Capitol Alert

Capitol cover-up + Cox, Umberg upsets + Pelosi passes first step

A newly erected sign at the state Capitol listed two south entrances to the historic building on Nov. 28, 2018. Informed of the problem, state officials initiated a “cover up.”
A newly erected sign at the state Capitol listed two south entrances to the historic building on Nov. 28, 2018. Informed of the problem, state officials initiated a “cover up.” The Sacramento Bee

We’ve got lots of election news to get to this morning with some key race updates, but let’s mix it up a bit and begin with something silly...

TOURIST TRAP

You may have noticed some new construction going on at the Capitol. The grounds crew has installed new signs to help people get to their destination. There’s one hilarious problem: Not all of them are accurate.

At the north side of the building across the street from Starbucks on L Street, one sign is quite the head-scratcher.

An orange dot saying “You are here” sits next to an orange arrow pointing to the south entrance. On the opposite side of the sketched building is a white arrow to the south entrance.

For the record: The Capitol building does not have two south entrances. Has Sacramento officially achieved tourist trap status?

The Department of General Services deferred to the facilities team of the Joint Rules Committee, initially saying it was responsible for the improper signage. The committee then referred back to DGS, explaining that their department was the one that was actually responsible.

In a statement, DGS clarified its mishap.

“This project is an overall Capitol ADA compliancy upgrade,” DGS wrote. “The sign you’re referring to is under construction, behind the cyclone metal fencing and not completed. Signage error was noted late Tuesday afternoon and new sign is at printers installation slated for Friday. The installer has since covered the incorrect sign.”

Blue and red tape now bind the black trash bag dangling over the now-concealed sign. DGS did not immediately respond when asked for details on the cost of the sign replacement.

COX STUNS VALADAO

He looked down, dead and out. On Election Night, he trailed by 7 percentage points. But now, more than three weeks later, Democratic challenger TJ Cox of Fresno appears to have pulled off a major upset over Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford.

After 10 days of silence, Kings County released stunning election results. The conservative-leaning portion of the district that overwhelmingly voted for Valadao went in the opposite direction. Cox gained ground, extending his lead by 70 votes from 436 to 506. The news only got worse for Valadao as the day progressed. In Fresno County — the largest portion of the district that also leans conservative — Cox picked up an additional 23 votes.

With only a few hundred ballots left to count, Valadao would need a breakout performance to put a dent in what appears to be an insurmountable deficit. Vote count estimates show Valadao would need 82 percent of the 830 outstanding ballots to retake the lead. With most of the remaining uncounted ballots coming from Kern County and Cox gaining ground in that area as more results come in, Valado’s defeat looks inevitable.

Cox’s win could very well be the biggest congressional surprise. It’s one of two “Likely Republican” seats that went to Democrats, according to the Cook Political Report’s House forecast. By Election Day, FiveThirtyEight gave Cox just a one-in-five chance of winning. The Associated Press had declared Valadao the winner shortly after the election. It retracted its call earlier this week once Cox took the lead.

Cox’s victory will give Democrats their seventh congressional pickup in California and 40th gain nationally. Cox declared victory Wednesday afternoon, while Valadao has yet to concede. Phillip Vander Klay, spokesman for Cox, said he is unsure whether there will be a recount. He also noted the incoming congressman has no official position yet on whether he’ll support Nancy Pelosi’s bid to become House Speaker.

UMBERG CLAIMS VICTORY

Tom Umberg’s campaign declared victory Wednesday morning over incumbent state Sen. Janet Nguyen, R-Garden Grove. With the 34th Senate District in Democratic hands, the party boosts its advantage over Republicans to 29-11. This is the party’s largest advantage since 1962 (except for a brief period in 2012). The Assembly is on track to have 60 Democrats — the largest advantage since 1883.

PELOSI CLEARS FIRST HURDLE

Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday secured enough votes to a floor vote in early January for her selection as Speaker of the House. In the private Democratic caucus meeting, Pelosi needed a simple majority. The final total: 203-32. Among California’s newcomers, it remains unclear where Josh Harder, D-Turlock, and Cox stand.

TWEET OF THE DAY

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) — “I thank @HouseDemocrats for putting their trust in me. I look forward to continuing our work to create a more open, transparent Congress committed to working #ForThePeople to fight corruption, rebuild America’s infrastructure, & lower prescription drug costs!”

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