Capitol Alert

Filling vacancies + Who will lead CA GOP? + Brown’s final Supreme Court pick

Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., in October 2017. A landmark bill to end money bail in California passed out of the state Assembly Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., in October 2017. A landmark bill to end money bail in California passed out of the state Assembly Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times/TNS) TNS

We’re getting back into the swing of things. 2019 has arrived, and a new governor is about to take office. I’ll return to your inbox Monday with details on the Gavin Newsom inauguration festivities. For now, let’s get to the news of the day.

FILLING THE VACANCIES

Two state senators will soon be leaving the Capitol, taking jobs at other elected offices. Departures from Sens. Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado Hills, and Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, will create a pair of vacancies to be filled in the coming months.

Gaines’s soon-to-be empty seat has already attracted several Republicans, including his wife and former Assembly member, Beth Gaines. Assemblymen Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin, and Brian Dahle, R-Bieber are running. Rex Hime, president and CEO of the California Business Properties Association, is also competing.

Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, previously told The Bee the vacancy will create “a real crazy mess.”

Lena Gonzalez is the favorite to take Lara’s seat, as she received his endorsement in mid-December. But she will face at least one competitor. Denise Diaz plans to campaign on issues that resonate in some of the poorer parts of the Los Angeles County district. She cited obesity and lack of Internet access as major problems worth addressing.

“I am not the establishment,” Diaz said. “I didn’t receive the blessing from Sacramento or the current political establishment. To me, I wanted to change my community.”

The Governor’s Office has not yet set a date for a special election or a primary. Gaines is moving to the Board of Equalization, and Lara in November was elected state insurance commissioner.

THE NEXT SCOTCA

It might not roll of the tongue like SCOTUS, but it’s still a pretty big deal. Josh Groban is being sworn in as California’s next Supreme Court justice today. No, not the singer. Gov. Jerry Brown will swear Groban in. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and other officials will attend the 11 a.m. ceremony at the Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building.

WHERE DO REPUBLICANS GO FROM HERE?

Travis Allen and Steve Frank are hitting the campaign trail to become the next leader of California’s Republican Party. The two are participating in a 7 p.m. debate today in Mentone. The Redlands Tea Party Patriots will host the event and stream the discussion live on their Facebook page.

David Hadley, vice chair of the CAGOP, isn’t listed as a participant in the conversation, but he is also running to become the party’s next chairman.

KOUNALAKIS SELECTS CHIEF OF STAFF

Eleni Kounalakis, California’s incoming lieutenant governor, announced Wednesday that Panorea Avdis will be her chief of staff. The Sacramento native was previously chief of staff to Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna.

NEW SACBEE REPORTER

Please give a warm welcome to Jason Pohl, who is joining us from the Arizona Republic. He’ll be reporting for The Bee as part of ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network. Pohl and Adam Ashton work on a yearlong investigative project into California corrections. Please say hi at jpohl@sacbee.com.

TWEET OF THE DAY

Assemblyman Chad Mayes (@ChadMayes) — “Thank you @MittRomney for speaking out. #IStandWithMitt”

MUST-READ: Gavin Newsom’s first hires suggest the next California governor has big health care plans

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