What to watch for on election night

Good morning, California.

“Most of what I did that summer was sit around and cry and drink — and I didn’t cry much,” Jesse Unruh, after Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination 50 years ago tonight, as told by the LA Times’ George Skelton.

What to watch tonight

Antonio Villaraigosa, Delaine Eastin, John Cox, John Chiang, Gavin Newsom, Travis Allen

Some questions we’ll be seeking to answer as primary results come in: Are there signs of a blue wave? How will women candidates do? Will young people vote? We asked a few wise people what they’ll be watching for on California’s primary day:

Jim Brulte, California Republican Party chair: “How much will Republican turn-out over-perform Republican registration?”

Garry South, Democratic consultant: “It probably all boils down to LA County: Can Antonio Villaraigosa produce the enhanced Latino turnout he did in his mayoral races? Can Gavin Newsom improve on his performance in his 2010 lieutenant governor’s race primary, where he lost the county by 14 percent to Janice Hahn?”

Gil Duran, Democratic consultant: “Watch for how quickly Democrats who lose primary races endorse the winners. The biggest danger facing Democrats doesn’t come from Republicans. It comes from polarization within the party.”

Robin Swanson, Democratic consultant, worried Democrats will get shut out of congressional races because of the top two primary: “We could lose when we have winning hand.”

Mike Madrid, Republican consultant working for Villaraigosa: “Look for how much Latino turnout exceeds 2014 primary and if GOP turnout is over or under 33 percent. Those two factors will likely determine who comes in second place.”

Matt Rexroad, Republican consultant: “What the talking heads will say about Congressmen Tom McClintock and Devin Nunes when they get more than 55 percent of the vote.”

Doug Elmets, Republican consultant: “The politician who is not on the ballot is the one to watch, Donald Trump.”

CALmatters’ Ben Christopher weighs in, too, with seven questions for your Election Night viewing.

CALmatters’ live election results

CALmatters will post election results throughout the night here. Our reporters will be live-blogging through the night from our Sacramento office and election parties for major candidates in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. We’ll curate a Twitter feed of voices from the left and right. We hope you will chat with us via our elections Facebook group. If you’re not signed up, you’ll have to join by going here, but that’s easy.

LA Unified’s pension issue

CALmatters’ Jessica Calefati, in collaboration with the LA Times, analyzed the finances of California’s largest school district, LA Unified, and found that employee benefit costs have risen at a faster rate than base funding over the last five years, leading to a projected $408 million deficit in 2020.

That raises questions about whether the district has balanced its budget by dipping into funding for needy students.

Union leaders are not ready to forgo raises for their members based on gloomy projections. Asked what the union might do to try to help the district avoid budget deficits, United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl said he wouldn’t consider the question because he expected the state to give the district more money:

“If we take it off the table, then we are acknowledging that the public district system is going to go off a fiscal cliff, which I’m not willing to acknowledge.”

Why Democrats should worry

The California Republican Party ought be alarmed by the latest voter registration numbers, but California Democrats should not feel warm and fuzzy either.

Democrats added 745,600 voters between May 2014 and May 21, 2018. There are 8.4 million Democrats, 44 percent of California 19 million voters, to the GOP’s 25 percent. This clearly is a blue state. But no-party preference voters increased by 1.1 million during that period, to 25.5 percent of the total.

CALmatters’ Ben Christopher reported on the Secretary of State’s latest numbers showing there were 83,518 more NPP voters than registered Republicans.

Kids these days: A new category should give both parties pause. Democrats picked up 37.4 percent of the 67,883 16- and 17-year-olds who pre-registered in anticipation of voting when they turn 18. Republicans picked up a paltry 9.4 percent.

No-party preference teens accounted for 44.7 percent. Add to that the 8.4 percent who signed up for third parties, and more than half of the young people in California are rejecting both main parties.

Big change at watchdog agency

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission voted Monday to restructure itself, brushing aside concerns of Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration and the commission’s former chair and attorney.

The commission enforces campaign finance law and lobbying restrictions. In the past, the full-time chairperson took the lead in setting policy.

Dan Schnur, who was FPPC chair at the end of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s tenure, approved of the move:

“I wasn’t able to find a way to integrate the other commissioner. They ought to be able to play a more impactive role than show up and vote or up down once a month. The chair will still be in charge of the entire operation.”

Governors appoint the full-time chair and one part-time member. Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Controller Betty Yee also appoint commissioners.

The LA Times quoted Commissioner Frank Cardenas, Becerra’s appointee, as referring to Jodi Remke, who quit as chairwoman last week after it became apparent she would come out on the losing end of Monday’s vote:

“The disagreeable nature of our departed chair had a hell of a lot to do with the motivation and the design of the changes that are on the table today.”

History: Much of labor opposed the 1974 initiative promoted by a young Jerry Brown that created the commission. Labor supported the restructuring.

Walters: Tort wars reignited

CALmatters’ Dan Walters commentary focuses on the new tort wars between plaintiffs’ lawyers and their clients, and business groups seeking to fend off litigations. The focus is on the wine country fires and efforts by local governments to collect on a court judgment imposing hundreds of millions on paint companies that sold lead paint. Both issues will play out in the final months of the legislative session.

Now you can get the WaltersWeekly email every Friday, with all four of Dan’s columns each week. Please sign up for it below.

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

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