Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Is John Chiang readying a gubernatorial run?

State Treasurer John Chiang is publicly “contemplating” a run for California governor in 2018.
State Treasurer John Chiang is publicly “contemplating” a run for California governor in 2018. The Sacramento Bee file

There could be a pile-up of prominent Democrats running for California governor in 2018.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom – a favorite of liberals and the tech industry – is already in, announcing his campaign nearly four years before the election. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been on a “listening and learning tour” and could follow soon. Wealthy Silicon Valley investor Steve Westly, a 2006 candidate eyeing a comeback, and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, rapidly becoming one of the state’s most significant political players, are also making waves.

So where does that leave Treasurer John Chiang, who is publicly “contemplating” a gubernatorial bid and has more than $3 million in his campaign account? Perhaps running to the right of his party rivals as the choice of the business community, wooing moderates on the way to a spot in the runoff.

Chiang will be the keynote speaker at the California Business Roundtable’s board of directors luncheon, 11:45 a.m. at the Sutter Club on 9th Street, where he will discuss “his 2016 agenda” and “vision for California.” He also plans to unveil his first biennial report on the state of the Treasurer’s Office.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Republican Rocky Chávez dropped out of the U.S. Senate race at a debate last night.

RIGHT ON TRACK: What’s your representative up to? Follow along with our Track the Legislature feature.

MR. SMITH GOES TO SACRAMENTO: One of the big election battles looming this November is a proposed extension of the Proposition 30 tax increase on the wealthy to fund schools. Getting the original ballot initiative passed in 2012 required a heavy lift by Gov. Jerry Brown, but he has expressed reservations about this follow-up. Can the California Federation of Teachers help shore up political support? The union, an advocate for the extension, is in Sacramento this week for a leadership conference and will stop by the Capitol at 5:30 p.m. today for a reception in the rotunda and tomorrow for legislative office visits.

INDEPENDENTS DAY: Outside spending groups play a huge role in California legislative campaigns, but tracking their activities with the state’s aging Cal-Access system is difficult. That may be about to change. Just in time for primary season, the Secretary of State’s Office and nonprofit MapLight today will launch an independent expenditure search engine as part of the open-source PowerSearch for campaign contributions. The new tool will allow people to find IE’s going back to 2001.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who turns 47 today.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff. Jim Miller of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.