Good Monday morning, California.
By tweet, President Trump endorsed Republican John Cox for governor on Friday. Cox tweeted his delight. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy might have been happiest of all. The theory: If Cox is the GOP nominee in the fall, Republicans will have more reason to go to the polls. And they’d vote for congressional Republicans, helping the GOP hold the House.

Who is this guy?

Cole Harris is running for lieutenant governor.

Here’s what we know about Cole Harris, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor:

The California Republican Party endorsed him. To ensure a victory in the June 5 primary, he infused his campaign with $2.2 million of his own money. He hasn’t given detailed press interviews.

Harris runs a private investment firm in Glendale. On Instagram, Harris flaunts his wealth and taste by posting photos of bottles of Dom Perignon and what looks to be a $3,000 bottle of La Tache, and posing with a Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, and various aircraft.

Republican consultant Rob Stutzman is working with Harris and said he is “not a conventional candidate.” I look forward to talking with him.

Harris posted a video of himself being chauffeured in, I think, a Bentley to a State Lands Commission hearing. That shows he knows the lieutenant governor serves on the lands commission. You have to see it.

There’s this mash-up of him strutting in and around his various rides set to Meek Mill’s rap, “Levels.” There aren’t many lines in the rap that can be quoted in a family newsletter, though there is this one:

“Oh lord.”

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Beach reading

At CALmatters’ encouragement, the six main candidates for governor shared reading recommendations for Californians. They’re are compiled in this video.

Democrats: Antonio Villaraigosa, John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath.” Delaine Eastin, “Cadillac Desert” about California water. Gavin Newsom, “Built to Last, Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.” John Chiang couldn’t recall the author or title, but recommend a book of prayers that President Obama read.

Republicans: John Cox, “Free to Choose,” by free-market economist Milton Friedman. Travis Allen, “The Bible.”

Babies stillborn because of syphilis

Thirty babies were stillborn in California in 2017 because their mothers passed syphilis to them. Another 248 babies were born with the disease, the California Department of Public Health reports.

That’s the largest number of congenital syphilis cases since 1996. There were 12 syphilis-related stillbirths in 2016. One possible reason might surprise you.

First, numbers of congenital syphilis in the three worst counties:

Fresno County, 57.

Kern County, 32.

Stanislaus County, 16.

Twenty-one of the 30 stillbirths were in a region that includes the three San Joaquin Valley counties.

Why: In the past, people would drop in at health clinics for free testing in relative anonymity. Many clinics that closed in the recession never reopened.

In a backdoor way, the Affordable Care Act may be playing a role in the spike, said Dr. Heidi Bauer, chief of California’s STD Control Branch. Because of Obamacare, which she strongly supports, more people have their own physician.

“A lot of people are not comfortable … talking to primary care providers about sexual health. … We have really good the evidence that the conversations are not always happening.”

P.S. Centers for Disease Control: California is second to Louisiana in the rate of babies born with syphilis. San Francisco led California counties in numbers of cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2017.

Are Democrats too enthusiastic?

CALmatters’ Ben Christopher delves into the Democrats’ nightmare scenario: Multiple candidates running for seats Democrats could win, but getting shut out of the November general election because of the top-two primary. The has national implications; it could mean the difference between Republican or Democratic control of the House.

‘Like being slapped in the face’

UC Irvine law professor Katie Porter, a Democrat running to unseat Orange County Republican Congresswoman Mimi Walters, is a mother who has been divorced. That means one of the worst times of her life is part of the public record, especially in this digital age.

“This tweet popped out. It was like being slapped in the face,” she told me by phone.

The tweet calling her “Katie ‘Restraining Order’ Porter” was issued by someone named Kevin Matthews.

Porter recounted: In 2013, she obtained a restraining order against her husband. In the back and forth, he sought an order against her, though it was never granted. They’ve since settled and are co-parenting.

Questions: How would someone with 141 Twitter followers know about the order? Did one of Porter’s opponents start a whisper campaign? Would she have run knowing someone would tweet a cheap shot?

“As hard as this has been, absolutely,” she said. It has helped start conversations among voters who’ve been victims.

Another Democratic candidate, David Min, also a UC Irvine law professor, distanced himself from the story, which appeared first in the Huffington Post.

Bottom line: Four Democrats are serious contenders in the June 5 primary for Walters’ seat. It’s one of seven California districts held by Republicans that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. Min got the Democratic Party endorsement, which gives him an edge. Porter’s story may resonate.

Walters on prisons and politics

Dan Walters, CALmatters’ commentator, offers history on politics and prisons: “Under the more lenient laws and policies in effect now, inmate populations may decline slowly, perhaps to the point at which some prisons could be shuttered. However, prison unions and the communities that see their prisons as economic boons will resist closures. And if the pending ballot measure on sentencing passes, the inmate decline could be stopped.”


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