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Your guide to California policy and politics
BY Emily Hoeven November 7, 2022
Presented by Climate-Smart Agricultural Partnership, Californians Against Higher Taxes, Save our Capitol and Sutter Health

California campaigns make final election push

Do you hear it?

That’s the sound of California candidates and campaigns pulling out all the stops ahead of tomorrow’s deadline for voters to cast ballots in the highly consequential general election.

Today, Vice President Kamala Harris is set to rally in Los Angeles at a get-out-the-vote event hosted by the California Democratic Party. She’s also slated to stump for U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, whose projected lead over billionaire businessman Rick Caruso for Los Angeles mayor is shrinking, according to a new poll from UC Berkeley’s Institute for Governmental Studies and the Los Angeles Times.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, meanwhile, is set to campaign for Democrats running in Orange County, including Dr. Asif Mahmood, who’s seeking to oust Republican U.S. Rep. Young Kim, said campaign spokesperson Nathan Click. After stumping for candidates across the state over the weekend, the California Republican Party is also holding its final campaign events in Orange and San Diego counties, a reflection of the region’s influence in determining control of the U.S. House.

On Sunday, Newsom — who the UC Berkeley poll shows leading his opponent, Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle, 58% to 37% — spoke at a trifecta of campaign events:

The three rallies followed Newsom’s Saturday appearance at a San Francisco phone banking event urging voters to support Democrats in other key California congressional races — which was also the focus of President Joe Biden’s trip to the Golden State on Thursday and Friday, his second in less than a month.

The emphasis on House races comes amid growing Democratic concerns that a Republican “red wave” could ensure GOP control of Congress. Newsom, who’s facing pushback from some prominent Democrats for saying that it feels like a red wave is coming and that his party is getting “crushed on narrative,” seemingly sought to turn those sentiments around at the Prop. 1 rally:

  • Newsom: “Don’t be pessimistic, Democrats! They want you to be pessimistic. They want to talk about this red wave. … We can turn this country around, we can turn the conversation back and get on the offensive and stop being defensive, Democrats!”
  • Hallie Balch, Republican National Committee director of communications for California and Nevada, said in a statement: “A new era of leadership is coming this Tuesday. From state legislators to members of Congress, Californians will get the representation they deserve. Democrats have had a supermajority almost exclusively for nearly 30 years, and under their leadership, inflation is at historic highscrime is on the rise and the homelessness crisis is worse than ever.”
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1 Polls predict ballot measures’ fate

An electric vehicle charges at a station in Millbrae. Photo by Martin do Nascimento, CalMatters

Here’s a rundown of other election news you should know:

  • Prop. 30, the contentious measure that’s divided Democrats, is still a toss-up. The initiative, which would raise taxes on millionaires to fund electric vehicle programs and hire firefighters, was backed by 47% of likely voters and opposed by 41% in the UC Berkeley poll. But a new poll from the USC Schwarzenegger Institute found that 53% of registered voters supported it, compared to 47% against.
  • California’s two sports betting ballot measures are sinking in the polls, despite campaigns on both sides raising the jaw-dropping sum of nearly half a billion dollars. Just 30% of likely voters supported Prop. 26 — which would allow in-person sports betting at Native American tribal casinos and California’s four horse race tracks — while 53% opposed it and 17% were undecided, according to the UC Berkeley poll. The numbers were even bleaker for Prop. 27, which would legalize online sports gambling: Just 22% of likely voters backed it, compared to 64% opposed and 14% undecided. That’s a precipitous decline for both initiatives from polling last month. The USC Schwarzenegger Institute poll found 62% of registered voters opposed Prop. 26 and 70% opposed Prop. 27.
  • Most of the remaining ballot measures seem likely to pass: A majority of voters in both polls backed Prop. 1, which would protect reproductive rights, and Prop. 31, which would uphold a state law banning the sale of certain flavored tobacco products. And the USC Schwarzenegger Institute found that 69% of registered voters supported Prop. 28, which would require the state to spend more money on arts and music education in public schools. Neither poll asked voters about Prop. 29, which would impose more regulations on kidney dialysis clinics, but Californians have twice rejected similar measures.
  • Democrats are expected to sweep California’s statewide offices, continuing their nearly two-decade streak. The most competitive Republican candidate: Lanhee Chen, who’s running for controller against Democrat Malia Cohen, according to the USC Schwarzenegger Institute poll. It found Chen is supported by about 42% of registered voters, compared to 58% backing Cohen.
  • Secretary of State Shirley Weber released new voter registration figures: As of Oct. 24, California had 21.9 million registered voters, representing 81.6% of the eligible population — the highest percentage heading into a gubernatorial election in the last 72 years, according to Weber’s office. Approximately 47% of those voters are registered Democrats, compared to 24% Republican and 23% no party preference. About 19% of voters had returned their ballots as of Saturday, according to a tracker from Political Data Inc.
  • Attorney General Rob Bonta asked the CEOs of Meta, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and Reddit to curb the spread of disinformation and misinformation ahead of the election. The UC Berkeley poll found that while California voters agree that American democracy faces critical dangers, Democrats and Republicans disagree on the nature of those threats.

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Latest coverage of the 2022 general election in California

2 Dems keep reproductive rights in spotlight

From left to right, state controller candidate Malia Cohen, California State Controller Betty Yee and graduate student Alex Mabanta attend a Prop. 1 rally at UC Berkeley on Nov. 4, 2022. Photo by Martin do Nascimento, CalMatters

In back-to-back Friday actions, Newsom and Bonta took steps to reaffirm what they described as California’s goal of expanding reproductive rights for all. Newsom issued a posthumous pardon to Laura Miner, who provided abortions from 1934 to 1948, a period during which California banned the procedure except to protect a woman’s life. In 1949, Miner was sentenced to four years in prison for the felony crimes of abortion and conspiracy to commit abortion; she ended up serving 19 months in prison and 27 months on parole, according to the governor’s office.

  • Newsom said in a statement: “In California, we’re never going back to a time when women were forced to seek basic health care in back rooms and underground clinics. Laura Miner’s story is a powerful reminder of the generations of people who fought for reproductive freedom in this country, and the risks that so many Americans now face in a post-Roe world.”
  • Bonta also cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of federal abortion protections in a letter signed with 20 other attorneys general urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve safe and effective over-the-counter birth control pills. The ruling makes “birth control even more critical nationwide, including for Californians who may be traveling, living, working, or studying in anti-abortion states,” Bonta’s office said.

The moves come as Californians vote on Prop. 1, which would protect abortion and contraception rights in the state constitution. As CalMatters politics intern Ariel Gans reports, opponents and proponents of the measure came face-to-face Friday at a UC Berkeley rally organized by the California Democratic Party: “It would not be (the) Berkeley campus if we didn’t have a counter” protest, said Malia Cohen, the Democratic candidate for state controller and a featured speaker at the event, which drew about 50 students and passersby.

  • Cohen: “This amendment is gonna be a sanctuary for not only folks in the state of California, but across the entire United States.”
  • Student Andrea Jimenez, 20, said Prop. 1 incentivized her to vote: “Liberating abortion, liberating reproductive rights is something that is necessary to ensure that women are equal in the face of the law.”
  • Student Teo Antonio, 20, said the measure is “too extreme.” He added: “If you’re even for any kind of abortion restrictions, not just restriction for the entirety of pregnancy, but even if you don’t think abortion should be had in the third trimester, then I think you should vote no on Prop. 1.” (Although some counter protestors said Prop. 1 would allow abortions for any reason until birth, many independent legal experts say that isn’t the case.)

3 State, fed govts emphasize relief plans

Angela Reyes Melo, 56, prepares to pick up supplies at a food bank on Oct. 28, 2022, in San Diego. Reyes has been living with her son in a loaned car for the past four months. Photo by David Maung for CalMatters

With inflation and the economy top of mind for many voters in California and across the country, both the state and federal governments are emphasizing the steps they’re taking to bring costs down and put money back in people’s pockets:

  • California regulators will hold a public hearing on Nov. 29 with oil industry executives and experts to seek more information about gas price spikes, refinery disruptions and record industry profits, the California Energy Commission announced Friday. The commissioners will also discuss strategies to “insulate consumers from price shocks” ahead of the state’s 2035 ban on the sale of new gas-powered cars. Newsom, who plans to call a special legislative session on Dec. 5 so lawmakers can consider his proposal to tax oil industry profits, said in a statement that “this hearing will help get answers for gas price hikes and help us make sure this doesn’t keep happening.”
  • Newsom also announced Friday that he wants lawmakers to act quickly to ensure California doesn’t tax student loan debt forgiven by the federal government. Waiving state taxes on that forgiven debt would translate to as much as $1.3 billion in tax relief for more than 3.5 million Californians, according to the governor’s office. A spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon previously told CalMatters that such a law would need to be in place before Californians start filing their 2022 tax returns.
  • Californians have until Nov. 17 to file for expanded federal child tax credits, which along with other national and state safety net programs helped slash the Golden State’s poverty rate during the pandemic. But about 290,000 California kids living at or near poverty could miss out on the the 2021 child tax benefit, leaving $928 million on the table, reports Wendy Fry, the newest member of CalMatters’ California Divide team. The reason: Many families making little or no income may be unaware they need to file income tax forms to receive the credit.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Californians previously shut out of Covered California — the state program that offers discounted health insurance — will soon be able to participate due to new federal eligibility requirements, CalMatters’ Elizabeth Aguilera reports. The change aims to resolve the so-called family glitch, which blocked people covered by a family member’s employer-based health plan from enrolling in Covered California.
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CalMatters Commentary


CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Is California strangling its golden goose?

Climate change necessitates new water laws: Faced with a warming climate, federal and state regulators must update a 1992 law that established water and wildlife standards for the Central Valley, argue California Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman and former Rep. George Miller.

Expand solar development in the desert, not on farmland: The San Joaquin Valley is home to some of the world’s most fertile agricultural lands. Rather than fallowing farms for solar development, California should be investing in their survival, writes Edward Ring, co-founder of the California Policy Center.

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See you tomorrow

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Follow me on Twitter: @emily_hoeven

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