Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California Senate leader joins push to recall embattled judge

This June 27, 2011, photo shows Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky.
This June 27, 2011, photo shows Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky. The Recorder via AP

Of all the events spurring action in the just-concluded legislative session, the saga of Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was perhaps the most nationally resonant.

After Turner received a six-month jail sentence for sexual assault perceived by many as too lenient, the political reaction was swift and dramatic. On the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown are measures expanding the definition of rape and mandating prison terms for violating an unconscious victim, both direct responses to the Turner sentence.

But there’s policy – and then there’s politics. The policymaking has concluded for the year. The politics rage on, channeled now through a campaign to recall the judge who sentenced Turner.

Legislators have already advocated recalling Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, arguing the light sentence he handed down will foster a culture of casual rape. They also allege he has a history of bias in his rulings. So they’re gathering money to unseat him next year, when his next term begins.

Today that campaign will get a prominent public endorsement from Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, who’s expected to be joined by Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, and U.S. Reps. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, and Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton. They will be gathering outside San Jose’s Hall of Justice at 10 a.m.

As for Turner, he’s scheduled to leave jail today after three months.

VIDEOS OF THE DAY: How did her colleagues bid termed-out former Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins adieu? With a song. What bills will Gov. Jerry Brown sign?

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN: Brown has his work cut out for him now that the Legislature has adjourned. The fourth-term Democrat has until the end of the month to consider 789 bills, according to his office. That number includes 391 bills that were on his desk as of Thursday afternoon and 398 more that were on their way. If history is a guide, the majority of those bills will become law; Brown vetoed 14.1 percent of bills last year. Here’s our rundown of which measures to keep an eye on.

THE MUSTACHE ABIDES: John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who worked in several Republican administrations, is endorsing – and putting money behind – four GOP congressional candidates in tight California districts. Bolton’s PAC has given more than $400,000 to more than 60 candidates nationally during the election cycle. In California, the PAC is putting $10,000 behind Denise Gitsham, running against Democrat Scott Peters of San Diego, and $5,000 apiece to Republicans Scott Jones of Sacramento, Rep. Jeff Denham of Turlock and Rep. David Valadao of Hanford.

WORTH REPEATING: “I know it’s getting close to midnight. We’re tired. But we’re voting on this.” - Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Burbank, summarizing the end-of-session crunch around 11 p.m. Wednesday

LIFE IN 3D: Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, was one of eight senators to term out of or leave the state Senate this week, turning her 3rd District seat over to an all-Democrat battle between Assemblyman Bill Dodd of Napa, and former Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada of Davis. Dodd won the four-candidate primary, with 37 percent of the vote to Yamada’s 30 percent, and he leads her in money raised since July 1, $97,400 to $9,700. But she’ll try to do a little bit of catch-up at a fundraiser in Dixon on Sunday.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, who turns 47 today. Cheers!

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert