Our ex-Hoosier gives us the lowdown on Mike Pence

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

We assess the first year of the Iran nuclear deal, while Sacramento Bee columnist Erika D. Smith, an Indiana expat, offers her take on Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who could be a heartbeat away from the presidency. Donald Trump delayed the announcement of his vice presidential selection following the Bastille Day terrorist attack in France. Markos Kounalakis writes about China’s indirect book banning, and a Chicago paper thinks the judge was too harsh on disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Erika and I are packing our bags, and protective headgear, and taking The Take to Cleveland and Philadelphia. We’ve always known political reporting was a contact sport, though we rarely have felt a need to wear helmets in the Capitol.

Take a number: $400,000

Under California law, a single donor can give $28,200 to candidates for governor, or $56,400 for the primary and general. That’s a hefty sum by itself. But donors can give unlimited sums to candidates’ committees established to promote ballot measures, and many candidates, Gavin Newsom among them, have ballot measure committees.

Silicon Valley billionaire Sean Parker is one of the main financial backers of the marijuana legalization initiative, Proposition 64, championed by Newsom, and has maxed out to Newsom’s gubernatorial committee, at $56,400. Earlier this month, Parker found another way to help his pal. He donated $400,000 to Newsom’s ballot measure committee, set up to promote Newsom’s bullet registration initiative, Proposition 63.

California campaign contribution caps are like jumbo shrimp, an oxymoron.

Our take

Editorial: Although far from perfect and still a work in progress, the Iran nuclear deal has made the world slightly safer.

Erika D. Smith: I left Indiana in large part to get away from its first-term governor, Mike Pence, and his policies that too often seem to punish anyone who isn’t white, straight, male, middle class and Christian.

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown’s California Air Resources Board makes a sly and maybe risky move in carbon chess game.

Markos Kounalakis, among our regular columnists: China may sense that it is losing its confidence or party control and that kidnapping booksellers is an effective way to maintain national security and stability. Such indirect book banning, however, is a desperate act unworthy of any great nation.

Ben Boychuk: Donald Trump is right about “America First.”

Andy Jones: We must press for goodwill and justice in our interactions.

Mary Solecki and Kirsten James Soapbox: Contrary to Dorothy Rothrock and Rob Lapsley’s hand-waving, California’s climate law is lowering energy costs for businesses and consumers.

Their take

L.A. Times: A word of caution to county, state and local leaders: Legal marijuana should not be seen as the solution to your revenue problems.

San Diego Union-Tribune: Hillary Clinton’s free-college tuition plan is folly.

Chicago Sun-Times: A 14-year sentence for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who tried to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat, is too severe; it should be reduced.

Austin American-Statesman of Texas: We welcome Judge Elsa Alcala’s frank – and courageous – assessment of the Texas death penalty, not for what people wish the state’s capital punishment system to be, but for what it is: discriminatory, inefficient and immoral.

Debra J. Saunders of The San Francisco Chronicle: I usually disagree with the very left-leaning Stephen Reinhardt, but here I share his distrust of the methods used to put a case in the hands of federal lawmen.

Syndicates’ take

Charles Krauthammer: A big step for NATO to counter Russia.

Eugene Robinson: Obama hasn’t healed us on race.

Nicholas Kristof: A starting point is for us whites to wake from our ongoing mass delusions, to recognize that in practice black lives have not mattered as much as white lives.

Gail Collins: You’ve got to be in a pretty bad place to begin with if you’re yearning for the spot beneath Trump.

Tweet of the day

Derek Cressman@DerekCressman: “No matter what you think of Ginsburg or Scalia, anyone think the time has come for term limits for Supreme Court Justices?”