Big Bucks for Ballot Measures in 2024 California Election

As California’s 2024 election gets more crowded by the day, some ballot measure campaigns are already building their war chests for the costly fight to come, raising more than $60 million since January.

Last year, nearly $700 million was spent, mostly by companies, to sway voters on seven November measures, the vast majority on two sports gambling measures that both failed

And, like last year, at least two measures next November will be industry-backed referenda to overturn new laws.

Almost immediately after the passage last year of a law to establish a fast food workers council to set wages and workplace standards for restaurants, fast food chains vowed to fight the bill. By January, they gathered enough signatures to get the referendum on the ballot, freezing the law until after the vote.

And last month, the money started flowing into their campaign. On July 5, In-n-Out cut a $10 million check to the ballot measure committee. Over the next two days, McDonalds, Chick-fil-a and Chipotle all donated $10 million as well. So far, the committee has reported raising more than $50 million.

Not as much cash has been raised by the oil industry campaign that spent $20 million to qualify a November 2024 referendum to block a state law banning new wells within 3,200 feet of hospitals and schools

So far, there aren’t any committees officially involved in the measure, but one committee entirely funded this cycle by Chevron, Valero, and Marathon Petroleum has raised $2.1 million. More money may be on the way: Wednesday, a coalition of environmental and public health groups filed a competing initiative to uphold the law. 

Next November, voters will also decide on a measure to remove some limits on cities’ ability to enact local rent control. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is in for $10 million supporting the measure

Though there is no official opposition committee yet, the California Apartment Association reported more than $1.7 million in contributions this year. In 2020, the group spent more than $72 million to defeat Proposition 21, the most recent rent control measure on the statewide ballot.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

These 10 California Elections Might Decide Partisan Control of U.S. House in 2024

Whether Democrats or Republicans control the U.S. House of Representatives in 2025 is a toss-up, election analysts say, with a handful of California incumbents’ seats on the line. The state had some of the closest House races in the nation in 2022, ultimately delivering Republicans a slim majority and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, the speaker’s gavel. The Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Inside Elections and Elections Daily rank districts by partisan advantage. The nonpartisan forecasters rate close elections as “toss-up,” “leaning” or “likely” for a Democrat or Republican. Projections will probably shift as more details about 2024 races emerge. Many contenders have already announced their intent to run, or at least filed the required paperwork. Prospective candidates have until mid-December to file. These are 10 House races to watch in California:

LIKELY REPUBLICAN

3rd Congressional District Most analysts believe freshman Rep. Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin, will keep his seat in 2024, representing a district stretches from the northern Sierra Nevada along the Nevada border into Death Valley. 40th Congressional District Rep. Young Kim, R-La Habra, will win in 2024, forecasters say. The 40th holds parts of Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Two Democrats have announced they will challenge Kim, who has been in Congress since 2021. LEANS REPUBLICAN 41st Congressional District Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, has an advantage, three analysts predict. The Cook Political Report rates the Riverside County district as a toss-up for the Republican, who has served since 1993. Redistricting landed Palm Springs, a liberal and LGBTQ stronghold, in the 41st. Calvert had his closest House race in over a decade in 2022, edging out Democrat Will Rollins by less than 4 percentage points. The Republican’s previous history against LGBTQ rights, coupled with Rollins’ identity and positions, might have contributed to the closeness. Now Rollins, a former federal prosecutor, is in for a 2024 rematch. Two more Democrats have so far announced their candidacies. 45th Congressional District Rep. Michelle Park Steel, R-Seal Beach, will edge out an opponent, all forecasters think. Four Democrats have already entered the race for the 41st, which takes in parts of Orange and Los Angeles counties. Steel was first elected to the House in 2020. TOSS-UP 13th Congressional District Home to the second-closest House race in 2022, the 13th is expected to be hotly contested again. Rep. John Duarte, R-Modesto, edged out former Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, by fewer than 600 votes. Gray hasn’t announced his 2024 candidacy but has filed the paperwork to run. Three other Democrats so far have said they would contest Duarte, a first-time candidate last year. The district, which holds all of Merced County and chunks of Madera, Stanislaus, Fresno and San Joaquin counties, voted for President Joe Biden in 2020 by 11 percentage points. It has more registered Democrats than Republicans. 22nd Congressional District Analysts are split on whether on Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, can keep his seat. Some give him a slight edge over a Democratic challenger. He’ll be in for a rematch with former Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, whom Valadao beat by a 3% margin in 2022. The 22nd, which has more Democrats than Republicans, includes most of Kings County and parts of Tulare and Kern counties. Valadao, who has been in the House for about a decade, survived tough elections before: He lost and regained his House seat on slim margins between 2018 and 2020. 27th Congressional District It looks like a toss-up for Rep. Mike Garcia, R-San Clarita, most experts say. Garcia, who has represented northern Los Angeles County in the House since 2020, will face at least two Democrats in 2024. Garcia became the first California Republican in two decades to flip a district represented by a Democrat; he won a special election in 2020 after former Rep. Katie Hill resigned amid scandal over a relationship with her staffer. LEANS DEMOCRATIC 47th Congressional District Forecasters are divided on whether Democrats have a clear advantage in the district that Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, is vacating to run for Senate. Porter is among a handful of House Democrats competing to succeed retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The 2024 field for the Orange County district has drawn at least 10 candidates. Scott Baugh, an attorney, is running in the district again as a Republican. Among Democrats, State Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine, garnered Porter’s endorsement. He was arrested in May for driving under the influence.

LIKELY DEMOCRATIC

9th Congressional District This Stockton-anchored district held by Rep. Josh Harder, D-Tracy, is likely, rather than safely, Democratic, three analysis organizations think. Harder unseated a four-term Republican to win a seat in 2018. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, campaigned last week for a GOP challenger, Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln. Ripon pastor Brett Dood also said he would run as a Republican.

Click here to read the full article in the Modesto Bee

Kamala… They Are Coming for You

The Cackling Vice President, Kamala Harris, is the domino that will fall first.

Joe Biden is Inspector Jacques Clouseau.

We don’t know whether to laugh (Clouseau) or cry (Biden). In fantasy, Clouseau bumbled his way to success. In reality, Biden is a failure; worse, a danger to himself and to others. He is America’s nightmare, more hazardous to the world than climate change.

The dark comedy of Biden’s mental decay/physical decline is evidenced daily when his caretakers let him out, after dosing his secret, volatile medication. Sleep apnea, previously undisclosed, is the latest alibi for his dysfunction. His medical records are no more transparent than Hunter Biden’s tax returns, and the president’s doctor won’t come clean.

Biden was elected because complicit media enabled his cynical handlers in 2020 to keep him under wraps. But the luster of the perpetual coverup has faded. Just as the media can no longer ignore inflation — because people feel it, the media now highlight Biden’s cognitive debilitation, because it’s in plain view. And two more reasons: (a) the discredited and biased legacy media are desperate for recovering credibility and (b) the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, et al. see Biden as a loser and want him out.

The once servile White House press corps has ramped up the age issue, thus intentionally priming voters to look for Biden’s senior moments. Party bosses talk up Biden, but privately fret about his decay. The recent coverage of the DOJ/FBI/IRS whistleblowers insures a slow water torture, the drip-drip revelations of what the president’s detractors call “the Biden crime family.” (READ MORE: Will the Media Ever Acknowledge the Biden Family Bribery Scandal?)

Not exactly waterboarding, but Joe Biden is in no shape to withstand “water dripping on the forehead for a very long time… the stress to drive its victim insane.” How much can Biden take? Biden — like Putin — already is delusional and confused. While Putin believes he’s CEO not of an emasculated Russia but of the formidable USSR, Biden believes that he is in charge, not his ideologue-puppeteers.

In Biden worship, the media parroted the Democratic party line, just as Pravda in the former Soviet Union spoke for the Communist party. Power brokers in the Democratic Party and dominant media remain synergistic — thus, the “new journalism” is a precursor for where the Democrats go next: inevitably, Joe Biden is on the way out, and how plausible for him to claim health as the reason for not running, but how implausible for Kamala Harris to be president!

The Whistleblowers are karma for Hunter Biden. First, consider his preemptive mea culpa tell-all book, to gain sympathy for the troubled 53-year-old juvenile; that his cocaine addiction explains his crimes. Here we have the proverbial schoolboy who says the dog not only ate his homework, but also his study notes so he could not prepare for the final that he failed. Second, Hunter took full advantage of the DOJ/IRS double standard in federal law enforcement: his case was dragged on so that his felonies would be outside the statute of limitations.

Is Joe Biden in any shape to face all this? The dishonest former intelligence chiefs will not be around this time to falsely claim, without any evidence, that the laptop was not Hunter Biden’s but “Soviet-style Russian disinformation.” Hunter appears the genesis of what happens to Joe and the Democrats, but he may be just collateral damage. The emails, the texts, the DOJ manipulations, making the “Big Guy” (Joe Biden) off limits, burying the serious charges, then letting Hunter off with a plea bargain. Is there a nexus between foreign money to Biden family members and Joe Biden’s government position?

The Republican Party’s disappointing showing in the midterms, especially after raising expectations and then screwing up its messaging — was seen as a vote of confidence in Joe. Thus, Biden announced for reelection — Dems now are a victim of their midterm reprieve.

Biden is not popular and cannot depend on a loyal, gushing voter mass to circle the wagons as his integrity is called into question. He can only hope Republicans don’t let nature take its course and instead stridently make this all partisan. Consider that Republicans have fumbled investigations repeatedly, raising unrealistic expectations with premature disclosures. Also just last week they botched the abrupt, un-choreographed Adam Schiff censure, coming across as Republican payback for Schiff investigating Trump. In fact, the censure was for Schiff’s misusing his intelligence committee chairmanship to falsely claim classified evidence proved Russian collusion with Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Biden’s apologists continue to spin Joe as father-loves-son; notably, Hunter was on display at the recent White House state dinner. This hubris is akin to Gary Hart in 1988 urging the press, which had asked about his reputed womanizing, to “follow me” — and they did, and his campaign collapsed.

Biden is hardly a folk hero above reproach, though he is sentimental, except when he loses his temper, as he does more often. A large percentage in his own party does not want him to run for re-election. Polls show him performing poorly with the national electorate, especially independents, on many key issues — the economy and inflation, border security, law and order, and more.

How can Biden, already at low ebb, withstand downward momentum?

Attorney General Merrick Garland, bitter at Republicans refusing to hold hearings when Obama nominated him (March/2016) to the Supreme Court, remains in retribution mode. Sort of like Chris Christie who Trump selected (Nov/2016) to head his transition, but decided on payback when Trump abruptly changed his mind. Presidents whose integrity is in question often opt for a diversionary, symbolic housecleaning. Once a respected judge who prostitutes himself as Biden’s AG, Garland, himself in disrepute, is expendable.

That takes us back to the man who put him there, Joe Biden. Even if his impeachment is warranted, Republicans fear that conviction would elevate Kamala Harris. A generation ago, Harris accommodated the elevated testosterone levels of the powerful Speaker of the California State Assembly, Willie Brown, who effectively launched her political career with patronage appointments to state commissions (her salary funded by taxpayers). She was fast-tracked (district attorney, attorney general, eventually U.S. Senator). Harris was the first to drop out of the Democratic primary in 2020, yet Biden nonetheless selected her as his running mate, indicating she was selected for her gender and race. Her performance as VP puts to rest that merit played any role.

Democratic strategists realize that her ignorance on issues and her clown-like behavior, her nervous giggles when she can’t answer a question, or when she can (she’s just a giggler) are less an issue than her failure to grow in the job; she actually gets worse over time. Yet, she performs a function as an insurance policy against impeaching Biden. Remarkably, she is even more leftist and incompetent than Biden.

Some alleged Biden crimes predate the presidency. It’s unclear whether impeachment is appropriate. Also, if he resigned as an informal or legal plea-bargain for “what’s best for America” — it’s Kamala. Sure, she has been typical VP attack dog — in relentless prosecutorial mode — quarterback to Joe’s straw man arguments — the evil “MAGA Republicans,” the supposed attack on democracy, the white racists, the rogue Supreme Court (odd since the conservative justices have issued mixed, hardly predictable rulings), the war against women and gays, and all the other garbage. Note that White House insiders put Kamala in charge of the border, and gave her hopeless assignments created to sabotage her. Jill Biden had opposed Joe selecting her as his running mate; Biden deferred to his caretakers.

If Biden is set to go, Kamala Harris must go first. A half century ago, when the Republican Establishment thought Nixon’s days as president were numbered, they decided they didn’t want VP Spiro Agnew around. So Agnew pled no contest to a felony charge of tax invasion. Gerald Ford became vice president, Nixon resigned, Ford became president, then in 1976 lost to Jimmy Carter. Watergate played a role. Can Biden scandals do it this time?

If they can’t find anything compromising in the past of Kamala Harris, Gov. Gavin Newsom could fulfill his pledge to appoint a black woman to Dianne Feinstein’s Senate by convincing Feinstein to resign, then appointing Harris to her seat. Better yet, Harris then could displace Chuck Schumer and become the “first woman” and “first black woman” to be Senate majority leader. (She’s relatively young; if she transitions, Democrats might back her for president in the future.)

Newsom would do his part, especially if he could become vice president, and thus the heir apparent. Newsom is partisan, yet effective on the stump. Newsom has that lean and hungry look. He has been hoping that Joe Biden gets pneumonia or falls one too many times. He overwhelms Biden with faint praise. Like many other Democrats who praise Biden but covet the presidency, Newsom is hyper.

Some will propose Elder Statesman-woman Hillary, others will say why just a woman, when there is a black woman — Michelle Obama. But as long as Harris remains as vice president, everything is on hold.

Harris is her party’s worst nightmare. Remember, a Republican theme is that a vote for the aging Joe Biden is in fact a vote for President Kamala Harris. But if President Biden does not run, then as vice president she is presumed heir apparent. More importantly, suppose Biden is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office.” Harris would replace him and get a head start.

Click here to read the full article in the Spectator

Orange County GOP Identified Former Republican Voters — And Now It Wants to Woo Them Back

More than 27,000 Republican voters in Orange County have switched to no party preference in the past six years.

That’s according to Orange County Registrar of Voters data obtained by the county GOP, said its executive director, Randall Avila. And in an effort to “bring these Republicans home,” Avila said, Orange Country Republicans will host a series of re-registration trainings for volunteers ahead of the 2024 elections.

The idea, he said, is to train volunteers who can find and meet with “these no party preference, formerly Republican, voters.” Volunteers will be given a rundown of the data, who the voters are and how to “re-register” them as Republican voters — both on paper and online.

“It’s not terribly difficult or complex; it’s more of just talking to your neighbors because we’ll assign most of the volunteers to their own neighborhoods,” Avila said. “Maybe they know the Joneses down the street, maybe they talk politics, maybe they walk their dogs together or see them at the park. Maybe they’re on the Little League team together. And maybe they didn’t even know that their friend was no longer Republican, but they know that they share conservative values.”

In Orange County, the largest withdrawal of Republicans from the party came in 2019, the year the voter registration advantage switched from a Republican to a Democratic plurality, Avila said.

Democrats have since widened the gap, accounting for 37.6% of the county’s registered voters, Republicans for 33.1% and no party preference for 23.5%, according to the Registrar of Voters.

Despite Democrats’ advantage, Republican candidates at the state and local level had a strong showing last year: Orange County voters chose Republican challenger Brian Dahle over incumbent Gov. Gavin Newsom as well as Republican candidates for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, controller, treasurer, attorney general and insurance commissioner.

“I think we have a strong advantage on no party preference voters and independents,” Avila said. “And especially in a presidential year, that’s going to depend on who our nominee is.”

The county Republican Party has already sent volunteers to canvass some of these former Republicans, “not for the point of registration but more of a fact-finding mission,” Avila said.

“When we talked to these voters at their doors, we asked them if they were willing to share with us the reason for their party change,” Avila said. “And we found basically an even split in three ways.”

The first group, he said, are individuals who weren’t aware they were registered as no party preference.

In the rollout of California’s “Motor Voter” program, which automatically registers eligible Californians completing a driver’s license, state identification or change of address transaction through the DMV to vote, the DMV made processing mistakes with 23,000 Californians, including assigning some to political parties they didn’t choose.

The Orange County Republicans’ data showed that some 13,000 Orange County Republican voters switched to no party preference through the DMV. Some have told OC GOP volunteers, Avila said, that their party preference was incorrectly changed at the DMV.

The remaining two groups, Avila said, are voters who feel the Republican Party is “changing in the wrong direction.” While one group believes the GOP “isn’t supporting Donald Trump enough,” there is another that felt the party is headed “too far toward” the former president, said Avila.

Part of the latter group is former Westminster councilmember and one-term state Rep. Tyler Diep, a former Republican who re-registered as no party preference in 2021, shortly after the Jan. 6 insurrection and attack on the Capitol.

“I was pretty appalled by what happened on Jan. 6 and then afterward when many of the leaders within the Republican Party downplayed the severity of that event,” Diep said. “It was the final straw for me as far as whether I belong in such a party anymore.”

Diep, who voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, said he isn’t sure who he’ll back this year — but it definitely won’t be Trump, he said. For now, he hopes Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, does well in the early-voting states.

“We’ll wait and see if anyone can overcome Donald Trump’s personality within the Republican Party,” Diep said.

If a candidate other than Trump seems to have a good chance, Diep said he won’t rule out the option of re-registering as a Republican to support that person.

“Like many other independents, we have to sit back and say, ‘What are our choices, and what other factors can influence our decision?’ I’m going to look at how President Biden handled the economy, inflation, the war in Ukraine,” said Diep. “Based on all of that, I’ll make my final decision sometime in October of next year.”

Despite the clear distinction between the two groups, Avila said, the county party isn’t planning on sending out differing messages to win voters back.

“We’re not going to go to folks who are highly supportive of President Trump, and tell them we’re pro-Trump, and then walk to their neighbor who’s anti-Trump and say something else,” said Avila. “Our singular message is you get to decide the direction of the party, and to do that, you have to participate to decide who’s going to be that standard bearer, who’s going to be our nominee going forward.”

Ada Briceño, chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County, said her party does voter registration year-round — whether that’s registering someone in a household who has not yet voted or ensuring an individual’s voter registration is as it was intended.

The Orange County Republican Party will kick off the first session of the training on Saturday, June 24, and continue on until next year’s March primary, Avila said. It will be a continuous effort, he said.

“Twenty-seven thousand is a big number,” Avila said. “It may not be that first knock on the door. It may be a phone call after building the relationship and the trust of that person to get them to change registration.”

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Potential 2024 Presidential Hopeful Implores GOP Not to Overlook California

With the 2024 presidential election on the horizon, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is contemplating a run for the White House, has a message for Republicans in Orange County: “Californians will have a voice.”

Hutchinson, 72, is swinging through Orange County this week as he develops his message about the country’s future and mulls a presidential bid. A decision on that, he said in an interview Tuesday, March 21, will come in April.

But in the meantime, Hutchinson is visiting a blue California, speaking to a Republican Party of Orange County gathering and a Laguna Niguel Republican Women group this week before he headlines an event at the Nixon Library on Wednesday. And while here, he is imploring the national Republican Party to pay attention to California ahead of 2024.

“California is important. We can’t simply be a party that appeals to middle America,” Hutchinson said, referring to what is typically seen as more conservative-leaning states not on either coast. “We have to be a party that can win on the West Coast.”

While he’s optimistic about the future of the Republican Party, Hutchinson said a winning formula for the GOP is having a “consistent conservative nominee” who can attract suburban and independent voters. The party shouldn’t be hinged, he said, on a candidate who is “always looking in the rearview mirror.” While not a specific reference to former President Donald Trump, who is in the midst of his third bid for the White House, Hutchinson has said the Jan. 6 insurrection “disqualifies” Trump from being at the top of the ticket again.

An attorney with a long political history in Arkansas, Hutchinson defined conservativism as “believing in a limited role of government, individual responsibility, valuing life and the life of the unborn and a strong America that can lead in terms of freedom.”

His priorities range from reining in federal spending to increasing border security to implementing a “more consistent and fulsome energy policy.”

On that latter note, Hutchinson believes there is a balance to be had between producing energy — more of which he says should be happening in the U.S. — and being good stewards of the environment.

“You’ve got to see fossil fuel energy sources as part of the mix, but let’s use technology to make it more friendly to the environment,” he said. “I think you can use sound practices to continue to produce, but in a way that recognizes the importance of the environment and protecting it.”

On border issues, too, Hutchinson, a former Drug Enforcement Administration chief, is hopeful. His solution? Speed up decisions on asylum cases, utilize technology for border patrol and designate cartels as a “foreign terrorist organization” to free up additional resources to combat the influx of fentanyl into the country.

Hutchinson, a former congressman and Department of Homeland Security undersecretary during the George W. Bush administration, has made recent trips to Iowa and South Carolina.

His visit to Southern California comes about two weeks after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a potential 2024 contender, made appearances at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley and at a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Orange County.

DeSantis’ popularity among registered California Republican voters appears to be growing: A recent Berkeley IGS survey found the former congressman, 44, leading a field of potential GOP candidates with Trump in second place. (Hutchinson was not included in the list.)

But while DeSantis castigated California policies on his visit, from education to COVID-19 to public safety, Hutchinson said he wants to take a different approach to his potential rival — one that is more about comparing and contrasting rather than critiquing the state.

“I’m telling people what I’ve done and how I’ve led in Arkansas and my vision for the country,” Hutchinson said. “And my vision for the country, as I’ve articulated, I think makes sense in California, too.”

Despite the deep blue political makeup of California, Southern California is still seen as an asset for Republican candidates — because of its cash and the timing of the March 5 presidential primary, an opportunity for a competitor to nab an extraordinary amount of delegates for the nominating process.

Republicans in Orange County, Hutchinson said, seem to have “a strong sense of optimism for the future,” and he sees the GOP base in the Golden State as critical to the party’s overall success.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

California 2024 US Senate Contest Kicks Off at Furious Pace

California’s U.S. Senate race is unfolding at a furious pace, with candidates reporting seven-figure fundraising and holding competing rallies and campaign events more than a year before the 2024 primary election.

The fight for the safely Democratic seat held by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who at 89 is the oldest member of Congress, is shaping up as a marquee match-up between nationally known rivals and is likely to become one of the most expensive Senate races in the country next year.

On Saturday, Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, who rose to prominence as the lead prosecutor in former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, gathered hundreds of supporters in a union hall parking lot for a rally in his hometown of Burbank, California, where he implored the cheering crowd, “Let’s go win this thing.”

Schiff, who announced his candidacy last month, said he was running for Senate after two decades in Congress “to build an economy that works for everyone, a democracy that will last for all time and a planet that doesn’t melt beneath our feet.”

A day earlier, Democratic U.S. Rep. Katie Porter brought her Senate campaign to Los Angeles, where she met with local leaders to discuss pollution in lower-income neighborhoods. She said such areas are often overlooked in Washington and Sacramento, where residents’ complaints about unhealthy conditions go unheard.

Porter, a leader in Congress’ progressive wing, built a reputation for her tough questioning of CEOs and other witnesses at congressional hearings — often using a whiteboard to break down information.

Other potential contenders for the seat include Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. If she runs and is elected, Lee would be the only Black woman in the Senate.

Feinstein has yet to say if she will seek a seventh term. In recent years, questions have arisen about her cognitive health and memory, though she has defended her effectiveness. However, her reticence about her future has created a publicly awkward dynamic — the race to replace her is rapidly taking shape, even as the senator remains unclear about her intentions.

Schiff’s rally, held on a nippy, mostly overcast morning, marked the start of a two-week statewide tour, with stops to include San Diego, Sacramento, Fresno and San Francisco.

He was joined by his wife Eve, one of his two children, Alexa, and David McMillan, whom the congressman mentored as a youth and considers part of his family.

After recounting his career as a federal prosecutor, state legislator and member of Congress, Schiff made clear he would anchor his campaign to his role as impeachment manager and Trump’s chief antagonist in Congress. He has been a frequent target of conservatives — Trump in particular — since the then-GOP-led House Intelligence Committee he served on started investigating Trump’s ties to Russia in the 2016 election.

He mentioned “democracy” more than a half-dozen times in the speech. He’s selling T-shirts and coffee mugs on his campaign website, with the slogan “Democracy Matters.” He called Trump, who has announced his 2024 campaign for the presidency, “a demagogue bent on destroying our democracy.”

“We investigated Trump. We impeached him. We held him accountable and then we defeated him at the ballot box,” Schiff said to cheers. “And we will defeat him again, if the GOP is foolish enough to nominate him. He will never see the inside of the Oval Office, never again.”

Trump was impeached in December 2019 on charges he abused the power of the presidency to investigate rival Joe Biden and obstructed Congress’ investigation. The Republican-led Senate acquitted Trump of both charges. In 2021, he became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, this time for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol after he lost the 2020 election. He was again acquitted by the Senate.

Schiff’s other foundational issues include fighting climate change and improving the economy.

“Too many people are working multiple jobs but cannot pay the rent, afford groceries or pay for lifesaving medication,” he said. “Too many children are growing up in poverty and hungry.”

Schiff and Porter, both prolific small-dollar fundraisers, already are dueling over campaign dollars and endorsements. Former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco is backing Schiff, providing Feinstein retires, and Porter is supported by Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Family Business: Meet the Legacy Caucus in the California Legislature

Assemblymember Megan Dahle ran to take her husband Brian’s vacated seat in 2020 and just last week announced that in 2024 she’ll be running again to take his place once he leaves the state Senate. 

But she said it wasn’t her political significant other who gave her the initial motivation to pursue a political career.

It was a cinnamon roll: Her eldest son came home after school one day bragging that the cafeteria had given him a sugary pastry “the size of my head” that morning.

“That’s kind of how it started for me,” the Redding Republican said, referring to her 12 years so far in elected office. “I started going to the board meetings and listening and going, ‘Oh, I really should know more about this.’”

Those meetings convinced her to run for the Big Valley Joint Unified school board, where she eventually served as president. From there, she decided to run for state Assembly — reluctantly, she insists, because “she knew enough about” the Legislature via her husband to know what a slog it is as a Republican. Ultimately, she decided it was a good way to keep plugging away at education policy and other issues she cares about. And now she’s running for Senate.

She tells this story as a way to explain that nothing about her path in politics was the predictable result of her relationship to the man who ran for governor last year and was trounced by Gov. Gavin Newsom. When she met Brian Dahle while he was campaigning for the county board of supervisors, she said she didn’t even know what that position was. She did not dream of becoming a politician as a kid. Nor did she come from a political family.

But she’s part of one now. And in the California Legislature, the Dahle clan is not alone.

Of the 120 legislators, a dozen have current or former members in their immediate family. And the size of the Legacy Caucus may increase after the next election. 

Assemblymember Dahle isn’t even the first family-connected candidate to launch a 2024 campaign. 

Edith Villapudua, whose husband Carlos is a Stockton Democratic Assemblymember, is running for the state Senate. In late December, a day after Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes, a Democrat from Corona, announced for state Senate, her sister Clarissa Cervantes, a Riverside city council member, announced that she’s running to take her place. And on Monday, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher launched his state Senate campaign. He’s a former Assemblymember, but he’s also married to Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, who served in the Assembly from 2013 until last year, when she left to run the California Labor Federation.

The fact that so many state lawmakers have fellow California pols in their family tree is no one-off. At least 10% of the Legislature has been related to at least one current or former state lawmaker since 2001, according to data compiled by Alex Vassar, a spokesperson for the California State Library and the unofficial keeper of legislative lore and trivia. His tally includes direct family ties, but also more distant kin, such as in-laws, nephews and great-grandchildren. 

The last time the Legislature lacked a single family-tied member was 1910, according to Vassar.   

What’s true of the Legislature may simply be true of politics in general. Adams, Bush, Clinton, Kennedy and Roosevelt are just a few of the most notable last names in American political history. An analysis of congressional family ties found that serving in the House of Representatives for more than one term increased the likelihood that an incumbent “will have a relative entering Congress in the future by about 70%.” 

And in California, a Brown — be it, Jerry, his sister Kathleen or his father Pat — was on 15 of the state’s 18 statewide midterm ballots between 1946 and 2014, notes Claremont McKenna College politics professor Jack Pitney.

In the state Capitol, the omnipresence of political families can shape the culture — and, in the cases of relatives serving at the same time, the way that lawmaking is done. At best, it provides a way for institutional knowledge to pass from one generation to the next despite term limits. At worst, it can provide fodder for cynics who believe that political power is only available to those who know the right people.

“The Nepo phenomenon is not confined to Hollywood,” said Pitney. “In any field of work, but especially politics, it helps to have family on the inside.”

What’s in a name?

There are a number of reasons why winning elections might run in the family. Exposure to the world of politics might inspire someone to follow in the footsteps of a sibling, spouse or parent. Connections and know-how could be bequeathed. If there’s such a thing as raw political talent, maybe it’s genetic.

State Sen. Dave Cortese, a Campbell Democrat, is quick to concede another reason: Name identification. His father, Dominic, served on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors before nabbing a seat in the Assembly and, in the pre-term limit era, holding it for 16 years. That was a lot of time spent reminding voters of the “Cortese” name.

That came in handy when the younger Cortese launched his first campaign, for a seat on the East San Jose school board in 1992: “It’s me and a couple other people running, and I’ve got a name at that point that’s got 12 years of Board of Supervisors and another 12 years of state Assembly recognition in the area, right? I mean, that’s name ID that goes from ’68 to ’92.”

In another study of congressional elections, University of Pennsylvania professor Brian Feinstein estimated that “dynastic politicians” get a 4-percentage-point electoral boost on average, thanks solely to their connection to a previously elected family member. Feinstein called this effect the “brand name advantage” to distinguish it from “capital advantages” that might come with being related to a politician — a working understanding of how to put together a campaign, seek endorsements or raise money.

Cortese said he got a bit of that from his dad, too. As an 11-year-old helping out on his dad’s first supervisorial campaign, he said he fell in love with precinct walking and canvassing at the county fairgrounds. Twenty four years later, he said he “tried to sort of mimic that process.” 

And though he said his father did nothing to either persuade or dissuade him from getting into politics, Cortese recalled that he did give him one valuable piece of advice: “Just make sure that you’re reaching out to the right people.”

‘Good training’

Diane Papan, a San Mateo Democrat elected to the Assembly last November, remembers getting a similar early education in retail politics from her dad, the pugnacious Lou Papan, a former Assemblymember who served as an “enforcer” for Willie Brown during his reign as Assembly speaker.

She recalls stuffing envelopes and knocking on doors, watching her father joke and glad-hand his way into the good graces of constituents and fellow lawmakers, getting a better-than-average fifth-grader’s schooling on how a bill becomes law and lobbying her father at the kitchen table to vote her way on certain legislation. 

“Good training,” she said.

For many years of her childhood, Papan said that working on her dad’s campaigns was also one of the surest ways to spend quality time with him. And after a decade hiatus, when her dad ran for office again, she and her future husband were called to go knock on doors again. 

“Running for office is a family affair,” she said. “It really does take the family buy-in.”

While Papan said her father instilled in her an early love of politics and policy making, she rejects the idea that it put her in the Legislature. California’s current crop of lawmakers is full of former staffers and the trusted friends of former lawmakers. A family tie is just one other kind of connection, she said. 

Plus, Papan said she faced her own hurdles, as a female candidate. “Here’s where I get on my soapbox a little: It’s a lot easier for a man to be a chip off the old block,” she said.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

How One Candidate Beat the Odds in the One Party State of California

‘We invested in talking to voters directly, and made sure we had a message that speaks to voters’

Anyone who thinks it is impossible for Republicans in California to regain relevance has not studied the campaign, and improbable victory, of Josh Hoover. The odds were against Hoover, who ran against a seasoned incumbent Democrat, five term Assemblyman Ken Cooley. The redrawn 7th District, with 38 percent registered Democrats versus 32 percent Republicans, favored Cooley. To make matters much more challenging, Cooley’s campaign spent $4.8 million compared to Hoover’s $1.7 million.

Hoover won by 1,383 votes, less than one percent, and how he did it is a case study in how California’s Republican candidates can win despite having far less money and a registration disadvantage. Reached by phone earlier this week, Hoover said that while there were a lot of factors in the race that came into play, the most obvious explanation for his victory was that he simply outworked his opponent in making direct contact with individual voters. The Hoover campaign mustered far more people to send texts, make phone calls, and walk door to door.

Cooley, by contrast, during the final month was spending over $250,000 per week on television and radio ads. Throughout the campaign Cooley was mass mailing expensive campaign flyers. Cooley’s campaign relied on mudslinging, like so many do, but it may have backfired on him. When a household has received over dozen flyers attacking Josh Hoover as a Trumpian misogynistic book burning extremist, they’re taken aback when they meet the candidate and realize he’s not a monster at all, but a genuine, humble, reasonable, thoughtful person who cares about the people living in his district.

As Hoover put it, “Cooley never attacked me on anything I ever did, he created generic talking points on why Republicans are bad and tried to paint them over who I am. It didn’t resonate because it wasn’t believable.” No. It wasn’t. Not when the target of the unfounded attacks has walked precincts, knocked on thousands of doors, and met voters face to face.

Hoover, who along with hundreds of volunteers, knocked on over 40,000 doors during his campaign, didn’t have the funds to match Cooley punch for punch on the air. Instead he put campaign resources into calling every grassroots activist organization in the region that would support him, and recruited volunteers. His campaign staffers called every potential source of volunteers not once, but every week throughout the summer and fall. If any organizations, such as the county GOP, provided Hoover their volunteer list, then every person on that list was called regularly. It worked. During the final weekends of the campaign, Cooley had at most 50 people in the field. By contrast, throughout the late summer and through the first weekend in November, Hoover was consistently sending over 100 people out to walk precincts.

Not only did Hoover’s team recruit volunteers from the county GOP office, from GOP legislative staffers, from local tax fighting groups, and other activist groups, but he also set up internship programs at the local colleges and high schools, where scores of additional teenagers and young adults were recruited to engage in direct voter contact.

Along with prioritizing putting limited resources into building up a bigger ground game than his opponent, Hoover focused on a positive message. When forced to respond to negative ads that were attacking him as a bad person, Hoover’s flyers instead attacked Cooley on his record and his actions. But Hoover’s primary message, consistently expressed in direct voter contacts, was that he cared about the same issues as his voters – quality education, public safety, homelessness, the cost of living.

When Cooley made a late pivot to claim he would clean up the homeless encampments along the American River, it was easy for Hoover to respond. After all, Cooley has been in the state legislature for ten years, and the situation has not improved.

There were some factors helping Hoover that may or may not be replicable in other districts. The new 7th district incorporates a lot of walkable suburbs, making it easier for a volunteer to knock on hundreds of doors in a single day. The redistricting cut away some of Cooley’s reliable blue communities and replaced them with Fair Oaks (purple), and Orangevale (red). Even in Folsom, also added to the 7th District and mostly blue, Cooley was starting from scratch and had no advantages of incumbency.

There may have been complacency in Cooley’s campaign, but until Republicans start winning more races, Democratic complacency may benefit any Republican trying to beat the odds. When asked repeatedly how he won, Hoover was consistent, “we knew from the beginning we would not leave anything on the field,” he said, “no stone unturned in regards to volunteer effort and ground game. We invested in talking to voters directly, and made sure we had a message that speaks to voters with kitchen table issues rather than a partisan message. Our message was that we care about the people in our community and we want to put forward solutions.”

In California, Every Voter is Fair Game

Another key strategy Hoover adopted from the start was to consider every voter fair game. In a strategy that informed both their message and how they prioritized which households and neighborhoods to send door knockers, they set a goal to attract 10 percent of registered Democrats, plus all no-party-preference voters.

There is a subtle but important difference between the registration landscape based on which party has more registered voters, versus one based on how many voters are not in the opposition party. This comparison is useful in California since registered Democrats greatly outnumber registered Republicans. The first chart, below, is sorted from registration data on all 80 Assembly Districts. It shows the twenty districts in the California Assembly that have the highest values when subtracting the percent Democrat registration from the percent Republican registration. The percentage difference shows in column one (RvD gap). This is a traditional way of evaluating a candidate’s chances.

As can be seen on the above chart, the 18 Republicans that won this November all did so in the districts where Republicans have the strongest registration. That would include, however, six victorious Republicans (names italicized) that won in districts where there were more registered Democrats than Republicans. Juan Alanis, in the 22nd District, was able to prevail despite a 7.72 percent registration disadvantage. But maybe, in this era of widespread and growing bipartisan dissatisfaction with failing Democratic policies, the registration advantage or deficit isn’t the only way to view a Republican candidate’s prospects.

The next chart, below, presents the same data, but this time sorted by column two, which calculates the percentage of registrants in each district that are not registered as either Democrats, Greens, or the Peace and Freedom parties (“Non DGP”). Sorted this way, the roster doesn’t shake out much differently, but the approach this represents is the future. Every voter is in play, and for targeting and messaging, the prevailing question is how many voters have proclaimed themselves to be either liberal or progressive, and how many have not.

This second chart reflects Joshua’s strategy. The results are interesting on both charts. They show that in all 12 districts where there was a GOP advantage, the GOP candidate won, and that in six cases, Republican candidates won in districts where there was a Democrat advantage. Republicans should study the tactics of all six candidates who beat the metrics, i.e., had negative GOP percentages and high absolute numbers of Democrat voters – they are Devon Mathis (33), Laurie Davies (74), Tri Ta (70), Josh Hoover (7), Greg Wallis (47) and Juan Alanis (22).publican

If six Republican Assembly candidates could beat the odds this time, what if next time every Republican Assembly candidate emulated Hoover’s strategy, aspiring to attract every independent or Republican voter, along with 10 percent of the Democratic (or Green or P&F) voters? Were all of them to fully succeed in this objective, then two years from now, Republicans would control 71 seats in the Assembly. Strategists may pick their number, and ratchet that goal down to whatever reality they’re comfortable with. But this is not fantasy.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

GOP Support for Trump Fades, Polls Show

Following a month of negative publicity, nonpartisan and partisan surveys signal a fall from grace.

 It’s been a rough month for former President Trump.

Since his Nov. 15 announcement that he plans to make a third run for the presidency, his legal problems have increased; his handpicked candidate, Herschel Walker, lost the Senate runoff in Georgia; he has endured widespread criticism over his public association with racists and antisemites; and a growing number of Republican figures have started to say publicly what they used to whisper in private: Trump is a liability for their party.

Just after the midterms, it appeared that the results would undermine the former president within the GOP. A raft of new polls show that this has occurred: Trump’s once-solid support among Republicans has cracked, and his approval within his adopted party has fallen to levels not seen since he won its nomination in 2016.

No one should count the former president out. If we’ve learned anything in the more than seven years that he’s dominated public attention, it’s that Trump has formidable survival skills and that Republican elected officials have little stomach for battling him. But for now, and perhaps for longer, the midterm results have shaken his hold on the party in a way that previous events — even the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol — failed to do.

The evidence of a Trump fade could be almost as unwelcome at the White House as it is at Mar-a-Lago: President Biden and his aides have been planning a reelection campaign in large part around the argument that Trump poses a singular threat to American democracy. The former president’s recent social media post in which he called for the “termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution” in order to place him back in office could serve as Exhibit A.

If Republicans nominate someone else, Democrats will argue that the candidate poses the same threat. But that’s a more difficult case to make to voters, especially if whoever emerges as the GOP nominee keeps a distance from Trump.

In this year’s midterm elections, candidates who closely tied themselves to Trump and his lies about the 2020 election — such as gubernatorial hopefuls Kari Lake in Arizona, Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Tudor Dixon in Michigan — all lost. But voters seemed perfectly willing to cast ballots for other Republicans, such as Govs. Brian Kemp in Georgia and Mike DeWine in Ohio.

The evidence for a Trump fade comes from surveys by both partisan and nonpartisan pollsters.

The most recent Wall Street Journal poll found Trump trailing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis 52%-38% in a hypothetical primary matchup. Perhaps worse for Trump, only 71% of Republicans had a favorable view of him. That’s down from 85% in March and the 90% or higher that polls typically found through most of his presidency.

At the same time, the share of Republicans who see Trump negatively has increased. The Economist/YouGov poll reported last week that 28% of Republicans had an unfavorable view of Trump — the worst rating since YouGov began tracking his image at the start of his presidency. Most of the change had taken place since August, the polling found.

Suffolk University poll conducted for USA Today found that just 47% of Republicans want Trump to run again, compared with 45% who do not. The share that wants him to run dropped from 56% in October and 60% in July.

It’s possible that these polls have caught Trump at a temporary low from which he’ll rebound. He has been through a month of steady negative publicity and has a rival, DeSantis, who benefits from not having been tested in a national campaign.

But those negative headlines aren’t likely to go away any time soon.

Some of the most damaging stories for Trump have resulted from his own actions, including his decision last month to have dinner with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, two of the country’s best-known antisemites. Some Trump supporters blamed the dinner on the former president’s staff and said that in the future, aides would more diligently screen his visitors, but Trump has never taken well to efforts to control him.

On Wednesday, Trump posted on social media that he had a “major announcement” scheduled for Thursday. It turned out to be the launch of a line of digital playing cards featuring cartoon versions of his image. That’s hardly as damaging as dinner with racists, but it’s not the sort of action likely to calm Republicans who worry that their former standard-bearer isn’t focused on the task ahead.

Then there are the legal problems.

Between now and the first primaries of 2024, Trump could face trials in three civil cases: New York state Atty. Gen. Letitia James has accused him and his company of financial fraud involving inflated claims about the value of his assets; the writer E. Jean Carroll has accused him of raping her in the 1990s, then defaming her after she made her allegations public; and investors who lost money in what they allege was a pyramid scheme by a company called American Communications Network have sued him and his adult children for promoting the plan in television ads and public appearances.

Trump has survived many lawsuits over the decades, but now he also has exposure in at least three criminal investigations.

The district attorney in Atlanta is investigating whether he violated Georgia laws with his telephone call on Jan. 2, 2021, pressuring Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” — the number he would have needed to overturn Biden’s victory in the state. And Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith is overseeing two federal investigations, one into the Jan. 6 attack and the other into the mishandling of classified documents and other records that Trump hid at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate.

Some Trump backers have suggested that if he were indicted in one or more of those cases, he could use the charges to rally Republican voters to his side. Perhaps. What the current polling suggests, however, is that bad news has encouraged many Republicans, including some inclined to sympathize with Trump, to look for an alternative candidate.

Right now, that’s DeSantis. Whether the Florida governor can maintain his high standing remains unknown — lots of candidates look great until the campaign begins. For now, however, he fulfills the need that many Republicans feel for a candidate who espouses Trump’s policies without his erratic personal behavior.

The Suffolk University poll found that 65% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said they want “Republicans to continue the policies Trump pursued in office, but with a different Republican nominee for president,” compared with 31% who want Trump to run again.

“Republicans and conservative independents increasingly want Trumpism without Trump,” said the poll’s director, David Paleologos.

But, as Paleologos noted, the 31% who still back Trump could be enough to win Republican primaries in a multicandidate field, which is how Trump won in 2016.

And it’s possible that many of those who have stuck with Trump this far will remain with him. His remaining backers are disproportionately rural and white voters who did not go to college — groups that have been among his staunchest supporters since the 2016 campaign. DeSantis does better among groups of Republicans who were more skeptical of Trump to begin with, such as college-educated white voters.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

GOP’s Duarte Takes California Central Valley US House seat

Republican John Duarte defeated Democrat Adam Gray on Friday in a new California U.S. House district in the Central Valley farm belt that produced the closest congressional contest in the state this year.

With virtually all of the ballots counted, Duarte has just over 50% of the vote. Gray conceded in a statement, saying, “I accept the results and have called to congratulate my opponent.”

“This was one of the closest races in the country. More than 130,000 ballots were cast, and the outcome will be decided by just a few hundred votes,” Gray said.

Duarte said in a statement, ”“I promised our Valley families that I would be their bipartisan champion in Washington, D.C. by fighting for food on our tables, gas in our tanks, and water on our farms. That is exactly what I am going to go there to do.”

Earlier, Republicans regained control of the House. With Duarte’s victory, Republicans will hold 221 seats next year, Democrats 213, with one Colorado race undecided and going to a recount.

The 13th District has a prominent Democratic tilt and a large Latino population, similar to other districts in the sprawling farm belt region. But the most likely voters tend to be white, older, more affluent homeowners, while working-class voters, including many Latinos, are less consistent in getting to the polls.

That provided an opening for the GOP, despite the 14-point Democratic registration advantage.

Duarte, a businessman and major grape and almond farmer, was the top finisher in the June primary. His priorities included obtaining adequate water supplies for farmers in the drought-wracked state — a perennial issue in the Central Valley — along with addressing inflation and crime.

Click here to read the full article in AP News