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LEGISLATIVE DIRECTORY UPDATES:
"ALEXA, PLAY CALIFORNIA LEADIN'..."
Happy Thursday! It's like the week just started. Well, not really. There's the adage that, like sausage, you don't want to see laws being made. That's also true of The Nooner and the web-side stuff. Many of you got a glimpse of that yesterday in receiving the email target at Premium subscribers vs. readers and vice-versa. There was no hack, no database compromise, no fancy-dancy excuse. I had no intern to fire over it. I just commented out the wrong query in about 20 different ones that are in the script I use to email users.
Obviously, since Nancy Pelosi was the first Speaker of the House of Representatives from California when handed the gavel on January 4, 2007, today also marks the first time that The Golden State has held the top position in both major parties in the House. Kevin McCarthy takes over with the top spot in the GOP from Paul Ryan, who has retired from Congress.
Tony Bennett was in the House Chamber for Pelosi's election and swearing in. "Alexa, play I Left My Heart in San Francisco."
As part of a deal to capture the support of members of the Democratic caucus who had been withholding, Pelosi has agreed to leadership term limits that would keep her from being re-elected in 2022. If Democrats hold on to the House in 2020, most expect Pelosi would take the victory lap and announce her retirement for mid-2021, when she will be 81 and she can hand the gavel over to a fellow Dem before the 2022 election outcomes are known.
That timing is key for would be candidates of the current CA12. Will 2022 will be after redistricting, it's extraordinarily unlikely that the Citizens Commission will significantly change the district. While certainly in a housing affordability crisis, San Francisco has largely kept pace with state population change since the 2010 Census through the robust high-end construction association with the technology boom. And, there's no place in California where the political science argument of a community of interest exists justifying (requiring?) that the City and County be kept together to the extent possible.
I know it's uncouth to talk about Pelosi successors on the day that she regains the gavel, but this is The Nooner after all. Names in the mix to run upon her retirement are San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Assemblymembers David Chiu and Phil Ting, Supervisor Jane Kim, former State Senator Mark Leno, State Senator Scott Wiener. Obviously, timing is a BIG issue for two reasons.
If it's in 2021, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission will have until August 15, 2021 to certify its maps and forward them to the Secretary of State. The maps are subject to referendum in the same manner as other laws, which allows challengers 90 days to file. There is also a process for a direct legal challenge for a writ of mandate as to the legality of the maps. While the language of Proposition 11 was silent on the effective date, it would be fair to say that they are treated like an urgency statute, taking effect 90 days after certification by the commission and transmittal to the Secretary of State.
As I said, I think the district will likely be the same anyway, so the redistricting analysis is likely moot.
However, there's another consideration if there is a vacancy in 2021. If there is a vacancy within 180 days of the next statewide election (or a scheduled election that includes 50% of the voters of the district), the special election may be consolidated with the regularly scheduled election in variance to the normal 126-140 day rule, at the discretion of the governor. The 2022 statewide primary is scheduled for June 7, as it is not a presidential year, so any vacancy before December 9, 2021 would lead to a special, whereas after that date would likely be consolidated.
Why is this particularly important to think about? Nancy Pelosi will want to pick her successor. She was hand-picked in 1987 as a death-bed wish by Sala Burton, the wife of Phillip Burton who succeeded him after his 1983 death. That seat is one of the biggest California political legacies, and Pelosi knows that. Willie L. Brown, Jr. was made by the machine. Brown is the second-most legendary Speaker in California history behind Jesse Unruh. So was John Burton, former Assemblymember, Congressman, Senate President Pro Tem, and chair of the California Democratic Party. Brown is the second-most legendary Speaker in California history behind Jesse Unruh.
While it may be uncouth to talk about it today, make no doubt that succession on two fronts is already on Nancy's mind, that of Speaker and that of her congressional seat. And, she would have a lot more control if both happened if she stepped down in 2021 than simply retiring at the end of session.
Whether 2021 or 2022, it would be a free ride for Wiener. 2022 would be the sixth-and-final election for Ting. Chiu can serve through 2026. Kim is leaving office next week under term limits.
I don't know who Pelosi would have in mind. There is a strong argument that she would prefer Leno, a progressive who would be the first openly gay Member of Congress from the city largely credited for the LGBTQ rights gained today. He's also a loyal foot-soldier, which he showed as chair of the Senate Budget Committee. However, he will be 69 in 2021 and may not desire starting a new political career then.
If the current political climate extends into 2021-2022, which is a political lifetime away, there will be a huge battle between establishment and those to the left thereof. That's always the case in San Francisco. Pelosi is going to be blasted by those to the left of her for the next couple of years. For this kid from Orange County, that's like standing for a picture at the edge of the Grand Canyon and being asked by the photographer "take a step back...and another...and another." Pelosi is a pragmatic progressive, and she's going to want to see someone in a similar vein.
Someone that is smarter on SF politics can tell me whether the better odds are a 2021 or early 2022 special, or a regular primary election in June 2022. Make no doubt it, the political tactician in Pelosi is way ahead of all of us.
For McCarthy, it is a bittersweet day. He had hoped to be elected Speaker in 2015, however, his bid was upended by alleged personal transgressions floated by the House Freedom Caucus that had just brought down John Boehner. Thus, Paul Ryan got the job, although he would have been content staying as chair of House Ways and Means. So, McCarthy decided to wait and essentially had the nod from Ryan to be next. McCarthy has spent the last two years building a close relationship with President Trump.
That came with a cost. Not only does he return for the 116th Congress in the minority, but with 40 fewer seats, 7 of which are from California. Many of the losses are attributed to the votes to repeal Obamacare/Affordable Care Act and the tax cut, which did away with the state and local taxes (SALT) deduction. The President's hard-line on immigration also became a big problem in the Central Valley. While the losing members there supported the DREAM Act, the President's push is at least in part attributable to the surge in turnout.
McCarthy repeated told his California members that they needed to stand in line and vote for the health care repeal and the tax cut and not be too critical of the President. One-half of them followed his lead and fell on the sword.
McCarthy is 53 and has time. He is a very smart guy (I've known him since his community college trustee days) and he knows he's going to need that time. I don't think FiveThirtyEight has posted probabilities yet for a house flip back to Republicans in 2020, but they are extremely slim. Simply in California, none of the 7 seats are not likely to be competitive until 2022, a mid-term after redistricting.
As I've said before, purely from House Republicans that are thinking only about prospects of a majority, the best hope would be a Democratic President is elected for the GOP to have someone to run against. That's how House flips happen...Newt Gingrich...Nancy Pelosi...John Boener...
To Speaker and Leader McCarthy, we are proud of you. We may not always (or, may rarely) agree with you, but we know that you are representing your districts first and have been elected by your respective caucuses to serve our nation in a higher role.
More and #CAKEDAY after the jump...
GUBERNATORIAL ENGLISH: For CALmatters, Ben Christopher has a decoder for "those mysterious Brownisms and snippets of Gavinese."
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Ryan Brown!
DEPT OF CORRECTIONS: The Nooner sent to Premium early-bird readers stated that the San Diego mayoral election is on March 3, 2020 and that there would be a runoff if no candidate received 50%. That was incorrect. Under a 2016 charter amendment, the city's municipal elections now use a "top two" approach, and the county has followed suit for its offices. Regardless of the vote in the primary, the top-two candidates proceed to November.
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