Good Monday morning, California.

Santa Barbara County has nearly 300 wineries, and has granted 730 cannabis cultivation permits, more than anywhere in the state. The cannabis situation in Lompoc has created a challenge for many wineries,” said Peter Work of Ampelos Cellars. Santa Barbara Independent.

Housing: What would candidates do?

CALmatters asked the major candidates for governor: What would you do about California’s high housing prices?

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the front-runner, said a proposed initiative to expand rent control could have a “chilling effect” on housing construction.

John Cox, the leading Republican, urges “competition and supply.”

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa supports “some kind of rent-stabilization.”  

See their answers for yourself in this video.



Lara tests fate

One issue in this year’s race for state insurance commissioner: should candidates take campaign money from insurance companies?

Then: Chuck Quackenbush is the only insurance commissioner to be elected after taking the money and he was forced to resign amid scandal in 2000. Since then, candidates who have taken insurance money have lost, and Democratic lawmakers tried to ban commissioner candidates from taking insurance industry money in 2002.

Now: Sen. Ricardo Lara, endorsed by the California Democratic Party in this year’s race, is testing fate. He has accepted money from a medical malpractice insurance company, an insurance consultant and bail bonds companies. (Commissioners have authority over bail bonds companies). He’s also using insurance money from old legislative campaign accounts for his current race.

The amount, $50,000, is less than 4 percent of the money he amassed for his race. Lara’s consultant, Mac Zilber, said the candidate doesn’t take insurance money, and “has been a champion for consumers.” He also promised Lara would return the medical malpractice company money, after I asked about it, but not the money from bail companies or past races.

“Not one dime.” That’s how much insurance company money current Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has taken. “The insurance commissioner needs to be free from any suggestion of influence from the insurance industry,” he said.

What’s ahead: Expect Pasadena physician Asif Mahmood, Lara’s main Democratic opponent, to use the donations against Lara. Steve Poizner, a former insurance commissioner running as a no-party preference candidate, could use it, too.

Poizner won the office in 2006 in part by attacking his opponent, Democrat Cruz Bustamante, for taking “contributions from the insurance companies — the same companies he’s supposed to regulate if elected.” Lara is in a tough race; appearances matter.


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Oil vs teachers

The largest donors to the California Republican and Democratic Parties each gave roughly $1.3 million since the start of 2017, the latest campaign finance filings show. Beyond that, the two have little in common.

Democrats’ largest donor: California Teachers Association at $1.3 million.

Republicans’ largest donor: Chevron at $1.28 million.

It’s facile to call one the party of organized labor and the other the party of oil. Both parties share many of the same donors: AT&T, Edison International, Pacific Gas & Electric. But their single largest donors do say something important about how their candidates view policy. Democrats, by the way, had $11.7 million in the bank, compared with $4.4 million for the California Republican Party.

Playing the turn-out game

In his latest commentary, CALmatters’ Dan Walters focuses on how California consultants have used the initiative system and gamed voter turn-out in presidential and non-president election years to shape taxes in our state.

Bottom line: Higher turnout in presidential elections tends to favor liberal causes, while lower turnout means a more conservative electorate. Expect more measures intended to limit taxes in 2018.

ICYMI: Housing bill, RIP

In his Sunday commentary, CALmatters’ Dan Walters writes that the recent death of far-reaching – even revolutionary – legislation to facilitate housing development crystallized a conflict that’s been simmering in California for decades: Who controls land use?

Morning coffee

“Orange County is our Ground Zero,” California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman told me at a downtown Sacramento coffee shop. Or, as Democrats say, orange is the new blue. They hope to flip four Republican congressional seats there, which would increase the chance that they regain control of the House of Representatives. Their ambitions extend to the Legislature, too. Democrats hope to flip the Huntington Beach-area seat held by outgoing Assemblyman Travis Allen, a Republican running for governor. Bauman also is focused on defending Sen. Josh Newman, a Democrat from Fullerton, against a  Republican-backed recall. It wasn’t that long ago that Orange was deeply red.

Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow.