Good morning, California

“I love Sacramento. I’m there all the time.”—Governor-elect Gavin Newsom to The Sacramento Bee, declining to say whether he, his wife and their four young children will move from Marin County to the Governor’s Mansion.

In 2012, a Bee reporter quoted Lt. Gov. Newsom as saying of Sacramento: “It’s just so dull. Sadly, I just, ugh, God.”

California GOP’s no good very bad night

Unsuccessful GOP candidate for governor John Cox on election night.

California’s Republican Party appeared to fall to another new low Tuesday, losing congressional and legislative seats and failing to capitalize on their signature issue—opposition to taxes, CALmatters Ben Christopher writes.

Final results aren’t in. As many as four million of the roughly 11.2 million votes cast are uncounted, says consultant Paul Mitchell, of Political Data, Inc. But here’s what we know:

  • California Democrats won at least two of the GOP’s 14 congressional seats. Katie Hill defeated Republican Congressman Steve Knight in the Lancaster area, and Democratic attorney Mike Levin won the seat held by Republican Darrell Issa of Vista.
  • No Republican won a statewide office, again.
  • The closest facsimile was former Republican Steve Poizner, a no-party-preference candidate running for insurance commissioner. Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat from Bell Gardens, was leading Poizner at last count.
  • Democrats will control the legislative agenda, again. They captured as many as two Senate seats held by Republicans, giving them 27-28 seats in the 40-seat upper house. And they’ve won 55 seats in the 80-seat Assembly, and as many as three more depending on the late tally.
  • Worse, the GOP-backed initiative to repeal the 12-cent per gallon gasoline tax that funds road repairs failed. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox paid to place the measure on the ballot in hopes of boosting Republican turnout.

Republican consultant Rob Stutzman: “There is no evidence that Proposition 6 did anything at all. … There was clearly no Republican enthusiasm.”


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Latino candidates' not bad, pretty good day

Sen. Ricardo Lara, shown with California nurses.

Whether Latino voters turned out in larger numbers in 2018 is not yet known. But clearly, Latino candidates fared well on Tuesday.

It wasn’t an accident: On behalf of the California Latino PAC, political consultant Roger Salazar aimed Spanish-language ads at occasional voters, urging them to send a message to President Donald Trump by voting.

  • The spots were intended to help five Latino legislative candidates. Each won or was ahead as vote tallying continued. It was a theme echoed by consultants to other Latino candidates.
  • Sen. Ed Hernandez, a San Gabriel Valley Democrat, lost his run for lieutenant governor to Eleni Kounalakis. But Sen. Ricardo Lara led in the race for insurance commissioner.
  • Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Xavier Becerra won easily. Each received more than 4 million votes, more than Gov-elect Gavin Newsom.

Becerra aired Spanish-language radio ads in which he refers to “a president who uses hate, fear, and lies to divide us. … Send a powerful message to this President.”

Then there’s state Sen. Kevin de León, who authored gun control measures and the bill that created what conservatives denounce as the sanctuary state.

  • Incumbent U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein defeated de León to win a fifth term, after vastly outspending him. And yet de León was trailing her by less than 10 percentage points, hardly a landslide.
  • He lost his home county of Los Angeles and other coastal urban centers but swept the reddest parts of the state, most notably the Central Valley.

His explanation: He spent quality time campaigning in Firebaugh, Mendota, Fresno and other heavily Latino parts of the state advocating for more economic development.

De León: “There was a much higher Latino turnout, definitely.”

How Brown plans to spend his final days in office

Gov. Jerry Brown in his Capitol office, Nov. 7, 2018

Gov. Jerry Brown intends to spend quality time in his final two months in office focused on what has occupied him for much of his four terms: water.

The State Water Board Wednesday acceded to a request by Brown and Gov-elect Gavin Newsom to delay a vote on a proposal to significantly increase San Joaquin River flows to benefit the environment.

  • That would mean less water for farming and other human use. Brown and Newsom on Tuesday urged the delay so they could reach a settlement.

Brown said Wednesday that he intends to meet with environmentalists and farmers and “do everything I can to bring about a negotiated settlement … and to do it very soon, in the next 30 days.”

Settlement talk no doubt would turn to Brown’s proposal to construct two tunnels to pipe water from the Sacramento River 30 miles south to massive pumps that propel water to Southern California and elsewhere, a $20 billion project.

Brown: “If they don’t get built, the Delta will be absolutely destroyed. … It has to happen or things will go back to nature.”

Newsom was noncommittal when I asked him two weeks ago whether he supported the twin tunnel project or a scaled-back one-tunnel proposal.

The governor-elect: “We’re going to figure this out … Gov. Brown has been sending me his team to educate me on this, the nuances. … There are a lot of open-ended questions and a lot is being put together as we speak.”

In other words, stay tuned.

Newsom starts putting together his team

Ann O'Leary, contender for a top Newsom administration post?

A former top aide to Hillary Clinton who also worked in President Bill Clinton’s White House is under consideration as Governor-elect Gavin Newsom’s chief of staff.

  • Ann O’Leary was senior policy advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and had the task of putting together a potential cabinet, something Newsom must do now.
  • A UC Berkeley law school graduate, O’Leary returned to California when Donald Trump won the presidency, and has been working as a lawyer in the Silicon Valley office of the firm headed by David Boies, who represented Al Gore in the post-presidential election fight for the 2000 presidency.
  • Previously, O’Leary directed the Children and Families program at The Center for the Next Generation, which was co-founded by billionaire Tom Steyer and his brother, Jim Steyer.

In a 2015 commentary for The Sacramento Bee, O’Leary called for more spending on early education for children of low-income families, an issue Newsom champions.

O’Leary’s ex-husband, Goodwin Liu, is a California Supreme Court justice. She didn’t call me back.

Commentary at CALmatters

Dan Walters, CALmatters: Even though Democrats flipped at least two congressional seats – with the possibility of two or three others once all the votes are counted – the state did not play a significant role, as once seemed likely, in determining control of the House.

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See you tomorrow.