Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California Republican Party gets aggressive in Assembly races

Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, right, faces increasing spending by outside groups in his re-election campaign.
Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, right, faces increasing spending by outside groups in his re-election campaign. AP

While attention was focused on the 36th and 65th Assembly districts – where Democratic members Steve Fox of Palmdale and Sharon Quirk-Silva of Fullerton are highly vulnerable this election – the California Republican Party was quietly expanding its efforts to pick up other legislative seats in moderate areas and break the Democrats’ legislative supermajority.

Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, in particular, has been taking increasing heat lately. The Torrance Democrat trailed his Republican challenger, David Hadley, by 557 votes in the primary. Now Hadley, who received $150,000 from the state GOP on Monday, is on the offensive, teaming up with Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assocation President Jon Coupal for a statewide press call today to denounce his opponent. Outside groups, including the California Republican Party and Charles Munger’s Spirit of Democracy committee, have spent more than $827,000 on the race since the beginning of the month, with more than $680,000 of that to support Hadley or oppose Muratsuchi.

Things are also tightening in the 21st Assembly District. Though Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, holds a huge fundraising advantage over his Republican opponent Jack Mobley, who wasn’t even on the primary ballot, independent expenditure committees have reported more than $643,000 in spending since Oct. 7, most of it to support Mobley or oppose Gray.

There has even been action in the district of Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, where Democrats hold a 21-point registration advantage. On Oct. 10, the state GOP spent $30,000 on behalf of Republican challenger Rita Topalian, who won the primary by more than 1,000 votes, prompting the California Democratic Party to pump some money into the race for Calderon.

Over in the Senate, Republicans are trying to capitalize on the scandal surrounding termed-out Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, to make in-roads in his heavily Democratic Los Angeles-area community. More than $500,000 in outside money has poured into the race to replace him, which was not considered particularly competitive until recently.

VIDEO: Orange County is a Republican doughnut, and its Democratic center offers this fall’s biggest legislative battle, Dan Walters says.

VOTER GUIDE: We’re less than two weeks from Election Day. If you still haven’t figured out who you’re voting for, The Bee is at your service. Find the races in your district, explore the candidates’ views on the issues, create a customized ballot and save your picks with our online voter guide.

THE NEW WORKOUT PLAN: When he’s not attacking Gov. Jerry Brown for betraying school children, Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari enjoys working out with them. He’ll be at the UFC Gym of Sacramento on Bruceville Road at 5:30 pm to lead a group of students in a workout.

IN COMMON: New Common Core curriculum standards, intended to promote analytical skills over rote memorization, are rolling out in K-12 schools across California this year. State Board of Education President Michael Kirst is among the experts participating in a panel discussion on what it will take for the standards to succeed, hosted by the Commonwealth Club of California, 6 pm at the club office in San Francisco.

HEAR YE, HEAR YE: Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, joins the Senate Select Committee on Women and Inequality for an informational hearing on strategies to promote gender equity in the workforce and among the one in four U.S. women who live in poverty, 1:30 pm at the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles. The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance meets at 11 am at Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach to discuss implementation of the Middle Class Scholarship, a new financial aid program for students from middle-income families.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.