Tesla is on guard for unfriendly legislators

@realDonaldTrump is lying on immigration, lying about crime and lying about the laws of CA. Flying in a dozen Republican politicians to flatter him and praise his reckless policies changes nothing. We, the citizens of the fifth largest economy in the world, are not impressed.” — Gov. Jerry Brown tweeted, with a Pinocchio emoji, referring to a White House meeting Wednesday of Californians opposed to so-called sanctuary state status.


Tesla struts its stuff

Sen. Bob Wieckowski checks out a Tesla Model 3, made in his Fremont district. Tesla executives displayed the electric cars outside the Capitol Wednesday.

Tesla executives parked shiny new Model 3 electric vehicles across from the Capitol Wednesday, hoping to gin up excitement among legislators, but also knowing that the company could become a target of unfriendly legislation soon.

Legislators last year required that any car maker that runs afoul of certain labor standards lose valuable state rebates for consumers who buy zero-emission vehicles.

The United Auto Workers, which is trying to organize Tesla workers at its Fremont factory, pushed for the legislation last year and could seek more restrictions aimed at Tesla this year.

Sen. Bob Wieckowski, a Democrat who represents Fremont, told me he’d fight such an effort: “I’m aware that it’s out there. I would not be so naïve to say it’s not out there.”

Tesla’s view: The company, which employs 20,000 people in California, sent a letter last month to officials working on implementing the labor standards, pointing out that the rules would not apply to car makers in other states and countries.

“Companies with manufacturing operations in California already are subject to the strongest laws to ensure employees are treated fairly and responsibly. It would be wrong to penalize the one auto company whose manufacturing employees benefit from California’s rigorous labor standards and fail to address poor working conditions that exist elsewhere.”

What’s ahead: Tesla’s production of Model 3 vehicles, which sell for $35,000 and up, has been lagging. Once the production issues are solved, the company will turn its attention to where it will build its new electric trucks.

Perhaps it will be in the East Bay Area. Maybe it will be in the Central Valley town of Lathrop, where Tesla makes components. Or maybe Tesla will solve its California labor issues by building trucks in Nevada, where it has a huge battery factory.

The fight for the middle

Democrat Susan Rubio, running for a state senate seat in the San Gabriel Valley, is no one’s moderate on social and women’s issues.

But business groups have lined up behind Rubio and against Democrat Mike Eng, a former assemblyman from Monterey Park who’s organized labor’s choice.

The Rubio-Eng race is a product of California’s top-two primary system, in which the top-two vote getters in primaries face one another in the general election, regardless of party.

There always have been moderate Democrats. But under the top-two system, consultants seek candidates who, once elected, might side with business on matters of taxes, regulation, and the right to sue.

Numbers: Sacramento political consultant David Townsend, a Democrat who advises moderates, counts 22 moderates out of 53 Assembly Democrats, and about six of 26 Senate Democrats.

Townsend has spent $370,000 so far to elect Rubio through his campaign committee, Californians for Jobs and Strong Economy. Oil companies, drug makers, insurers, farmers, cable companies and others fund Townsend’s committee.

The point: By November, millions will have been spent on the race, far more than Rubio or Eng will raise into their own campaign accounts, this for a job that pays $107,000 a year. But that’s not the point. For business interests, a legislators’ vote on a key issue is golden. At a minimum, moderates can temper legislation, shifting it more to the middle.

Townsend: “That’s what the top-two primary is all about. It allows for a discussion in safe Democratic seats so people don’t go hard left or left right. You have to have people somewhat in the middle.”

T’was a lovely little bungalow

CALmatters’ Matt Levin set out to find what kind of home $500,000 can buy in California. He looked in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Reno, and he found a sizzling hot property in San Jose.

It was a charming three-bedroom bungalow. Until it burned down. Then it sold for nearly $1 million.

Frenemies come to Newsom’s defense

Organized labor and other backers of Democrat Gavin Newsom’s run for governor have poured $5 million in recent days into independent campaigns to help his candidacy.

The first ad seeks to boost Republican John Cox among Republicans, by showing him supporting President Donald Trump, and take hardline stands on issues that appeal to GOP voters.

The goal is help Cox win one of the top-two spots in the June primary. Newsom’s backers know a Republican can’t win a statewide contest in California.

The money is intended to counter the $17 million raised by charter school advocates to help former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa edge out Cox for one of the top-two slots in the June 5 primary.

CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall details spending by Villaraigosa backers, writing that they share a common interest in shaking up public education by promoting charter schools, which receive taxpayer funds but are not required to follow all the rules that govern traditional schools.

The main funders of independent campaigns supporting Newsom include the California Teachers Association, Service Employees International and the California Nurses Association. Blue Shield, a health insurance company, chipped in nearly $1 million.

Frenemies: Some of Newsom’s backers are outright antagonists. The nurses’ union, for example, is the main proponent of the single payer health insurance proposal, something Newsom embraces. If it’s ever adopted, health insurance companies such as Blue Shield could be put out of business.

Donation of the day

Elliott Broidy of Broidy Capital Management in Los Angeles donated $50,000 to San Diego County Republican Party on May 10.

Broidy resigned as the Republican National Committee’s deputy finance committee chairman in April after revelations that he agreed to pay $1.6 million to a former Playboy model who became pregnant during an affair. President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged the payment.

The San Diego County GOP did not respond to requests for comment.

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

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