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.

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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

10 California congressional races could tip the 2024 balance

Yes, the headline race in California’s 2024 election is the first open U.S. Senate seat in 30 years. 

But voters should also pay attention to the U.S. House: California helped flip control to Republicans in 2022 (and the speakership went from Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco to Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, until he was deposed last month).

And California is shaping up as a key battleground again next year. Both parties are spending money and resources in the state. Now, California’s delegation includes 40 Democrats and 12 Republicans, who hold an overall majority of a mere nine seats in the House.

Wednesday, the well-regarded Cook Political Report put out its latest scorecard and 10 of the state’s 52 congressional seats are in play. It says a year out from the general election, it’s more likely that Democrats will retake the House than keep control of the U.S. Senate.

One of the key races is the 47th District in Orange County, an open seat because Rep. Katie Porter is running for Senate. It’s a “lean Democratic” in Cook’s ratings, and it was a CalMatters “hot race” in 2022.

Other Democratic-held seats on Cook’s list are the 9th District represented by Josh Harder and the 49th District by Mike Levin, both rated as likely Democratic.

Seven Republican-held seats are on the scorecard, including four rated as toss-ups: the 13th represented by John Duarte, the 22nd by David Valadao, the 27th by Mike Garcia and the 41st by Ken Calvert

Also, the 45th District represented by Michelle Steel is a “lean Republican” and the 3rd held by Kevin Kiley and the 40th by Young Kim are likely Republican.

All but one of these districts were also CalMatters hot races in 2022.

But while it’s a Democrat vs. Republican battle again for Congress, a new poll suggests there might be an opening for a third party in California — if there were ever enough money and the right leaders, that is.  

Half of California voters have a negative opinion of the Democratic Party, two-thirds have a dim view of the Republican Party and one third don’t like both parties, according to a recent Public Policy Institute of California survey.   

That pox-on-both-parties sentiment is up from 20% in October 2020 and has risen steadily since. So has the proportion of voters who say a third major party is needed — 71%, up from 54% in 2019.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

California Republicans buy into ‘ballot harvesting’

For years, Republicans have railed against “ballot harvesting” as an underhanded tactic by Democrats to win elections.  

But for the 2024 election, the California GOP is going big on collecting ballots from voters and dropping them off at election offices or polling places, which is legal in California, with some conditions.  

In part, it’s a reflection of political reality: With a few exceptions, the Republican Party has been struggling. On top of Democratic majorities in the Legislature since 1996, no Republican has been elected statewide office since 2006. And since the COVID-19 pandemic, California has sent mail ballots to every registered voter, making it easier for people to cast their ballots earlier and not just at polling places on Election Day.

“These are the rules that we have been given. And we have to play by those rules,” said Jessica Millan Patterson, chairperson of the California Republican Party. “It doesn’t make any sense to only be Election Day voters. That is like only playing three quarters of a football game.”

Patterson said she has recognized the importance of early voting since 2018, when she ran for party chairperson — a “very dark time” when the GOP lost half of its congressional delegation. And she’s still saying it even though mail voting has been central to former President Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

“We would win California in a general election if they didn’t have a rigged voting system, where they send out 22 million ballots,” Trump told the party convention last month within the first few minutes of his speech — contrary to some messaging from his own campaign. “Nobody knows where they’re going, who they’re going to, who signs them, who delivers them, and who the hell counts ‘em? Nobody knows.” 

Later at the convention, though, delegates attended a session on ballot harvesting, which session leaders said could capture the votes of “lazy Republicans” in key areas. But they said it probably isn’t worth the effort in heavily Democratic neighborhoods. 

While mail-in voting is widely thought of as benefiting Democrats, studies find it doesn’t favor one party over the other.

“We did not find that there was a party advantage like increasing turnout. It didn’t increase turnout more for Democrats versus Republicans,” said Mindy Romero, director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy at USC’s Price School of Public Policy.

California is one of 31 states that allows a person voting by mail to designate someone else to return their ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Prior to 2017, only family or household members could return ballots, but the Legislature changed that in part because there was no way to enforce that law, according to Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation.

Now, anyone can return the ballot as long as that person isn’t compensated based on the number of ballots returned (it’s legal to be paid a flat rate). The person must sign the envelope and return the ballot in person or by mail within three days of receiving it, or before polls close on Election Day.  

What’s not legal? 

Forcing anyone you’re collecting a ballot from to vote a certain way. Employers are also barred from requiring or asking employees to bring in their ballots

Unofficial dropboxes are also prohibited. In 2020, California sent a cease-and-desist letter to the state Republican Party, as well as local chapters in Fresno, Orange County and Los Angeles, for misleading practices, such as placing ballot drop boxes that were falsely labeled as “official.” The state threatened legal action, but stood down after the California GOP agreed to modify how it collected ballots.

Asked if it would deploy dropboxes in 2024, the party only responded that it plans to “employ a robust ballot harvesting program that ensures that voters have more options to cast their ballot in the primary and general elections.”

Alexander sees the GOP effort to amp up third-party ballot returns as positive. But she does believe the laws governing the process could be more clear, and that election officials should educate voters more about their rights — such as rejecting someone’s offer to collect a ballot.  

She also notes that state law requires that the ballot collector fill out their name, relationship to the voter and signature on each ballot envelope. But even if that information is not filled out, that’s not necessarily grounds for rejecting the ballot. The information and signature are more like a contract between the voter and the collector. 

“That’s why I would always urge people to only turn their ballot over to somebody who they trust, and to make sure that person takes some time to fill out that information in their presence so they know that person is being accountable to them,” Alexander said. 

The potential payoff

For the 2024 election, the state GOP plan is focused on grassroots efforts — recruiting volunteers to go door-to-door to build relationships with voters and later collect ballots. 

That trust-building might be key to convincing people that their ballots will be counted. The party will also continue to recruit election observers — something anyone is entitled to do — and is assigning an election integrity chairperson and a lawyer in each county.

“We will continue to do the work that we’re doing to make sure that individuals are voting by every legal means necessary,” Patterson said.

But for all the Republican Party’s plans, they aren’t likely to have much impact on statewide elections. There are about 27 million people who are eligible to vote in California, and of the 22 million who are registered 47% are Democrats, 24% are Republicans, and 23% have no party preference.

In California’s 2022 general election, data analyzed by the Center for Inclusive Democracy shows a higher percentage of registered Republican voters turned out than Democrats — 61% compared to 53% — but Newsom still won by nearly 20 percentage points. 

But in some swing congressional and legislative races, Republicans narrowly won in Democratic-majority districts last November. For instance, U.S. Rep. John Duarte, a Modesto Republican, beat Democrat Adam Gray by 564 votes in one of the closest congressional races in the country in a district where President Biden beat Trump by 14.5 percentage points. And Republican Assemblymember Josh Hoover ousted Democrat Ken Cooley by 1,383 votes in a Sacramento-area district.  

Last November, of the more than 11.1 million votes cast in California, about 9.8 million were returned by mail or dropbox.

Patterson said that due to limited resources, she has to make decisions on where to spend money — which means a continued focus on races where ballot harvesting can make an impact, such as those swing district congressional seats. 

“Watching what we’ve done and the impact that we’ve already had — and the role that ballot harvesting and early voting has played in that — has absolutely already made a difference.”

Cynthia Thacker, one of the organizers of the GOP’s Take Back North Orange County movement, started collecting ballots from friends before the party started encouraging it. Ballot harvesting is one of the keys to their effort. 

Thacker says she understands voters’ reluctance to hand their ballots to someone else, but sees it as more secure than mailing them in. “It’s our way of at least making sure — instead of mailing it — that we can try and get your ballot counted.” 

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Christina Pascucci, TV Anchor, Is Running for Senate in California

The longtime reporter and anchor at KTLA and Fox 11 in Los Angeles also announced she’s pregnant.

Christina Pascucci, a veteran television news reporter in Los Angeles, launched a longshot campaign for the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat on Wednesday, further plunging one of the nation’s most competitive and closely watched primaries deeper into uncertain territory.

Pascucci, a first-time candidate who spent more than a decade at KTLA-TV and Fox 11, joins a contest that’s been rocked in recent weeks by Feinstein’s death and California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s appointment of Democrat Laphonza Butler, a labor leader and consultant who is nearing an announcement about her own campaign. Further scrambling the dynamic of the March primary is the recent entry of Republican Steve Garvey, the former Los Angeles Dodgers all-star, who is trying to vault ahead of a Democrat and into the fall 2024 runoff.

In an exclusive interview with POLITICO to announce her candidacy, Pascucci outlined a run as a moderate consensus builder in a field of bomb-throwing partisans. The 38-year-old Democrat described herself as a “truth-seeker” who would focus on legislating, adding she would apply the same approach she did to newsgathering.

“I’ve been covering the most pressing issues of California for the past 15 years and watching this race closely, as well as covering it and interviewing some of the candidates,” Pascucci said in the interview Tuesday. “And the more I watched it, the more closely I studied it, I honestly felt dismayed by how it was shaping up. I spoke to a lot of others who felt the same way. Like, this is our future — more of the same.”

Pascucci and her team also said she would work to appeal to Latinos and other voters who haven’t been swayed by a trio of far better-known Democrats in the race, Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee. Schiff and Porter have been atop the field in fundraising and polling for months, trading leads that have hovered in the high teens, but not breaking away.

A Los Angeles resident and San Fernando Valley native who lives with her husband, Pascucci also revealed in the interview that she will be starting the Senate race while she’s about 18 weeks pregnant with their first child — and that their baby was a decisive factor in her mounting the uphill statewide run.

“The only thing crazier than not jumping in this late would be not jumping in at all, because I have to fight for what I believe is possible for California and for this country,” she said.

Pascucci didn’t downplay the difficulty of climbing into the top two by Super Tuesday. She leaned hard into her adventuring background and outsider status as possible areas of appeal. She’s a licensed pilot, fluent Spanish speaker and has traveled to all seven continents and more than 100 countries to expose the shark-finning industry, report from warzones and interview the Dalai Lama at his palace in India. Closer to home, her reporting dove into wasteful water use policies of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

She suggested Democrats have shied away from talking about “the humanitarian crisis happening at our border” out of fear of running afoul of their progressive base and giving ammunition to the hard right, and pledged to fight against the “disinformation warfare” that’s being waged around immigration and more broadly. Pascucci named the late Feinstein and Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah as models for the role of senator, keying in on yellow-cornered themes like bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle to make progress. She also discussed growing up with conservative Republican parents.

“I spent my life and my upbringing learning to speak the language of people who disagree with me,” she said. “A lot of times people don’t even try and they just say, ‘They’re extreme.’ That is the worst thing you can do. That is the intent of disinformation: To polarize us. The only way to combat that is by going in, sitting down and talking it out. And that’s what I’ve been trained to do as a journalist.”

California statewide races are exorbitantly expensive, and it generally takes years for politicians to establish their names and bonafides with voters. While Butler, a former leader with the Service Employees International Union, would count on support from her labor connections and relationships with Democratic insiders, Pascucci said whether the interim senator runs had no impact on her own decision.

She left her job at Fox 11 on Tuesday, where she reported and anchored, and said her exposure to donors and celebrity supporters from her time in the news business and in her philanthropic endeavors would translate into financial and electoral backing.

“I put a lot of heart and thoughts and tears into making sure this is the right decision for my family — to risk my entire career I’ve worked so hard and built up,” she said. “I am confident based on all the conversations I have had that I have the resources I need to win this race.”

Pressed on how little time she has to make an imprint in the March primary, Pascucci reiterated she wouldn’t have risked so much to run “if I didn’t see winning as a possibility.”

“People will have plenty to say — especially people who are well-versed in politics — about what can or can’t be done,” she added. “But my campaign is a campaign of possibility, of having people choose between how things have been done or what they can be. And I believe this message will resonate deeply.”

Pascucci didn’t delve deeply into policy, but said in addition to the border and immigration, she wants to focus on education and family support like childcare and parental leave policies. She pointed to a close family member who suffers from mental health issues and addiction and said she’s drawn career inspiration from her proximity to those issues.

And she pledged a different kind of campaign: “My approach to media is different than maybe what’s been done traditionally,” she said.

The campaign is helmed by Bill Burton, the Democratic strategist and Obama-world veteran. Burton began the cycle working with Democratic Senate candidate Lexi Reese, but separated from the campaign earlier in the year. He pointed to Pascucci’s varied life experiences and outsider status to politics as an edge.

Click here to read the full article in Politico

Garvey Tosses His Bat Into the Ring

Former Dodgers star, a Republican, plans to announce a bid for the Senate seat once held by Dianne Feinstein.

After nearly two decades of statewide Republican candidates being rejected by California’s left-leaning electorate, former Dodger All-Star Steve Garvey hopes to drag the GOP back toward political relevance.

Garvey plans to announce Tuesday that he is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Dianne Feinstein, a gambit by a political newcomer banking on his baseball fame and affable demeanor to overcome the long odds Republicans face in this solidly Democratic state. At the very least, Garvey offers GOP voters a dash of celebrity excitement and his candidacy may raise the stakes for the top-shelf Democratic candidates.

Though he hasn’t stepped on a baseball field as a player for more than three decades, Garvey may possess enough star appeal to consolidate California’s GOP vote and lure enough admiring baseball fans to wind up on the November ballot. If so, only one of the three formidable Democrats currently in the running may survive past the March primary and emerge as the heavy favorite in the face-off against Garvey.

Garvey, 74, has been talking to party leaders and donors for months about a potential bid because of growing concerns about dysfunction in the nation’s capital, and he said he decided to make it official after “a Giants fan came up to me and said, ‘Garvey, I hate the Dodgers, but I’ll vote for you.’ ”

“In those 20 years that I played for the Dodgers and the Padres, played up in cold Candlestick Park, I never played for Democrats or Republicans or independents,” Garvey told The Times. “I played for all the fans, and I’m running for all the people.”

His announcement came days after Feinstein, a trail-blazing Democrat who represented California in the Senate for more than three decades, was laid to rest after a somber memorial in her hometown of San Francisco. Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed longtime labor leader, abortion-rights advocate and Democratic strategist Laphonza Butler to fill the vacancy.

It’s unknown if Butler, 44, will run for the Senate seat in the 2024 election, which quickly became a heated contest among prominent California Democrats — Reps. Barbara Lee of Oakland, Katie Porter of Irvine and Adam Schiff of Burbank — after Feinstein announced earlier this year that she would not seek another term.

Garvey, who lives in Palm Desert, has flirted with politics for decades but has never mounted a campaign for public office. As he weighed a Senate bid this year, Garvey told supporters that he planned to focus his campaign on quality-of-life issues such as education, the cost of living, housing affordability, crime and homelessness — topics that could have bipartisan appeal.

“I think about families that get up each day and address all these issues,” he said.

Garvey is arguably the most well-known Republican to mount a statewide campaign since Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, who ran for governor during the unsuccessful effort to recall Newsom in 2021, and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, an international movie star who won office in the 2003 gubernatorial recall and was reelected in 2006.

The only other prominent GOP candidates to make it to the general election ballot in recent years are billionaire Meg Whitman, the former EBay chief who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010 and is now President Biden’s ambassador to Kenya, and former Hewlett-Packard leader Carly Fiorina, a multimillionaire who lost a Senate bid the same year and a presidential effort six years later.

The first baseman played for the Dodgers from 1969 to 1982 and for the San Diego Padres from 1983 to 1987 — major league teams in two of the biggest media markets in the state. Garvey won a World Series title with the Dodgers in 1981, was a 10-time National League All-Star and won four Gold Glove awards.

Garvey had a squeaky clean reputation that later was marred by revelations that he fathered children with two women after a bitter divorce. It’s unclear how those past controversies will affect his appeal among voters given that they occurred decades ago. Since that time, the country elected two presidents accused of infidelity, including Donald Trump, who had a well-known history of affairs and has faced allegations of rape and other sexual misconduct.

Garvey’s greatest obstacles, however, may be his party affiliation and his political views, neither of which align with many Californians’.

Garvey said he twice voted for Trump. He doesn’t have an opinion on who is responsible for the violent pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He opposes abortion but said he would respect Californians’ views on the matter and would not vote for federal legislation that restricted abortion rights. Asked about controversial decisions by some school districts that would require parents to be informed if their child showed signs of gender nonconformity, Garvey said it was a parental rights issue.

Garvey is leaning heavily into his baseball history in hopes of convincing voters who may not agree with his politics. His introductory campaign video, which runs more than one minute, features heroic video and images of him hitting home runs and rounding the bases, and memorabilia from his days on the diamond. His campaign logo features the stylized image of a baseball player wearing a Garvey jersey swinging a bat.

“There are a lot of people who know who I am. And now for the next five months, I’ll be reigniting that relationship we have,” he said.

Athletes running for office have a mixed record of success across the country. Basketball players Bill Bradley and Kevin Johnson were elected New Jersey senator and Sacramento mayor, respectively. Professional wrestler Jesse Ventura became governor of Minnesota. Football player Jack Kemp represented New York in Congress. Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who is holding up hundreds of military promotions and nominations in his controversial attempt to change Pentagon abortion policy, is a former football coach at Auburn University.

But others have failed, including football player Herschel Walker in a 2022 Senate race in Georgia, and Jenner, who appeared on the “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” reality show.

Adam Mendelsohn, Schwarznegger’s former deputy chief of staff who now represents high-profile athletes such as LeBron James and Maria Sharapova, predicted that Garvey would land in the latter category.

“First of all, to win as a Republican in California, you need a level of celebrity that is far greater than a baseball player from the ’80s,” Mendelsohn said. “It is a competitive advantage to raise some money and get some media. But it is completely delusional to think a conservative Republican can win in California regardless of what sport they played and how good they were.”

The chances of any Republican winning statewide office are slim given the state’s electoral tilt — no GOP candidate has won statewide since 2006 and Democrats currently outnumber Republican voters nearly 2 to 1, according to the secretary of state’s office.

And a poll taken more than a month before Garvey announced his bid was not promising. Garvey and Republican businessman James Bradley had the support of 7% of likely voters in the September survey by UC Berkeley and The Times. Attorney Eric Early, a perennial GOP candidate, had the support of 5%.

Schiff and Porter had the backing of 20% and 17% of likely voters, respectively, the poll found. The other prominent Democratic opponent, Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland, had the support of 7%.

Democrats are doubtful that Garvey will affect the outcome of the race, given California’s left-leaning electorate.

“It’s a steep hill,” said Rose Kapolczynski, a veteran Democratic strategist. “Steve Garvey isn’t Arnold Schwarzenegger, and any Republican who would be competitive in a Senate race would have to have a powerful brand already — and that’s what Schwarzenegger had. And Schwarzenegger’s personal brand outweighed the Republican brand.”

“I am skeptical that’s the case” with Garvey, she added.

While 26 candidates have filed to run for the Senate seat as of Oct. 9, according to the Federal Election Commission, the three most prominent — and those who have raised substantive money — are Democratic members of Congress: Schiff, Porter and Lee.

Regardless of his overall prospects, Garvey’s entry into the Senate race could have a significant effect on the election because of the state’s “top-two” primary system, in which the two candidates who receive the most votes in the March primary move on to the general election regardless of party.

The September Berkeley poll found that support from Democratic voters splintered among Schiff, Porter and Lee, possibly clearing a path for a consensus Republican candidate to finish in the top two. Garvey already had the most support among Republican voters and had yet to officially enter the race.

It’s happened before. Relatively unknown Republican businessman John Cox received more votes in the 2018 California governor’s primary election than two Democratic heavyweights — Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Treasurer John Chiang — only to be trounced by Gavin Newsom in the general election. Cox consolidated the GOP vote because of a weak Republican field and after being endorsed by then-President Trump.

Even though his playing days are long over, Garvey’s baseball fame will probably receive national and statewide media attention, especially on Fox News and other conservative outlets that have been critical of California’s Democratic leadership on homelessness, crime and immigration.

Thus far, the other Republicans in the 2024 Senate race lack that potential sway, increasing Garvey’s ability to emerge as the candidate of choice among the state’s GOP voters.

“He adds a fun element,” said veteran GOP strategist Kevin Spillane. “Garvey adds an element of cheer, if you will. At least his candidacy will add some fun for Republicans. I think most people understand he doesn’t have a chance to win. But he will give it the old college try and definitely make it a more interesting race.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Bill to Ban Ballot Hand Counts Signed By Governor Newsom

Shasta County Board of Supervisors Chairman Patrick Jones said they will be suing to block the bill if signed into law

A bill to end the manual hand count of ballots in elections with more than 1,000 voters was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, going into effect immediately after signing.

Assembly Bill 969, authored by Assemblywoman Gail Pellerin (D-Santa Cruz), will specifically prohibit an elections official from performing a manual vote count in a semifinal official canvass held on an established election date where there are more than 1,000 registered voters eligible to participate in that election, or in any contest held on a date other than an established election date, where there are more than 5,000 registered voters eligible to participate in that election. The bill will also now only allow an elections official to conduct a manual vote count for a semifinal official canvass in a precinct  if the count is approved by the Secretary of State, with state approved machines being utilized to do all county in elections above the minimum voter threshold.

In addition, AB 969 is an emergency statute, meaning that it went into effect immediately upon being signed into law.

Assemblywoman Pellerin’s bill is in response to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors voting earlier this year to do away with machine counting and instead move back to hand ballots. The decision was divisive, passing 3-2 in March. Supporters cited cyber threats as the major reason for wanting to return to hand counting, to avoid any possible electronic miscounts or cheating. However opponents fought back that hand counting would be even more prone to error and at risk of possible cheating, as well as being more expensive. The fight in Shasta County has been ongoing for months, all the while with AB 969 advancing through the legislature and threatening to make a state law on it.

AB 969 largely passed on party lines throughout the year. In April, the bill managed to pass in the Assembly 62-9 with 9 abstaining; the Senate vote in early September came in with a similar with a 31-6 with 3 abstentions vote. Due to multiple amendments since May, the bill was then sent back to the Assembly last month for a final Assembly vote, where it passed 62-14 with 4 abstentions.

“The bill, if it becomes law, would make it very clear in our elections code that counties are to use state-certified, federally qualified voting systems for tabulating their voting results,” said Pellerin following the final Assembly vote. “We are definitely going to be reaching out to our supporters, getting letters to him, that we experienced a rogue board of supervisors that attempted to derail elections and that is something we can’t tolerate and accept in the state of California.”

With Newsom not indicating which way he would go, many Shasta County officials attempted to dissuade Governor Newsom from signing AB 969. Some, such as Shasta County Board of Supervisors Chairman Patrick Jones, went so far as to say that they will be suing to block the bill if signed into law. Despite this, Newsom signed the bill it into law Wednesday.

Following the signing, Jones added that Shasta County would continue on with hand counted ballots until at least the 2024 primary election.

“I’ve asked legal counsel to weigh in on this. And I believe that it does not affect Shasta County,” said Jones. “We already made that decision to get away from machines in January and February. We have been waiting this entire time for the Secretary of State, which she said she would approve a hand tabulation plan. She has yet to do so. So she’s simply dragging her feet on this. But we have already made our decision. And a majority of the board has already spoken.”

“Filing a lawsuit may not even be necessary anymore. As far as I’m concerned, we push forward. The state may want to sue us.”

Experts told the Globe on Wednesday that a lawsuit blocking the now-law could be expected soon.

Click here to read the full article in California Globe