Chad Mayes is embarking on a political experiment.
On Thursday, the former Republican leader in the state Assembly finally pulled the plug on what had long been a fraught relationship with the California GOP. Next year he’ll run for re-election in his Yucca Valley-area district as an independent, no doubt taking flak from both a Democrat and a member of his former party.
Running without the imprimateur or financial backing of one of the state’s major political parties’ has never been a winning strategy in California. Several candidates who’ve attempted it statewide have crashed, including most recently former Republican Steve Poizner in his independent 2018 bid for state insurance commissioner. He told CalMatters: “I really do want to be a pioneer for this because if I’m successful I’m hoping lots of people will run as an independent” — right before he lost.
Legislative districts, however, may offer better prospects for independents than a statewide contest. And in a state where “no party preference” voters now outnumber registered Republicans, where GOP political power in both chambers of the Legislature and the congressional delegation sits at a generational nadir, and where the California unpopularity of President Donald Trump has helped flip some of the GOP’s longest-held bastions of support into the Democratic camp, it’s not clear that running with an “R” next to your name is such a great idea either.
“A major political party, even one as weakened as the California Republicans, still gives a candidate structural advantages,” said Dan Schnur, a professor at UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California who ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state as a political independent in 2014. “The question that Mayes is testing is whether the party is so damaged that the downside of associating with it outweighs those structural benefits.”Read More
California Sen. Kamala Harris seemed all but destined to be a front-runner when she launched her Democratic presidential campaign before a cheering throng of 20,000 supporters in downtown Oakland last January. A prosecutor to take down Trump, a black woman in a party disproportionately made up of black women, a U.S. Senator from the country’s largest state — on paper, she looked formidable.
This was before former Vice President Joe Biden entered the race. Before Mayor Pete and Elizabeth Warren rocketed to the top tier. Before Harris proclaimed that she was “moving to Iowa” (expletive deleted) and before the campaign adopted and then discarded a handful of ill fitting slogans ("Dude gotta go.") Before the campaign’s internal drama found its way into Politico and The New York Times, which last week headlined its story “How Kamala Harris’s campaign unraveled.”
This morning, Harris announced that she was throwing in the towel, leaving a field of 15 Democratic candidates — many of whom are still polling below her. Her “political pragmatist” label failed to resonate with the mood of her party’s electorate, and calling herself a “progressive prosecutor” served to dredge up questions about just how progressive she really was as San Francisco’s district attorney or California’s attorney general.
But according to Harris, it simply came down to money.
“I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete,” she said in a press release this morning — a final dig at Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg and John Delaney, three billionaires who remain in the field.Read More
From criminal justice reform to environmental stewardship to humane immigration policies, California’s leaders make the state a model of effective governance for the federal government and other states.
But no matter how you look at it, the state ranks near the bottom of states when it comes to our kids.
Education, starting at birth and through young adulthood, is where California is falling the furthest behind other states. With California setting the standard for the nation in so many other areas, it’s shocking that we are failing to do so for education.
A critical start to setting a national model is to adequately address decades of underfunding education. California leaders need to ensure that the November 2020 ballot includes a single revenue measure that is solely focused on education including quality child care, preschool, K-12, and higher education.
Previous revenue-generating measures, Propositions 30 in 2012 and 55 in 2016, focused on the needs of schools to win voter approval. But the resulting revenue was spread among many state programs across the general fund.Read More
More California high school graduates are academically ready for college than ever before and expanding access to higher education would benefit them and the state’s economy.
To meet student demand and the need for an educated workforce, expansion of facilities and fire and other life safety improvements in buildings at California’s public colleges and universities are urgently needed.
The state must protect its 151-year investment in its public higher education system to fulfill its commitment to educate these students.
Approving Proposition 13, a $15 billion bond measure on the March 3 ballot, would help address the most critically needed seismic repairs and improvements of buildings and other infrastructure at California’s pre-K-12 schools and public universities.
Proposition 13 would be the first bond measure since 2006 to provide significant money for UC's and CSU's infrastructure.Read More
Google’s announcement that it will dramatically limit the ability of political campaigns to narrowly target political advertisements has sparked a storm of protest, led by political media consultants who profit by deploying these targeting tactics.
Many of these consultants are my friends, my colleagues, my competitors, and my rivals—and they are wrong.
They fly the flag of the First Amendment, claiming that Google is effectively censoring the ability of their political clients to speak to voters about important issues.
The consultants who have mastered the frequently dark art of behavioral targeting command a premium price to help place these targeted ads.
My own firm has placed over $50 million of targeted advertising in the last seven years and we are just one of several dozen agencies in the political media ecosystem. This is big business – and big businesses evoking the Constitution to protect their profits should be enough to draw our healthy skepticism.Read More
Many constitutional law experts, former Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Republican Party are now all officially entitled to say, "I told you so."
This morning the California Supreme Court unanimously struck down a new state law that would have required presidential candidates to publicly disclose their tax returns before appearing on the primary ballot.
Passed by the supermajority of Democrats in California's Legislature and signed by new Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, the law was the statutory embodiment of California's place at the front of the anti-Trump "Resistance." It was a blatant dig at the GOP president — and one that generated plenty of national media attention.
But to some constitutional law scholars, the law was also obviously unconstitutional. Gov. Brown shared those concerns when he vetoed identical legislation in 2017.
Trump declined to release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential campaign, breaking with a precedent set in 1976 by President Jimmy Carter following the Watergate scandal.Read More
It would be interesting to know the precise moment that California Sen. Kamala Harris realized that she would not win the presidency, at least not in 2020.
If it’s not already occurred, it implies a state of denial. And if it has, one wonders why she’s continuing a campaign that is in freefall and, if not ended soon, could damage her political future.
It’s been weeks since Harris appeared on anyone’s top tier list of Democratic presidential hopefuls and her polling numbers in key early primary or caucus states such as South Carolina and Iowa are frozen in low single digits.
Initially, when Harris was the Democrats’ flavor of the week, she hoped to score a big early win in South Carolina where, it was assumed, her biracial background would be a big asset.
However, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows her with just 3% support in South Carolina, including just 6% percent of black voters, her presumed base. That’s less than one-seventh of former Vice President Joe Biden’s African-American support in the state.Read More
Imagine that in next year’s presidential race, election officials scrambled the letters in Donald Trump so it appeared on ballots as Daldon Prumt. Most people would agree this is not acceptable. Voters need their ballots to accurately convey who it is they are voting for or against.
Yet for decades, a similar exercise in obfuscation has been perpetrated on California voters.
Every two years, Californians become lawmakers by voting on statewide ballot propositions, which often have enormous consequences for the state. To understand what it is they are voting for or against, many voters rely solely on the description of the proposition written on their ballot. But time and again, this “description” has failed to accurately convey what the proposition would do.
Oddly, the job of writing these all-important ballot descriptions falls not to an elections officer or some other neutral official, but is instead entrusted to the partisan, elected attorney general of California.
Our current Attorney General, Democrat Xavier Becerra, is only the latest in a line of attorneys general who have exercised this power without even a pretense of impartiality, instead skewing ballot language to lead voters towards their preferred political outcome.Read More
Updated Nov. 19, 2019
California voters have resoundingly approved tens of billions of dollars in state school construction bonds over the last two decades. But a new survey suggests that voters have yet to similarly warm up to the latest and heftiest proposal to come before them: a $15 billion state bond for public schools, community colleges and universities that will be decided on the March 3 presidential primary ballot.
A poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, published late Monday, found that among likely voters surveyed, fewer than half — 48% — would vote for the state bond measure if the election were held today.
Among the 999 likely voters who were polled, 36% said they would vote no on what has been formally been dubbed the “Public Preschool, K-12, and College Health and Safety Bond Act of 2020,” and 16% said they did not know how they planned to vote. Support for the bond measure was much higher among Democrats (71%) than Republicans (24%) and Independents (44%).
“The fact that a school bond measure is polling below 50% among likely voters was a surprise because, generally speaking, state school bond measures enjoy stronger support,” said PPIC President Mark Baldassare. “And we’re not seeing it just yet, meaning that the proponents have work to do to explain what this bond is about.”Read More
As Californians endure the threats from wildfires and power shutoffs, various approaches to address different parts of the crisis have been advanced by legislators, Gov. Gavin Newsom, and other government agencies.
With all the discussions and proposals circulating, and more likely on the way, there must be a comprehensive approach—call it an action plan—that encompasses all the moving parts involved in preventing fires and providing reliable energy.
Issues surrounding wildfires and power shutoffs cut across numerous policy areas, with broad impacts across the entire state, from energy, to health care, to human services, to transportation and education.
I believe our constituents expect us to treat these issues urgently, but also efficiently and effectively.
To be effective, an action plan should be based on the following realities:Read More