Good morning, California.

“I’m sure lots of CalPERS (plan holders) will be happy to know they were paying hush money to help get Trump elected.”—Stanford professor Jeremy Bulow, upon being told by The Los Angeles Times that the California Public Employees Retirement System, the massive pension fund for state and local government workers, was a major investor in the National Enquirer, which helped elect Trump in 2016.

California GOP's critical choice

What's next for California Republicans?

As California Republicans descend on Sacramento this weekend for their first convention since getting clobbered in the November 2018 midterms, they have a big question to consider: What now? 

Embrace, ignore or reject President Trump—pick a lane, Golden State GOP leaders told CALmatters’ Ben Christopher,  who posed that question.

  • Travis Allen, the former gubernatorial candidate and Assemblyman, who wants to be party chair: “The Republican Party must stand for its values, its ideals, and for its Republican President.”
  • Jessica Patterson, who also wants to be party chair: “We’re going to super localize all of these races. We’re going to make sure that we’re talking about issues that are important to these communities and we’re not going to concede one single district.”
  • Mike Madrid, a Trump-skeptical Republican consultant: “Anyone who thinks that supporting Donald Trump or Donald Trump’s policies is a path to victory in California is delusional. Like, clinically.”

All three camps warn that choosing the other paths will doom Republicanism in California to continued irrelevance, if not outright destruction,Christopher writes.

The question of the weekend: Who will lead the GOP?

  • Allen and Steve Frank, a third candidate for party chair, wrote a letter to the delegates denouncing Patterson, reports The San Francisco Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli.
  • Calling themselves the “resistance,” the two pledged to urge their backers to support the one who makes it into the run-off with the goal of blocking Patterson’s victory.
  • Most elected Republicans support Patterson,  including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Allen dismissed them as part of the status quo.

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Is it too soon to be thinking of Election 2022?

Prep for Election 2022 is underway.

One election is a fading memory and another is year away. What better time to prepare for Campaign 2022? 

  • That’s what California State Auditor Elaine Howle is doing: Howle’s responsibilities include the spade work for the California Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw district lines for legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization seats. And she wants your help.

Howle: “We’re going to do this as publicly and with as much transparency as we can.”

For details, click here: The State Auditor ensures the commission is as independent and reflective of California as possible. The process begins with an introductory town hall at the auditor’s office next Friday at 10 a.m. You can start submitting applications to serve on the commission in June.


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Major GOP funding source dries up

Republicans are getting far less from Charles Munger Jr.

For the better part of a decade, no donor was more important to the California Republican Party than Charles Munger, Jr. An unassuming man given to wearing bow-ties, Munger is son of Warren Buffett’s billionaire partner of the same name.

  • Starting in 2005, Munger Jr. spent $92 million on California politics, successfully funding initiatives to combat gerrymandering and encourage legislative transparency, and spending millions more in a failed attempt to derail Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2012 tax hike initiative.

The California GOP and county Republican committees have, over the last dozen years, gotten $10.7 million of Munger’s money.  

GOP consultant Kevin Spillane told the L.A. Times in 2015: “If it weren’t for Charles Munger, the California Republican Party would have been driven into the sea at this point.”

That was then: Lately, Munger’s political spending is a trickle of its former self. Republican leaders won’t talk publicly about the reasons, and Munger is tough to reach. But he had sought to be a moderating force in an increasingly Trumpian party.

  • Last year, Munger gave what for him is modest $90,352, much of it to moderate Republicans who lost. By comparison, he had given $91.9 million between 2005 and 2017. 

The GOP's net victory

Partisan gerrymandering proved to be the Republicans’ seawall against the Democratic wave of 2018, historically speaking.

  • Yes, Democrats won 40 congressional seats last November, the most since the Watergate era. But Tim Storey, who tracks elections for the National Conference of State Legislatures, noted that Republicans did surprisingly well in state legislative races (except for California).

Democrats had a net gain of 316 seats in state legislatures, by Storey’s count, far short of what might have been expected.

  • Dating back to 1900, the average gain of state legislative seats in midterm elections by the party that doesn’t control the White House is 425.

Storey: “The likely suspect in most states is the redistricting advantage Republicans have had for the entire decade.”

In most states not California, politicians from parties in power draw legislative district lines in ways that protect their power and the longevity of incumbents.

  • In the first midterm after Barack Obama became president, Republicans made historic gains, netting 739 legislative seats. Those 2010 victories gave them control over redistricting in 2012. Those lines will remain in place until they are redrawn after the 2020 Census for the 2022 election.

Bottom line: Republicans control 31 legislatures, Democrats control 18, and only one state, Minnesota, has a divided legislature.

  • What’s ahead: Ohio, Colorado, Missouri, Utah and Michigan are changing to citizens redistricting commissions similar to the one in California.

Another shift of the justice pendulum

California has quietly abolished tough-on-crime fees for inmate medical care.

With little fanfare beyond a press release, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Thursday that it was ending a practice of charging prisoners a $5 copay for nonemergency medical visits.

  • The policy was a vestige of Gov. Pete Wilson’s administration when lawmakers sought to prove they were tough on crime, and Democrats saw a Republican wave headed their way.
  • It was 1994, the year voters approved the anti-illegal immigrant Proposition 187 and an initiative—backed by the National Rifle Association and prison officers’ union—to impose life sentences on third-time felons.
  • Only four Democrats voted against the measure carried by then-Assemblyman Dean Andal, a Republican from Stockton, requiring prison inmates to pay $5 for nonemergency medical and dental visits. The goal was to ensure criminals would help pay their own way. 

Assembly Bill 45 to abolish the fee was introduced this year by Assemblyman Mark Stone, a Santa Cruz Democrat. Inmates earn 8 cents an hour at prison jobs, meaning they must work four or five days to pay the fee. Corrections’ action makes the legislation moot.

Corrections’ statement: “… [C]opayments have minimal fiscal benefit and are not aligned with patient care. Specifically, copayments may hinder patients from seeking care for health issues which, without early detection and intervention, may become exacerbated…”

Inmates’ copayments totaled $460,177 in fiscal year 2017-18.

Commentary at CALmatters

Government should treat housing as a human right.

Tyrone Buckley, Housing California: When it comes to basic needs and rights, we cannot trust the market to work for everyone. That’s why government intervenes to provide public education, affordable health care, food and water. Affordable housing should be no different.

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

See you Monday.