Despite a dismal overall performance in California this year, top Republican strategists in the state say they believe the ailing party’s congressional race prospects should improve two years from now.
However, the extent of a potential comeback could hinge in part on whether a strong challenger to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown emerges, which is far from a given for an underfunded, dysfunctional state GOP struggling to compete statewide.
The strategists’ optimism stems from the likely scenario the party faces in 2014: lower turnout, freshman Democrats in marginal districts, President Barack Obama no longer at the top of the ticket and the political trend that the party in power traditionally underperforms in a president’s second midterm.
“There are just too many seats here that could be won in a good midterm that it just can’t be neglected,” GOP consultant Rob Stutzman said.
I agree with Rob.
There were many problems with the California GOP in 2012.
It wasn’t redistricting, but in many cases the races which were lost were not lost by much and will be competitive again in 2014.
So, what can turn things around for the California GOP?
A little recruitment of candidates, a little technology (early voting, absentee voting, registration) and some ethnic outreach could turn the tide.
Let’s face it, California is a “BLUE” state and has been the past fifty years or so. There have been some Republican Governors like Wilson and Deukmejian (note, I don’t include Schwarzenegger), but the California Legislature has been dominated by the Democratic Party.
This domination will not change. But there is hope with the new top two election system that the GOP can align with the NPP (No Party Preference) independents and win back some seats – particularly in very blue districts.
The California GOP probably cannot sink any further because of demographics – so, full speed ahead in 2014.
I will summarize a few of the propositions in this post and highlight the contrast between the Democrats and GOP.
Proposition 30: Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment
Increases personal income tax on annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years. Increases sales and use tax by ¼ cent for four years. Allocates temporary tax revenues 89 percent to K-12 schools and 11 percent to community colleges. Bars use of funds for administrative costs, but provides local school governing boards discretion to decide, in open meetings and subject to annual audit, how funds are to be spent. Guarantees funding for public safety services realigned from state to local governments. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased state revenues over the next seven fiscal years. Estimates of the revenue increases vary—from $6.8 billion to $9 billion for 2012-13 and from $5.4 billion to $7.6 billion, on average, in the following five fiscal years, with lesser amounts in 2018-19. These revenues would be available to (1) pay for the state’s school and community college funding requirements, as increased by this measure, and (2) address the state’s budgetary problem by paying for other spending commitments. Limitation on the state’s ability to make changes to the programs and revenues shifted to local governments in 2011, resulting in a more stable fiscal situation for local governments. (12-0009)
Proposition 31: State Budget. State and Local Government. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.
Establishes two-year state budget cycle. Prohibits Legislature from creating expenditures of more than $25 million unless offsetting revenues or spending cuts are identified. Permits Governor to cut budget unilaterally during declared fiscal emergencies if Legislature fails to act. Requires performance reviews of all state programs. Requires performance goals in state and local budgets. Requires publication of all bills at least three days prior to legislative vote. Gives counties power to alter state statutes or regulations related to spending unless Legislature or state agency vetoes changes within 60 days. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Decreased state revenues and commensurate increased local revenues, probably in the range of about $200 million annually, beginning in 2013-14. Potential decreased state program costs or increased state revenues resulting from changes in the fiscal authority of the Legislature and Governor. Increased state and local costs of tens of millions of dollars annually to implement new budgeting practices. Over time, these costs would moderate and potentially be offset by savings from improved program efficiencies.
Proposition 32: Prohibits Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Prohibitions on Contributions to Candidates. Initiative Statute.
Restricts union political fundraising by prohibiting use of payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Same use restriction would apply to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Permits voluntary employee contributions to employer or union committees if authorized yearly, in writing. Prohibits unions and corporations from contributing directly or indirectly to candidates and candidate-controlled committees. Other political expenditures remain unrestricted, including corporate expenditures from available resources not limited by payroll deduction prohibition. Limits government contractor contributions to elected officers or officer-controlled committees. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased state implementation and enforcement costs of up to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, potentially offset in part by revenues from fines.
As you can see, with the first three propositions, the Democrats and Republicans are exactly opposite.
Californians need to read these ballot measures closely, since they deal with the issues that the Governor and Legislature deem too hot to handle.
The POLS prefer to allow either the Capitol special interests or their special interest surrogates to carry the political ball.
I will deal with the remainder of the California Propositions in subsequent posts.
GOP Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, addressing a crowded campaign fundraiser in the Democratic bastion of San Francisco, told laughing supporters Sunday, “Boy, somebody’s got to do something for California…the right leadership would make a difference here.”
Romney made the comments during a half hour address to donors at the Fairmont Hotel, one of his three fundraisers in the Bay Area Sunday. Both his Fairmont fundraiser and two held in private homes in Woodside and San Francisco were hosted in part by former gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, the Hewlett Packard CEO, who was singled out for applause by Romney and a received a standing ovation at the Fairmont stop.
The former Massachusetts Governor, who like President Obama had suspended campaign events in the wake of the Colorado movie theater massacre this week, told backers that “our hearts are with many of the people who lost loved ones” in the Aurora mass killings, and praised Obama’s stop in Aurora to meet with victims entirely appropriate.
Here’s the full and unedited pool report of tonight’s Romney fundraiser at the Fairmont Hotel, as provided by the local print pool reporter allowed to cover the event, Josh Richman of the Oakland Tribune:
Romney entered the Fairmont Hotel’s Gold room at 5:32 p.m. to a cheering, standing ovation.
President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney will return to the Bay Area on Sunday and Monday — back to buck-rake once again in donor-rich California.
Obama is scheduled Monday to raise money at a dinner at the Piedmont home of developer and real estate investor Wayne Jordan and his wife, activist Quinn Delaney. Tickets were listed at $35,800 per person.
Obama is also scheduled Monday to attend a larger fundraising reception at the Fox Theater in downtown Oakland.
Promising to avoid partisan attacks in the wake of Friday’s movie-theater massacre in Colorado, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke to campaign contributors Sunday about his own five-step plan to fix America’s economy.
Speaking to about 250 supporters who’d paid from $2,500 to $10,000 each to attend a reception at the Fairmont Hotel, the former Massachusetts governor praised President Barack Obama’s last-minute trip to Aurora, Colo., as appropriate and befitting his office.
The audience observed a moment of silence for the Colorado victims. “We turn to a power greater than our own to understand purpose, and if not to understand at least to be able to soothe the wounds of those who have been so seriously hurt,” Romney said.
Romney noted the audience included about 25 members of Gold Star and Blue Star families — those who’ve lost relatives in military service, and those who have relatives currently serving. He observed “the great sense of unity that comes in this country as we recognize those who serve our country.”
Turning to the economy, Romney said “there is that entrepreneurialism in the American spirit which, if tapped, will allow us to reboot our economy, and soon.”
To tap it, he said, he first would tap into America’s “massive new resources, both in oil and gas.”
Second, Romney said, he would pursue more foreign trade, which he said “puts more Americans to work in higher-paying jobs.”
This would seem a moment of great opportunity for California Republicans. The state has become a national symbol of fiscal turmoil and dysfunction, the Legislature is nearly as unpopular as Congress and Democrats control every branch of government.
But instead, the state party — once a symbol of Republican hope and geographical reach and which gave the nation Ronald Reagan (and Richard M. Nixon) — is caught in a cycle of relentless decline, and appears in danger of shrinking to the rank of a minor party.
“We are at a lower point than we’ve ever been,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy, the No. 3 Republican in the United States House of Representatives. “It’s rebuilding time.”
Registered Republicans now account for just 30 percent of the California electorate, and are on a path that analysts predict could drop them to No. 3 in six years, behind Democrats, who currently make up 43 percent, and independent voters, with 21 percent.
“It’s no longer a statewide party,” said Allan Hoffenblum, who worked for 30 years as a Republican consultant in California. “They are down to 30 percent, which makes it impossible to win a statewide election. You just can’t get enough crossover voters.”
“They have alienated large swaths of voters,” he said. “They have become too doctrinaire on the social issues. It’s become a cult.”
Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters Daily video: Good news on job growth but ‘long row to hoe’
The state budget will freeze tuition rates for the state’s two university systems if voters approve tax hikes in November, University of California student groups said this evening.
Charlie Eaton, a leader with the UC student workers’ union, said Capitol officials told him that the budget bills will add $120 million each for the UC and California State University systems to avoid tuition hikes. But that is contingent on voter passage of Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax hikes in November, he said.
The tuition freeze announcement could not be immediately confirmed by Capitol officials.
Lawmakers have yet to make budget language publicly available. Legislative floor votes have been delayed one day to Wednesday because drafting of bills is taking longer than Senate leaders predicted, according to sources who were not authorized to speak publicly.
A group of about 15 left-leaning protesters gathered in downtown San Diego on Sunday morning to criticize the political influence of the billionaire Koch brothers.
Charles and David Koch are widely reported to be meeting in San Diego this weekend to help raise hundreds of millions of dollars for conservative causes. The supersecret affair isn’t publicized, but has been speculated to be at top-tier digs such as the Manchester Grand Hyatt downtown or the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad. Efforts to verify the location have not been successful.
Sunday’s anti-Koch rally at the corner of First and Island avenues (and later along Harbor Drive) drew several sign-carrying protesters, including Mark Thomas of Occupy Phoenix. He helped organize the event “because I felt like there was a hole here. Nobody was going to do anything, and I didn’t feel like that was ethical for there to be a non-response.”
Edward Headington, the moderate Democrat who calls himself the “purple choice” in the heavily Republican 38th Assembly District, today announced what he called a “game-changing” endorsement — that of former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a Republican. In addition, Headington announced the support of Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch Englander, another Republican.
The high-profile GOP endorsements will no doubt help Headington try to make his case that he is in fact a moderate choice in his race against conservative Republican Scott Wilk.
With the state budget more-or-less completed for the time being, Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators must turn to other business, particularly to three very big and very immediate issues – water, pension reform and the bullet train – that may be even more contentious than the budget.
What the politicians do has potential effects beyond the issues themselves by influencing the November election, particularly the fate of competing tax increases.
Another Republican politician has bolted the GOP, protesting that the party is too rigid.
In fact, both major parties — all partisan politics — have become too strident and stifling, he says.
So Bruce McPherson, 68 — former California secretary of state and centrist legislator and current candidate for the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors — has re-registered as an independent, or “no party preference.”
In doing that, McPherson is fitting into the pattern of millions of Californians who have snubbed the parties and become nonpartisans.
More than one-fifth of registered voters, 21.3%, are listed with no party preference, according to the Secretary of State. That’s double the 10.7% in 1996 and more than quadruple the 5% in 1972.
In the last 16 years, the GOP’s slice of the electorate has fallen from 37% to 30.2%. The Democrats’ share also has declined, but less precipitously — from 47.1% to 43.4%.
“I walk precincts door to door and people tell me they’re looking for an independent voice,” McPherson says. “They see partisan politics as paralyzing the governing process. They see no movement or communication. They’re frustrated and fed up.
As Democratic state leaders continue budget negotiations, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax hike on sales and upper-income earners officially qualified Wednesday for the November ballot, as did two other tax measures.
Brown’s tax initiative will be joined by a rival measure to hike income taxes on all but the poorest Californians as well as an initiative to raise taxes on multistate corporations based elsewhere, the Secretary of State’s Office announced. A total of 11 measures, including a water bond, are now on the November ballot.
Brown and lawmakers are counting on voters to pass his tax plan to generate an estimated $8.5 billion in the current budget cycle, which provides additional funding for schools and helps bridge the state’s $15.7 billion deficit. Though state leaders considered its qualification a foregone conclusion, some political experts began to wonder whether it could miss the June 28 deadline to reach the November ballot as the date drew closer.
The Brown initiative would raise sales taxes by a quarter-cent on the dollar. It would also hike income taxes starting at $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for joint filers.
Gov. Jerry Brown backed away from a fight with environmentalists yesterday, abandoning a plan to exempt the $68 billion California bullet train project from environmental laws.
Brown had hoped to fast-track construction of the controversial project by sidestepping key provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act.
But the idea had put him at odds with most of the state’s green groups.
The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Planning and Conservation League were among the organizations that in recent days had strongly criticized Brown’s plan.
The Sierra Club had called Brown’s idea “dangerous” and “a political mistake.”
Most of the state’s environmental groups backed Brown in his 2010 campaign for governor. Several green groups have been firm supporters of the rail project, which would link San Francisco and Los Angeles with trains traveling more than 200 miles per hour.
Betting that either Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court will remove the federal obstacle that bars the activity nearly everywhere except in Nevada, the Legislature is moving toward positioning California to allow betting on sports events.
Advancing a bill that passed the Senate with only two dissenting votes in May, an Assembly committee on Wednesday gave bipartisan support to a measure that would give card clubs, horse racing tracks and Indian casinos the ability to add sports betting if the state is given the authority to do so.
Nevada has long held a monopoly on big-time sports betting in the United States, and under the provisions of a 1992 federal law only it and three other small states, all of which previously allowed for limited betting on sports, are allowed to conduct that activity.
But New Jersey voters recently amended their state constitution to legalize sports betting and Gov. Chris Christie last month said his state will begin allowing wagers on football, basketball and other sports contests this fall, daring the federal government to try to stop it.
That could set up a showdown before the U.S. Supreme Court over whether the federal law that allows some states but not others to participate in a commercial activity violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
In addition, New Jersey Sen. Frank LoBiondo has introduced legislation in Congress that would allow additional states an opportunity to establish legal sports betting.
California will be in position to follow New Jersey’s lead if SB 1390 by Sen. Roderick Wright, D-Inglewood, makes its way through the Legislature and is signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this fall.
Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats are nearing a deal on welfare-to-work cuts that would reduce how long families can receive full aid and child care, but provide exemptions such as one for people in areas with high unemployment.
The Democratic governor and lawmakers are still negotiating how broadly the exemptions would apply, said sources close to negotiations who did not want to be named because the deal remains incomplete. The criteria would determine how much the state could save and the extent to which Brown can declare a shift in the welfare model as he asks voters to raise taxes in November.
Brown wants lawmakers to remake the state’s welfare-to-work program, known as CalWORKs, by imposing more severe consequences for not finding work. Democrats are willing to accept some changes, but they say the governor’s plan is too severe when work is scarce even for more qualified job applicants in California.
“The typical CalWORKs recipient doesn’t have a high school diploma,” said Mike Herald, a lobbyist for the Western Center on Law and Poverty. “They’re having to compete right now in a job market where even people with high school diplomas can’t get hired.”
The dispute over CalWORKs has become one of the biggest sticking points in budget negotiations between Brown and his own party’s lawmakers. Facing the threat of lost pay, Democrats sent the governor a $92 billion spending plan on Friday’s constitutional deadline that relied on softer cuts to the program.
Brown has until Wednesday to sign or veto the main budget bill, while the new fiscal year begins in 10 days. Lawmakers could avoid a veto by passing a compromise budget by Tuesday or pulling back the budget they approved last week.
Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters’ Daily video: ‘Are Republicans an endangered species in California?’