At least 104 Southern California voters mailed their ballots on time. They weren’t counted

On or before the March 5 primary, 104 voters in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties mailed their ballots.

Legally, those ballots should have been counted, barring a problem like a ballot envelope signature not matching what’s on file.

But they weren’t tallied because registrars of voters in these counties received the ballots after March 12 — the final day that on-time mail-in ballots could be accepted.

While Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties processed more than 3 million primary votes, ballots postmarked on time but arriving too late — however few — pose a challenge for California elections that rely heavily on ballots mailed to every registered voter.

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“While this amount may not make any difference in the election results, it certainly makes a difference to the integrity of the process,” Robert Tyler of the Murrieta-based law firm Advocates For Faith & Freedom said via email.

In a Thursday, April 4, letter, Tyler demanded that Riverside County halt certification of its primary results on the belief that 5,000 ballots remained to be counted. Those ballots weren’t valid because they were postmarked after Election Day, according to Riverside County Registrar of Voters Art Tinoco.

Chapman University political science professor Fred Smoller said: “All election procedures have their shortcomings. I hope this one gets fixed prior to the next election.”

Hoping to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, California starting in 2020 required all registered voters, whether or not they voted by mail, to get a mail-in ballot to use if they so choose.

By law, ballots postmarked on or before Election Day and received up to seven days after the election must be counted. It’s one reason why California election results take days, if not weeks, to be finalized.

Most Californians vote by mail, with 88% mailing in their ballots for the 2022 general election, according to the secretary of state.

According to Riverside County, 31 mail-in ballots postmarked on time arrived eight days after the election or later.

In Orange County, 70 postmarked-on-time ballots arrived too late to be counted, with 61 arriving March 13, three arriving March 14 and six arriving March 15, according to that county’s registrar.

In San Bernardino County, three ballots arrived between March 13 and March 15 that were postmarked on Election Day, according to elections office spokesperson Melissa Eickman. Information for similar ballots in Los Angeles County was not available as of Monday afternoon, April 8.

Officials in Orange and Riverside counties said they weren’t sure why the ballots arrived late.

“We can only process ballots as they arrive,” Riverside County registrar spokesperson Elizabeth Florer said via a text message. “We cannot speculate as to why a ballot may take longer to arrive in our office.”

U.S. Postal Service spokesperson Duke Gonzales did not provide an explanation for why the ballots arrived late.

In an emailed statement, he said the service “is committed to the secure, timely delivery of the nation’s Election Mail” and is “committed to fulfilling our role in the electoral process when public policy makers choose to utilize us as a part of their election system.”

Gonzales also shared election mail reports from 2020 and 2022. According to those reports, 99.89% of 2020 ballots and 99.93% of 2022 ballots nationwide were delivered within seven days.

“We employ a robust and proven process to ensure proper handling and delivery of all Election Mail, including ballots,” Gonzales said.

California allows voters to track their ballots online to ensure they are received and counted and receive texts or emails when their ballot status changes. Voters can sign up for the service at wheresmyballot.sos.ca.gov.

Riverside County Supervisor Karen Spiegel, who is part of an ad hoc committee studying election issues in her county, said via email that she was concerned about the late-arriving ballots.

“I plan to ask the registrar of voters staff to work with the U.S. Postal Service to find solutions so this does not happen in future elections,” Spiegel said via email.

Her colleague, Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, said via email that the county “is also at the mercy of the Postal Service to deliver the ballots within the legal (counting) window.”

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Democrats book $27 million in ads in California congressional races

In a sign of how important several tight California congressional races are to determining control of Congress in the November election, a Democratic super PAC has booked more than $27 million in television and digital ads in the state.

It’s the most the House Majority PAC booked in any state in its initial $186-million advertising buy announced Sunday, the largest amount the organization has ever spent in early campaigning.

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“House Republicans have done nothing but sell out the American people while creating chaos, and we are holding them accountable for their anti-American extremist policies and agenda,” said Mike Smith, the president of the PAC allied with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).

“Through these historic television and digital reservations, House Majority PAC has made it clear that we are ready to do whatever it takes to flip the House and elect Hakeem Jeffries the next Speaker of the House,” Smith said in a statement.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, the Republican version of the House Majority PAC, has not yet released its early-spending plans. However, the group’s leader expressed confidence in the GOP’s chances in the fall.

“We have incredibly strong Republican incumbents in the toughest races, far better recruits, and a political environment that seems to favor Republicans,” Congressional Leadership Fund President Dan Conston said in a statement. “If the resources are there, we will hold the Majority this fall.”

The Democratic political action committee announced last year that it would spend $35 million in the state, roughly triple what it did on California congressional races in the 2022 midterm elections, when Democrats underperformed in some districts that should have been strongholds.

Political groups on both sides of the aisle don’t always follow through with their advertising reservations, so it remains to be seen how much the PAC will actually spend in California.

However, Democrats need to win four seats to take control of the House, which is why the House Majority PAC’s spending plan — which is aimed at 45 congressional districts nationwide, including Republican-held seats in districts that President Biden won in 2020 — is so focused on California.

The state’s 52-member delegation is the largest in the nation, and California’s independent redistricting process replaced the prior gerrymandering that created safe districts for both parties, resulting in more competitive races.

Of the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, 69 are running in November races that are rated as toss-ups, competitive or potentially vulnerable by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which has tracked House and Senate races for decades. Ten of those are in California.

Additionally, the state is home to some of the nation’s most expensive media markets.

These factors are reflected in the House Majority PAC’s spending plans.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

The Silence of U.S. Senate Hopeful Adam Schiff on China: ‘Blood Money’ Book Excerpt

In his new book “Blood Money: Why the Powerful Turn a Blind Eye While China Kills Americans,” investigative journalist Peter Schweizer continues his groundbreaking scrutiny of what he portrays as the intentionally subversive influence of China across American politics and society. His reporting — ranging from the deadly fentanyl trade to America’s social justice movement to its medical establishment — heavily implicates American elites across the spectrum, from the Bidens and their suspect Chinese connections to those of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, Elaine Chao.

Here is an excerpt focusing on Rep. Adam Schiff, the Los Angeles-area Democrat and persistent Donald Trump antagonist touted to become California’s next United States Senator. (The text’s numerous supporting footnotes are omitted here.)

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The fentanyl epidemic has not spared wealthy areas such as Burbank, California, where at least seven high school students have overdosed on fentanyl. The situation is so bad that the Burbank Unified School District, like many others around the country, started requiring schools to stock up on naloxone, a drug to contain the effects of a fentanyl overdose. In 2022, two men were arrested in Burbank with a hundred thousand counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl. Nineteen- year-old TikTok influencer Cooper Noriega was found dead in a Burbank park with fentanyl in his system.

Burbank falls within the district of California congressman Adam Schiff, one of the most powerful and influential elected officials in America. A former prosecutor, Schiff has been in Congress since 2000, rising to serve as the chairman of the secretive and powerful House Intelligence Committee between 2017 and 2023. From his perch, Schiff had responsibility for, among other things, US national security. Schiff has been outspoken on numerous national security threats, but not when it comes to fentanyl, even though fentanyl deaths in the Los Angeles area rose by a stunning 1,208 percent from 2016 to 2022. If you go to the Intelligence Committee’s webpage that describes its work under his tenure, the word “fentanyl” yields no results. That is to say, the Intelligence Committee under his leadership, by its own account, did nothing on a topic that the Obama administration had declared a threat to our national security in 2017. A search of Schiff’s congressional webpage yields a lone mention of “fentanyl,” a brief reference to a single piece of legislation.

Fentanyl is clearly not a priority for Schiff.

Voters in his district have noticed the silence.

“According to the United States Attorney’s office for the Southern District of California in San Diego, more deadly Fentanyl is being seized by border officials in San Diego and Imperial counties than at any of the nation’s 300 plus ports of entry, making this federal district an epicenter for Fentanyl trafficking into the United States,” one constituent noted in the Glendale News-Press, a local paper. “The city of Glendale is about a two-hour drive from our southern border and California Rep. Adam Schiff’s district since 2013. Not surprisingly, on Dec. 31, 2022, we received another piece of mail from the Congressman’s office with no reference to the Fentanyl crisis. Congressman Schiff often writes in the local newspapers without reference to the Fentanyl problem in his district.”

In contrast, Schiff was outspoken on the far, far less dangerous outbreak of monkeypox, demanding more action on a vaccine, even though it has killed no one in the United States at the time of this writing. Schiff also gave numerous interviews on CNN, MSNBC, and other news outlets about the Ebola virus, which at the time had killed just one American.

Why Congressman Schiff has little to say about the deadly fentanyl crisis is an abiding mystery. Part of the reason may be that raising the issue might cause undue attention to his financial connections to individuals involved with criminal networks in Southern California, many of whom are tied to money laundering and the drug trade.

Encompassing Hollywood, Burbank, and Glendale, California, Schiff’s congressional district has long been a hub of organized criminal activity. Beginning in the early 1990s, the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers in the region began reporting on the rise of Armenian gangs in the district. These gangs, not to mention those from Central and South America and China, are involved in all kinds of violent crime, including drug trafficking, gunrunning, murder, extortion, and white-collar crimes such as money laundering.

Some of Schiff’s work in the state senate, before he was elected to Congress, fueled financial crimes in his district. One bill related to Medi-Cal created a gateway for considerable fraud, which an organized crime syndicate in his district seized upon, perpetuating the largest Medicaid fraud case in history at the time. California business leaders warned Schiff about the fraud they were witnessing, but he appears to have ignored it. In 2010, four hundred FBI agents executed a massive investigation and arrested seventy Armenian mobsters. The criminals ran 118 phantom clinics, many of them in Schiff’s district. The ringleader, Armen Kazarian, lived in Schiff’s district.

Once in Washington, Schiff opposed legislation that would have cracked down on criminal money-laundering networks. In 2005, a bill was introduced onto the House floor to expand the role the federal government would have in fighting gang violence by creating “an anti-racketeering statute similar to the one used against the Mafia dons to prosecute criminal street gangs.” But Schiff opposed the bill. Armenian organized crime continued to expand in Schiff’s district, and his connections to some of the players involved are concerning.

In 2017, Schiff established a joint fundraising committee with California senator Barbara Boxer called PAC for a Change. One of the largest donations—$95,000—came from the head of a sketchy firm located in Schiff’s district called Allied Wallet. The company was run by Andy Khawaja, an executive who would come under investigation by federal authorities and whose business was tied to money laundering, with a major footprint in China. 

Money also flowed to the campaign in other ways.

Schiff’s congressional campaign took in at least $36,000 in donations from executives at Allied Wallet. Another $16,100 came from Khawaja, and two additional $10,000 contributions came from two other executives of the company. While Schiff was accepting those donations, it was publicly known that Allied Wallet had been under FBI investigation. It was not the first time: in 2010, Allied Wallet had been forced by federal authorities to forfeit $13 million for its involvement in an illegal gambling scheme. At the time Schiff accepted donations from the executives, the company was being investigated for its ties to “illegal pharma” companies around the world. Khawaja threw a lot of money around, clearly in search of political access. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he first backed Hillary Clinton and then switched to Donald Trump. In the case of Schiff, he clearly gained access. On October 16, 2016, Khawaja and Schiff sat down for a private meeting with Saudi prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Beverly Hills.

Allied Wallet made money processing credit card payments for “‘high-risk’ online retailers that traditional financial institutions avoid.” They included criminal organizations “that apparently break the law in underhanded and odious ways.”

Allied Wallet also had a partnership with a Chinese company called China UnionPay, which Chinese triads used to launder money. China UnionPay is a Chinese state-owned entity with close ties to the CCP and a card brand that “is often seen as an arm of Chinese state policy.” UnionPay has been used by organized crime groups and drug traffickers all around the world, including the Chinese triads. Allied Wallet seemed to function “as a sort of credit card processor for fraudsters, swindlers, and rip-off artists bilking the public out of more than $100 million.”

Schiff has other interesting donors and friends besides Allied Wallet.

Arthur Charchian is a Glendale, California, lawyer who was involved in a money-laundering scheme. Charchian is the head of Southern California Armenian Democrats and a Schiff booster. Shortly after Schiff introduced legislation on the Armenian genocide, another Armenian, gang leader Pogos Satamyan, donated $10,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In 2019, Democratic megadonor Ed Buck was charged with drug trafficking and “operating a drug house.” Buck was a donor to Schiff’s campaign and a social acquaintance as well.

Openly pressing for aggressive action to deal with the Chinese-linked fentanyl networks might lead to open discussions of money-laundering networks operating in the United States and raise some difficult questions for Schiff.

Schiff represents a congressional district that is at the heart of the American entertainment industry, including the cities of Burbank and Hollywood. Hollywood titans who finance his campaigns rely on access to the Chinese market for a sizable portion of their profits. From his earliest national elections, Schiff received the backing of entertainment industry titans such as Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg.

Their partner at DreamWorks, David Geffen, promised to raise however many millions of dollars were needed to defeat his opponent in 2000. … These titans have deep, abiding, and lucrative ties to the Chinese government that they do not want disturbed. DreamWorks has modified films for American audiences at the request of the Communist Chinese government, pushing CCP propaganda both subtly and not so subtly.

Taking aggressive action against China for its fentanyl activities could disrupt these relationships.

Click here to read the full article in Real Clear Investigations

Grenell, Essayli and DeMaio Call on Secretary of State Weber to Speed Up Election Results

We are California – we should be leading the Nation in speed, accuracy, and transparency… not finishing last with a broken electoral process

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

The California 2024 Primary Election was 7 days ago – last Tuesday March 5, 2024. Most states have already posted election results.

There are a lot of Californians who remember election results were provided not long after the polls closed on Election Day.

Anything less makes voters question the veracity of election results.

“It has been 6 days since Californians voted in the primary elections of 2024. It is an outrage that the Secretary of State of California has yet to finish the vote counting,” said Ambassador Richard Grenell, Assemblyman Bill Essayli, and Assembly Candidate Carl DeMaio in a Joint Statement provided to the Globe.

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Grenell, Essayli and DeMaio continue:

“What could possibly be taking so long?

The 58 counties across the state should be instructed to count all the votes in a timely manner. We are California, and so we should be leading the Nation in speed, accuracy, and transparency – not finishing last with a broken electoral process.

Californians will not have faith in the system when bureaucrats secretly count votes for days and days on end. It is imperative that elected officials address these delays in counting votes, as well as the ongoing unchecked voter rolls, which are undermining public confidence.

We call upon California Secretary of State Shirley Weber to do her job and take immediate action to get county registrars of voters to report their results faster. We reiterate the urgent need to demand voter roll cleanup, same-day, in-person voting, voter identification, and a transparent counting strategy.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

AP Decision Notes: What to expect in the California state and presidential primaries

WASHINGTON (AP) — With Super Tuesday fast approaching, presidential campaigns are eyeing the biggest prize of the day, the California primary.

Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican front-runner Donald Trump both hope that California –- contests in other states – can help them turn the corner toward the nomination and focus on their expected general election rematch in November.

In the Democratic primary, Biden faces challenges from Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and self-help author Marianne Williamson, who reentered the nomination race Wednesday after dropping out three weeks earlier.

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The highest profile state race in California is the one to succeed the late Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The crowded field of candidates includes Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff and Republican Steve Garvey, a former baseball star.

There are two primary elections on the ballot to replace Feinstein: one is to fill the remaining months of her current term and the other is for a full six-year term starting in January 2025.

California has a “top-two” primary system in which all candidates appear on the same ballot regardless of party, and the top two finishers advance to the general election.

In the presidential race, California is home to the largest haul of delegates in both parties. California’s 424 Democratic delegates make up almost one-third of the total at stake on Super Tuesday.

On the Republican side, the state’s 169 delegates amount to about one-fifth of those available that day. The party’s delegate rules, which award all delegates to the candidate who wins a statewide vote majority, greatly favor frontrunning candidates and gives Trump an opportunity to capture every delegate at stake.

Another notable race on the ballot is the primary to replace Porter in the 47th Congressional District, a seat she gave up to run for the Senate.

Vote-counting in California is famously slow. It’s not unusual for only about half of the vote to be counted by the morning after the election.

The Super Tuesday primaries are comprised of California and 15 other states holding presidential nominating contests. American Samoa is also holding Democratic caucuses that day. It is the single largest day of voting in the primary calendar.

A look at what to expect on election night:

ELECTION DAY

The California presidential and state primaries will be held Tuesday. Polls close at 11:00 p.m. EST.

WHAT’S ON THE BALLOT

The Democratic presidential candidates are Biden, Phillips, Williamson and five others. The Republican candidates include Trump, Haley, Florida businessman David Stuckenberg and former candidates Ryan Binkley, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Asa Hutchinson and Vivek Ramaswamy. Other races on the ballot include primaries for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, state Senate and state House.

WHO CAN VOTE

Only registered Republicans may vote in the Republican presidential primary. Registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters may vote in the Democratic presidential primary. All registered voters may vote in the state primaries with a “top-two” ballot format.

DELEGATE ALLOCATION RULES

There are 424 pledged Democratic delegates at stake in California, and they’re awarded according to the national party’s standard rules. Ninety-two at-large delegates are allocated in proportion to the statewide vote, as are 55 PLEO delegates, or “party leaders and elected officials.” The state’s 52 congressional districts have a combined 277 delegates at stake, which are allocated in proportion to the vote results in each district. Candidates must receive at least 15% of the statewide vote to qualify for any statewide delegates, and 15% of the vote in a congressional district to qualify for delegates in that district.

For Republicans, all 169 delegates are awarded to the candidate who wins a majority of the statewide vote. If no candidate reaches a majority, the 169 delegates are allocated proportionally among the candidates.

DECISION NOTES

Trump became the dominant figure in the Republican politics since his election in 2016, and his hold on the party continues eight years later. He remains popular among conservative Republicans, and that has translated into success at the ballot box this year, having won every primary and caucus where his name appeared on the ballot.

In this year’s primaries and caucuses, Haley has done best in heavily Democratic areas, which California has plenty to offer. But Trump has mostly won in Democratic-leaning areas as well as in Republican strongholds, enabling him to win overall by large margins.

Trump won a nonbinding California primary in 2016 with 75% of the vote after he had already clinched the nomination.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

DeMaio likes to attract attention. He has plenty of it from opponents. – Michael Smolens

Police and firefighter unions, Republican elected officials and others wage independent campaigns against radio talk-show host DeMaio in Assembly race

Carl DeMaio has crossed a lot of people in his various political endeavors. He’s being reminded of that daily in his campaign for the state Assembly.

The radio talk-show host is being opposed by a rare coalition that spans the political spectrum: labor unions, police and firefighter associations, Democrats, Republican elected officials, the state and local Republican parties, and even some real estate interests.

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The top financial supporters listed on one mailer attacking DeMaio include the California Professional Firefighters, California Correctional Peace Officers Association and the California Apartment Association.

At least five independent campaign efforts are aligned against him. DeMaio, a prolific fundraiser, has a substantial campaign war chest and is also benefiting from his statewide organization, Reform California.

DeMaio is running in the 75th Assembly District, a sprawling East County conservative district that almost certainly will elect a Republican, likely either DeMaio or Andrew Hayes, an aide to state Sen. Brian Jones, D-Santee, who has been endorsed by the Republican Party.

Incumbent Republican Marie Waldron is termed out this year.

A contested primary in a solid Republican district might not typically attract labor involvement but DeMaio changes that equation. Also contributing to the anti-DeMaio cause is the California Labor Federation, which is led by Lorena Gonzalez, who as a San Diego labor leader has clashed with DeMaio for years.

The Peace Officers Research Association of California is also spending money to defeat DeMaio. PORAC is headed up by Brian Marvel, the former president of the San Diego Police Officers Association who also has clashed with DeMaio.

DeMaio has been virulently anti-union and as a member of the San Diego City Council spearheaded a voter-approved ballot measure that did away with pensions for most municipal workers, except police officers, hired after July 20, 2012. The measure was overturned in court about a decade later and the city is now working to restore pensions to affected workers.

DeMaio envisioned that public employee pension bans would take hold across the state, but that never happened.

He also backed a related five-year pay freeze for city employees and restrictions on other benefits for employees, including police officers, that were not affected by the court rulings.

DeMaio maintained pensions were too generous and were bleeding money from government budgets.

He’s familiar with opposition from labor and said that doesn’t faze him. “I wear that with a badge of honor,” he said in an interview.

As for Hayes, DeMaio said, “This guy is backed by corrupt forces in Sacramento” — both Republican and Democrat.

Jones, who is the Senate Republican leader, is backing independent efforts for Hayes and against DeMaio. So are Waldron, county Supervisor Joel Anderson and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Bonsall. Issa defeated DeMaio in a contentious 2020 race for an East County-centric congressional district.

DeMaio also lost races for mayor in 2012 and for Congress to Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, in 2014 after serving one term on the City Council.

Clearly, DeMaio’s opponents don’t want him in the Legislature or, it seems, any other elected office. But their first order of business appears to be getting the lesser-known Hayes through the primary on March 5.

There are no guarantees in politics, but DeMaio seems poised to advance to November. He is being hit with negative mailers, contending he’s a “Never Trumper” and that he supported “defunding our first responders.”

In turn, DeMaio says he backs former President Donald Trump, and maintains Hayes is being propped up by Democrats and labor unions. Both have claimed they are the strongest on border enforcement and are the more conservative candidate. At times, they’ve mimicked Trump’s penchant for giving opponents derogatory names.

“‘Amnesty Andrew’ Hayes can’t be trusted on illegal immigration,” says one mailer backing DeMaio.

In a campaign release, Hayes accused “Crooked Carl DeMaio” of using donations to his Reform California committee for the Assembly race.

Beyond the attack pieces to dissuade Republican voters from supporting Hayes, DeMaio is making an appeal to Democratic voters, sort of. DeMaio’s campaign has been promoting the Democratic Party-endorsed candidate, Kevin Juza.

It’s an increasingly common campaign tactic to boost a perceived weaker opponent in hopes they will outdistance a stronger one in the primary.

The anti-DeMaio forces have responded in kind, though so far not in a big way. They made a small ad buy on Facebook to promote Democrat Christie Dougherty in an apparent effort to dilute the DeMaio-juiced Juza vote — which, in theory, could help Hayes.

This is becoming quite a tangled web.

Also running are Democrat Joy Frew and Republican Jack Fernandes.

Click here to read the full article in the SD Union Tribune

Why do candidates who campaign on climate flood mailboxes with fliers?

Mailers generate carbon. They also generate money and votes. Experts talk about that balance, plus ways that campaigns can be greener.

Shutterstock

One California voter tweeted: “‘Help me fight climate change’ says the campaign mailer going straight into the recycle bin.”

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Then there’s the Facebook user who called “snail mail” campaign fliers “mostly a nuisance these days,” and said her main response to them is this question: “Don’t these people care even a bit about the environment?”

If you’re a registered voter, and particularly if you live in a district with a competitive primary race, your mailbox has likely been flooded in recent days with political campaign fliers.

Like all mail, each of these fliers leaves a small carbon footprint. Trees are felled to make their paper and gas-powered vehicles spew carbon to deliver them. That’s why climate groups encourage everyone to turn off paper billing, to opt out of junk mail, and to “think before you print.”

But despite the growing role that digital advertising now plays in modern elections, the decades-old tradition of mailing out campaign fliers shows no signs of slowing down.

That’s true even of candidates who use those mailers to tout their passion for fighting climate change.

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“Campaigns are notorious for being slow adapters,” said Dan Schnur, who teaches politics at USC and worked as a strategist on past presidential and gubernatorial campaigns.

“But there still is significant residual value in old fashioned snail mail,” he added. “So a campaign that moves away from it for philosophical or ideological reasons is potentially compromising their effectiveness.”

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

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

‘No Party Preference’ voters decline in California as political polarization increases, data shows

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — With the 2024 presidential election less than a year away, a new report from the California Secretary of State shows the changes happening with the state electorate.

The data shows that for the first time in years, the number of voters registered with “No Party Preference” is shrinking, while the numbers of both registered Republicans and Democrats have both grown since 2019.

“We always have to think about the fact that there are environmental factors like what’s happening in our culture, what’s on the news, what’s on social media. And then there’s mechanical factors,” said Paul Mitchell.

Mitchell is the vice president of Political Data Inc., a bipartisan voter data firm.

Mitchell says one of those mechanical aspects is the fact that California does a better job than most states in getting people registered to vote.

“California definitely, especially in 2018, made it much, much easier to register and much easier to stay registered,” he said.

Beyond that, Michell says increasing polarization in our society as a whole likely also contributes.

He says in recent years both parties have rallied their respective sides around issues like trans rights and abortion to drive voter turnout.

“It wasn’t just a flash in the pan that it happened just in the election immediately after the Dobbs decision, but it has extended to this midterm election and I would hazard a guess it’s going to extend to the 2024 election,” Mitchell said.

California voters aren’t alone either.

Across the country, polls have shown Americans are becoming increasingly partisan.

A trend that Mitchell says likely won’t reverse any time soon.

“Nationally, I think that the culture has gotten more partisan, especially around the presidential races,” Mitchell said.

Click here to read the full article in FoxNews11