Good morning, California
“It drives me nuts” when people wish a happy Memorial Day — Matt Rexroad, Republican political consultant, retired Marine staff sergeant and Iraq War veteran. “They’re not ill-intentioned. They’re just not thinking about the day. We observe Memorial Day.”

Gavin Newsom’s gamble

Democratic frontrunner Gavin Newsom at CALmatters.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Delaine Eastin is accusing frontrunner Gavin Newsom of using tactics that will help President Donald Trump and Republicans maintain control of the U.S. House of Representatives

How’s that? Newsom figures he’ll have an easier time defeating Republican John Cox in November and is airing ads “attacking” Cox in ways that could help him gain GOP votes for one of the top-two spots in the June 5 primary.

Then what? Eastin believes having Republican Cox at the top of the ticket in November will increase GOP turnout, which would help otherwise vulnerable Republican Congressional candidates. Many Republicans believe that too, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who urged Trump to endorse Cox..

Eastin: “Gavin is all about Gavin. He says he is going to be the guy who can stand up to Trump. But what he’s doing is helping Trump. … It is important to this country to make sure we have the best and brightest in Congress, not a bunch of knuckle draggers.”

Democratic rival Antonio Villaraigosa trails Cox in most polls, but probably would pose the most significant challenge to Newsom in the fall. He, too, accuses Newsom of harming Democratic chances, tweeting:

“Stand up to cynical politicians like Newsom who put themselves before their party.”

Newsom spokesman Nathan Click: “We think more Democrats will turn out if there is a clear choice between a progressive Democrat and a Trump disciple. If two Democrats are engaged in an expensive air war, it could depress Democratic turnout.”

Bottom line: There is logic to Newsom’s strategy. But he’ll have some explaining to do to Democrats if he wins in November by helping Republican Cox get into the run-off, and Democrats fail to gain Congressional seats.


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Becerra’s backers’ try a bank-shot, too

Taking a page from Gavin Newsom, backers of Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra are funding campaign ads boosting an underfunded Republican challenger, believing the Republican would be easy to beat in the fall.

CALmatters Laurel Rosenhall details the bank-shot politics behind the ads, which say Republican Steven Bailey is the “pro-gun, pro-life” candidate who “stands with President Trump (and) opposes sanctuary cities.”

Top-two: The Newsom-Becerra strategy is rooted in California’s top-two primary, in which the top vote getters face off in the fall, regardless of party. Democratic Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, running to unseat Becerra, would be a tougher foe than Bailey. Bailey had less than $9,000 in his campaign bank account as of last week. Becerra had almost $1.6 million. Money matters in campaigns.

Cristina Garcia’s return

Assemblyman Tony Thurmond and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia chat upon Garcia's first floor session after ending her leave.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, the one-time leader of the #MeToo movement, attended an Assembly floor session Friday for the first time since she took a leave in February after being accused of groping and sexually harassing men.

Most legislators kept their distance, though a few gave welcome-back hugs to the Bell Gardens Democrat.

“That’s what a double standard looks like.” — Erin Lehane, overseeing the State Building and Construction Trades Council campaign to unseat Garcia.

Building trades unions generally are part of the Democrats’ base. But the unions are leading a $670,000-plus campaign to unseat Garcia, over Speaker Anthony Rendon’s objections. Lehane cites Garcia’s hypocrisy and abusive behavior as reasons for the unusual campaign.

In the gallery above the Assembly floor, demonstrators wore white t-shirts with letters spelling out RESIGN! on the front (Garcia is running for reelection) and COVERUP on the back. That’s a reference to the Assembly report that failed to substantiate the most serious charge against her, groping a young male consultant.

Holding their coats: Republicans contemplated moving to oust Garcia, but held back. They’re happy to sit ringside and watch as the union and Assembly Democrats fight.

Carpe per diem

In addition to their $107,000 a year salaries, California legislators receive $183 in daily living expenses on work days, so long as the Legislature is not out of session for more than three days in a row. The Legislature usually operates on a Monday-Thursday schedule. But to preserve their tax-free per diem payments, the Legislature convenes Friday sessions before long weekends, as happened last week.  A few legislators turn down the payments.

Dan Walters: Perils of solar panels

CALmatters commentator Dan Walters dug into the California Energy Commission’s recent decision to require homebuilders to start adding solar panels to all new homes built in 2020 and beyond. Citing criticism by experts, Walters likened the hastily drawn requirement to the decision to deregulate electricity two decades ago, “one of the greatest policy errors in the state’s history.

“The hastily drafted rooftop solar mandate has the potential for similarly adverse consequences, as the state’s leading energy experts are trying to tell us.”

How many politicians fit onto a surfboard?

Did you ever wonder which major candidate for governor is in the Guinness Book of World Records, for being one of 66 people who piled onto a surfboard. Read all about it by going to our voter guide and checking out our candidates’ quiz. (I included the quiz on Friday, but with a bad link).

Please email or call with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected], 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.