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California Election 2018: Updates and Analysis

California Election 2018: Updates and Analysis

June 1, 2018

GOP now at number 3

Election 2018

May 21, 2018 4:32 pm

In race to unseat attorney general, why rival Dave Jones says Becerra doesn’t belong in this courtroom

Political Reporter
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, a Democrat, is a candidate for California Attorney General. Photo by Laurel Rosenhall/CALmatters
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, a Democrat, is a candidate for California Attorney General. Photo by Laurel Rosenhall/CALmatters

Democratic Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is in a tough spot in his campaign to become California’s next attorney general: His opponents include a fellow Democrat who enjoys the power of incumbency with the governor’s seal-of-approval, and a Republican who’s been endorsed by the state GOP.

Only two candidates running in the June 5 primary will advance to the general election, and under California’s election rules their party doesn’t matter. They just have to come in first or second place.

That’s the backdrop for a press conference Jones held today to accuse his Democratic opponent, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, of violating “the very law he is sworn to uphold.”

How? By filming campaign commercials inside a courthouse.

Jones contends the commercials violate a state law that prohibits government officials from using “public resources” in their political campaigns. He called on Becerra to pull the commercials off the air and appoint a special investigator to look into his claims.

Becerra’s spokesman said he would not stop running the ads, and his campaign manager lashed back by calling Jones’ attack “a desperate attempt to bring attention to himself.”

“The campaign applied for and obtained a permit from the California Film Commission to film at the courthouse by going through the same legal process that is available to everyone. (The law Jones cited) does not apply where a candidate uses a public forum that is available to anyone else on the same terms,” said a statement from Stephen J. Kaufman, Becerra’s campaign attorney, who called the claim “baseless.”

Regardless of whether it was a serious allegation or a publicity stunt, the announcement gave Jones a platform to highlight his own experience as a lawyer—and to point out that Becerra has spent more time in politics than in the legal trenches. Becerra, a 12-term congressman from Los Angeles, was appointed attorney general in 2016 by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown after then-Attorney General Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate.

“These campaign ads are an attempt to fill huge gaps in Mr. Becerra’s legal career by showing him in a courtroom,” Jones said of the ads that show scenes inside the historic Sacramento courthouse where the state Supreme Court sometimes meets.

“So Mr. Becerra takes one of the most well-known courtrooms in the state of California as a film set to show him in courtroom. How did I recognize that he used the Supreme Court courtroom for this film set for his commercial? Well, I’ve argued at least one appeal in this courtroom as a lawyer. And more recently I appeared as a litigant, as the insurance commissioner… So I’m very familiar with this courtroom.”

Want to submit a reader reaction? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact Dan Morain with any questions, dmorain@calmatters.org, (916) 201.6281.

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Election 2018

Aug. 13, 2018 6:45 pm

Meet California’s shortest-serving state senator in more than 100 years

Political Reporter
The newest member of the Legislature is Vanessa Delgado, a Montebello Democrat who will be able to cast critical votes for the next three weeks. And then—poof.
The newest member of the Legislature is Vanessa Delgado, a Montebello Democrat who will be able to cast critical votes for the next three weeks. And then—poof.

In probably the strangest outcome of California’s elections so far this year, a new state senator was sworn in Monday—with just three weeks left to go in the legislative session.

Vanessa Delgado, a Democrat from Montebello, was elected last week to replace former Sen. Tony Mendoza, who resigned in February after an investigation found he likely harassed several young employees.  

But voters had two chances to vote for Delgado this year—once to complete the remainder of Mendoza’s term and again to serve a new four-year term that begins in December—and in an odd twist, they chose her only to fulfill the rest of the current term. That means Delgado will serve as a senator for just three-and-a-half months.

“This is an unexpected result, but it’s what the voters decided,” she said in a brief interview after being sworn in while her parents and 15-year-old daughter looked on.

Delgado, a real estate developer who resigned as Montebello mayor to join the Legislature, will be the shortest-serving state senator in more than a century, according to legislative historian Alex Vassar. (The last time a senator served a shorter term was in 1903, Vassar said, when Orrin Z. Hubbell served 15 weeks before he died.)

Delgado arrived in Sacramento Monday as the Legislature begins the most consequential final three weeks of the legislative year, a time when lobbying is intense and lawmakers face tough decisions on hundreds of bills. In September she’ll return to the district in southeast Los Angeles County and work on constituent issues until Dec. 2. Then—poof—her time as a senator will be done.

The man who hopes to replace Delgado on Dec. 3 was also in Sacramento Monday. Democrat Bob Archuleta, who faces Republican Rita Topalian on the November ballot, mingled with lobbyists and Democratic senators at a campaign fundraiser near the Capitol, just minutes before Delgado began her super-short term.

Want to submit a reader reaction? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact Dan Morain with any questions, dmorain@calmatters.org, (916) 201.6281.

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Election 2018

Aug. 3, 2018 10:53 am

Yes, a political action committee exists to legalize ferrets

Senior Editor
Logo of the Ferret PAC, a political action committee which seeks to legalize ferrets.
A political action committee exists to legalize ferrets.

Gavin Newsom has raised more than $22 million for his run for governor. Patrick Wright hopes he notices one donation of $125 from his Ferret PAC.

Wright, who answers his phone “Ferrets Anonymous,” has been on a mission for 25 years to persuade California’s legislators to legalize ferrets as pets, without success. He hopes Newsom will change that if he is elected governor.

Wright told me: “He accepted the money. Sometimes they return it. I got a nice thank you note.”

Then again, the Newsom campaign has not returned Wright’s calls or responded to his pleading tweets. Wright also approached Republican John Cox, Newsom’s opponent, at a campaign stop at Rudfords Diner in San Diego, and asked for his support:

“He looked at me like I had three eyes.”

State scientists and environmentalists oppose legalizing ferrets, believing they will escape and do what their cousins the weasels do: reproduce and hunt prey, including burrowing birds and other native critters. Although Newsom’s spokesman opted against discussing the topic in any detail, Wright should not count on Newsom reversing that stand.

This story originally appeared in WhatMatters, our daily roundup of the most important policy and politics news in California. Subscribe here.

Want to submit a reader reaction? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact Dan Morain with any questions, dmorain@calmatters.org, (916) 201.6281.

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Wealthy charter school advocates spent $22.43 million in a failed independent campaign to get former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa into the runoff for governor, and ended with a debt of $620,782, final campaign finance filings show.

Teachers unions and other labor groups teamed with a few wealthy donors, health insurer Blue Shield and Pacific Gas & Electric, to spend $6.6 million to help the top vote-getter, Democrat Gavin Newsom, campaign finance reports filed earlier this week show.

The pro-Villaraigosa campaign spent $16 million to boost the former LA mayor; $4 million to attack Newsom; and $1.89 million to muddy second-place finisher, Republican John Cox. Villaraigosa placed third, 840,000 votes behind Cox.

The biggest winners: television stations. Canal Partners, a company that purchases airtime, grossed $15.9 million but spent most of that on television ad buys.

This story originally appeared in WhatMatters, our daily roundup of the most important policy and politics news in California. Subscribe here.

Want to submit a reader reaction? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact Dan Morain with any questions, dmorain@calmatters.org, (916) 201.6281.

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