The Republican Party convention showed both its opportunities and challenges for the 2022 California election.
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Three memorable moments from the California Republican Party convention over the weekend: Attorney general candidate Eric Early urging the GOP to “fight the evil woke.” Secretary of state candidate Rachel Hamm reassuring delegates that she is not, in fact, a “Satanic witch.” And gubernatorial candidate Anthony Trimino setting up a boxing ring at the convention, complete with posters advertising a fight between him and Gov. Gavin Newsom.
These vignettes — captured by CalMatters political reporter Sameea Kamal, who attended the convention in Anaheim — underscore the fundamental challenge facing Republicans in a state where they’re outnumbered by Democrats nearly two-to-one and haven’t won statewide office in 16 years: finding a message that resonates with voters.
One big question: Will leaning into voter dissatisfaction with crime, homelessness and inflation be enough?
- California Republican Party chairperson Jessica Millan Patterson: “People are fed up. And they know that if they continue to do what they’ve always done” — i.e., vote for Democrats — “they’re gonna get what they always got.”
Another challenge: overcoming fractures within the party. As Sameea and Alexei Koseff report, the convention made clear that former President Donald Trump can still be a stark dividing line.
- Tea Party California Caucus leader Randall Jordan blasted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, the convention’s keynote speaker, after recordings were leaked Thursday of McCarthy privately telling other Republicans that Trump should resign for urging his supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. “We’ve never been a friend of Kevin McCarthy’s,” Jordan said. “He basically stands for everything Donald Trump tried to weed out of our party.”
- But Patterson and other prominent Republicans rallied behind McCarthy, who received a standing ovation when he took the stage for his speech.
- McCarthy himself urged a message of Republican unity: “As we go out to earn this majority, they’re going to attack you, they’re going to attack me. They’re going to attack President Trump,” he told delegates. “We have to be united, and we have to be prepared for it.”
Other election news:
- Nathan Hochman — whom the GOP endorsed for attorney general — launched a “first-of-its-kind NFT and augmented reality campaign.” Yes, you read that correctly — no, I don’t really know what it means, either.
- As reports pile up about Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s perceived cognitive decline, ambitious California Democrats are quietly planning their next move — and keeping communication lines open with Newsom, who would appoint Feinstein’s successor should she retire before her term ends in 2024, Politico reports.
- Former San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, who last week lost a special election runoff for a state Assembly seat to Supervisor Matt Haney, told the Chronicle he won’t run again in June for the seat’s full term — even though his name will be on the ballot.
- And, as elections guru Rob Pyers noted, the California Secretary of State is now projecting that it won’t launch a revamped version of its campaign finance database until early 2025 — six years after the original project deadline.
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Other stories you should know
1. CA prepares for post-Roe future
Democratic state Sen. Richard Pan of Sacramento and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks of Oakland have shelved their bills to, respectively, mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for kids attending school and child care and force businesses to require their workers and independent contractors to get the shot. But that didn’t stop a trucker convoy ardently opposed to vaccine mandates from protesting outside the lawmakers’ homes on Friday and over the weekend — a few days after a larger convoy demonstrated outside the state Capitol in Sacramento. Protesters also denounced Wicks’ proposal to end a state requirement that coroners investigate fetal deaths resulting from suspected self-induced abortions.
- Erin Ivie, Wicks’ communication director: “Bullhorns and loud trucks lend no legitimacy to baseless conspiracy theories from out-of-state protesters, and Asm. Wicks will not indulge any attempts to influence her legislative work through harassment and intimidation tactics — especially when it’s directed at her home and her family.”
But Wicks’ bill is just one of a dozen abortion rights proposals moving through the Legislature as California gears up for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this summer that could dramatically reduce — or end — the constitutional right to abortion and result in a surge of out-of-state patients. Clinics are preparing, too, CalMatters’ Alexei Koseff reports: They’re building new facilities closer to transit hubs, training more staff and strengthening outreach about available resources.
- Jodi Hicks, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California: “It is our moral imperative that we continue to provide the leadership that people are looking for.”
2. Wildlife crossing breaks ground
Newsom, state and federal lawmakers, and environmental and wildlife advocates gathered in Agoura Hills on Friday, Earth Day, to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing — a highly anticipated project to help mountain lions and other animals safely cross the 101 Freeway and find food and mates. The $90 million crossing — billed as the world’s largest — is slated for completion in 2025.
Other environmental news you should know:
- As CalMatters’ new environment reporter Nadia Lopez notes, the Newsom administration on Friday released a report outlining progress on the governor’s goal of conserving 30% of California’s lands and coastal waters by 2030 to protect wildlife and preserve natural ecosystems. To date, California has conserved 24% of its 105 million acres of land and 16% of its coastal waters, according to Newsom’s administration. To meet his goal, Newsom has proposed spending $768 million over the next two years, with nearly $600 million in the revised blueprint he’s set to unveil next month.
- As drought continues to pervade California — last week’s rainstorms barely made a blip in the state’s reservoirs — state Sen. Melissa Hurtado, a Sanger Democrat, unveiled a proposal to pay $1,000 per month for three years to farmworkers who can’t find work due to drought, the Fresno Bee’s Melissa Montalvo reports for CalMatters’ California Divide project. “There are many fields where the farmers have stopped growing,” said Fresno County farmworker Carlos Morales. “There’s no water; there are no jobs.”
- And today, California Coastal Commission staffers are slated to release their long-awaited recommendation as to whether commissioners should approve a permit for Poseidon Water to build a controversial desalination plant in Huntington Beach. Although Newsom and other top officials back the proposal, many community and environmental advocates have opposed it for more than two decades, the Los Angeles Times reports.
3. Nurses prepare to go on strike
Today, thousands of nurses at Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s hospital are set to strike over what they say are insufficient wages and benefits and inadequate staffing levels — the latest example of pandemic-exhausted and inflation-battered workers hitting the picket line. Three Democratic state lawmakers waded into the conflict with a Friday letter to hospital CEOs David Entwistle and Paul King, arguing that “the nurses are rightfully seeking competitive wages and better working conditions” and slamming the hospitals’ plan to temporarily cut health care benefits for striking workers and their families.
- Assemblymembers Ash Kalra of San Jose and Marc Berman of Los Altos and state Sen. Josh Becker of San Mateo wrote: “Having received generous federal funding the last two years, Stanford and Packard health care should not be playing games with nurses’ health care benefits.”
In other pandemic news:
- In a boon for an industry struggling with severe staffing shortages, California’s new child care providers union announced an agreement with the state for supplemental pay of up to $10,000 per provider.
- The California Department of Public Health and UC San Francisco published a study in the journal JAMA Network Open that found COVID vaccines prevented an estimated 1.5 million infections, 72,000 hospitalizations and 19,000 deaths in the first 10 months of their availability.
- As COVID test positivity rates begin to tick back up — in California, average daily cases have increased by more than 50% since the end of March, according to a Mercury News analysis — Oakland is considering a mask mandate for indoor events with at least 1,000 attendees. And, although the federal government recently stopped reimbursing COVID tests for uninsured residents, California is still offering those patients free tests — for now, California Healthline reports.
- A federal appeals court has asked the California Supreme Court to decide whether a worker’s spouse who contracts COVID-19 due to the spouse’s exposure at work can sue the spouse’s employer — and the court seems likely to rule in the affirmative, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
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CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Two new reports indicate that California taxpayers aren’t getting much bang for the billions of bucks they spend on public services.
California should produce more oil in-house: We should be using our rich supply of in-state petroleum to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources, argue Republican Assemblymember Vince Fong of Bakersfield and Democratic Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua of Stockton.
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See you tomorrow.
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