With California’s legislative session finally behind us, attention turns to the fall elections, where Republicans are largely crouched in a defensive position and Democrats are looking to expand the electoral map.
The end of session has traditionally marked the time when staff members hit the phones and fan out across the state to work in competitive races.
In the Assembly, Democrats need to pick up two seats to win back a two-thirds supermajority they lost two years ago (after seldom taking advantage of it). They are one seat shy of attaining supermajority status in the upper chamber, a distinction that would allow the dominant party to raise taxes and rewrite rules.
At least five Republican Assembly members are fighting to return to the lower chamber: David Hadley of Manhattan Beach, Young Kim of Fullerton, Marc Steinorth of Rancho Cucamonga, Catharine Baker of Dublin and Eric Linder of Corona. Hadley is in a rematch with former Democratic Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi of Torrance while Kim is once again facing off against ex-Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva of Fullerton.
Complicating the prospects of the down-ticket Republicans is their opponents’ relentless invoking of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. The New York businessman badly trails Hillary Clinton statewide in deep-blue California and is treading water in several toss-up districts. Republicans also must overcome not having one of their own in the U.S. Senate race between Democrats Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez.
In the Senate, Democrats are targeting Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang, a Republican from Diamond Bar, while the GOP is defending the Antelope Valley seat of the late Sharon Runner, which is being sought by Assemblyman Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita.
VIDEO OF THE DAY: Epic Sacramento Bee photo defined Gerald Ford assassination attempt.
TAKING STOCK OF CONGRESS: California voters also are in position to help pave Nancy Pelosi’s path to retaking the speaker’s gavel. Democrats must win a net gain of 30 seats, and have in their sights Reps. Steve Knight of Lancaster, Jeff Denham of Turlock, David Valadao of Hanford and Darrell Issa of Vista. Despite the fact that no Republican has unseated an incumbent Democrat since 1994, Rep. Ami Bera is locked in another close race, this time with Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones.
A FIGHT FOR LEGACY? Outgoing U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, has been traveling around the state as part of her farewell tour. At 11 a.m. Thursday, she’ll join University of California President Janet Napolitano, Berkeley’s Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ and Boxer’s son, Doug Boxer (class of 1988) at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library to make a “special announcement.”
Boxer’s office is tight-lipped about the appearance, but don’t look for Napolitano to name her the next UC Berkeley chancellor. The pair will be accompanied by Bancroft Director Elaine Tennant and Ethan Rarick, institute of governmental studies associate director, so the thought is that Boxer, who recently released a book about her life, could be turning her papers over to the school.
VIDEO: See Boxer sing about winning use of the congressional gym.
WORTH REPEATING: “I've been here for 40-plus years, and it’s time to move on.”
– Ron Pane, Assembly chief sergeant-at-arms, on why he’s hanging up his spurs after more than four decades.
CITIZENS REUNITED: Remember Jim Heerwagen? For a few fleeting moments, it looked like the Los Gatos-based software entrepreneur might have an initiative on the fall ballot to shed more light on campaign spending and eliminate some perks of elected office. His plans to close “dark money” loopholes ultimately proved too costly to pursue, and Heerwagen said he was putting his faith in the Legislature to make some of the reforms. This week, Heerwagen reported donating $10,000 to the Berkeley Fair Elections Coalition for Measure X1, which would create a new voluntary system of publicly funded elections.
AN INFRASTRUCTURE WITH A VIEW: A hearty welcome back to the California Incline in Santa Monica, the famous slope linking beach with bluffs. Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, said he expects thousands of visitors a year to “enjoy the streamlined modern design of the stronger bridge and the spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean ... I look forward to visiting the California Incline with my family to appreciate the beautiful vistas.”
ON BECOMING A POSER: After Labor Day, you’ll no doubt be bogged down in election overdrive, surrounded by pizza boxes and a mountain of energy drinks. Why not try some free yoga? About 30 people have been hitting up the west lawn of the state Capitol at 10th and N streets at 6:30 p.m. to do some organized stretching. “We are getting to end of the season,” organizer Ron Ridderbusch said. “Once school starts things start to slow down.”