Good morning, California.

“So I guess Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher is not interested in an appointment from Governor Brown.”—GOP consultant Matt Rexroad on Twitter after an Alexandria, Va., based group called the Victim Policy Institute ran full-page ads in The LA Times and Sacramento Bee quoting a Facebook post by the San Diego Democrat.

“Brown has shown that politicians who just don’t get it are in both parties.”—Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher on Facebook after Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of her bill to give victims of child sexual assault additional time to come forward.


Cox seeks traction, Newsom is unfazed in debate

Gubernatorial candidates John Cox and Gavin Newsom

Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox disagreed on housing, immigration, climate change and just about everything else Monday in the only debate for the 2018 governor’s general election campaign, CALmatters’ Ben Christopher found.

KQED-FM broadcast the debate; you can listen here.

Cox hoped to focus the hour-long debate on the state’s affordability crisis, which he blamed on Newsom and other Democrats in state leadership.

Cox: “We’re talking about guns, we’re talking about all these other social issues that I’m not running to change one iota. All these other things are being done to occupy time and really not address the issues that we ought to be addressing and that is the cost of living in this state.”

Newsom: “He parrots at almost every opportunity Donald Trump and Trumpism,” noting that Cox supports Trump’s proposed wall along the Mexican border. Newsom also criticized Cox for saying in 2007 that the push for LGBTQ rights would “open the floodgates to polygamy and bestiality.”

  • Cox said he has “evolved” on LGBTQ rights, and accused Newsom of trying to deflect from other state policy matters.
  • Newsom agreed to one debate, and it was easy to see why. He’s ahead comfortably in public polling.


Test scores test Brown’s education legacy

Why are California’ test scores chronically lagging, given the resources the state has pumped into its overhaul of K-12 education? One reason may be the overhaul itself, CALmatters contributor Karin Klein writes.

  • The lackluster scores raise questions about whether Gov. Jerry Brown’s two education initiatives—the revamped education funding formula that provides far more money for each disadvantaged student, and his doctrine of subsidiarity, or local control—can survive without significant changes after he leaves office this year.

The state has little understanding about what’s behind progress or the lack of it and uses Brown’s local control doctrine as a reason to avoid getting involved, experts tell Klein, a veteran education writer.

A literacy lawsuit is arguing that educating kids is a state mandate and that California can’t use local control to dodge it. In other words, the suit is about more than just reading skills; it also is an early test of whether Brown’s “local control” philosophy will be a state legacy or a blip.

Rohrabacher’s puzzling Russia relationship

U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher

Orange County Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is front and center in his reelection campaign for a reason.

  • The LA Times’ David Willman dug deep into Rohrabacher’s defense of the Russian authoritarian leader, and his efforts to help Assange. Early in his career, he called himself “viciously anti-communist” and against “authoritarian governments.”

Willman: “Colleagues say privately they are mystified at how Rohrabacher, the declared anti-authoritarian, could now voice support for Putin, a former KGB operative turned strongman, and Viktor Yanukovych, the repressive former president of Ukraine who was aligned with Moscow.”

Politics: Rohrabacher is running in what ought to be a safe Republican seat in a district where the GOP holds a 10-point registration advantage over Democrats.

Orange County is changing, as the Public Policy Institute of California’s Mark Baldassare reports. For Republicans who remain, Rohrabacher’s sympathy for Putin and Assange might not sit well.

Backers of gas tax repeal offer a ‘correction’

Claims conflict on Proposition 6, the gas tax repeal.

Backers of the initiative to repeal the gasoline tax have sent an official-looking mailer declaring: “ELECTION BALLOT CORRECTION,” and warning that “the correct title for Proposition 6 should read: Proposition 6, the gas tax repeal initiative.”

  • The mailer attempts to counter the ballot title voters will see, The Sacramento Bee reports. That title makes no mention of the gas tax repeal and instead says: “Eliminates Certain Road Repair and Transportation Funding.”

Both statements, though true, omit half the story. By voting for Proposition 6, voters would repeal the 12-cent per gallon gas tax, and “eliminate certain road repair and transportation funding.”

At a Sacramento Press Club debate Monday moderated by CALmatters editor David Lesher, Carl DeMaio, the San Diego radio talk show host who is the main proponent of the initiative, declared:

“Sacramento politicians are so afraid that you want to repeal the gas tax that they took the title on our initiative, a simple three sentence initiative, and they changed the title.”

An awkwardly worded disclaimer says the mailer is not official. Matt Cate of the No-on-6 campaign denounced the mailer as deceptive.

Bottom line: Beware what lands in your mailbox for the next four weeks until Nov. 6. And for an accurate assessment, check out our CALmatters Election Guide by clicking here.

Proposition 6 in a minute

California road repairs, paid for by the gas tax hike

CALmatters’ video journalist Byrhonda Lyons has boiled down the ballot measures in 60-second videos.

The latest: Ben Christopher breaks down Proposition 6, the initiative to repeal the gasoline tax and eliminate $5.2 billion in funding for road and bridge repairs.

Commentary at CALmatters

Carla J. Peterman: As a California Public Utilities Commissioner, I am obligated to ensure that the choices made by one group of electric customers don’t have adverse financial impacts on other customers who lack similar available opportunities. In the competitive, complex and technical world of electricity generation that’s not a simple task. But that’s what the CPUC will vote on this Thursday.

Dan Walters: Changing attitudes of white voters shifted California from a Republican-leaning purple state into a deep blue bastion of resistance to Donald Trump.


Erratum: I got my history wrong in an item about suffrage on Monday. Though the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, did give women the right to vote in federal elections nationwide, many women in California and elsewhere voted in national elections before that, this from friend of WhatMatters, Johanna Neuman, author of Gilded Suffragists: The New York Socialites Who Fought for Women’s Right to Vote, which I’ve added to my reading list.

Please email or call me with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected], 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

See you tomorrow.