Trump and Brown Loom over Governor’s Race

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe & Doug Jeffe
Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Communication, Sol Price School of Public Policy and Doug Jeffe, Communications and Public Affairs Strategist

Six leading gubernatorial candidates shared the stage for a Town Hall at the University of Southern California, but much of the discussion was focused on two protagonists who weren’t there—Donald Trump and Jerry Brown.   It seems likely that these two outsized figures will continue to dominate the political landscape as Californians select the next governor.

The four Democrats on the stage—State Treasurer John Chiang, former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Easton, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa—were adamant in their intent to stand up to President Trump on issues from immigration to climate change.  The foursome seemed to be auditioning for the role of antiTrumper-in- chief.

There were two Republican contenders—Assemblyman Travis Allen and businessman John Cox.  Former Congressman Doug Ose was a late entrant into the gubernatorial race and didn’t snag an invite to participate in the forum.  When they weren’t trading barbs and snide comments about each other (or insinuations about the sexual behavior of the two Democratic poll leaders), Allen and Cox were unstinting in their criticism of Governor Brown.  While both GOP candidates railed against the gas tax and vehicle license fee increases passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor to fund transportation improvements, they bickered over who is the leader of the movement to overturn the levies.  Given the huge gaps in fundraising and name recognition between the three Republican hopefuls and the Democratic frontrunners, it is hard to come up with a scenario that doesn’t produce a two-Democrat run-off for the Governor’s race in November.

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The President’s Popularity and the Midterm Election

Mark Baldassare
President of the Public Policy Institute of California

California is a battleground state in the 2018 midterm election. When it comes to determining the party that will lead the next US Congress, all eyes are on the 14 US House seats that are currently held by Republicans in the deep-blue state of California. Democrats would need to “flip” several of these seats if they have any chance of taking control of the US House, where Republicans currently now have a 26-vote margin. The party in power has typically lost some of its congressional seats in national midterm elections. Whether it is a few seats or many is closely tied to the president’s popularity. So, how is Donald Trump viewed in California at the end of his first-year anniversary in office?

The PPIC Statewide Survey has been tracking President Trump’s popularity, asking the following question in six monthly surveys in 2017, “Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way that Donald Trump is handling his job as president of the United States?” We found majority disapproval of President Trump among California likely voters in each survey. In the January 2017 PPIC survey, conducted in his early days in office, 34% approved and 55% disapproved of his job performance. In the 2017 December PPIC survey, which is our most recent poll, 34% approved and 63% disapproved of President Trump. In the course of 2017, disapproval of the president increased as more likely voters formed opinions about his leadership.

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Giving Parents More Options in California

Dr. Nicole Conragan
President of California Parents for Public Virtual Education, a volunteer organization made up of parents with students in public virtual and blended-learning public charter schools who advocate on behalf of access to online education, quality curriculum, and stable funding

Across the country and here in the Golden State, a revolution in education has taken place over the past few decades. “Parent power”—both engagement and empowerment—has helped to drive new quality educational options for families. This National School Choice Week, we can recognize the ways in which providing parents with more and better options improves the education—and ultimately the future—of millions of American children.

As anyone browsing a clothing store can readily attest, one size does not fit all. Every child has his or her own unique talents, needs, interests, and learning style. School choice responds to students’ unique qualities, by providing parents with a diverse array of educational options for their children.

School choice includes charter schools, taxpayer funded academies with more flexibility and accountability than traditional public schools. School choice also includes open enrollment, where parents can place their students in public schools outside their traditional neighborhood boundaries.

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Bill to unionize Capitol staffers is ridiculous, but cynics might find a bright side

Steven Greenhut
Western Region Director of the R Street Institute

If you believe that mandatory unionization is a solution to almost every state problem rather than the prime cause of California governmental dysfunction, then you’ll love an idea that one of the Legislature’s most union-friendly lawmakers is touting.

“I will be introducing a bill this year to allow our legislative staff to unionize,” wrote Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, in a tweet earlier this month. “Workers who are at will, have no real protections.”

Government employees in California’s myriad state and local bureaucracies are forced to join collective-bargaining units, which secure generous pay packages and protect them from disciplinary actions and firings. By contrast, staffers who work for legislators and committees in the state Capitol are “at will” hires who, like most people in the private sector, can be fired or reassigned based on their work performance and the decisions of their bosses.

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Lock Homan Up

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)

If you have any lingering doubts about the wisdom of the state’s sanctuary policies, listening to Tom Homan talk should eliminate them for you.

Homan, the acting director of ICE, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, gave a TV interview recently that crossed so many lines of logic, law, lies, human rights and basic decency as to raise the question: Is ICE a lawless agency designed to violate rights?

Homan’s target was California and our state and local laws that, wisely, try to take California governments out of the business of immigration enforcement. That’s good for our safety, because, as police will tell you, they need the cooperation of immigrants and their families to make sure crime is reported, investigated and solved.

Homan doesn’t understand this reality—nor much of anything else. His rant started with the debunked claim that immigrants are a public safety threat (in fact, studies show immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than U.S.-born people).

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A Pandora’s Box: Suing Oil Companies, Consumers Pay

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Some members of the Los Angeles city council hope to join San Francisco, Oakland and New York City is suing oil companies on the principle that the costs associated with climate change (as a result of using fossil fuels) are a burden to the city and its taxpayers. If successful this precedent would open a Pandora’s box of problems for companies and the government itself, not to mention rather than relieving taxpayers of costs it would add to their financial burdens.

One of the movers behind this plan is city councilman Mike Bonin, who pushed for a “road diet” plan in his district reducing driving lanes to ostensibly reduce traffic accidents and deaths. At the same time, the plan clogged roadways, frustrated drivers, and lead to a recall effort against the councilman. One argument levied against Bonin was that the idling cars in the line of traffic added to pollutant build-up. Under Bonin’s proposal of attacking climate change through lawsuits is not he and those who created the road diet plan susceptible to a lawsuit? You get the point where this could lead.

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A DACA solution demands a true bipartisan compromise which includes E-Verify

John Mirisch
Beverly Hills City Council Member and two-time former mayor

Now is the time for policy, not politics.

Now is the time to get beyond the immigration word games like calling those “anti-immigrant” who in reality are simply opposed to illegal immigration, or calling those a “restrictionist” who don’t necessarily want to restrict immigration beyond the current level, but who really just want to control it.

Now is the time to get beyond the ill-advised and stupid verbiage of the President and the opportunistic grandstanding of Senators Booker and Harris.

Now is the time to stop using immigration word games to try to re-define the center for political gain.

Here are the extremes: on the one side we have open-borders advocates who feel that everybody should be let in to our country; and on the other side we have absolute restrictionists who feel that nobody should be let in. Those are the extremist positions.  And here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

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California: Role Model or Permanent Outlier?

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught public policy at USF, UC Berkeley and other institutions and is Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors


California will enter the New Year as it has entered almost every other one before it—a trend-setter for the nation with goofy notions, and a suspicious outlier to those regions which will never catch up.

It is the cranky uncle who takes comfort in watching others squirm and finds nothing wrong with creative disruption in an increasingly disorderly world.

In a nation divided, California prides itself in what divides us.

While a tradition of social liberalism along with flinty-eyed pragmatism has marked much of California’s history, the great economic weight it carries in the nation and beyond gives the distinctions with its sister states a larger-than-life quality.

This casts a glaring spotlight on the reforms pouring out of our legislature year after year which draw admiration from many and open scorn from equal numbers.

As Californians, we take all this in stride and show little interest in changing our habits.

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California the Broken

Joe Armendariz
Former Carpinteria City Councilman and executive director of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association

I won’t bore readers with the tedious statistics that I have been talking and writing about for years, including but not limited to the fact that as recently as 2014, the oil industry generated nearly $20 million in annual property taxes to Santa Barbara county. Those revenues were used to help fund essential services including law enforcement, public safety, roads, parks, with the lion share going to K-12 public schools in the county. Unfortunately, property taxes from oil production are down significantly due to Santa Barbara County, the State of California, and the federal government’s lackadaisical approach to doing what is needed to fast-track the re-permitting of the Plains All American pipeline.

Santa Barbara County is losing millions of dollars due to the pipeline sitting dormant in the ground, meanwhile the county CEO’s budget forecast shows a $50 million deficit right over the horizon. Coincidence? Well, for what it’s worth, there’s no word for coincidence in the Hebrew language. 

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Economic Boost from Tax Cuts

Congressman Kevin McCarthy
Majority Leader, United States Congress

Everyday we turn on the news and what do we find? More employees are getting bonuses–more than two million so far.

There’s something more that is happening…. Utilities like Baltimore Gas and Electric are lowering their rates and passing on tax benefits to all their customers.

And what did we find last week? Not only were bonuses going out but also raises. So people were getting more–the minimum wage was being raised. And with so many companies, maternity leave is now longer for thousands of Americans.

That’s much different than a crumb or Armageddon. That is the beginning of America’s comeback. I know we have challenges before us this week. Funding for the military is at a deadline, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Two times we have voted to move that off this floor. But both times the Democrats have not only said no, they whipped their members to hold them back…. This is not a time to play politics. 

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