Capitol Alert

Is the California Republican Party salvageable? + #Election2018 Updates

Watch the California Priorities Summit

The California Priorities Summit brought together Californians committed to finding solutions to critical policy issues facing California. The summit included special guests, interviews and discussion of real solutions.
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The California Priorities Summit brought together Californians committed to finding solutions to critical policy issues facing California. The summit included special guests, interviews and discussion of real solutions.


Kristin Olsen raised eyebrows Friday morning at The Bee’s “California Priorities” summit, declaring the death of her own party. The former Republican Assembly leader said the California GOP must distinguish itself from the national party brand — one she considers irreparable. “I don’t think the party is salvageable at this point in time,” she said. In California, Republicans “aren’t a viable second party,” she added.

While Democrats may not have caught a complete blue wave nationally, Democrats in California are certainly exceeding expectations. The party is on track to capture supermajorities at the Capitol, both the Assembly and Senate. Most surprising is what appears to be the ouster of State Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, who trails Democratic challenger Melissa Hurtado by 8 percentage points, as of Sunday night.

Democrats have already picked up three congressional seats occupied by Republicans in Southern California. On Saturday, Harley Rouda unseated 30-year Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Three other Republicans are vulnerable, and Democratic challenger Josh Harder could very soon take out Congressman Jeff Denham, a Turlock Republican.

Olsen will appear on a Thursday airing of “California Nation,” The Sacramento Bee’s political podcast. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play Music and SoundCloud.


Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, thinks it’s time to once again push forward with a bill to restrict gun access. When the Legislature reconvenes on Dec. 3, the lawmaker will reintroduce his plan to expand peoples’ power to get gun violence restraining orders. Ting is optimistic it will pass with the support of Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom.


As of Sunday night, 16 seats in the California Legislature remain uncalled, as do three congressional races and two seats for statewide office. Here’s just a few races to watch in the coming days:

  • Insurance Commissioner: State Sen. Ricardo Lara is beating independent Steve Poizner by 2 percentage points. With millions of votes left to be counted, it’s too early to call. But things are looking good for Lara.
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction: Assemblyman Tony Thurmond has taken a lead over Marshall Tuck. Tuck trails by 1 percentage point, or 65,576 votes.
  • Board of Equalization, District 4: Will State Sen. Joel Anderson be out of elected office? His lead over Democrat Mike Schaefer has been cut to 0.4 percentage points — a difference of 7,491 votes.
  • House District 10: Denham could soon find himself out of office, as Harder leads by 1.8 percentage points. This is the likeliest of three outstanding seats to flip blue
  • House District 39: Republican Young Kim leads Democrat Gil Cisneros by 1.4 percentage points. But as her lead slowly continues to shrink, Cisneros’ prospects look brighter each day. The question remains whether Kim has enough of a cushion to fend off her opponent. This race could very well be the last one decided in California, and maybe even the country.
  • House District 45: Rep. Mimi Walters has a 1-point lead over Democratic challenger Katie Porter. She leads Porter by about 2,000 votes.
  • Assembly District 16: Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, leads Democrat Rebecca Bauer-Kahan by just 0.4 percentage points, or 627 votes.

  • Senate District 12: Democrat Anna Caballero continues to extend her lead in a Central Valley area currently occupied by Republican Anthony Cannella. She’s beating her Republican opponent, Rob Poythress, by 4.4 percentage points — or 6,181 votes.
  • Senate District 14: Vidak trails Hurtado by 8 percentage points — a difference of ,7927 votes. A loss would guarantee a Democratic supermajority in the Senate, with the potential for one more pickup opportunity in District 12.

MUST-READ: Harley Rouda declares victory over 30-year Congressman Dana Rohrabacher


The Bee’s Editorial Board believes Democrats who will retake control of the House should use their powers to keep President Donald Trump in check. Democrats at the state Capitol, though, should avoid abusing their power or completely freezing out Republicans.

Dan Walters of CalMatters thinks a recession could soon be on the horizon, which would make it difficult for Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom to keep his costly campaign promises.