Kevin de León won’t take over as the new state Senate President Pro Tem for one more day, but he’s already celebrating in style. The California Democratic Party is hosting a major fundraiser tonight in honor of the Los Angeles Democrat’s swearing-in tomorrow, with tickets ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 for the 5 p.m. VIP cocktail hour at Perch restaurant in Los Angeles. Those with slightly less disposable income to throw around can attend the reception for de León at 6 p.m. for $4,100.
Is this big-ticket soiree three weeks ahead of Election Day part of the party’s efforts to regain a legislative supermajority? De León has said his first leadership goal is to help restore two-thirds control of the upper house that Democrats lost earlier this year with the suspension of three senators, and candidates in a handful of close races that may decide that margin could certainly use the boost.
Sen. Andy Vidak, one of the Democrats’ top targets this November, is bringing out the big guns in anticipation, too. The Hanford Republican will be joined by former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, as well as California Republican Party Chair Jim Brulte, for a fundraiser at a private home in Bakersfield tonight.
VIDEO: Amid scandal, Michael Peevey had no choice but to end his long reign as president of the California Public Utilities Commission, Dan Walters says.
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WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT: Gov. Jerry Brown has already repudiated efforts to remove transportation fuels from California’s cap-and-trade program before new regulations go into effect next year, but that’s not stopping Assemblyman Jim Patterson. The Fresno Republican will hold a press conference with Central Valley business groups, 10 a.m. at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Building Auditorium, to once again call on Brown to delay the plan, which is expected to raise gas prices by several cents per gallon. The event will be followed by a panel discussion on the effects of the expected price hike at the pump.
DOUBLE UP: Outgoing Senate leader Darrell Steinberg is in Los Angeles today to announce a new behavioral health research center at UCLA, a Southern California sister to a similar center he unveiled this month at the UC Davis medical campus. The project is funded by a grant established under Proposition 63, an initiative written by Steinberg and passed by California voters in 2004 that created a tax on high income earners to fund mental health services.
MAILING IT IN: As more and more Californians choose to vote by mail, what does the future of elections in this state look like? David Lesher of the Public Policy Institute of California moderates a discussion with Kim Alexander of the California Voter Foundation, Sacramento County Registrar Jill LaVine, Mindy Romero of the California Civic Engagement Project and California Calls’ Karla Zombro, noon at the UC Center Sacramento on K Street.
VOTER GUIDE: Still trying to figure out how to vote on those six propositions populating the November ballot? Perhaps the students and faculty of the McGeorge School of Law can help. Their initiative forum will provide information and analysis on Propositions 1, 2, 45, 46, 47 and 48, starting at 5 p.m. at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law on 5th Street.
HELPING HANDS: Two more off-season Assembly hearings are scheduled for today: The Human Services Committee holds an informational hearing on recruiting and retaining foster caregivers, 1:30 p.m. at the Norwalk City Council Chambers. The Select Committee on Domestic Violence meets to discuss “changing the culture of abuse,” 3 p.m. at the California Endowment Building in Los Angeles.
CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to state Sen. Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, who turns 62 today.
Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.