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I begin the day with three CALFIRE tabs open along with four Secretary of State tabs. That's November 2018 in a browser.

Lots out there that I'll get to, but I'll focus today on the ballot update and the discussion that is already taking place about what happened to the California GOP this year. In short, it's not as simple as a "blue wave" or President Trump. 

FIRES: Just so sad. With 13 more deaths totaling 42 in the Camp Fire, it is now the deadliest in California recorded history, and the number is unfortunately likely to grow. These are all deaths in the previously burned area of Paradise and not new ones. The number of structures burned has also increased and a category of multi-family residences has been added, expending on the number of people displaced. This would range from duplexes to complexes).

  • Camp Fire: 42 deaths, 6,522 single-family residences, 85 multi-family residences, 260 commercial destroyed; 15,500 structures threatened; 117,000 acres; 30% contained
  • Woolsey Fire: 2 deaths (believed to be related), 435 est. structures destroyed; 57,000 structures threatened; 93,662 acres; 30% contained


  • Vote-by-mail: 2,789,236
  • Provisional: 1,030,487
  • Conditional Voter Registration Provisional: 56,258
  • Other (i.e. damaged): 69,923
  • Total: 3,945,274

ELECTIONS: I have bolded the races that have updated since yesterday.

In the heated education war, those supporting the position of education unions celebrated last night when Tony Thurmond gained the lead in the SPI race. That lead will likely increase tonight when we get the Los Angeles update. That update is expected around 5pm.

Watch results in CA39 (Fullerton-Diamond Bar), where around 30% of the voters are in Los Angeles County. So far, Gil Cisneros (D) has a 12.6% advantage in that part of the district. Young Kim (R) leads in Orange County by 9.4%. Kim currently leads Cisneros by 2,423 votes and tonight is significant. Unlike the OC updates we have been getting, LA reports results twice per week, but counting is ongoing.

The other race to watch is AD38 (Santa Clarita), where 75% of registered voters are in LA County. Assemblymember Dante Acosta (R) currently has a 213-vote lead over Christy Smith (D) that based on trends across the state is expected to be wiped out with tonight's update.

Also watch the SD22 (San Gabriel Valley) Dem-on-Dem race. Susan Rubio currently has a 6,281-vote lead (4.6%) over Mike Eng. Late ballots likely will favor Eng, driven by his strong labor support. Rubio's lead is probably too much to overcome, but we'll have a better idea tonight.

Tony Thurmond (SPI) and Ricardo Lara (IC) are both likely to expand their leads with the LA report. 

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Thurmond (nonpartisan race) 3,613,883 (50.0%), Marshall Tuck (nonpartisan race) 3,610,380 (50.0%)

Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara (D) 4,058,139 (51.2%), Steve Poizner (NPP) 3,872,099 (48.8%)

Board of Equalization 4 (south state): Joel Anderson (R) 967,367 (50.2%), Mike Schaefer (D) 959,876 (49.8%)

House of Representatives: The current California delegation is 39 Democrats and 14 Republicans. With the first significant late ballot returns last night, most analysts add four for the Democrats--CA10, CA25, CA48, and CA49. The remaining two in play are CA39 and CA45, which predictably with late ballots, are trending toward the Democratic candidates. Thus, the range for Democrats is 43-45, and correspondingly for Republicans it is 8-10. CA39 is more difficult to predict than CA45, as CA45 is pretty much partisan-predictable. CA39 adds ethnic issues that motivate candidate support, possibly in a way that supersedes party.

  • CA04 (Foothills): *Tom McClintock (R) 145,361 (55.2%), Jessica Morse (D) 118,052 (44.8%)
  • CA10 (Stanislaus): Josh Harder (D) 88,961 (50.9%), *Jeff Denham 85,743 (49.1%)
  • CA21 (Kings): *David Valadao (R) 43,469 (51.2%), TJ Cox (D) 41,390 (48.8%)
  • CA22 (Tulare): *Devin Nunes (R) 81,543 (55.2%), Andrew Janz (D) 66,277 (44.8%)
  • CA25 (Santa Clarita-Palmdale): Katie Hill (D) 90,298 (51.7%), *Steve Knight (R) 84,272 (48.3%)
  • CA39 (Fullerton): Young Kim (R) 87,924 (50.7%), Gil Cisneros (D) 85,501 (49.3%)
  • CA45 (Irvine): *Mimi Walters (R) 110,852 (50.2%), Katie Porter (D) 109,841 (49.8%)
  • CA48 (Hunt. Beach): Harley Rouda (D) 113,276 (52.2%), *Dana Rohrabacher (R) 103,804 (47.8%) 
  • CA49 (S. OC/N. SD Coast): Mike Levin (D) 119,201 (55.0%), Diane Harkey (R) 97,575 (45.0%)
  • CA50 (E. SD County): Duncan Hunter (R) 97,245 (53.1%), Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) 85,906 (46.8%)

State Senate: Democrats went in to the cycle with 26, and will pick up two seats for 28. That is supermajority plus one. 

  • SD12 (Salinas-Merced): Anna Caballero (D) 72,034 (52.2%), Rob Poythress (R) 65,853 (47.8%)
  • SD14 (Fresno-Bakersfield): Melissa Hurtado (D) 53,459 (54.0%), *Andy Vidak (R) 45,532 (46.0%)
  • SD22 (San Gabriel Valley): Susan Rubio (D) 71,323 (52.3%), Mike Eng (D) 65,042 (47.7%)

State Assembly: Democrats start the cycle with 55, pick up two in AD40 and AD76, and are likely to pick up AD16, AD38, and AD74. If they hold on to their defensive plays in AD32 and AD60, they will enter the 2019-20 session with 60 votes. 

  • AD15 (Berkeley): Buffy Wicks (D) 79,358 (55.2%), Jovanka Beckles (D) 64,381 (44.8%)
  • AD16 (Tri-Valley): *Catharine Baker (R) 80,069 (50.2%), Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D) 79,543 (49.8%)
  • AD32 (Kings): *Rudy Salas (D) 31,461 (55.9%), Justin Mendes (R) 24,832 (44.1%)
  • AD38 (Santa Clarita): *Dante Acosta (R) 68,518 (50.1%), Christy Smith (D) 68,305 (49.9%)
  • AD40 (Redlands): James Ramos (D) 50,901 (57.9%), Henry Gomez Nickel (R) 37,058 (42.1%)
  • AD60 (Corona): *Sabrina Cervantes (D) 34,275 (50.5%), Bill Essayli (R) 28,687 (49.5%)
  • AD72 (Seal Beach): Tyler Diep (R) 62,363 (53.3%), Josh Lowenthal (D) 54,736 (46.7%)
  • AD74 (Irvine): Cottie Petrie-Norris (D) 73,560 (50.8%), *Matthew Harper (R) 71,305 (49.2%)
  • AD76 (Oceanside): Tasha Boerner Horvath (D) 59,878 (55.6%), Elizabeth Warren (D) 47,851 (44.4%)
  • AD77 (North San Diego): *Brian Maienschein (R) 75,871 (51.7%), Sunday Gover (D) 70,761 (48.3%)


California Republicans and money matters below the jump...


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Upward Mobility at Cal State LA


GOP: Social media has been abuzz with the electoral aftermath in California and the inevitable "what happened?" discussion, particularly within the Republican Party (but also among the "Berniecrats"). My first year up here was 1994 and Democrats were similarly in the fetal position. For the Democrats, some of that was redistricting. For the California Republican Party, is demographics, something that can't be redrawn.

It is a dire situation. As Rob Pyers notes, of the statewide offices on which a Republican was on the ballot, none received more than 40% of the vote in the current returns. Republicans are likely to lose 5-6 congressional seats, 2 State Senate seats, and 5 State Assembly seats. That means 60 Assembly Democrats. When I arrived in Davis in 1994, that was the first election saw Republicans bring an end to the Willie L. Brown, Jr. era with a 41-vote majority. Well, sort-of. 

True, 1994 was wave election that was a "party in power" election in Congress. However, the degree to which redistricting played a part is debatable. The lines were drawn by a a team of three special masters of the California Supreme Court after the Legislature and Governor were unable to reach agreement on a plan. The court approved a plan on January 27, 1992. After validated by a federal court and the US Department of Justice, it was implemented in time for the June 2, 1992. Thus, 1994 was the first true cycle under the new lines.

Based on current results and the trend of tallied ballots, Republicans are also likely to lose Board of Equalization District 4, which voted for Neel Kashkari over Jerry Brown by 3.4% in 2014. The Democratic candidate is an 80-year-old disbarred attorney who served on the San Diego City Council from 1965-1971 and has run for many offices in California and Nevada.

That's how bad it is for the California GOP this year. That said, the Republican candidate had a tiff with a lobbyist as a state senator in a Capitol watering hole. It also proclaims the death of the Board of Equalization, which has already had its biggest function--hearing of tax appeals--eviscerated over malfeasance. A strong majority of legislators are ready to kill it, which requires a constitutional amendment. However, politicians don't like to get rid of offices. Nevertheless, with an elegant landing plan for the members (likely 3 Dems and 1 Rep), it can be done.

Meanwhile, within the GOP, finger-pointing has begun. 

Yesterday, Carl DeMaio tweeted:

"Election results in California were dismal for Republicans because they didn't get behind a unifying message to break with the national wave - One was laid out for them all along: Prop 6 Gas Tax Repeal.  It was the #1 polling issue in EVERY race - but GOP failed to fund it. (1/3)

California Republicans also have let their basic political infrastructure atrophy across the state.  County GOP orgs & donor clubs are a mess and we have virtually no presence on college campuses anymore. Time to rebuild the BASE of volunteers and activists. (2/3)

California GOP played defense when it should have played offense. We had success with the RECALL and it took guts.  But then GOP defaulted to protecting what little it had, and some incumbents were lazy and expected a bailout. AD74 is a perfect example of this. (3/3)"

Along with the tweets were images from the gas tax repeal and the recall of Josh Newman. The $500,000 spent by the California Republican Party to recall Newman was a short-lived gain. There were two goals: kill the Democrats' supermajority and launch the gas tax repeal campaign. On the supermajority issue, there was success--for three months of a legislative session. In 2020, the two will likely face-off again and Democrats will find plenty of money to try to reclaim the seat when Donald Trump is on the ballot.

On the gas tax, we know how that turned out. It wasn't a surprise. GOP consultants read the tea leaves fairly early and walked away from the repeal as a campaign issue. The congressional candidate who used it the most was Diane Harkey (CA49). We'll see how Prop. 6 fared in the district after the dust settles.

On Facebook, the discussion was more elaborate than DeMaio's comments. I don't cite people's posts from Facebook because it is a social network, whereas Twitter is a "broadcasting" platform. However, the discussion particularly among longtime business-friendly lobbyists cited names of the past who are legacies. They crafted deals with Democrats, when the majority party needed them. There was the Big Five (governor and four legislative leaders) that crafted a budget deals. 

However, things changed in the 90s and continued into the 2000s. I am not in the position to assign blame, although I can think of ways to apportion it to both parties. I "grew up" in the legislative era of months-late budgets with all-night conference committees. That led to the approval of Proposition 25 (2010) by 55.4% for a "simple majority vote by June 15 or legislators forfeit pay."

There is an underlying demographic and voter identity brand problem for Republicans for sure. Some is true demographic with citizen population growth being greater in Latino and Asian communities. These are citizens turning 18 or registering for the first time, but caravans.

While the Asian demographic has been mostly split in the past, it has become much more Democrat on a generic ballot. One with an Asian-American candidate (i.e. Young Kim in CA39) could be different. That said, traditionally first-generation Asian GOP communities (particularly Southeast Asian and Filipino) are leaning more Democrat as kids graduate from college in the United States. (Obviously, college-educated voters in generally lean Democrat nationally.

Beyond demographics, though, is money, and that's why the state budget is important. As you know, the budget is about far more than the dollars included in the "budget bill in chief." It has always been that way through the use of the budget-implementing "trailer bills." The constitution limits statutory bills in California (unlike DC) from containing more than one subject. A budget bill is not a statute, but it thus can't amend code. Obviously, when you make changes in funding, you often need changes in statute. That leads to trailer bills.

Well, under Proposition 25, trailer bills (other than a tax increase) can be passed with a simple majority and go in to effect immediately. This was a far bigger change with Prop. 25 than how many votes it takes to pass the dollars-and-cents bill. It also made it possible for Democrats to approve policy changes without Republican participation. A court upheld this unfettered ability for simple-majority "trailer bills," as long as they are reasonably tied to an expenditure in the budget bill in chief.

This year saw the money spent on behalf of Democrats overwhelm that spent by the GOP. We'll see the totals in a couple of months It also has apparently sidelined big money from regular Republican party patrons. I don't think they have a personal problem with party chair Jim Brulte, but they are rather make a business decision that like buying Enron stock. 

Unfortunately, that just makes the challenge for the GOP more dire. I've written a lot about the "legal laundering" of campaign cash through party committees. Both parties do it. Individual legislators raise the max (currently $8,800 per cycle) from as many donors as possible. They then budget the money they need for their own campaigns and pass other amounts on to other legislators (usually in the general at $4,400) and to party committees ($34,500/year). Party committees can then give unlimited amounts to candidates.

Safe members raise lots of money destined for other candidates, passed on directly with limits and in larger amounts through party committees with higher limits. Remember, Sully can give that $34,500 each to the California Democratic Party's candidate committee, the Sacramento County Democratic Party, Mendocino, Napa, Orange and on and on. Mike Wazowski and Boo can each do the same. Add that to all the monsters in the caucus.

The point is that this is a downward spiral for the GOP. The more members in a caucus who can raise big money to pass along, the more money for competitive races. So, the Assembly Democrats are likely to have a 60-member caucus, with, I'd say, 6 competitive seats in 2020. That means 54 members of the caucus up are fundraising deputies.

On the Republican side, they are likely to have 20 seats in the 2019-20 caucus. Of these, I would say that two might be competitive. But that leaves only 18 "deputies" to raise money. You can see the GOP's problem.

Democrats also extract huge money out of labor. I wrote yesterday about the $1 million given to the California Democratic Party by the state electrical workers in the waning days over the fight of wildfire liability. In fairness, that represents hundreds of thousands of workers. Now, that money couldn't be passed along to candidates, but could be used for "member outreach" and operational costs to focus fundraising on money that could be given to candidates.

There is plenty of GOP money in California, but it is either sidelined or channeled in to mismatched efforts. Formal coordination is not legal, but there are plenty of ways for informal coordination. 

I don't have answers for the California Republican Party and the caucuses in the two houses, and that's certainly not my job. However, this money issue and the unwillingness for donors to wage a significant effort is as big as the policy debates that obsess delegates. The same is true about the Democratic Party.

Money is as big a part of the game as policy. That said, policy drives money as well. Delegates to the Democratic Party almost rejected strategy over passion in last year's election for state party chair and many continue to want to. I understand the passion, but I also know that "people-power" doesn't print mail, pay for office space, or pay the bills for phone banks.

In the closing days, campaigns bragged about how many thousands of doors were knocked on. T-shirts, bottled water and granola bars simply aren't free. 

Whether under the current campaign finance law or a public finance system, money is a major driver for campaigns.

Even the most passionate congressional wins in California for Democrats this cycle were driven by huge money--largely from small donors across the country. State legislative seats aren't won on the internet.

Republicans need to figure out their money problem as much as where the party stands ideologically, although of course, those aren't mutually exclusive.

BTW, did I mention that John Cox has received fewer votes for governor than Kevin de León has for U.S. Senate?


Probolsky Research


#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Sarah Couch, Midori SperandeoRobin Swanson, and Senator Andy Vidak!



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Maxine Waters To Take Aim At Wells Fargo And Deutsche Bank As New Head Of House Financial Services Committee
Jim Puzzanghera @
Rep. Maxine Waters plans to zero in on the banks when she becomes head of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, which is widely expected. While she has a wide-ranging agenda that includes President Trump's finances, her focus on bank oversight will start with the two large institutions.

GOP Congressman Sues To Stop Vote Tabulation In Undecided Maine Race - Politico

GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin has sued Maine's secretary of state over ranked-choice voting, calling the system unconstitutional as the state elections authority tabulates ballots in Poliquin's too-close-to-call race with Democrat Jared Golden.

Cost Of Building Southland Section Of Bullet Train Could Jump By $11 Billion, Documents Show
Ralph Vartabedian @
The cost of constructing the Southern California section of the state bullet train could jump by as much as $11 billion over estimates released earlier this year, though rail authority officials caution that their new numbers assume a more expansive design than is likely to be built.

As recount politics heat up, two Florida election officials are the targets of online harassment

Several pro-Trump Facebook pages and one Twitter account on Monday posted the home address and phone number of the Broward County, Fla., election supervisor who has been the target of blistering criticism from the president and other Republicans amid highly politicized vote recounts.

Linda Maio Leaves Berkeley City Council After More Than 2 Decades
When Maio began her first campaign in 1991, she had not anticipated a jump into political life. At the time, Maio had been working at a housing nonprofit and as a member of the city zoning board and had contributed to community projects such as the establishment of Ohlone Park.

Anaheim's 'living Wage' Initiative Is Expected To Pass. A Business Advocate Calls It A 'tragic Outcome'
Hugo Martin @
The Orange County Registrar of Voters warned, however, that more than 302,000 ballots remain uncounted throughout the county, although it wasn’t known how many of those ballots were from Anaheim. The county agency gets up to 30 days from the day after the election, which would be Dec. 6, to complete the count and certify the election results.

Former L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa Joins Washington Lobbying Firm - Politico

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who made an unsuccessful run for California governor earlier this year, is joining a Washington consulting firm.