Good morning, California. It’s Monday, November 9.

Harris’ historic win

How things have changed for California.

With the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the next president and vice president, the Golden State — which spent the past four years mired in a contentious relationship and more than 100 lawsuits with the Trump administration — is poised to exert more influence in the White House than it has in at least a generation. Harris, the first woman and woman of color to win the vice presidency, is only the second Californian — and the first California Democrat — to do so. Her California roots and decades-long friendship with Gov. Gavin Newsom will likely help the Golden State attract more federal attention and funding as it grapples with the pandemic and a historic fire season, CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reports.

  • Peter Schwarzkopf, speaker of the Delaware House of Representatives: When Biden was vice president, “we had access to him and that’s how it will be with Kamala too. You won’t have to explain things to her, she’ll know what you need. … Your state will now have a front row seat to the administration.”

Harris’ ascent to the vice presidency has also set off multiple iterations of political musical chairs. The first: Who will fill her seat in the U.S. Senate? That decision is ultimately in the hands of Newsom, and there is no shortage of ambitious California Democrats clamoring for the job.

  • Newsom: “There’s phone calls, there’s emails. … People just happen to show up certain places. They want to babysit your kids, they offer to get groceries, get coffee.”

Some of the officials likely on Newsom’s shortlist are also rumored to be top contenders for posts in the Biden-Harris administration. Here’s a look at some of the Californians who could end up running federal agencies:

  • Attorney General Xavier Becerra: Department of Justice or Department of Homeland Security
  • California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols: Environmental Protection Agency
  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti: Department of Transportation
  • Former HP CEO Meg Whitman: Department of Commerce
  • California Labor Secretary Julie Su: Department of Labor
  • California Rep. Karen Bass: Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • California State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond: Department of Education


The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Sunday night, California had 966,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and 17,963 deaths from the virus, according to a CalMatters tracker.

Also: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

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Three statewide propositions remain too close to call. Ben Christopher takes a look at how many votes each measure’s “Yes” campaign would need to win.


1. Californians react to election results

A large crowd celebrates Biden and Harris winning the presidential election in San Francisco on Nov. 7, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Celebrations and protests swept across California on Saturday after the news broke of Biden and Harris’ win. “She’s from Oakland! A hometown girl!” Oakland resident Jackson Taylor said of Harris as he carried a Biden-Harris sign along Grand Avenue amid honking cars, dancing revelers and delighted residents banging pots and pans. “We were awakened by the sound of screaming and we were like, ‘Yes!'” Oakland resident Ru-Huey Yen told CalMatters’ Anne Wernikoff. In Berkeley, a dance party broke out in front of Harris’ childhood home. In Los Angeles, people banged drums, formed a spontaneous car parade, set off fireworks and popped bottles of champagne. “For the first time in four years, I feel I can breathe,” resident Heather Fels said. Meanwhile, a fight between Biden and Trump supporters broke out in front of the California state Capitol, drawing a strong police presence. Trump supporters also held rallies in Beverly Hills, Orange County and other California cities, waving American flags, playing music and forming car caravans. “I don’t think any of us are going to acknowledge Biden as our president,” said Mission Viejo resident Carrie Johnson.

2. Sacramento’s glass ceiling tough to crack

Illustration by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters. iStock, Gage Skidmore via Flickr; Office of Eric Garcetti via Flickr

Although California women have a history of smashing the glass ceiling in Washington, D.C., a similar pattern has yet to take hold in Sacramento, CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reports. Two of the country’s highest-ranking female politicians are Californians — Harris and San Francisco Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who in 2007 became the first female Speaker of the House. California was also the first state in the nation to send two women to the U.S. Senate when voters elected Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein in 1992. But unlike more than half the states, California has never had a female governor. It elected its first female lieutenant governor, Eleni Kounalakis, in 2018 — something Vermont did in 1955. And although women are poised to win more seats in the state Legislature than ever before, they will likely make up only one-third of lawmakers.

  • Susannah Delano, executive director of Close the Gap California: “There is a great tradition of California women leading at the federal level. We are sort of middling in our statehouse’s gender balance.”

3. Voters pass majority of local taxes for schools

Image via iStock

Even as California voters appeared to reject Prop. 15, which would hike taxes on commercial property to raise billions for local governments and schools, they approved a majority of local tax measures to support schools. At least 39 of 60 districts passed school bonds and 11 of 14 approved parcel taxes, according to a preliminary EdSource analysis — some measures are still too close to call. This marks a sharp contrast from the March primary election, when voters decisively rejected a state school bond proposal — the first to fail in more than two decades — and defeated at least half of 236 local tax measures, including one-third of school bond proposals.

Still, this election’s 65% bond passage rate comes with caveats. The November ballot contained the lowest number of local bond measures in 20 years, likely due to districts’ aversion to asking residents for money amid a recession. And historically, Californians have passed 80% of local school bonds.

4. Big uptick in campaign complaints

Image via iStock

California’s political ethics watchdog saw a big spike in the number of complaints alleging campaign law violations for the November election compared to the 2016 election, and dozens of investigations are already underway, the Los Angeles Times reports. This year, the Fair Political Practices Commission received 445 complaints in the five weeks before Election Day, compared to 307 submitted during the same period before the 2016 election. Many of the complaints have to do with controversial ballot measures, including Prop. 21 and Prop. 22, and whether campaigns properly reported contributions and included required disclosures in advertisements. Although this year’s measures proved particularly contentious — Attorney General Xavier Becerra was sued at least six times for how he labeled and summarized them, a modern record — experts say the presidential election also heightened tensions.


CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: It’s time for the entire Legislature to reassert its co-equal authority, rather than allowing Newsom to operate indefinitely as a one-man band.

Senate seat shortlist: Newsom must select an Asian American Pacific Islander leader to fill Kamala Harris’ Senate seat, argues Pat Fong Kushida of the CalAsian Chamber of Commerce.

Amplifying California’s global voice: A Biden administration will help strengthen California’s position on the world stage and in global trade, writes Jerrold Green of the Pacific Council on International Policy.


Other things worth your time

Voting at 17? Not so fast, California voters say. // CalMatters

A newly constituted City Council could change Los Angeles’ approach to homelessness. // Los Angeles Times

Rising Democratic star Michael Tubbs risks defeat, thanks in part to a Stockton blog. // Los Angeles Times

California Republican’s chief of staff rebuked after sexual harassment complaint. // Sacramento Bee

Todd Gloria will bring a lot of firsts as San Diego’s new mayor. // Los Angeles Times

Orange County backed Biden, but Republicans poised for dramatic comeback after ‘blue wave.’ // Los Angeles Times

California records most coronavirus cases since August amid statewide, national surge. // Mercury News

Two years after the Camp Fire destroyed Paradise, only a fraction of homes have been rebuilt. // San Francisco Chronicle

See you tomorrow.

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Emily Hoeven wrote the daily WhatMatters newsletter for three years at CalMatters . Her reporting, essays, and opinion columns have been published in San Francisco Weekly, the Deseret News, the San Francisco...