Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo likely to enter race for Congress

The battle to replace the retiring Rep. Anna Eshoo in a South Bay House seat next year is likely to draw another big name: former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. 

Liccardo, who was termed out of office last year, will be the guest at a fundraiser Sunday at the home of Cooper Teboe, a top Silicon Valley fundraiser whose clients include Rep. Ro Khanna. He is expected to form an exploratory committee before then, Eric Jaye, a longtime Democratic political consultant who has advised Liccardo on his two mayoral runs, told the Chronicle on Tuesday.

Jaye, a former adviser to Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said Liccardo is consulting with thought leaders and others in the region about whether to run. 

“Is he very serious? You bet. Is he doing all the things a candidate does when they are very seriously looking at a race? For sure,” Jaye said. “He’s going to do his due diligence.” 

That includes raising money.

“I would love to invite you to come meet him and encourage you to donate to his campaign (I am personally giving a maxout donation),” Teboe wrote on the fundraiser invitation, which was first reported by business news site San Jose Spotlight.

While Liccardo has not yet filed the requisite paperwork to become a candidate, he has made no secret of his desire to run for Congress. Earlier this year, he told Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, that he had commissioned a poll on running against her and was considering a challenge. 

Lofgren told Spotlight: “I plan to run and I don’t usually run to lose.” 

Now Liccardo, 53, is eyeing another of the four House districts that represent portions of San Jose. Eshoo, 80, announced last week that she would not seek reelection next year. 

While Liccardo has some level of name recognition as the two-term mayor of California’s third-largest city, San Jose is split between four House districts. Jaye estimates that 36% to 40% of Eshoo’s House district is in the city of San Jose. Liccardo does not live in the district.  Members of the House are not required to live in the districts they represent.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, a friend of Eshoo’s, announced Wednesday that he also plans to run.

Simitian has $681,003 cash on hand in his House fundraising account — more than Eshoo ($599,672), according to campaign filings. Simitian has represented 85% of the congressional district over the more than two decades that he served in the Assembly, state Senate and on the Board of Supervisors. 

Assembly Member Evan Low, D-Sunnyvale, who has served nearly a decade in the Legislature after representing the city of Campbell on its City Council for eight years, is also likely to launch a campaign as soon as next week.

State Sen. Josh Becker, D-Menlo Park, told the Chronicle on Tuesday that he’s been “honored by all the people reaching out to me about the seat. I do love my current job. I’m taking some time to think about it and I haven’t made a decision yet.” 

Jaye said a poll of 400 likely primary voters commissioned by Liccardo’s supporters over the weekend found that he was the favorite among the candidates eyeing the race, with 16% support, followed by Simitian with 12%. No other candidate reached double digits. 

Click here to read the full article in SF Chronicle

Democrats in key California House races are running to the center

There’s a word that isn’t often heard, much less bragged about, at gatherings of the top Democrats in California. 

And that word is “centrist.” 

But some California Democrats running in some of the most important House races in the country are dropping the “c” word. 

Sure, some Democrats typically move a little toward the center in the general election if they’re facing a more moderate Republican. But four prominent House candidates are talking up their moderate qualities now, roughly three months before voters start casting ballots in the March 5 primary. 

The California Democratic Party has endorsed all four, a sign that it believes they are key to flipping five seats to wrest control of the House back from Republicans. The state party may be way left of Democratic voters in California on some issues — see its 2018 endorsement of state Sen. Kevin de León over Sen. Dianne Feinstein — but they’re betting on centrists to help them win next year.

The party’s challenge is that two of these candidates ran against the same Republican opponents last year as centrists — and lost. Another is running in a district where a Democrat ran as someone who could appeal to both moderates and progressives — and lost. And the fourth is trying to succeed someone who is one of the most outspoken progressives in Congress.

Yes, the centrist positioning may help Democrats in more conservative-leaning Central Valley and Southern California districts. But these candidates also are counting on three more practical factors to help them win. 

First, that next year’s electorate will resemble what it is like in most presidential years — larger and more Democrat-friendly. Two, that the desire to expand abortion rights will continue to pull moderate and no party preference voters to Democrats. And third, in the last presidential election, Democrats did very little of the in-person, door-to-door campaigning that is a strength of their party because of the pandemic. Next year, Democratic canvassers will be back on doorsteps. 

And through Election Day, the c-word will be a mainstay.

“I don’t play a centrist on TV. I’m a real authentic centrist,” former Democratic Assembly Member Adam Gray told me at this month’s California Democratic Party convention, whose delegates lean further left than the state’s voters.

“It’s where my head is and my heart is,” said Gray, who is likely to face off again against Rep. John Duarte, R-Turlock (Stanislaus County), who beat him by 564 votes last year. “And I’m proud of the fact that I’ve taken on my own party when I needed to.” 

And it has cost Gray. When he served in the Legislature from 2012 to 2022, Gray lost two committee assignments after challenging the party’s position on issues where he felt it would mean less water flowing to farmers and others in his district. 

“My voters know after 10 years of service for them, that if push comes to shove and I got to choose between their best interests and the Democratic Party’s best interests, I will choose them every time,” Gray said. “And that’s not talk. That’s a record.”

And it is a record that has made him more popular than Califorrnia Gov. Gavin Newsom in a district that includes all of Madera and Merced counties along with parts of Fresno, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. Gray won nearly 50% of the vote in his 2022 loss to Duarte, 4 percentage points better than what Newsom did in his district during his reelection campaign last year.

Gray is with his party on abortion rights, which will be the issue Democrats push to the forefront of every campaign through Election Day. 

But Gray is no more centrist than he was last year when he lost to Duarte.

Ultimately, what may propel Gray to Washington is a higher turnout in his district in a presidential election, which President Joe Biden won by 11 percentage points over Donald Trump in 2020. Only 136,254 voters in that House district cast ballots in last year’s midterms, far fewer than the 252,852  who voted there in the 2020 presidential race. 

Farther south, in a Los Angeles County district represented by Republican Rep. Mike Garcia of Santa Clarita, Democrats endorsed George Whitesides, who has never held political office. 

Whitesides was CEO of Virgin Galactic and before that served as NASA’s chief of staff. He uses a phrase that Republicans from the business world frequently invoke in describing their political bona fides: “I’m a job creator.”

“I’m somebody who’s worked well with folks from all different parts of the political spectrum,” Whitesides told me. “The folks in this district want somebody who’s going to just honestly address the biggest challenges that we’ve got in our communities and in our country. And I honestly believe that we can provide that perspective and bring a perspective of problem-solving.”

Yes, of course, he’s going to point out to voters in the district — where Biden won by 12 percentage points in 2020 — that Garcia voted with Trump 84% of the time. More importantly, Garcia voted not to impeach Trump for inciting the 2021 insurrection against the Capitol and opposed certifying presidential electors from Pennsylvania and Arizona. 

But Whitesides stressed that “what will matter most in this district is honestly kitchen-table issues.”

“It’s going to be who can help bring more jobs to the Antelope Valley, who can improve the infrastructure of the Antelope Valley to make commutes easier, who can help improve education and who can help protect communities from the risks of wildfires,” he said. 

But Christy Smith, a former state legislator who lost to Garcia last year, pitched a similar message. From her campaign website: “Smith has a unique ability to appeal to progressive Democrats as well as moderate and independent voters by focusing on the issues affecting her district and all Americans.”

Smith blamed a lack of support from the Democratic Party and other political action committees for her defeat, tweeting, “Our campaign got next-to-zero outside resources to fight this battle.” It was her third consecutive loss to Garcia, who defeated her  in a special election in 2020 and again later that year for a full term by 333 votes. 

Whitesides believes that the increased turnout, along with a focus on kitchen table issues, can help him defeat Garcia. 

Will Rollins thinks the same formula can help him, too, in another Southern California race. The former federal prosecutor is taking on Republican Rep. Ken Calvert of Corona in a rematch of their 2022 race. Though he’s supported by retired progressive Sen. Barbara Boxer, Rollins may have been the only Democratic candidate at the state party convention last weekend to duck out briefly to attend a gathering of alumni who worked for former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“As I see it in California, and broadly, the problem with the country too, is we don’t have a center right,” Rollins said. “And so we’re stuck with sort of one-party control. And that’s not the healthiest for our democracy in general.”

Rollins, who is gay, supports abortion rights and has hammered Calvert for his conservative views on LGBTQ issues. Even though Calvert has changed his position and now supports same-sex nuptials, he voted against the Equality Act in 2021 that would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The measure died in the Senate.

Rollins originally decided to run after Calvert joined most California House Republicans in voting not to certify state election results in a bid to derail Biden from being inaugurated. But he thinks his argument for replacing Calvert goes beyond that, given the nation’s low unemployment rate has dropped and inflation is flattening.

“We Democrats have a really strong argument on the economy,” Rollins said. “I think we just have to do a better job of appealing to those sort of small business owners and center-right people who care deeply about seeing prosperity for themselves and their families and tying that equality of opportunity to their own and our collective success as a country.”

Rollins believes that a presidential election year turnout will help him. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates his race as “toss up Republican,” meaning it gives Calvert a slight edge.

The most curious to talk up his moderate tendencies is state Sen. Dave Min of Irvine. He’s running to succeed Rep. Katie Porter in an Orange County district that she spent $28 million to win in 2022. Porter is running for the Senate.

Porter endorsed Min to replace her, saying that she had “every confidence that his campaign will ensure that California’s 47th Congressional District continues to be represented by a progressive Democrat.” 


But Min said that Porter — a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus — has provided “a blueprint” for how to win in a purple district like theirs. But as Min sees it, that blueprint wasn’t because she was progressive. It was due in part to viral videos of Porter grilling wealthy CEOs when they testify before Congress — like when she explained to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon that it is impossible for one of his bank tellers to live on what he pays them. 

When Porter spoke at a Senate candidate forum at last week’s state party convention, she sought to distinguish herself from the moderates.

“You can count on me to stand up for regular Californians and never be one who does the bidding of corporate America,” Porter said. “But that’s not just about being a Democrat. That’s about the kind of Democrat you are and you can count on me.”

Min told me that “what Katie has shown is that people want elected officials who will fight for them and engage on issues they care about.”

Min puts climate change, education and standing up against hate crimes at the top of his agenda for his district, which Biden won by 11 percentage points. 

To stress his moderate support, Min emphasized his endorsement from law enforcement groups like the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and the Peace Officers Research Association of California, which represents 950 public safety unions. 

“The biggest hits any Democrat will get is going to be around public safety and homelessness,” Min said. “But having the police behind me is a big validator that I think helps rebut that argument in a big way.”

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

Rep. Tony Cárdenas won’t seek reelection in 2024, setting up race for San Fernando Valley seat

WASHINGTON —  Tony Cárdenas (D-Pacoima) will not seek reelection in 2024, setting up what could become a contested race for his heavily Democratic San Fernando Valley-based seat.

Cárdenas, 60, who was the first Latino to represent the district, told The Times he plans to leave Washington at the end of his term, capping three decades in public office.

“It will be the first time in 28 years that I’m not on the ballot,” Cárdenas said in a Thursday interview. “The truth of the matter is I thought I could do this just for a few years … I’m just at the age where I have enough energy and experience to maybe do something [different] and have another chapter of a career where I don’t have to go to Washington, D.C., 32 weeks out of the year.”

Cárdenas’ announcement is unlikely to threaten Democrats’ quest to reclaim the House majority. His district, which spans much of the San Fernando Valley, is solidly blue. But his departure creates opportunities for ambitious young Democrats from the Los Angeles area to come to Washington. Cárdenas is backing Luz Rivas, a state Assemblymember who told The Times she would run to replace him.

“Luz is a genuine public servant who has dedicated herself to delivering opportunities for the Valley,” Cárdenas said. “She gets things done, and has always put working families first. I am proud to support Luz for Congress.”

Rivas, a native to the Valley, won her Assembly seat in 2018. If elected to Congress, she would be the first Latina to represent the district in Washington.

Cárdenas said the lack of nonwhite representation among people in power was a main reason he first ran for public office. Not having role models of color can stifle nonwhite kids’ ambitions for greatness, he said.

“Our teachers, counselors, police officers, would look at us and say you’re never gonna amount to anything,” he said. “I don’t think anyone with those titles should ever tell a child you’re never going to mount anything. But we all experienced that crap, that garbage, those lies.”

Cárdenas was first elected to the Assembly in 1996 at 33. He went on to serve three terms in Sacramento and won three more on the Los Angeles City Council. In 2013, he became the first Latino to represent the Valley in Congress, handily winning election after redistricting removed Rep. Adam B. Schiff’s home in Burbank from the district.

Cárdenas said he’s proud of the work he’s done in his career, notably his efforts to overhaul the state juvenile justice system and ban solitary confinement of minors in federal prisons. As a congressman, Cárdenas was the top sponsor for more than 180 bills, three of which became law, including one in 2021 that addressed crib safety for babies.

In Washington, he served on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and spearheaded an effort to bring a Smithsonian Latino Museum to the National Mall. He chaired BOLD PAC, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ fundraising arm, and under his tenure, the committee’s coffers grew, as did the number of elected Latinos in Congress.

Cárdenas was unable to ascend into House party leadership in 2020 and last year, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) bypassed him when picking the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, a woman sued Cárdenas, saying that he had sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager. The woman later dropped her lawsuit, which Cárdenas’ lawyers characterized as a “total vindication.”

Cárdenas’ announcement was a surprise, said Fernando Guerra, a political science professor at Loyola Marymount University. The congressman is “senior and influential enough” that he could have had an impact in the House if Democrats were to retake the majority next year, Guerra said.

But “D.C. is no fun anymore,” Guerra added. “My instinct is that he’s just had it and he feels there’s another way he can influence through another role.”

Guerra lauded Cárdenas for his reputation in Southern California. “He’s an icon in the San Fernando Valley,” he said, noting that Cárdenas opened doors for Latinos. “Without him, you would not see the level of Latino political incorporation that currently exists.”

In a statement, California Sen. Alex Padilla lauded Cárdenas for running “for office at a time when Latinos didn’t see ourselves represented in positions of power.”

“His decision to enter public service and his approach to politics opened the door for many others to follow, including many who couldn’t have imagined running for office, including myself,” California’s senior Democratic senator said.

Padilla and Cárdenas are close friends and roommates in Washington. Padilla was Cárdenas’ campaign manager for his first run for office in 1996.

Weeks before election day in 1996, Cárdenas saw an article in the Los Angeles Times, which was left open on Padilla’s desk in the campaign office. The article, which detailed his campaign’s financial struggles, left him feeling low, he said.

Soon after, his sister told him that their father, Andres, had risked his life to save a man who was trapped in a burning field in Stockton decades earlier. His father never shared that story with him while he was alive.

“I didn’t need that story at that moment,” he said. But “that day, I needed something. And boom, it came.”

“For the first time in my life, I said to myself, this is my community, this is my country,” he said. “And I’m going to finish this. Whether I win or not, doesn’t matter. I’m going to finish this and I’m going to do it right.”

Click here to read the full article in this LA Times

Can a Democrat not named Katie Porter win her congressional swing seat?

Democrats Dave Min and Joanna Weiss are waging a heated battle over who is more electable in a purpling Orange County.

LOS ANGELES — Rep. Katie Porter has been a bright spot for Democrats as they try to claim territory in Orange County, California’s historic bastion of conservatism. But even with a nearly $30 million campaign war chest and a gift for turning congressional hearings into viral takedowns, she barely won reelection last year.

Now, with Porter vacating the seat to run for Senate, Democrats are torn between two candidates. Each represents a key constituency that could help keep the district blue absent her star power: Asian Americans and anti-Trump suburban women.

The answer to whether a Democrat not named Katie Porter — without her national profile or piles of campaign cash — can win in southern California’s 47th congressional district will echo far beyond Orange County. It could very well determine the balance of power in the House.

The contest between Democrats Dave Min and Joanna Weiss has become even more charged since Min, the early Democratic favorite, was arrested on drunken driving charges in May after running a red light. (Min called the incident “the worst mistake of my life.”) As Democrats in California and Washington argue about whether picking Min is too politically risky, the Republican who narrowly lost to Porter last year is salivating at another shot to flip the seat.

“Our suspicion is they will have come through a fairly bloody primary process,” GOP candidate Scott Baugh said of whoever emerges as the Democrat candidate in the general election.

The left began agonizing over the district as soon as Porter decided in January to run for Senate instead of seeking reelection. Their path to retake the House runs through California and requires picking off vulnerable Republicans who lost a key patron with the ouster of then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

But in this case, the party is playing defense in a district where Democrats have a whisper-thin registration advantage. Though President Joe Biden won the seat by 11 points over former President Donald Trump in 2020, Republicans doubt he can replicate that margin this time around.

It is an especially fraught moment for Orange County Democrats, who have whipsawed between successes and setbacks in recent years — sweeping the county’s six-district delegation in 2018, only to backslide and give two seats back to the Republicans. Porter’s narrow victory last year further underscored how tenuous the party’s gains have been, even with a political celebrity on the ballot.

“No one can be like Katie Porter,” Min said in a recent interview. “I’m not going to try to be like Katie Porter. She’s uniquely charismatic, uniquely funny, uniquely famous.”

While neither Min nor Weiss sell themselves as Porter clones, they all share a similar political origin story: the 2018 midterms. Min and Porter, neither of whom held elected office, ran for Congress that year. After Porter bested Min in an acrimonious primary, Min used that campaign as a springboard to his successful state Senate run in 2020.

Also in that election cycle, Weiss helped build Women for American Values and Ethics (WAVE), a fundraising and volunteer machine that embodied the political awakening of suburban women after Trump’s election in 2016. The group was especially successful in organizing in the county’s coastal areas, home to mostly affluent mainline Republicans and independents that were a pivotal voting bloc for Democrats’ successes that year.

Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), who grew up in Orange County and now represents an inland swath of the county, said Weiss’ experience mobilizing women voters will be essential in 2024, as Democrats hope to harness the lingering anger about the overturning of Roe v. Wade. As recent elections in Ohio and Virginia showed, the right to an abortion remains a deeply potent issue.

“When you talk about things like a woman’s right to choose, that’s very personal,” Sánchez said. “Being a woman in that race, she’s going to be able to deliver that message.”

Min, who is Korean American but has a surname that is also common among Chinese and Vietnamese people, says he can appeal to otherwise conservative-leaning Asian Americans.

These voters “are the margin of victory in a lot of cases,” said Tammy Kim, the Democratic vice mayor of Irvine who previously ran an Asian American Pacific Islander progressive advocacy group.

“I really like Joanna Weiss — I really do. … I hate the fact that her and Dave are running against each other,” Kim said. “With that being said, I believe if there is an AAPI seat, this is one. And I want to see Dave Min get it.”

Min said Porter, who endorsed his campaign, told him she believed the seat should be represented by an Asian American. Porter’s campaign did not comment on Min’s remarks.

The harshest fights between the Democrats so far have little to do with differences in policy or political strategy. Instead, it’s all about Min’s DUI.

The incident generated new momentum for Weiss, who was already in the race. In the weeks after the arrest, Harley Rouda, the district’s former Democratic representative, lined up with Weiss and called on Min to drop out. Other Democrats announced their support for Weiss soon afterward, including Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley and Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, who won hard-fought elections in the area. So did EMILY’S List, the national fundraising juggernaut that backs women candidates who favor abortion rights.

“We need to make sure we’re sending the strongest candidate into the general,” Weiss said. “It’s concerning that anyone would drive under the influence and endanger other drivers — especially a state senator, driving a state-owned vehicle, who exercised poor judgment of character. I think our community agrees with that.”

While some national Democrats initially expressed concern about Min’s prospects, party leaders in Washington have yet to back either campaign. The House Democrats’ campaign arm has kept its focus on Baugh, teeing up attacks on his views of abortion or his past campaign legal troubles that resulted in $47,000 in fines.

Both campaigns have publicly and privately been making their case to party leaders and activists about whether or not the DUI is disqualifying. Weiss’ supporters say it is especially damaging because there is video footage of Min’s arrest.

Min’s camp released a polling memo asserting that such attacks on Min fall flat with voters. The poll questions omitted some details that would likely make fodder for attack ads, such as the fact he was driving a state-owned car, according to screenshots reviewed by POLITICO.

There was no major exodus of endorsements from Min’s campaign and he has since picked up additional support from law enforcement such as the unions representing Los Angeles police and deputy sheriffs. He also consolidated most of the support from local Democratic clubs and is poised to get the state Democratic Party endorsement at its convention this weekend.

“If it’s about viability, that’s not something we’ve found to be a hit,” Min said. “Other candidates are making this all about my DUI but will not articulate their own rationale or arguments of how they could win — or present evidence.”

Meanwhile, Min’s allies are pointing to potential drags on Weiss’ candidacy in the general election, such as her living roughly ten miles outside the district boundaries (members of Congress are not required to live in their districts). And they have gone after Weiss for loaning nearly a quarter million dollars to her campaign, arguing the bid is being financed by her work — and her husband’s — as corporate litigators representing companies accused of harming workers.

A chippy primary in March could be water under the bridge in November; plenty of candidates, including Porter herself in 2018, were able to bring together a fractured party and win in the general election.

Porter’s campaign projected optimism that Democrats remain well-positioned for the seat, even as she seeks higher office. Her campaign spokesperson Mila Myles said that “whichever Democrat emerges” will benefit from the grassroots organizing she built in the district.

Still, Baugh, the Republican who is running again this cycle, can barely hide his giddiness about what he calls a “dramatically different” landscape compared to 2022, when Porter spent nine times more than he did. This time, he has already raised more than $1.5 million, roughly a quarter million more than Min and Weiss. He is seen as the prohibitive favorite among Orange County Republicans, though he does face a challenge to his right from businessperson Max Ukropina.

Click here to read the full article in Politico

Michelle Steel and Daniel Garza: Pass the SPEAK Act to improve access to health care

Imagine yourself at the doctor’s office, seated next to your mother who only speaks Korean. You listen intently, focused on each and every word the doctor said while furiously taking notes. It’s easy to feel frustrated. How can someone share in the right language, in the right way, how your mother feels and most importantly how do you translate the information you were receiving in English to Korean. 

Things often get lost in translation and this challenge affects millions of Americans. Telehealth for example, is a phenomenal resource that continues improving health care access not just by lowering costs but by removing the temporal and geographical barriers to care. Unfortunately, not all Americans have been able to benefit.

Patients with limited English proficiency are significantly less likely than other Americans to make use of telehealth. The demand for these services is present in communities with limited English proficiency, but to solve this problem it will require a bipartisan effort. That is why it is so important to find common ground in Congress to help break down language barriers in this country to improve access to our health care system. The introduction of the Supporting Patient Education and Knowledge (SPEAK) Act marks an important step toward assuring that all Americans have access to the care they need. 

The SPEAK Act would create a taskforce to identify how best to support the over 25 million people in the U.S. with limited English proficiency and ensure that they can also benefit from new health care services. Health care affects all of us and a language barrier is not just a treatment barrier, but it is also expensive. Not only does limited language access keep individuals from receiving proper care or even pursuing it, but unclear communication can result in real harm to patients and providers.  

The numbers themselves speak volumes—patients with limited English proficiency face an elevated risk of medical errors, and a staggering $1.7 billion in medical malpractice costs over five years could have been averted with improved patient communication. It’s more than just policy; it’s about drastically improving and even saving lives. The SPEAK act is more than a message, it’s a commitment to making healthcare services accessible to all Americans.

The Asian and Hispanic communities to which we belong would benefit greatly from increased language access. Together these two communities represent 60 percent of California’s 45th district and 54 percent of the whole state. Many of us enjoy the rich diversity of our community: from the Vietnamese Night Market in Little Saigon to the culture celebrations in Buena Park, our district represents the best of America, and we should want all Americans, regardless of origin, to be able to receive services just like everyone else.

Being the children of immigrants, we both personally understand the challenges that can come from limited language access, especially in the realm of health care. We know well the look of relief from our own parents when they find a health care professional who speaks their language. We, like countless others, find ourselves in the doctor’s office translating for family members. Increasing language access doesn’t just benefit the single individual with limited English proficiency but also has positive effects on their caregivers and family unit. The SPEAK Act is a step toward a world where our families and neighbors could not only access the care and treatment they need, but also be able to fully understand their options. This act is a step towards ensuring dignity in health care access. 

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Little Difference Between Democratic Senate Candidates Lee, Porter, Schiff

California voters will soon choose a replacement for the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein

In a little over a year California voters will choose a replacement for the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

An Oct. 8 debate revealed some differences among the three candidates involved: Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff of Burbank, Katie Porter of Orange County and Barbara Lee of Oakland.

On the hottest issue of the day, the candidates differed on how the United States ought to respond to the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.

Schiff first was asked if he was out of step with “other progressives,” such as Porter and Lee, with his typically hawkish stance. He touted his support by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and J Street. He said, “The only sentiment I want to express right now, when Israel is going through its own 9/11, is unequivocal support for the security and the right of Israel to defend itself.”

Porter, by contrast, said, “I stand with Israel in this time and I condemn the loss of lives, both of Palestinians and of Israelis who are being victims of this terror.” She backed a two-state solution, giving Palestinians their own country, and she cautioned with respect to Israel’s response to the Hamas terrorist attacks, “There is no exception for human rights.”

Said Lee, who has sponsored legislation putting restrictions on U.S. aid to Israel, “I have always stood for Israel.” She added she has condemned terrorist attacks on it. She called for prayers for both sides, and said America “has a responsibility to call for a ceasefire.”

On the domestic front, all three supported a bill by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Virginia, to more than double the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $17 by 2028; in California it already will be $16 in 2024.

Schiff thought there ought to be flexibility among states because some are cheaper. But for health care workers, he backed $25 and $20 for everyone else. Lee, who has evidently never once considered getting even vaguely acquainted with economics, backed a $50 minimum wage. Porter complained about corporate profits and backed a $25 minimum wage with a cost-of-living increase.

The candidates held similar views on most other issues, such as opposing the potential shutdown of the government over budget squabbles and backing the PRO Act, which would greatly increase union power.

In other words, the three top Democrats are as economically illiterate as each other, and prefer suffocating top-down federal mandates over allowing markets to work. Their only major distinction is their approach to foreign policy. On the one end, you have Schiff, who voted for the disastrous Iraq war and on the other, you have Lee, who voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

In future debates, we hope participants include Sen. Laphonza Butler, who was invited but chose not to participate. She was appointed Oct. 1 by Gov Gavin Newsom to replace Feinstein. But so far Butler hasn’t publicly stated her intentions for seeking election to the office.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

In Rowdy Scene, House Censures Rep. Adam Schiff Over Trump-Russia Investigations

The House voted Wednesday to censure California Rep. Adam Schiff for comments he made several years ago about investigations into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, rebuking the Democrat and frequent critic of the former president along party lines.

Schiff becomes the 25th House lawmaker to be censured. He was defiant ahead of the vote, saying he will wear the formal disapproval as a “badge of honor” and charging his GOP colleagues of doing the former president’s bidding.

“I will not yield,” Schiff, who is running for the Senate in his home state, said during debate over the measure. “Not one inch.”

When it was time for Schiff to come to the front of the chamber to be formally censured, immediately after the vote, the normally solemn ceremony turned into more of a celebratory atmosphere. Dozens of Democrats crowded to the front, clapping and cheering for Schiff and patting him on the back. They chanted “No!,” “Shame!” and “Adam! Adam!”

When House Speaker Kevin McCarthy started to read the resolution out loud, as is tradition after a censure, Democrats heckled him to the point that he stopped and gave up, leaving the chamber.

“Censure all of us,” one Democrat yelled.

Schiff, the former Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the lead prosecutor in Trump’s first impeachment trial, has long been a top Republican political target. Soon after taking back the majority this year, Republicans blocked him from sitting on the intelligence panel.

More than 20 Republicans voted with Democrats last week to block the censure resolution, but they changed their votes this week after the measure’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, removed a provision that could have fined Schiff $16 million if the House Ethics Committee determined he lied. Several of the Republicans who voted against the resolution last week said they opposed fining a member of Congress in that manner.

The final vote on Wednesday was 213-209 along party lines, with a handful of members voting present.

The revised resolution says Schiff held positions of power during Trump’s presidency and “abused this trust by saying there was evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.” Schiff was one of the most outspoken critics of the former president as both the Justice Department and the Republican-led House launched investigations into Trump’s ties to Russia in 2017. Both investigations concluded that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election but neither found evidence of a criminal conspiracy.

“Representative Schiff purposely deceived his Committee, Congress, and the American people,” the resolution said.

The House has only censured two other lawmakers in the last 20 years. Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona was censured in 2021 for tweeting an animated video that depicted him striking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., with a sword. Former Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel of New York was censured in 2010 for serious financial and campaign misconduct.

The censure itself carries no practical effect, except to provide a historic footnote that marks a lawmaker’s career. But the GOP resolution would also launch an ethics investigation into Schiff’s conduct.

While Schiff did not initiate the 2017 congressional investigation into Trump’s Russia ties — then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican who later became one of Trump’s most ardent defenders, started it — Republicans arguing in favor of his censure Wednesday blamed him for what they said was the fallout of that probe, and of the separate investigation started that same year by Trump’s own Justice Department.

Luna said that Schiff’s comments that there was evidence against Trump “ripped apart American families across the country” and that he was “permanently destroying family relationships.” Several blamed him for the more than $30 million spent by then-special counsel Robert Mueller, who led the Justice Department probe.

Schiff said the censure resolution “would accuse me of omnipotence, the leader of some a vast Deep State conspiracy, and of course, it is nonsense.”

Democrats aggressively defended their colleague. Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, who led Trump’s second impeachment, called the effort an “embarrassing revenge tour on behalf of Donald Trump.”

Mueller, who led the two-year Justice Department investigation, determined that Russia intervened on the campaign’s behalf and that Trump’s campaign welcomed the help. But Mueller’s team did not find that the campaign conspired to sway the election, and the Justice Department did not recommend any criminal charges.

The House intelligence committee probe launched by Nunes similarly found that Russia intervened in the election but that there was no evidence of a criminal conspiracy. Schiff was the top Democrat on the panel at the time.

Schiff said last week that the censure resolution was “red meat” that McCarthy was throwing to his conference amid squabbles over government spending. Republicans are trying to show their fealty to Trump, Schiff said.

He said he warned the country during impeachment proceedings three years ago that Trump “would go on to do worse. And of course he did worse in the form of a violent attack on the Capitol.”

After Democrats won the House majority in 2018, the House impeached Trump for abuse of power after he threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine and urged the country’s president to investigate then-candidate Joe Biden. Schiff was the lead House prosecutor making the case for conviction to the Senate, arguing repeatedly that “right matters.” The Republican-led chamber ultimately acquitted him.

Trump was impeached a second time a year later, after he had left office, for his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol. The Senate again acquitted Trump.

In the censure resolution against Schiff, Luna also cited a report released in May from special counsel John Durham that found that the FBI rushed into its investigation of Trump’s campaign and relied too much on raw and unconfirmed intelligence.

Durham said investigators repeatedly relied on “confirmation bias,” ignoring or rationalizing away evidence that undercut their premise of a Trump-Russia conspiracy as they pushed the probe forward. But he did not allege that political bias or partisanship were guiding factors for the FBI’s actions.

Trump had claimed that Durham’s report would reveal the “crime of the century” and expose a “deep state conspiracy” by high-ranking government officials to derail his candidacy and later his presidency. But the investigation yielded only one conviction — a guilty plea from a little-known FBI employee — and the only two other cases that were brought both ended in acquittals at trial.

On Wednesday, just before the vote, Schiff’s campaign sent out a fundraising email that said Luna had introduced “yet ANOTHER resolution to censure me.”

“The vote and debate will happen imminently,” the email read, asking recipients to donate to help him fight back. “Once more, I have to be on the House floor to listen as MAGA Republicans push false and defamatory lies about me.”

Click here to read the full article at FoxNews

Democrats’ Plan to Take Control of Congress Could Depend on Southern California

Democratic hopes to seize control of the U.S. House of Representatives next year at a pivotal moment for policy decisions about reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights, education and the economy may hinge on Southern California.

Despite the state’s liberal bent, California has the most competitive congressional races in the nation — an anomaly created by the state’s independent map-drawing process and sheer size.

“We could be outcome determinative. We could be absolutely critical,” said Darry Sragow, a veteran Democratic strategist who is the publisher of the nonpartisan California Target Book, which tracks the state’s congressional and legislative races. ”There are a number of districts that are capable of going one way or the other and they’re going to be hard fought and they’re going to be expensive and they’re going to matter.”

Of the 435 seats in the House, Democrats need to capture five held by Republicans next year to take back control of Congress. And they view many of their best opportunities in California.

“The three or four seats in Southern California that are in play could be the deciding factor in who controls Congress in 2024, 100%,” said Paul Mitchell, a Democratic redistricting expert. “That could end up being more than enough to get Democrats the majority in Congress.”

“In the rest of the country, so many districts are so polarized, so partisan,” drawn to ensure a Republican or a Democrat will win, he noted. “Our districts are less polarized, there’s more swinginess to them, which makes them more valuable in the congressional control question.”

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which has tracked House and Senate races for decades, rates nine of the state’s 52 congressional districts as competitive, the most of any state in the nation.

Most are in swaths of California that voted for President Biden yet elected a GOP congressional representative — districts that both parties consider prime battlegrounds in 2024. While a few are in the Central Valley, the bulk are in Southern California.

“These are bright blue districts that we need to play in. We need to have the candidates who can message, knock on doors and can generate voter enthusiasm and who can deliver these votes,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

Sragow attributes the number of competitive congressional seats in California to the state’s independent map-drawing process for political boundaries, including congressional districts, approved by voters in 2010 to replace the traditional partisan maps previously created by lawmakers. Most congressional districts across the country are still determined by state lawmakers who often try to tailor the maps to their political advantage if they hold power in their legislatures.

“There aren’t that many competitive seats anymore. There has been this incredible shift in much of the country toward gerrymandered congressional districts where the outcome is predetermined,” Sragow said. “There’s just not a lot of swing. So if you’re looking to pick up seats, California is a place you can do that.”

“This is one of the genuinely few competitive playing fields for House seats,” he said.

But Democrats face conundrums in many of the contests.

One of the most competitive races in the nation is an Orange County district being vacated by Rep. Katie Porter, who is running to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Porter, a prodigious fundraiser, spent nearly $29 million to narrowly hang onto her seat last year against former GOP Assemblyman Scott Baugh.

This election, the Republican is expected to receive stronger financial support and his Democratic rivals lack Porter’s fundraising prowess. The race was further scrambled when the candidate Porter endorsed, state Sen. Dave Min, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Sacramento. Joanna Weiss, an attorney like Porter, is also running for the seat and has the backing of former Rep. Harley Rouda, who planned to run for the seat until he suffered a brain injury.

North of Porter’s district, Democrats have long salivated — unsuccessfully — over the region represented by GOP Rep. Mike Garcia, which includes Santa Clarita, the Antelope Valley and part of the San Fernando Valley. The once-solidly Republican stronghold has grown more Democratic as Los Angeles residents moved there seeking affordable housing.

The district should be a solid pick-up opportunity for Democrats, but they have failed miserably three elections in a row. Strategists say a lack of investment by national Democrats was driven by both the expense of political advertising in Los Angeles, one of the most expensive media markets in the nation, and a lack of confidence in Garcia’s Democratic rival in the contests, Christy Smith. The former assemblywoman blasted her party for failing to back her in last year’s election.

Former Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides and Francisco Carrillo, who was wrongly convicted of murder and served two decades in prison before being released, are the Democrats now challenging Garcia.

GOP Rep. Michelle Steel, who represents a district that straddles Los Angeles and Orange counties with many Asian American voters, could also face a challenging reelection bid. Garden Grove City Councilwoman Kim Nguyen, a Democrat, announced her candidacy to represent the district that is home to many Vietnamese American voters.

In Riverside County, veteran Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) will probably face former federal prosecutor Will Rollins in a competitive race. The redrawing of district lines resulted in the inclusion of a large number of liberal and gay voters in the Palm Springs area. Rollins is gay and regularly campaigns with his husband; Calvert has a history of voting against LGBTQ+ interests and his allies outed a Democratic rival in a 1994 campaign. Calvert, who said his view on gay rights has evolved and he now supports same-sex marriage, beat Rollins by fewer than 5 points last year, a result that may prompt national Democrats to invest in the race.

Other potentially competitive seats include those held by Reps. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano), and John Duarte (R-Modesto), David Valadao (R-Hanford) and Josh Harder (D-Turlock) in the Central Valley.

Democrats are optimistic about their chances protecting Levin and Harder and ousting Garcia, Steel, Valadao, Duarte and Calvert because 2024 is a presidential election year, a time when voter turnout is higher and young and minority voters who favor their party are traditionally more likely to cast ballots.

But GOP leaders countered that they have bucked this trend in congressional contests in recent years.

“In 2016, we didn’t lose a single race. In 2020, we picked up four seats,” said Jessica Millan Patterson, chair of the state Republican Party. “We’re winning in seats Biden won by 10 points.”

Click here to read the full article in LA Times

An Official Named Su

President Biden’s nominee to be secretary of labor is in real danger of not being confirmed.

Julie Su, a lifetime labor-union official, isn’t an ordinary nominee. Until 2021, she was California’s labor secretary and presided over perhaps the biggest single example of fraud in the state’s history. The state’s unemployment system paid out tens of billions in expanded Covid-19 unemployment benefits that were subsidized by the federal government.

The fraud came after a state auditor warned the state to stop printing Social Security numbers on mail. He was ignored. Others warned that rings of scammers were bilking the system. They, too, were ignored. The Washington Examiner reports that “California reportedly sent $1 billion to fraud rings involving prisoners who were filing fraudulent claims while actively behind bars.”

Even Senator Mitt Romney, one of the Republicans most supportive of confirming Biden’s previous cabinet choices, says he has reached his limit in being asked to confirm Julie Su. At her confirmation hearing last Thursday, he said:

The fact that under your lead, unemployment insurance payments in California of some $31 billion went to people who were basically receiving money on a criminal basis  . . . $31 billion, that’s about as much as we provided in military aid to Ukraine. That’s almost twice the total budget of the Department of Labor. . . . In this case, your record there is so severely lacking, I don’t know how in the world it makes sense for the president to nominate you to take over this department.

Despite this record, Su was confirmed by 50 to 47 as Biden’s deputy secretary of labor in 2021. But several Republicans were absent from that vote, and three of the senators who voted for her have yet to back her promotion: Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Jon Tester of Montana. All are up for reelection in 2024 and nervous about being linked to Su’s radicalism and incompetence.

All the country’s major business groups lined up against Su before her confirmation hearing. They pointed out that Su was also a major force behind California’s Assembly Bill 5, a law that essentially abolished independent contractors in the state. AB 5 was eventually repealed in a referendum by a 58 percent majority of the state’s voters, but not before it temporarily wrecked the state’s trucking industry and exacerbated its supply-chain problems at major ports.

Click here to read the full article in the National Review

US House Has No Members, No Rules As Speaker Race Drags On

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Republicans continue to squabble over who will be the next speaker, there are essentially no members in the U.S. House of Representatives — only members-elect.

Without a speaker, none of the them can be sworn in, and the 118th Congress can’t convene or vote on any rules. Parliamentary procedure has been jettisoned in favor of controlled chaos. Members of both parties are unsure whether they can call votes or make motions on the floor because there is no speaker to rule on their requests. Committees can’t be formed and legislation can’t be passed.


“I don’t know what my status is,” said Democrat Ted Lieu of California. “I don’t know if I have health care, I don’t know if my staff get paid. We’re looking at all of that now because this hasn’t happened for 100 years.”

Former Rep. Billy Long of Missouri, who just retired, has been tweeting about what he calls “Bizaroland.” At one point he openly wondered in his Twitter bio whether he was still a congressman (he isn’t).

The rule-less, member-less House may only be a blip in history if Republicans are able to find a way forward this week and elect a new speaker. While that remains a strong possibility, a resolution to the standoff seemed distant on Wednesday, as Republican Kevin McCarthy of California lost a second day of roll call votes on the floor. Supporters and opponents all appeared dug in.

The uncertainty added to the surreal, looser-than usual atmosphere on the House floor Wednesday as members sat in their seats for vote after vote, hour after hour, negotiating, gossiping and wondering what comes next. Some relaxed with books or newspapers, or scrolled their phones. Some took photos and selfies, a practice that is usually forbidden by the rules.

Others still had children with them in the chamber, a holdover from Tuesday’s proceedings when family often accompany members to watch them be sworn in. Only they weren’t sworn in on the first day of the new Congress — the first time that had happened in a century.

In 1923, the process of selecting a speaker lasted for three days. In 1855, it dragged on for two months, with 133 ballots.

“It’s a very strange limbo,” said Democrat Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, who had hoped her visiting grandchildren would get to see her sworn in on Tuesday. “We are operating by precedent.”

On the House floor, clerk Cheryl Johnson is holding the gavel, not the Republican majority.

“Madam speaker,” Republican Chip Roy of Texas said at one point, addressing the rostrum as members usually do, before correcting himself. “Madam clerk,” he amended.

Off the floor, members are operating under the rules for the last Congress — they think. No one really seems to know, and there are concerns about what would happen if the stalemate were to last until mid-January, when paychecks are expected. Some staff are in limbo — only provisionally employed if they are new hires or switching jobs.

Republican Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the incoming chairman of the House Rules Committee, said that members-elect were operating under the rules of the previous Congress, when Democrats were in control. But he added: “I don’t know if that’s written down.”

Without a speaker, “there’s a lot we can’t do,” Cole said. Staff and members will be paid, he said, “but at some point it shuts off.”

As the hours ticked by, members started to ponder what-if scenarios. Lieu said he worried that lawmakers aren’t able to look at classified documents important to national security, and wouldn’t be able to respond to a world crisis. Could websites be updated? Would emails continue to work?

“Who can legally help any and all of our citizens with issues we normally handle everyday?” tweeted Long, the former Missouri congressman. “Passports, IRS, #Veteran’s issues, SBA, Post Office, Immigration issues, Corps of Engineers, etc. who’s getting paid?”

Click here to read the full article in AP News