The newest (and 26th) declared Democratic presidential contender Tom Steyer—a billionaire hedge fund manager-turned-impeachment pushing money faucet for progressive causes—has a plan to fix our nation’s politics.
In short: make Washington D.C. look more like California.
In a new video released today, Steyer, who lives in California and has spent millions in support of Democratic candidates and progressive causes in the state, introduced a “Democracy Agenda” to combat the disproportionate political influence of corporations by giving voters "the tools they need to fix our democracy."
These new tools include:
If that all sounds familiar, you might be a Californian.Read More
Rhonda Shader is tired of looking at maps of Placentia.
First as a councilmember and now as the mayor, Shader has seen the 7-square miles of her north Orange County town sliced and diced at least a dozen ways to satisfy the demands of good governance groups who accuse the city’s leaders of gerrymandering and discrimination.
“We’ve really made an effort to stay out of court because quite honestly our city can’t afford it,” said Shader.
Easier said than done.
In 2016, the city agreed to ditch its at-large election system and adopt a new map with five distinct districts. That came after the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund threatened to sue the city, arguing that the old system, with each council member representing the entire city, made it all but impossible for Placentia’s minority Latino community to elect a representative of their choosing.Read More
CALmatters’ Ben Christophe reports that Chad Peace wants a presidential primary ballot that lists all the presidential candidates.
Ironically, California had a presidential primary like that in 2000. There was one presidential primary ballot that listed all the candidates of all six qualified parties. Election officials tallied up the votes separately for each party’s voters. So the Statement of Votes has fascinating data about how the registered members of each party voted on that unitary ballot.
We had a blanket primary in 2000, and people seemed happy with it. I urge Chad Peace to advocate a return to the blanket primary, which could be made constitutional if it were made voluntary for each party that participates.
Richard Winger, San Francisco
Presidential challengers hoping to glide to victory through California’s newly relevant primary, a heads-up: Your electoral fate may hinge on convincing enough left-leaning millennials to send postcards over the holiday season.
Welcome to the quirk-filled world of California election law. Here, voters without a registered political party can participate in the Democratic Party’s “open” presidential primary—but only if they ask for the right ballot.
Those who vote the old-fashioned way, in person at the polls, can simply request their presidential ballot of choice on the spot. But for those who vote by mail (now a majority of the state’s electorate), that request takes a remarkably analog form: a postcard signed and sent to the county registrar of voters.
If voters skip that step, the section of their ballot reserved for presidential candidates will be blank.
“Very few independent voters know that they have to do something to get the presidential ballot,” said Paul Mitchell of Political Data Inc., which analyzes electoral data for campaigns. He predicts the status quo could disenfranchise a million would-be presidential voters in California. Read More
Anyone who spent the weekend at the California Democratic Party’s convention—watching 14 White House contenders try to impress what one Congresswoman called “the wokest Democrats in the country”—observed the following:
Saturday’s most rapturous cheers went to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who declared “the time for small ideas is over, advocated “big, structural change” and said “I am here to fight.” Sunday’s thunderous applause went to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, when he demanded there an be “no middle ground” on climate change, healthcare or gun violence.
But those who strayed from progressive orthodoxy did so at their peril.
Ex-Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper dismissed the push for single-payer health care by insisting “socialism is not the answer” Saturday and drew a sustained barrage of boos—not just from those who embraced the label, but from those who resented it. The following day, Maryland Rep. John Delany’s dismissed Medicare-for-All as “not good policy,” and faced heckles and jeers.
The San Francisco confab was the state Dems’ first get-together since last year’s blowout election returned the party to its majority in the House and devastated the ranks of elected Republicans in California. The delegates left no doubt that as they prepare for the 2020 election against President Donald Trump, they are in no mood for compromise or equivocation. Read More
For the second time in a row, the California Democratic Party favored a labor-backed candidate from Los Angeles to be its chairman—although tonight’s (not-yet-certified) win for Rusty Hicks was by a stronger margin than many expected.
The preliminary totals showed labor leader Hicks garnering 57% of the vote, and he claimed victory, telling supporters: “I’m Rusty Hicks and I’m reporting for duty.” (Ironically that line was made famous in 2004 by a fellow veteran, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry—before he went on to sound defeat.)
Victory for Hicks places him in charge of a state party apparatus that has been reeling from charges of sexual harassment and assault. The scandal led to the resignation of the chairman narrowly elected in 2017, Eric Bauman.
That close fight left lingering bitterness: Richmond progressive activist Kimberly Ellis and her supporters accused the party of picking a winner—a repeat of the divisive national Democratic convention in miniature.
Ellis ran for chair again this year, vowing to shake up the party’s standard operating procedure, “rooting out” what she called “a culture of abuse and harassment and retaliation,” but also placing more of a focus on progressive policy pushing rather than the traditional nuts-and-bolts of fundraising and operations. Preliminary totals showed her in second place with 36 percent of the vote. Read More
With the state’s Democratic Party kicking off its convention in San Francisco today, you’ll be able to count at least 14 presidential candidates descending on California this weekend. And for a change, they’re here not just for our money, but for our votes.
California will be sidling up to the front of the electoral line next year, holding its primary on March 3. That’s a break from the last two election cycles, when California voted in early June, long after most candidates had dropped out or seen their chances mathematically eliminated. And given the propensity of most voters here to vote by mail, Californians can fill out their ballots as early as February 3, just as Iowans are heading to the caucuses.
The state’s size alone makes it impossible to ignore: Nearly one in five registered Democrats nationwide is a California. But pushing the state into the first round of primary and caucus states changes the whole makeup of the early electorate in the vital early phase.
The upshot, thanks to California: Candidates will be wooing a population that is not only vast, but more diverse (with a significantly larger share of Latinos and Asian Americans), more urban, and more focused on housing affordability than ever.
The state’s new primary falls on the first “Super Tuesday”—a nation-spanning ballot bonanza in which voters in more than a dozen states vote for their favored candidate to represent their party of choice on the general election ballot in November. While Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada get special permission to hold their contests earlier, doling out their delegates in a slow trickle throughout February, early March is when the floodgates open. Read More
For the second year in a row, California Democrats have passed a progressive crowd-pleaser: a bill that would require all presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns if they want to make it onto the state primary ballot next year.
And once again, Republicans are denouncing the proposal as partisan anti-Trump trolling masquerading as a transparency initiative, and say it is all but certain to be shot down in the courts.
What’s different this time is the man who occupies the governor’s mansion.
Last year, both the Assembly and Senate passed a virtually identical bill along party lines only to see it vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Whatever the bill’s “political attractiveness—even the merits,” Brown wrote, the idea rested on shaky constitutional ground and could invite future politicians to erect ever-higher barriers to entry for those hoping to run for office.
This year’s version passed the Senate on Thursday and is expected to sail through the Democratic-dominated Assembly before landing on the governor’s desk. Gov. Newsom has yet to say whether he will sign it. Read More