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PRIMARY ELECTION DAY: 25 days
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The Nooner for Friday, February 7, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners
Happy Friday, you made it! The political week that would never end. Who am I kidding. As you Yabba-dabba-do out out the office after Mr. Slate blows the whistle, the latest presidential debate will be taking place in Manchester, NH at 5pm PST on ABC. Qualified for tonight are seven of the eleven national candidates--Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang.
As you likely know, CNN has had a total of eight candidates on for town halls the last two nights, which are the seven above with the addition of Duval Patrick in the final hour last night.
There has been a lot of discussion about what Californians will do who are possessing their ballots already. Conventional wisdom is that people hold their ballots since the field will undoubtedly wane this month--or will it? Or, are Californians actually paying attention to the town halls, debates, and Iowa kerfuffle and deciding right now?
I asked my mom, who lives in Portland, where they've been all-mail ballots for years. She is not involved in politics, but has definite political feelings. Over the holidays, she was undecided (as was most of the family), but she's glued to the teevee this week and listening to every candidate word. She's watching intently this week, even though Oregon's election day isn't until May 19 this year, so she won't have a ballot to complete for awhile. In the past, she made up her mind on candidates early and then waited until closer to election day to weigh ballot measures.
Obviously, in the SB 202 ballot measure world limiting primary measures to only those placed on the ballot by the Legislature, the only state issue we have is Proposition 13--the $15 billion preK-university school bond. In the city of Sacramento, we have three local ones, only one of which I struggled with. Thus, I completed my ballot last night. Now, my candidate may or may not still be in the race come March 3, but I could also be quarantined for coronavirus in Mexico City next week (or have quarantined myself in an isolation room of churros and street tacos) through the election. (Yes, I'll be in your email box daily, and it'll really be me writing from the branch office.)
For most voters, there are few issues on the ballot that are complicated. Yes, there are some brutally competitive and hard to predict primaries, particularly in the State Senate, but I would venture that those will be decided by about 20% of the voters and the other 80% may be quick to vote. I was in the camp that people would wait and see, while Paul Mitchell was more in the camp--based on polling--that more voters will cast their ballot early. I'm sitting down with Paul and Mike Madrid to talk on pod this afternoon, two weeks after our last conversation.
Did Mike Bloomberg and Duval Patrick err by not entering (purposefully) until after early contest filing deadline? Bloomberg is spending a lot of money and is hiring a lot of people in California, but you can't persuade a voter who has already filled out that bubble. (Well, you can persuade them to go to a Vote Center/county registrar and turn in your spoiled ballot and ask for a new one or pretend like you lost yours, in which case you'll be part of California's long tail of ballot-counting of conditional ballots throughout the month of March.)
The last time we had an early presidential primary was 2008, which on February 5, the only question was the presidential and everything else was held for the regular June election. In that election, 41.65% of voters cast their ballot by mail and overall turnout was 39.52%. Hillary Clinton won California, but a first-term U.S. Senator from Illinois would end up with the nomination.
Before that, it was 1996, which was the nothing-butter of Clinton's reelection, overall turnout was 43.39% and only 23.27% of all those who cast ballots were "absentee voters."
I need not tell you that 2020 is wildly different. California is very relevant and perhaps 70-75% of Golden State voters have their ballots sitting in front of them. Turnout could actually go down from historic numbers as a percent of the registered, but that's because California has made registering to vote so much easier for better or worse (online, DMV).
Even if voters don't mail their ballots in for a couple of weeks because they can't figure out which candidate on the menu of down-ticket races they will pick for their entree.
I don't know what the ballot-return pattern in California will look like this year. California hasn't been this relevant in my lifetime and never has there been this share of voters with ballots in their hand while the early-state voting is taking place. It's anybody's guess, but of course, we'll start seeing meaningful ballot return data late next week.
For what it's worth, here are the races with the wildest primaries by number of candidates:
All this said, my real motivation for voting early was to stop the damn mail. Candidates, feel free two send me the $5 you're saving by not killing trees.
Lots more after the jumpity jump, jump, jumpity jump, over the ad we go...
SD05 (San Joaquin): The California Association of Realtors is in with $91,329 to oppose Assembly member Susan Talamentes Eggman (D) with consulting and a mailer in the race to succeed Cathleen Galgiani (D). Eggman is facing of with Modesto councilmember Mani Grewal (D) to likely be the only Dem to proceed to November in a likely Dem seat.
SD13 (San Mateo): With another mailer, the California Association of Realtors is now up to $423,158 in support for Annie Oliva (D) in the super-competitive race to succeed Jerry Hill in the peninsula seat. Not surprisingly, beyond being a Millbrae councilmember, Oliva is a realtor.
AD72 (Garden Grove-Westminster): There is a new independent expenditure committee opposing former senator Janet Nguyen's (R) challenge of Assembly member Tyler Diep (R) in what is expected to be a toss-up race against Garden Grove council member Diedre Nguyen (D) in November. It is called "Coalition to Restore Republican Accountability & Ethics Opposing Nguyen for Assembly 2020." So far, the committee has one contribution, $20,000 from "Parents for Safe Communities." In turn, that new committee hasn't disclosed its funding sources.
Isn't campaign disclosure great?
Meanwhile, supporting Diep (R) is "California Labor and Business Alliance (CLAB), sponsored by building trades, correctional peace officers and apartment rental organizations, and energy providers" with $90,664 for mail. That committee has received money from a variety of interests, most recently reported from the State Building Trades and Chevron.
CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS: For Politico, Jeremy B. White writes that while 2018 was a bad year for California Republicans, things have only gotten worse since.
Two Republican state lawmakers have since defected from the party, while a third is fighting a challenge from party activists. And it’s been nearly a decade since California had a statewide elected Republican — then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger famously warned in 2007 that the party was “dying at the box office."
As GOP elected officials have dwindled to an endangered species in Sacramento, where a Democratic supermajority controls the Legislature, some have tried to stave off irrelevance by adapting to the new political geography. But efforts to moderate views or disavow President Donald Trump have largely gone nowhere.
HARASSMENT: For CapRadio, Scott Rodd reports that the number of harassment complaints filed last year with the Legislature's new bicameral independent unit.
It may be difficult to draw comparisons between the number of complaints filed last year with the WCU and in prior years.
The Legislature has previously released data on sexual harassment complaints — there were 33 in 2017 and 17 in 2018. But the WCU, a joint Senate-Assembly body formed in 2019, looks at complaints beyond sexual harassment, including harassment, discrimination and retaliation on the basis of a protected class.
Thursday’s letter provides broad strokes on findings by the WCU, which resolved 85 of the 181 complaints — but it’s unclear how many of those cases resulted in substantiated accusations or discipline.
AB 5 (Gonzalez): Yesterday, Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) had a thread of tweets that started with "In the next few weeks, we will be rolling out a number of asks, initiatives and bill language to help ease the implementation of AB5 and make clarifications to the law based on hundreds of meetings and discussions with individuals and groups."
In the thread, she writes that she and Assembly member Christy Smith (D-Newhall) were submitting a $20 million budget request for grants to local arts organizations "that are transitioning their employees under AB5." Arts organizations have been one of the fiercest foes of AB 5 given the "gig" nature of performances. She further states that the business-to-business exemption will be moved to the highest priority and that it will be expanded as to how it addresses freelance writers. Additionally, she plans to address freelance photographers who sell works to services like Getty and Shutterstock. Further, she states that she plans to work on the musician issue, something that was promised on the Senate Floor to Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), who voted for the bill, although with hesitation since the issue wasn't addressed and it's something that he does personally.
The language changing AB 5 are expected to be incorporated into AB 1805 (Gonzalez), which she has introduced as a clean-up bill. Several other bills have been introduced primarily by Republicans to exempt various workers, mostly the ones Gonzalez says she plans to address.
The elephant in the room is that the changes discussed in the tweet don't address the November ballot measure coming head on down the tracks sponsored by the "gig" companies Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Postmates.
VOTING: Joel Fox writes that SB 207 (Hurtado), which would ease voter registration changes of address and political party within the same county, encourages "possible gamesmanship and mischief." The bill provides that those changes can be made when submitted in writing to the county registrar, without completing an entire new voter registration card.
Talk to most political consultants and they tell you that chances of such mischief changing the outcomes in high profile races is negligible at best. However, with the difficult rules the California Democratic Party plays under in the primary, a few votes here or there could sneak a candidate over the 15% threshold needed to secure some delegates.
The bill is now on Gavin Newsom's desk and, as Fox notes, the governor vetoed a similar bill last year over concerns of state-mandated local costs.
MENTAL HEALTH IN JAIL: For Capital Weekly, Jessica Hice writes on the reports of increased incidents of mental health issues in county jails.
Mental illness cases in California jails have significantly increased since 2009, health policy experts reported Thursday.
California Health Policy Strategies, a Sacramento-based consulting group, gathered administrative data from the Board of State and Community Corrections and discovered a 42 % increase in mental health cases reported and an 80 % increase in inmate medication prescriptions over the last 10 years.
According to the report, about 1 in 4 inmates met the threshold for “serious psychological distress” while 1 in 19 of the general population of non-incarcerated people met the threshold for serious psychological distress. The results suggest a costly, ineffective system, the report continues.
The 2017 Stanford Justice Advocacy Project found incarcerated individuals experiencing mental illnesses are likely to remain in jail longer than those who are not.
Cakeday and classifieds after the jump...
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Eddie Bernacchi, Natalie Daniel, and Tiffany Tran!