Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Kamala Harris, Loretta Sanchez meet for final primary debate

Republican candidate for California's U.S. Senate seat, Duf Sundheim, listens as Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez speaks during a debate at The University of the Pacific in Stockton on April 25, 2016.
Republican candidate for California's U.S. Senate seat, Duf Sundheim, listens as Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez speaks during a debate at The University of the Pacific in Stockton on April 25, 2016. The Associated Press

California is a month from finding out which two hopefuls to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer will advance to the November runoff. As vote-by-mail voters begin to return their ballots this week, the five main candidates are meeting tonight in San Diego for their second debate, currently the last one scheduled before the June primary.

At the first debate two weeks ago in Stockton, frontrunner Democrats Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez offered contrasting styles, with Harris citing her accomplishments as attorney general and Sanchez touting her experience as a longtime congresswoman. Three Republicans – Duf Sundheim, Tom Del Beccaro and Ron Unztrailing badly in the polls, faced the biggest audience yet for their underfunded campaigns and found small openings to take aim at the Democrats.

It was mostly a staid affair, however, with few tense engagements between participants and no big whoppers told. As the possibility of an all-Democrat general election looms, will any of the candidates change their strategies? The hour-long debate airs at 7 p.m. on Capital Public Radio, 90.9 FM and will stream on capradio.org.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: When the California Assembly voted yesterday to make single-use bathrooms gender-neutral, one lawmaker warned of the consequences for women.

PODER DEL PUEBLO: Back at the Capitol for the 22nd year, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality, a group of “Latina leaders” from across the state, has secured a powerful roster of speakers for its annual advocacy day. Following a welcome that includes special remarks by Nancy McFadden, executive secretary to Gov. Jerry Brown, the organization will host a panel on the 2016 elections and politics featuring Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Controller Betty Yee and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, 11:30 a.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center. Attendees will also lobby at the Capitol for bills to expand financial aid for community college students and eliminate the sales tax on feminine hygiene products.

GUN FIGHT: A Newsom-backed gun control initiative is likely headed for the November ballot, but concern among some legislative leaders that it could also turn out conservative voters in swing districts has prompted a parallel push at the Capitol. A package of bills, some of which duplicate key components of the initiative, cleared the Senate Public Safety Committee last month, and more are now pending. Five Assembly measures stalled in the committee were amended last week to focus on gun safety policies, including regulation of ammunition sales and self-assembled firearms. They will be heard at 10:30 a.m. in Room 3191 of the Capitol.

BEYOND THE DOME: Though it’s not uncommon for the Legislature to insert itself into foreign affairs over which it has no authority and only symbolic recourse, its latest endeavor has kicked up more controversy than usual. Amid the growing public debate over a movement to divest from Israel in protest of its policies toward Palestinians, lawmakers have introduced several bills that would prohibit the state from contracting with companies that refuse to do business with Israel. Activist organization Jewish Voice for Peace will rally on the east side of the Capitol at noon urging the rejection of AB 2844, which is up for consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

EXTRACURRICULAR EDUCATION: In 2002, California voters passed a proposition creating after-school programs such as tutoring, music classes and sports teams for students in kindergarten through 9th grade. But supporters warn that a decade of flat funding, inflation and minimum wage increases has put nearly a third of them on the brink of shuttering in the next two years. Joined by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Assemblymen Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, and Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, advocates are marching to the north steps of the Capitol at 9:30 a.m. to ask for a 13-percent funding increase for the programs, which currently receive $550 million per year from the state.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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