Your guide to California policy and politics
BY Emily Hoeven June 7, 2022
Presented by California Cattle Council, NextGen Policy, and California Water Service

Confusion, contradictions swirl in lead-up to California primary

KEEP TABS ON THE LATEST CALIFORNIA POLICY AND POLITICS NEWS

California’s primary election is here at last — and with it a jumble of contradictions and confusing communication.

First up: Erratic emails. Californians searching for information on how to cast their ballots (which you can find in CalMatters’ Voter Guide) may have been baffled by a series of Monday emails from the secretary of state’s office, which oversees statewide elections.

  • At 11:13 a.m., the office sent an email alerting voters in certain counties that they could begin casting their ballots in person on May 28 — a date that passed about a week and a half ago.
  • Then, at 2:03 p.m., the office sent another email with the subject line: “Please disregard previous email — Election Day is Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 7th — Early in-person voting options available now!!”
  • The secretary of state’s office did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Whether the email’s double exclamation point will motivate voters to head to the polls remains to be seen — but what is clear is that California is on track to potentially break its low-turnout record, despite more ways than ever to vote.

What Californians need to know to prepare to vote
Go to Voter Guide
  • Kimela Ezechukwu, a Los Angeles County Democrat, told the Los Angeles Times that she hasn’t voted yet because she’s lost trust in elected officials.
  • Ezechukwu: “They’re all the same. They say what they need to say to get you to vote.”
  • Voter trust in the Los Angeles Police Department has also dropped steeply, with just 38% of the city’s registered voters saying they approve of the department’s overall performance, down from 77% in 2009, according to a new poll from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and the Los Angeles Times. Nevertheless, 47% of voters said the next mayor should increase the size of the police force.
  • Eric Schickler, co-director of the Institute of Governmental Studies: The findings highlight the “ambivalence and complication in how the public thinks about policing.”

Californians’ complex — and at times contradictory — opinions on criminal justice, public safety and homelessness will also be on display in two high-profile, high-dollar races on today’s ballot:

  • The race for Los Angeles mayor, into which billionaire Rick Caruso has dumped an unprecedented $37.5 million of his own money — resulting in an almost comical level of airwave domination. To wit: Although Caruso didn’t participate in a May 20 mayoral forum on homelessness, his campaign “paid to run banner advertising, which appeared over the top of the streaming video of the debate on The Times’ website,” a Los Angeles Times article ruefully read. “That meant that, as the debating candidates discussed priorities for the unhoused, Caruso’s smiling face loomed above them, with the messages ‘Caruso Can Clean up L.A.’ and ‘Vote for Rick.'”
  • The recall of progressive San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, reflecting a rapid and sharp shift in voter concerns from “criminal justice reform, over-incarceration, police conduct” to “this feeling that things are just not going well,” Jason McDaniel, a San Francisco State associate professor of political science, told the Washington Post.
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The coronavirus bottom line: As of Thursday, California had 8,989,279 confirmed cases (+0.4% from previous day) and 90,815 deaths (+0.1% from previous day), according to state data now updated just twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

California has administered 76,475,034 vaccine doses, and 75.4% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.

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1 More election tidbits

The cost of gas at an ARCO gas station in Oakland on May 25, 2022. Photo by Martin do Nascimento, CalMatters

Here’s a look at some other primary election odds and ends:

What to know about the 2022 elections in California
All Election Coverage

2 Newsom headed to international summit

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during the State of the State address in Sacramento on March 8, 2022. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters

Someone who appears largely unconcerned about today’s primary election: Gov. Gavin Newsom, who polls show has a commanding lead over his opponents.

Meanwhile, Newsom — who exited isolation Thursday after recovering from a COVID infection — is scheduled this week to travel to Los Angeles for the Summit of the Americas. He plans to “meet with world leaders and discuss the greatest challenges facing California and the Western Hemisphere, including climate change and economic resiliency,” according to his press office. The summit, however, is already plagued with controversy: Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is boycotting it due to the U.S. refusing to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela for their “lack of democratic space.”

  • Who exactly will the governor meet with, and what events will he participate in? “We plan on releasing additional details on the governor’s summit schedule later this week,” Newsom’s press office told me.

3 Sakaki out as Sonoma State president

Sonoma State President Judy Sakaki. Photo via California State University

Yet another top executive has resigned as a result of sexual harassment scandals ensnaring the California State University system. Judy Sakaki, the president of Sonoma State University, announced Monday that she will step down from her post on July 31. The news came several months after Santa Rosa Press Democrat and Los Angeles Times investigations revealed that CSU paid $600,000 to settle a claim that Sakaki retaliated against a former Sonoma State administrator who reported allegations to top CSU officials that Sakaki’s then-husband, a veteran Sacramento lobbyist, had sexually harassed several women at a party at his house.

But Sacramento is also facing a reckoning with its own process for handling sexual harassment investigations: On Thursday, survivors of sexual violence and their advocates are set to gather at the state Capitol to demand changes to the Workplace Conduct Unit, which was formed in the wake of the #MeToo movement to create a new, independent process for legislative employees to file and resolve harassment complaints. But some former staffers who filed complaints had markedly negative experiences with the unit, according to several San Francisco Chronicle investigations, including one published Monday.

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CalMatters Commentary


CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Democratic factions are vying for power in the state Assembly.

Nursing home funding cuts amid budget surplus are unconscionable: Newsom’s proposed budget, if adopted, would reduce access to skilled nursing facilities for financially vulnerable Californians, force cuts to health care workers’ wages and threaten nursing homes with closure, writes Craig Cornett, CEO and president of the California Association of Health Facilities.

Other things worth your time


Some stories may require a subscription to read

California lawmakers mull buying out farmers to save water. // Associated Press

Fire weather risk as gusty winds meet hot, dry conditions. // Los Angeles Times

California’s latest COVID surge may be slowing, data suggest. // Los Angeles Times

Sacramento reports fourth probable monkeypox case as CDC confirms 25 infections across U.S. // Sacramento Bee

State pays out more than $4 million to settle lawsuit stemming from E.coli outbreak. // San Diego Union-Tribune

California wants to slash insulin prices by becoming a drugmaker. Can it succeed? // California Healthline

Computer glitches and human error still causing insurance headaches for Californians. // California Healthline

Fresno-area school fired two superintendents this year. ‘Our little school — it needs help.’ // Fresno Bee

‘Ghost gun’ found on Menifee high school student who made social media threats, police say. // Orange County Register

Fruitvale students tested their soil and found lead contamination. Now they’re campaigning to fix it. // Oaklandside

Garcetti allies tried to put the screws to Mark Kelly. It may have backfired. // Politico

Barbara Boxer was retired. Then her home got redistricted into a GOP seat. // San Francisco Chronicle

Dianne Feinstein’s long fight. // The Cut

How a suicide in his family pushed a California congressman to fight for gun control. // Sacramento Bee

Big city mayors, furious about mass shootings, fear sweeping gun limits are out of reach. // New York Times

Home prices are still skyrocketing in most migration hot spots — but not this California city. // San Francisco Chronicle

Massive rent increases hit mobile homes, including in California. // Washington Post

California’s ‘Methuselah’ bristlecone pine may no longer be world’s oldest tree. // Los Angeles Times

See you tomorrow

Tips, insight or feedback? Email emily@calmatters.org.

Follow me on Twitter: @emily_hoeven

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