Around The Capitol

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  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer and Paul Mitchell on the primary election (2020-02-13)
  • Look West (Assembly Democratic Caucus): Assembly member Buffy Wicks and her husband, Giffords Executive Director Peter Ambler, as they discuss their efforts to prevent gun violence in California and nationwide, and how this work brought them together. (2020-02-13)
  • Then There's California (Senate Democratic Caucus): Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (2020-02-11)
  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer @ KQED): episode five of the eight-part series on Jerry Brown (2020-02-09)
  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): New Hampshire primary and data guru Paul Mitchell on the California primary (2020-02-06)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Granite State native Steve Maviglio on the New Hampshire primary (2020-02-06)



ATCpro UPDATES (formerly Nooner Premium):

  • All of these are now on the ATCpro subscriber home page:
    • downloadable spreadsheet voter registration for each state legislative and congressional district
    • downloadable spreadsheet of 2016 presidential and 2018 gubernatorial results for each state legislative and congressional district
    • final downloadable candidate list for March 3 primary
    • 2020 ATCpro updates

The Nooner for Tuesday, February 18, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • SD05 (San Joaquin)
  • SD13 (San Mateo)
  • SD15 (San José)
  • Bloomberg
  • AB 5
  • $$$ from Washington
  • Homelessness
  • LA-LA land
  • Cakeday and classifieds


  • Ballots mailed: 15,946,050
  • Ballots returned: 915,491 (5.7%)
  • Of all mail-in ballots distributed, they have been returned as Dem. 5%, Ind. 4%. Rep. 10%.

Two weeks. A fortnite.

That will launch three weeks or so of ballot counting to figure out the allocation of California presidential delegates and about 20 crazy legislative and congressional primaries. I can't wait as my job will be much more manageable when the number of candidates for the state races drops to 310 from the current 525 or so (considering the SD28 and CA25 specials). Then I can start the real analysis based on data rather than sorting spin of people on campaign payrolls, the latter of which is impossible with the broad fields in many of the most competitive races.

Meanwhile, today is the last full day in Mexico and I'll be on board an American flight through Dallas right around time Gavin begins his State of the State. It's been an amazing trip and I'll be working on a write-up on the flight back. I put CDMX up there with the European cities I have visited--for the history, art, people, and of course FOOD. If you are a friend on social media, I'm sorry for inundating you with photos. If not and you want to see a few of them, they are on my Instagram. Today's pics included the Catedral, the Centro ruins, some art, and of course FOOD.

I'm going on a bike tour tomorrow (this) morning that begins with churros and we ride through the Frido Kahlo museum before ending at Casa Azul, the house that Frida grew up in and then Frida and Diego Rivera bought from her parents. Anyway, the point is that I'm writing much of this Monday night and going through campaign finance reports in between taco meals. At 7pm, I had two tacos--a birria and a suadero. I'm contemplating what my 9pm pre-bedtime (yes, early bird) tacos will consist of, although I've picked out the street vendor. In between, I'm getting a jump on tomorrow's Nooner.

Let's get to it after the jump...

SD05 (San Joaquin): The labor-backed Opportunity PAC reports another mailer opposing Modesto council member Mani Grewal (D) bringing its total to $401,041 in the race to succeed Cathleen Galgiani (D). Labor and the California Democratic Party support Assembly member Susan Talamentes Eggman (D) in the race.

SD13 (San Mateo): The Chron's Alexei Koseff looks at the big money flowing into the Peninsula race to succeed termed-out Jerry Hill (D).

With more than half of voters registered Democratic and only 15% signed up as Republicans, a Democrat is almost certain to win the seat in November. But only two candidates can advance from the primary scuffle.

That has raised the stakes for the five Democrats in the race, several of whom are putting hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money behind their efforts. If they can advance to the runoff, they may just have a clear path to victory.

Republican Alexander Glew and Libertarian John Webster are also on the ballot, though neither has reported raising much money.

SD15 (San José): First, I made a correction online today after someone caught an error in yesterday's item on this district. Former Stanford physicist Charles Munger, Jr.'s wealth comes from Charles Munger, Sr.'s role as an investment partner of Warren Buffett of the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. To make it clear, Charles Munger, Jr. has not added significant money to the Spirit of Democracy PAC since 2018 and it's unclear how much he is still involved.

Anyway, as to the reason for the small online ad spending by the PAC, two good sources speculate two different things. One says it is to split the GOP vote to push through moderate Democrat former Assembly member Nora Campos and one says it is to aid San José council member Johnny Khamis (NPP). Either way, we're talking $1,665 in online ads for a non-campaigning Republican in a race with hundreds of thousands of independent expenditures funding daily mail supporting other candidates.

more after the jump...

BLOOMBERG: This (martes) morning, a new NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist national poll was released with results that qualifies former NYC mayor and business magnate Michael Bloomberg for Wednesday night's debate in Las Vegas. The stage will include: Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders, and Warren and the debate is at 6pm PST on NBC/MSNBC.

The poll finds Sanders (31%), Bloomberg (19%), Biden (15%), Warren (12%), Klobuchar (9%), Buttigieg (8%), Steyer (2%), Gabbard (<1%), and undecided (5%).

As you can see from the mail-in ballot report above, 94.3% of Californians who have received mail-in ballots have not yet returned them and those not returned are disproportionately Democratic and NPP/other. That's not surprising, as few Republicans are scratching their head on the presidential vote. Even "never Trump" Republicans may have returned their ballots with the presidential blank. That also means that the return numbers will significantly skew older and white for awhile. These may not level out until the post-election day counting as ballots are mailed in or dropped off at vote centers around the election. Remember, in California, if a ballot is dropped in a mailbox by election day and received by Friday, March 6, it will be counted after the signature is validated.

After Wednesday, there will be one more Democratic debate before California votes on February 25 in Charleston, SC.

Now that we are two weeks out from the California March 3 primary, I can't understate how big Wednesday night's debate and Saturday's Nevada caucus will be for those voters in The Golden State who are sitting on their ballots. With the debate airing at 6pm PST, it's unlikely that a huge number of Californians will be sitting on their couches glued to every word. I doubt many are like me and are recording it (I land in SMF at 7:30).

I expect a majority of the millions of Californians who return their mail-in ballot will make their decision by this weekend, perhaps after the Nevada caucus. The media coverage and interpretation of the debate will be huge as undecideds/waverings will be reading the news at work later this week.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg has endorsed the property tax measure likely headed to the November ballot to assess most commercial and industrial property on market value rather than Proposition 13 constraints with $9-12 billion per year going to local governments and schools.

Also, yes, I know Sanders was in Richmond yesterday and Buttigieg was in Sacramento last Friday. I'm not planning on covering each of these events in this space, but only things regarding the overall field like polling and debates.

AB 5 (Gonzalez): For the Southern California Intergalactic News Group, Kevin Smith reports that music industry professionals are joining the chorus expressing anger over the impact of AB 5's limitations on independent contractors is having on the industry.

Although well intended, the bill has had the reverse effect on a variety of self-employed workers, and none have been more adversely impacted than musicians. [Ari] Herstand explains how things have changed:

“As a music singer/songwriter, I have to hire backup musicians when I play clubs,” he said. “Under AB 5 I am now considered both an employee of the club and an employer of the musicians I hire.”

If Herstand hires a bass player for $100 he must now put him on a payroll and provide a variety of protections including unemployment insurance, Social Security benefits, healthcare benefits, disability insurance and workers compensation benefits. He must also issue a W-2 form to the musician for a single gig that might pay a total of $200. The club owner is likewise obligated to treat Herstand as an employee and must provide the same protections and benefits to him.

The bill's author, Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), has stated that this is one of the clean-up issues she hopes to address this year. During the Senate Floor debate on September 10, 2019, Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) who enjoys joining such live and recording sessions said that he would vote for the bill but wanted to see this issue cleaned up in 2020.

$$$ FROM WASHINGTON: For McClatchy, David Lightman looks at why federal funds to California have increased after President Trump pledged to reduce them.

In the Trump years, California has gone from being the nation’s third biggest “donor state” in the 2015 fiscal year to a state where federal taxes and spending were about even three years later, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany, New York.

Yet two and a half weeks after Trump took office in 2017, angry that California could provide protection for certain undocumented immigrants, he threatened to pull federal money from the state.

“If they’re going to have sanctuary cities we may have to do that (cut federal funding). Certainly that would be a weapon,” he told Fox News.

Instead, California has seen a surge in federal spending and climbed out of donor state status. It got $1.5 billion more than it paid in fiscal 2017, President Barack Obama’s last budget. The next year, the positive balance was $1.9 billion.

There’s no one single reason for the change.

“California is doing extremely well, but it also has massive pockets of poverty,” said Wesley Hussey, professor of political science at California State University, Sacramento, explaining why social service and health care payments may have gone up.

Another reason for the spending increase: “Some states have benefited from an increase in contract spending, and California is one of them,” said Michelle Cummings, fiscal policy analyst at the Rockefeller Institute.

HOMELESSNESS: For the LAT, Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports that the politics of how to handle homelessness in Texas's capital city has provided plentiful fodder for California criticism.

Last June, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and fellow Democrats on the City Council passed a law effectively allowing homeless people to sleep, camp and panhandle on sidewalks and in other public spaces, as long as they didn’t threaten safety. The rationale was that the police too often played a cat-and-mouse game with the homeless population, moving them from place to place. Decriminalization was the start to a “housing-first” policy to expand access to shelter and apartments.

Residents didn’t react well. In Nextdoor posts and on local TV, images of disorderly encampments proliferated. Some reports claimed, falsely, that the city had legalized trespassing on private property and camping in public parks.

Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, was infuriated. He threatened to “unleash the full power of state agencies to ensure the health and safety of all Texans” if the city did not get a handle on the problem.

“San Francisco chose to tolerate homelessness & drug use,” Abbott fumed on Twitter. “It did so in the name of com­pas­sion for the home­less. It made the problems worse. The result: Street squalor & mis­ery in­creased, while gov­ern­ment ex­pen­di­tures ballooned. No SF in TX.”

LA-LA LAND: For the Times, James Queally reports on the race for Los Angeles district attorney that pits two Democrats against each other with deeply contrasting approaches.

Jackie Lacey and George Gascón spent more than three decades each working for and eventually running some of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies.

Yet, their visions to lead the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office couldn’t be more different.

Lacey, the two-term incumbent who oversees the office she’s worked in since the late 1980s, has long tried to improve treatment for mentally ill defendants and tried to position herself as a reformer on other issues. But her reputation is that of a punishment-first prosecutor. While she’s beloved by the law enforcement community, Lacey’s tenure has been marked by a perceived hesitance to charge powerful figures and police officers who use deadly force, earning her the scorn of local activist groups.

Gascón, the former San Francisco district attorney and assistant chief of the L.A. Police Department, has emerged as one of the leaders of a movement to elect progressive prosecutors, aiming to lower crime while reducing the number of people affected by the criminal justice system. His ideas have been hailed by some, but a surge of property crimes in San Francisco has led detractors to claim his election here would endanger public safety.

Cakeday and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Assembly member Melissa Melendez and former Assembly member Tony Strickland!



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