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Something New: Cross Party Appeal

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Have we ever had a more dismal election?  For the first time in 60 years there is no serious race for governor, nor any other partisan statewide office.  Voters in competitive districts are exposed to the usual swarm of campaign mailers.  But one thing is new this year; candidates in same party runoffs are making serious appeals across party lines, further evidence that our new “top two” primary is working as it should.

Because of our new primary system, California no longer nominates partisan candidates for state or federal office, instead the top two primary finishers run off in November.  As a consequence, this year there are 25 same party runoffs for Assembly, Senate and Congress.  Not all, of course, are serious campaigns, but those that are have found a magic bullet in appealing to members of the party that has no candidate on the ballot.

Consider the heavily Democratic 6th Senate district that covers mostly the city of Sacramento.  The top two finishers in the primary were the two Assembly members overlapping the Senate district, Assemblymen Roger Dickinson and Richard Pan, both Democrats.

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The Enigmatic Jerry Brown and a Fourth Term

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

Hard to argue with many of the sentiments that Jerry Brown expressed in his interview published over the weekend by the Los Angeles Times about his vision for a fourth term.

He talked about ending the “gold rush for new programs and spending” that legislators would seek giving an uptick in revenues. This page has written about that many times – take care of the spending side even if we need a spending limit to enforce controls. Brown says he wants to use common sense and the power of his office to control spending.

Brown spoke of the tens of thousands of laws put on Californians in the last half-century. Referring to too many building restrictions “like Gulliver being tied by these Lilliputians, with more and more little strings and ropes.” Many on this site have written about pulling back on regulations that hamper a growing economy. Limitations should be put on the number of laws passed annually. Some time and thought should be given by the legislature to reducing many laws on the books. As I have mentioned before, it is unfortunate on one level that the term often used for a legislator is lawmaker.

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A Proposition for Voters: Know Before You Go

F. Noel Perry
Founder of Next 10, an independent, nonpartisan organization that educates, engages, and empowers Californians to improve the state’s future. Next 10 funds research by leading experts on complex state issues.

A strong California depends on an informed and active electorate. But too often, voters don’t have ready access to enough information to cast an informed vote. By the time Election Day comes around, your typical voter has received dozens of mailers and viewed countless TV commercials—few of which give an unbiased view of the state ballot measures.

Deciding which way to vote can be especially tricky in a year of heavily lopsided fundraising, when one side is spending a lot more money to get its message out. Take, for example, Props 1, 2, and 47 where supporters have spent millions more than opponents.  Similarly, opponents of Props 45, 46, and 48 have outspent supporters by millions. These interest groups sometimes frustrate voters to the point that they disengage from election issues.

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Local Governments Seeking Voter Approval of Huge Number of Tax Increases in November

David Kline
Vice President of Communications and Research, California Taxpayers Association

When voters go to the polls November 4, they will decide the fate of a large number of school bonds, parcel taxes, sales taxes, utility users’ taxes and other measures that will impact their family budgets.

Despite the improving state economy that is increasing government revenue under existing tax rates, 53 jurisdictions are seeking sales tax increases, 40 are asking voters to approve parcel taxes, and school districts have placed 113 school bond measures on the ballot. If all of the school bonds are approved, taxpayers will have to repay more than $11.7 billion in new bond debt, plus interest.

While an overwhelming number of tax and bond measures have the support of local newspapers, as is historically the case, several of the measures on the November ballot have drawn opposition from newspaper editorial boards.

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Is San Francisco Becoming More Libertarian than Leftist?

Steve Frank
Publisher of California Political News and Views

San Fran is changing. The poor and middle class are being moved out, can no longer afford high taxes, low pay and a government that loves regulations. In their place are technology workers—very well paid, can afford the rents; to buy a home, to pay for the San Fran taxes and lifestyle. Unlike the poor and middle class, they are concerned about personal freedom and are creating a new San Fran, one that prefers the individual to the masses. They want personal freedom and that includes less taxes and less regulations.

This is a new San Fran we are watching being created. It might take another ten years before this city by the bay becomes the first libertarian city in the nation.

According to this piece in Breitbart-California, “The Chronicle reports that leftists have lost control of the Board of Supervisors to mere Democrats, and aren’t running any challengers in November’s election. They had their last mayor of the city in 1992, when Art Agnos held the post. As the Chronicle wrote, the Bay Area’s far-left’s “attempts to block Google buses and force Airbnb to pay back hotel taxes have failed to make much of a dent in the economic boom that’s contributed to San Francisco’s rash of evictions and growing income disparity.”

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CEQA Juggernaut Rolls Through The High Desert

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

When it comes to organized labor, California is a friendly state. We long ago eschewed right-to-work status. Labor unions enjoy a web of laws that ease organizing workers, like  farmworkers, refinery employees, teachers, and state and local government workers. Other laws give union contracts special status unavailable to nonunion employees, such as the ability to work longer days without triggering overtime and avoid the new sick leave mandate. Employers who obtain workers from a union hiring hall are not subject to the new joint liability mandate applicable to other labor contractors.

But who would have thought one of the most powerful union organizing tools may be the state’s premier environmental statute, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?

CEQA is best known as the vanguard of disclosure, transparency and mitigation of environmental impacts. More recently, CEQA has been fingered as an easy ticket to litigation by project opponents, NIMBY activists, or even business competitors. Labor unions have leveraged the law to obtain sweetheart contracts for construction projects.

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Prop 45 Debate by Insurance Commissioner Candidates is Good Idea

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

Debates between political candidates are being debated in California this election cycle. Despite an effort to get numerous debates, Neel Kashkari got his one debate with Governor Jerry Brown at a time of Brown’s choosing well before the election. Republican Lt. Governor candidate Ron Nehring got some attention from the media by making incumbent Gavin Newsom’s refusal to debate an issue in his campaign. Now, state Senator Ted Gaines, the Republican candidate for Insurance Commissioner, wants to debate incumbent, Democrat Dave Jones. But Gaines’ challenge is for the debate to be centered on one issue, Proposition 45 on the November ballot.

Not a bad idea.

As the Los Angeles Times headlined a story last week: Prop 45 is a Tough Issue for Voters. The issue is complex. A debate by the candidates for the office that has the most to do with Prop 45 would be beneficial as voters try to figure out whether to support or reject that measure and to understand the thinking of the candidates vying for the office.

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The Supermajorities – Senate

Scott Lay
Higher education Lobbyist and Publisher of The Nooner

The most frequent question I get is about whether Democrats will hold supermajorities in the Assembly and State Senate. For the Assembly, that means 54 Democrats and for the State Senate it means 27. Going into this cycle’s elections, Dems start with 27 seats in the Senate and 55 in the Assembly.

I’ve provided detailed memos on each race to Nooner subscribers, so this will be more of a summary, and I am focusing on the State Senate.

Honestly, the “supermajority” status is really a point of political pride, rather than practical help for Democrats. There are actually few votes that use a party-line supermajority. After the approval by voters of Proposition 25, which lowered the approval threshhold for the state budget and associated “trailer” bills from two-thirds to a simple majority, the supermajority was much less important.

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Car-Loving California Deals with Climate Change

Richard Rubin
Writes about political issues and is President of a public affairs management firm

The dirty little secret is out: We are degrading our planet at an accelerating pace and the reasons are not primarily celestial as a dwindling group of skeptics would have us believe.

Climate change and greenhouse gas emissions go together, so says a mounting body of evidence coming from the vast majority of eminent scientists worldwide, and those pollutants are man-made.

The issue is apparently important enough to have merited an urgent call for action by President Obama in his recent talk before the United Nations—a first before that body by a head of state.

California, however, is several steps ahead of Washington thanks to visionary actions by its own leaders—one a Republican, the other a Democrat, who avoided the partisan bickering that has killed any meaningful environmental reforms in Congress.

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How to Solve Skelton’s Riddle

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

In a recent column, George Skelton of the Los Angeles Times takes a sideways shot at Gov. Jerry Brown.

The columnist’s charge? That the governor, by campaigning for two ballot measures (the Prop 1 water bond and the constitutional budget-and-debt formula known as Prop 2), was distracting people from the fact that he hasn’t come up with any second-term agenda to speak with.

“About the only thing Propositions 1 and 2 have in common is they’re being used as props of a different kind by Gov. Jerry Brown. They’re handy stage props for the governor’s reelection campaign.” Then Skelton adds: “But promoting them doesn’t give Brown a valid excuse for not telling voters what they can expect from a fourth term.”

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