Opinion

A congressional wave, perhaps, thanks to Donald Trump

Good Labor Day morning. On behalf of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board, welcome to The Take, your opinion-politics newsletter. Please sign up for it here.

This day used to be the traditional start of the election campaign, but campaigns never end these days. We offer a quick take on congressional races, our overview of why Californians ought to vote, our regular Monday tour of editorial pages in swing states, as defined by Real Clear Politics’ map, and end with the question: What would Donald Trump say?

Taking the Hill?

Sacramento consultant Richie Ross describes Donald Trump as God’s gift to Democrats. The question is whether Donald’s Wall will start the wave that inundates Republicans in the House and Senate.

California won’t have a hand in the Senate makeup. Kamala Harris is a Democrat, as is Loretta Sanchez, though Sanchez enjoys GOP support from the likes of Hugh Hewitt.

On the other side of the Sierra, however, the race for Harry Reid’s seat pits Reid against the Koch Brothers. Actually, it’s former Democratic Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Rep. Joe Heck, the Republican from Henderson, waging a proxy war over Donald Trump.

Democrats have a good chance of taking the Senate. For them to take control of the House, there would need to be a wave. If the wave comes, it would build in California and wash eastward.

Over lunch the other day at Tres Hermanas on K Street, Rep. Xavier Becerra, who was in town to visit his parents, said that if the election were held now, Democrats would pick up 15 seats, half the number they need to win the House.

Four California seats held by Republicans are in play: David Valadao of Hanford, Jeff Denham of Turlock, Steve Knight of Lancaster and Darrell Issa of Vista. If Democrats win all four, he said, they will have won the House.

Trump will have a hand in the outcome. Valadao shuns Trump. Denham ducked and tried to explain. Knight avoids the question. Issa didn’t embrace Trump, then gave him the full Chris Christie, and now worries, prompting Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker to write “The Trumping of Darrell Issa.” At last count, Issa had banked $3.7 million. As the wealthiest member of the House, he’ll spend whatever it takes.

There wouldn’t be much doubt about control of the House if all states drew maps the way the California Independent Redistricting Commission does. The Raleigh News & Observer concluded that North Carolina’s current 10-3 Republican advantage would shift to six Republican seats, four Democratic seats and three toss-ups.

Competition is so messy.

Take a number: 70,000

That’s the number of children who get health coverage through Covered California, our state’s version of the Obamacare marketplace. Foon Rhee writes in the Numbers Crunch that the Affordable Care Act has helped cut the percentage of uninsured kids in California in half.

Our take

Editorial: This ballot also asks serious policy questions. For example: Shall we legalize recreational marijuana? Are the immense social justice benefits of ending weed prohibition worth the impaired drivers and other downsides experienced in Colorado and Washington?

Editorial: City Hall is finishing up a policy on who gets to use the city’s luxury suite at the new downtown Sacramento arena that opens in a month. The city should share the wealth with its suite.

Dan Morain: The guy deciding which of the hundreds of bills to sign or veto from this year’s legislative session spent a few weeks studying the nature of leadership from a woman who believed it was godly to help the poorest of the poor.

Jack Ohman: Hard labor cleansed my slacker soul.

Roberta Achtenberg and Alex Gonzalez: Student debt has reached crisis levels. A plan that will help graduates who need relief should be taken seriously.

Rebecca LaVally: Although freedom of expression is a tenet of university learning, for the first time I’ve felt a need this semester to include a civility policy in my syllabi.

Jay Schenirer: Six months ago, I would not have invited potential riders to try RT for fear that they would simply not return. Today, I am sponsoring the first 1,000 new riders with a free day pass on RT.

Marcos Breton: Should we trust Sac PD to investigate its own in the shooting death of a homeless black man?

Their take

L.A. Times: If the law by Sen. Isadore Hall III, D-Compton, banning Confederate flags on state property seemed innocuous, that’s because people didn’t foresee all the ways it might be used.

San Luis Obispo Tribune: Help will be needed as the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is shuttered. Assistance is available to coal communities. Isn’t it only fair that similar opportunities be open to communities left economically devastated by the closure of a nuclear power plant?

Fresno Bee: One of Fresno’s greatest shames has been its blind eye to slumlords. Shame on these property owners who see the poor as people to exploit. Shame on leaders who carry their water.

Modesto Bee: Greg Opinski should resign from the Merced Union High School District Board of Trustees. So should Tommy Jones, the Los Banos Unified School District board member Opinski is accused of bribing.

Swing state takes

Miami Herald, Florida – 29 electoral votes: Donald Trump is not softening his views, adapting a more presidential stance, moderating his tone or otherwise pondering how presidents behave and how policy is formulated.

Kevin O’Brien, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio – 18: There’s nothing the Republicans can do to keep President Hillary Clinton from happening. But they can defend every seat in the House and the Senate with the utmost intensity. Donald Trump’s beyond saving. America isn’t.

Detroit News, Michigan – 16: Immigrants want to come to the United States because of its economic opportunity and freedoms. Donald Trump’s platform encourages Americans to believe otherwise, and it’s not a winning message with the majority of voters.

Charlotte Observer, North Carolina – 15: Once upon a time, there was a wall. It was a big wall, although no one knew exactly how big. They knew only that it often grew 10 feet higher when Donald Trump gave a speech.

Richmond Times Dispatch, Virginia – 13: Gary Johnson appears immune to the social Darwinism that infects extreme Libertarians and misguided conservatives; he projects empathy. Donald Trump’s temperament is not first-class; there is no evidence of an intellect. Hillary Clinton’s ethical lapses are disabling. Johnson enjoys a decisive edge.

Arizona Republic, Arizona – 11: The state that had endured the ravings of Russell Pearce was watching Donald Trump try to nationalize the madness that once gripped Arizona. Our state eventually came to its senses. We will now wait and see if the American people do the same with Brand Trump.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Missouri – 10: Donald Trump’s plan to expand biometric screening also is worth consideration. Paying for it – plus the wall, plus the extra personnel and vehicles required to hunt down and expel 11 million unauthorized immigrants – is the big question.

Des Moines Register, Iowa – 6: Imagine if the public – and debate moderators – pressured presidential candidates to talk about the country’s electrical grid or emerging disease threats instead of abortion and transgender bathrooms.

Las Vegas Sun, Nevada – 6: So now we know how effective Donald Trump would be as our chief ambassador. Meet the ugly American.

Syndicates take

Ruben Navarrette: I’m tired of hearing about the plight of the media’s newest charity case: working-class whites who live in Rust Belt states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Dana Milbank: Donald Trump’s campaign is the apotheosis of reality television’s hostile takeover of the U.S. political system, in which the winner is often the one who generates the most shock and who commands the most attention.

Paul Krugman: Like it or not, poisoning kids is a partisan issue.

David Brooks: Politics is no longer about argument or discussion; it’s about trying to put your opponents into the box of the untouchables.

And finally,

Our friends at The Fresno Bee are offering huge prizes in a caption contest that imagines what Donald Trump might say about the Electoral College map. Offer your take here.

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