Around The Capitol

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  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos @ KQED): Politico's Christopher Cadelago on the end of Kamala's candidacy and Angela Glover Blackwell on her career and new podcast on "radical" policy ideas. (2019-12-05)
  • Then There's California (Senate Democratic Caucus): Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) on safe water in the Central Valley (2019-12-05)
  • Look West (Assembly Democratic Caucus): Assemblymember Phil Ting, Mark Salazar the Executive Director of Mental Health Association of San Francisco, and Sherrel Cross Assistant Manager for the California Peer Run Warm Line discuss the disparities in access and stigma of mental health (2019-12-05)
  • Bonus episode of SacTown Talks by The Nooner: Scott talks with GOP political consultant Mike Madrid on the departure of Kamala Harris from the race for the Democratic presidential nomination (2019-12-03) [iTunes | Simplecast
  • SacTown Talks by The Nooner (Gibran Maciel and Scott Lay): What a Week with guest fmr Assemblyman Mike Gatto on his homelessness initiative. (2019-11-29) [YouTube | iTunes | Simplecast]
  • SacTown Talks by The Nooner (Gibran Maciel and Scott Lay): Noel Kammermann, executive director of Loaves and Fishes (2019-11-26) [YouTube | iTunes | Simplecast


  • updated most competitive congressional, State Senate, and State Senate races (updated 2019-12-08)


  • AD35 (San Luis Obispo): changed from Leans Republican to Toss-up
  • Too many changes on the district pages to list; work continues for several days and counties are still updating their filing lists (or providing them at all).


  • Former Rep. Katie Hill on politics and mental health
  • The Hateful Eight: Cap-and-trade extension
  • AD38 and party changes
  • Cakeday and classifieds

MONDAY EVENT NOTE: Making sure you saw my message Thursday about the change in format in Monday night's event at Capital Books with UC Davis constitutional law professor Carlton F.W. Larson! More information and registration. While not a podcast recording, it'll be an interview format on the hottest issues in the Supreme Court or on their way and, of course, impeachment.

KATIE HILL ON POLITICS AND MENTAL HEALTH: I think today's Nooner is pretty strong, but if you only read one thing today, I encourage you to read this opinion piece by former Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA25) on the story of her resignation, the personal toll, politics of personal discussion and--most importantly--the toll on her public health.

It's a tear-jerker for anybody with a heart, and probably even for the Tin Woodman.

If there was a place in downtown Sac to buy a New York Times (they don't know how to find my porch), I would get a copy today even though I did the crossword last night during my usual wind-down routine.

As salacious as the stories can be, I hate writing about personal issues of elected officials. If they trangress law, that's worth pointing out. I wrote that Katie would likely end up leaving because House Ethics was looking into an alleged relationship with a congressional staffer (not the campaign one) in violation of House Rule XXIII. For Katie, the staff member, and other staff members who would likely be called as witnesses under oath, I thought she would step aside under pressure to avoid pain all around.

For Duncan Hunter, I don't care how many people he was sleeping with in Washington. To me, that was an issue for his CA50 constituents and his family. But, he left a long paper trail of spending campaign funds on these affairs, and there was also a staff member of his identified in the federal 66-count indictment (although it pre-dated the 2018 House Rules change).

I didn't dive into the sad story of former Secretary of State Debra Bowen, other than to note that she was absent for much of the end of her term for mental health issues.

I did say that it was more likely than not that former Assemblymember Matt Dababneh dropped his trousers and masturbated in front of a female lobbyist who would not participate in  Vegas. Lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter threatening a dafamation lawsuit. After the independent investigators hired by Assembly Rules concluded the same, I didn't hear back from the lawyers. (Truth is an absolute defense in defamation for those Noonerites starting law school next year.)

If you're a longtime reader, you've read about my own struggles and without getting into specifics acknowledging that I have other family members who have had their own--as most of you have.

The point on this gloomy, chilly morning is that politicians are human. Katie was pushed to near suicide by out-of-control tabloid media and, arguably, folks on Capitol Hill should not be throwing stones.

I love and hate votes of legislators of both parties, here and in Washington. President Trump's behavior and style disgusts me more often than not. I'm not Catholic, but I'm with Speaker Pelosi and believe her when she says that she doesn't harbor hate for anyone.

Politics is not for the light-hearted, but all politicians have hearts. They can break and, as Katie points out in this piece, can have a range of effects on different people including even thoughts of suicide.

We're here with you Katie as you heal and look forward in following what the future has in store for you.

Lots more after the jump...

HUNTER BIDEN: I wanted to close out the Katie Hill item on the above note but there was a related conversation this morning on Face the Nation with Adam Enous of the New Yorker at 40:00 about Joe Biden's son. Enous has written about Hunter's struggles with alcohol and depression and notes that Hunter's late brother used to be the one who would step in to facilitate Hunter's entry into rehab. The reason that it is relevant is that the family including Hunter has talked about it and it explains why Joe Biden takes the attacks on Hunter so personally. Thoughtful discussion about the people behind politics. Most of us are vulnerable people.

I had no idea about this story until this morning

"THE HATEFUL 8" CAP-AND-TRADE VOTE: For the previous two days, I've referred to Chad Mayes as joining "four other" Assembly Republicans to vote for the cap-and-trade extension. Former Assemblymember Catharine Baker (R-Dublin), who voted for the bill, pointed out that I understated the number of Republicans who cast ballots for the measure, and I'm glad the correction was brought to my attention.

Let's look at the "yes" votes on AB 398, with Republicans voting aye in bold italics. Click the image to see it larger (and if you don't see it, make sure you click "display images" in your 'puter or other device browser.

 Cap-and-trade vote

So, there were 7 Assembly Republicans and 1 Senate Republicans who voted for the extension of the cap-and-trade program. The program incentivizes reductions in trading by creating a marketplace and permits generate revenue for specified carbon reduction programs.

Of the "Hateful 8" that they became known as by activists, four are no longer in office and a fifth, Chad Mayes, was removed as Assembly Republican Leader largely for the vote. At the time, there were 25 Assembly Republicans, so seven crossed of these crossed party lines. There are now 18 Assembly Republicans. Let's look at how the districts changed and the cap-and-trade vote.

Assembly Republicans voting "yes" on AB 398:

  • AD12 (Modesto): Heath Flora: re-elected
  • AD16 (Tri-Valley): Catharine Baker: defeated by Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D)
  • AD26 (Visalia): Devin Mathis: re-elected
  • AD35 (San Luis Obispo): Jordan Cunningham: re-elected, although faces tough challenge in 2020
  • AD42 (Palm Springs-Yucca Valley-Yucaipa): Chad Mayes: removed as Asm Rep leader; re-elected; changed to NPP
  • AD60 (Corona): Marc Steinorth: did not run for re-election among conservative backlash over the vote and lost in local elections; Assembly district is now represented by James Ramos (D)
  • AD76 (Oceanside): Rocky Chávez: ran for CA49; defeated by Diane Harkey (R) in top-two; Harkey lost to Mike Levin (D) in November

The one Senate Republican who voted "aye" was term-limited Tom Berryhill, who was replaced by Andreas Borgeas (R) in a non-competitive district.

To recap, of those voting for AB 398 on the Assembly side, one was defeated by a Democrat (Baker), and two ran for other offices (Chávez and Steinorth). That's three seats and a fourth decline in the Republican caucus among the yes votes happened last week when Mayes switched to no party preference. Mayes has not indicated if he will caucus with Republicans next year but has suggested he does not intend to do so with Democrats at this time.

But, there were three more in the overall decline of 7 Republican seats that voted against the cap-and-trade extension. Who were they?

  • AD38 (Santa Clarita): Dante Acosta: defeated by Christy Smith (D), a seat Dems are likely to hold in 2020 (see related item today)
  • AD74 (Huntington Beach-Irvine): Matthew Harper: defeated by Cottie Petrie-Norris (D), a seat Dems are narrowly favored to win in 2020
  • AD77 (N. San Diego): Brian Maienschein: switched to Democratic Party registration in January and is favored for re-election

Cap-and-trade draws a guttural response from conservative activists, but I think the evidence suggests that in most districts, it's not the horse to ride on. While Californians are concerned about high taxes, polls routinely show there is also a significant interest in environmental issues, particularly air and water quality. The same thing would be true of taxes and other high-priority issues, including homelessness and health care.

In July, the Public Policy Institute of California asked Californians about the cap-and-trade program:

In the system called 'cap-and-trade,' the California state government issues permits limiting the amount of greenhouse gases companies can put out. Do you favor or oppose the cap-and-trade system?

July 2019
1,073 unweighted likely voters; percentages below weighted by registration

  All likely voters Democrat Republican Independent
favor 51 68 29 48
oppose 35 18 59 41
[vol] don't know 13 14 12 11

I would surmise that focus-group polling explaining the program more, as in where the proceeds of the permits go would, would lead to much higher support levels particularly among independent voters. For example, that's primarily how the states Clean Vehicle Rebate Program is funded, and there are lots of indie (and Republican) voters driving made-in-California Teslas and enjoying their ride--and rebate.

Like ballot measure polling like "split roll" property taxes for schools and local government, it's very difficult to construct a poll on complex issues. Polling gets more difficult every year and PPIC works very hard to create effective polls to fit within specified time limits to ensure quantitatively and qualitatively acceptable responses. Here's the full poll with the great objective, nonpartisan analysis we expect from PPIC.

In summary, the Assembly Republicans are down 7 seats since the 2016 election. The decline has been through a mid-term, which is rare for the GOP for state legislative seats even when there is a congressional wave against an incumbent President. Democrats are just historically worse at voter turnout.

Of the 7 seats lost, 2 were from party disaffiliation--Maienschein to Dem and Mayes to NPP. The other five were all in suburban areas--Acosta, Baker, Chávez, Harper, and Steinorth. All of these have Democrats favored in 2020--although we are 11 months out and the political world could be completely different by then. The best hope among the 7 seats for Republicans is taking out Mayes in AD42, although even that one is a challenge.

I have written and said that the situation of non-competitiveness does not make me happy despite my Democratic Party past. Competitive races interest young people in politics and trigger more debates and community forums about issues. We're going to have to have little of that in 2020 for Assembly races as it looks right now.

Assembly Republicans are defending AD35 (Cunningham), AD55 (Chen), AD36 (Lackey), and AD72 (Diep). I was trying to be generous for fear of being accused of rooting for the home team but, like my analysis on AD55 for Nooner Premium yesterday, I look at voter registration, election performance, candidate strength, and ballot titles. In all four of these, they are toss-ups. The best hope for the Republicans is AD36 as they hope the Democrats in the district do what they have done several times--pick former Assemblymember Steve Fox as their candidate. He's a deeply flawed candidate. Just ask the folks that had to process state checks to pay off his harassment and employment discrimination cases.

Assembly Democrats are defending AD38 (Smith seat--see bellow), AD74 (Petrie-Norris), and AD77 (Maienschein, the former Rep). The first two are leans Democrat and the last is likely Democrat.

It's an awful map for the GOP on the green carpet.

Mayes outperformed Republican John Cox in the district in 2018 gubernatorial race by 3.1%, likely capturing a larger share of independent voters than the Democrat in the race, who will be the same in 2020. The candidate the GOP scrambled to get filed by Friday is generally more conservative than Cox and 2020 is a presidential year.

I'll have a full analysis for Nooner Premium on AD42 in the next few days. Thank you for your patience--each one takes 1-2 hours. I hope to have AD77 (N. San Diego - Maienschein) done by tonight and then AD42.

As a teaser from my research on AD77 last night, Gavin Newsom won in the district in 2018 when Brian Maienschein (then R) narrowly defeated Democrat Sunday Gover 50.2%-49.8% in the closest Assembly race in the state. Newsom captured 54.3% to Republican John Cox's 45.7%.

John Cox lives in Rancho Santa Fe--in AD77.

More after the jump...


AD38 (Santa Clarita): Yesterday's campaign finance report from Assemblywoman Christy Smith's campaign to Susan Christopher seemed routine. After all, Smith had amassed a $369,445 warchest for her first re-election bid, but then CA25 opened up and she was encouraged to "move on up." You can't take state campaign funds to federal office, because the state allows categories that are prohibited directly to candidates under federal law, such as corporate donations.

So, among the five Democrats running to succeed Smith in AD38, a maximum $9,400 contribution signaled who she was backing. It made sense, as Christopher is a former school board member from Castaic, as was Smith from Newhall.

Simple, right? Not so much...

An adept reader doing what a handful of us are all weekend by poring through literally hundreds of candidate filings noticed that Smith's choice of Christopher--who has filed as a Democrat--most recently registered as a Republican on March 18 of this year.

Was there a mistake? Did LA County make a mistake in reporting to PDI earlier this year the re-registration? PDI gets weekly (I believe) data and doesn't do manual data entry and California's 20.3 million registered voters. Did LA County make a mistake on Susan Christopher's campaign filing?

No. I confirmed last night that she indeed has switched back to a Democratic Party registration ahead of the unexpected AD38 bid after briefly registering with the Republican Party this year after retiring from the Castaic school board last December.

When the PDI update comes from Los Angeles County, it will be interesting to see Christopher's new registration date. Was it in concert with filing like Chad Mayes? All indications are that it was.

How do I know Christopher was a Democrat before she was a Republican since she was elected to a nonpartisan school board seat?

Sometime before redistricting took effect with the 2012 election, then-Los Angeles County Democratic Party chair Eric Bauman gave her an award--as the "Democrat of the Year" in the then 37th Assembly District.

Can this cycle get any stranger? Yes Virginia, it can, likely will, and there is also still a Santa Claus.

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Tod Burnett, Elizabeth Huber, Lance Lewis, John Lovell, and Michael Shaw!


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