-and-so?," including his former housemate.
This has to be on the mind of Senate Rules Committee members. Rules is expected to finalize recommendations that will be presented to the Senate Democratic and Democratic caucuses before Thursday's floor session.
IT GET'S BETTER WORSE: For Politico, Carla Marinucci reports on the new complaint against Garcia.
New misconduct allegations have been leveled against California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia — the high-profile #MeToo movement activist under investigation herself for alleged sexual harassment — including a claim that Garcia urged staffers to play “spin the bottle” after a political fundraiser.
David John Kernick has filed a formal complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing claiming he was dismissed from his job in Garcia’s district office for questioning the propriety of asking staffers to play the game.
Kernick, 38, who worked for the assemblywoman for five months in 2014, described to POLITICO an evening of heavy drinking in which Garcia ended up sitting on a hotel room floor with about half-dozen people — including her staffers and at least one male friend — and prompted them to play a game that results in participants kissing each other.
“It was definitely uncomfortable,’’ said Kernick, adding that the assemblywoman’s suggestion was met with discomfort and then ignored. “But I realized it’s different for a man than for a woman. … You know it’s inappropriate, but at the same time you may wonder, ‘How many women do you work for that act like that?’ You think … ’Maybe she’s just really cool.’’’
“It muddies the waters,” he said.
This is the first former staffer who has come forward publicly. Four others have done so, albeit anonymously through an attorney. The letter describing those allegations suggests the four would be willing to be named if a transparent independent investigation takes place.
A Sacramento-based lobbyist who spoke to POLITICO corroborated their accounts of a free-wheeling and alcohol-fueled workplace.
The industry lobbyist said he was surprised last year when, during a late-morning policy meeting in Garcia’s Capitol office, the assemblywoman poured beer from a kegerator — a refrigerator with a beer tap on top — located in her office.
She offered the brew in red Solo cups to the group of lobbyists, even though it was “sometime between 11 a.m. and noon ... a little early,’’ the lobbyist said.
While drinking is not uncommon during long days and nights of budget negotiations, he said, being offered alcohol by a legislator during morning business hours in her office was highly unusual, especially during “non-deadline” days.
I hate to draw conclusions based on allegations. That said, there has been enough corroboration in the Capitol community and in the district with alleged facts recounted by multiple people that it's nearly impossible to believe that they are all false. When alleged victims are willing to be named when they come forward, they know that they are at risk of defamation charges, either slander (oral) or libel (written). Sure, the threshold is higher for public officials, but allegations of sexual misconduct is different.
I doubt that voters in AD58 will see Cristina Garcia's name on the ballot on June 5.
She's a 39-year-old woman with a master's degree and has plenty of time to reshape herself, but it's a very volatile environment in which to do anything other than yield. Honestly, I don't know Garcia and don't think I've actually ever met her, either in my prior role leading the Community College League or in my recent role.
Garcia filed her signatures in lieu of filing feed documents on February 6, but as of Friday, had not pulled nomination papers, which are due March 9. One candidate filed nomination papers--Miguel Alvarado (D). Two Democrats (Ivan Altamirano and John Paul Drayer) and one Republican (Mike Simpfenderfer) have pulled nomination papers. If Garcia doesn't run, the filing deadline would be March 14. Vanessa Delgado and/or Vivian Romero--both Montebello councilmembers--could switch from Tony Mendoza's SD32 to Garcia's AD58.
Fortunately, for would-be candidates in both AD58 and SD32, the LA County Registrar's office is in Norwalk, just outside of AD58 and in the middle of SD32. Filing deadline is in 18 days if incumbent is running and 23 if the incumbent does not run.
I doubt it would happen, but it's a question out there. If Mendoza or Garcia were to resign or be expelled on or before March 9, there would be a special election--likely with a June 5 special primary and with a July 24 special general. After that date, or maybe after March 14, there would be no special election. Elections Code §10701(b) is a bit vague. "When a vacancy occurs in a legislative office after the close of the nomination period in the final year of the term of office, no special election shall be held."
Have I told you that this is a very strange year? It's only February, folks!
CORRECTED: In yesterday's fundraising numbers for the three April 3 special elections, I pulled Piquado's "regular" total rather than the total of contributions over $1,000 reported for the special. So, this is what we have. As with AD39 and AD45, this doesn't mean that others who qualified for the ballot have not raised money, it just means that electronic reporting hasn't been triggered (over $25,000 raised).
Let's look at the changes that we saw in the latest report compared with the comparable midterm (154 day) report on 12/31/2013.
Don't draw immediate conclusions from these numbers. These are registrations and not likely voters.
People that registered anew or changed their partisan affiliation would be included, although that doesn't mean that they will turn out to vote on June 5. They are more likely to vote in November, though, when the races displayed below (other than the SD29 recall) will be decided. Dead people generally are removed by registrars using other records, although that can be a bit inconsistent and varies with the proximity of the death to the data run.
Trends are, however important.
As you can see from the first/last row in the table, we are generally seeing a shift in district composition from Republican registration to--in order--No Party Preference/other/unknown, the Democratic Party, and other qualified political parties (Amer. Ind., Green, Libertarian and Peace and Freedom).
County data is imperfect. In a couple of counties, when the "No Party Preference" category, former "Decline to State" voters were moved to "Other," and in others were put in "No Party Preference." For that reason, I have grouped them.
And, we also know that the "American Independent Party" tally includes a lot of truly independents that checked a box and don't espouse the "fastest growing" party's far-right views. For these, it only matters in presidential primary elections, as the Democratic and American Independent Parties allowed "No Party Preference" voters to cast ballots in the 2016 presidential primary election, whereas registrants of other qualified parties could not. That decision did not affect the primary contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, as the 469 pledged delegates elected that day were won by Hillary Clinton with 269 and Bernie Sanders with 206.
Only in the competitive districts in the Central Valley (CA10, CA21, SD12, SD14) do we see a shift in share of voters from both the Democratic and Republican parties to NPP/Other/Unknown and other qualified parties.
In all of these districts, the Democratic Party has increased "market share" over the Republican Party, although it would be better to own stock in "No Party Preference." Some argue that the Democratic and AIP parties' willingness to allow NPP voters to cast ballots in all primaries, including presidential, encourages non-affiliation. However, if that was the case, we would see Democratic registration dropping and Republican Party registration increasing, and that's simply not borne out by the data.
GOV: In a column certainly to draw email from other campaigns, Dan Walters writes for CALmatters that the race for governor has really boiled down to Gavin Newsom vs. Antonio Villaraigosa, and, using the PPIC poll, suggests that they will be the two who face off in November.
#GHOSTSOFCAKEDAYSPAST: Happy belated birthday to Congressman Jared Huffman, Assemblymember Jim Patterson and Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski! (yesterday)
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