California at Politicon

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

The third annual Politicon convention in Pasadena on all things political produced long lines for lively debates and entertainment, and while a major focus was on national events, as always California and Californians captured a good share of the spotlight.

CNN’s Chris Cillizza asked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra how much time he spent confronting the Trump Administration. Or putting it another way, he was asking are you spending so much time paying attention to Trump that you are ignoring California legal problems.

Becerra wouldn’t be cornered. He talked about legal action he took this week against human traffickers, but he argued that as attorney general for 40 million people he could influence the country as a whole when he opposes administration proposals on the environment, health care, criminal justice reform and more. “We are there to stop him,” he said.

Cillizza raised the threat of cutting off federal funds to sanctuary cities. Becerra said he would oppose the federal government pointing out that California is a donor state to Washington when it comes to federal dollars returned to the state. “We earned the money…we qualify for the money.” He also invoked the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution providing state’s rights as a defense, an amendment in past years mostly hoisted by people on the right.

Becerra seemed ready to judge Trump guilty on his Russia collusion troubles stating, “We are definitely in impeachment territory for Donald Trump right now.” He said things are close; the dots must be connected.

Earlier in the day, a panel made up of all Californians talked about how Democrats can emerge from the wilderness. The panel was moderated by CNN’s national political reporter, Maeve Reston.

A Moses out of deep blue California might lead the Democrats from the wilderness, according to a number of panelists. Bill Burton, Democratic strategist and former Obama press aide, tabbed Sen. Kamala Harris as a potential powerful presidential candidate for 2020, as did Buffy Wicks, another former Obama organizer and now a candidate for the California Assembly, District 15.

Meanwhile veteran Los Angeles area Democratic consultant Bill Carrick who works for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti asked if the mayor was going to Iowa, the beginning of the presidential trail, responded, “If he goes, I’m going.”

A possible California presidential candidate was not embraced by the only Republican on the panel, consultant Rob Stutzman, who said another Westerner, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, was a candidate Republicans should fear.

Stutzman, who led a “Never Trump” effort during the last presidential election, predicted there will “absolutely” be a challenger from the Republican ranks against Trump in 2020.

The Democrats on the panel saw great hope in the 2018 congressional elections. Carrick noted at this time in the political cycle there are 209 Democratic challengers for House seats compared to only 44 at the same time period during the last cycle.

That could produce some nasty intraparty fighting during primaries.

However, Burton warned that while many potential candidates are stepping forward because of their issue with Trump, the election must be about voter concerns in the district and not a national message.

Stutzman saw possible help for the Republicans in the mid-term election if they defined their brand as an alternative to the Trump brand and made the election about the economy. If congress gets a tax fix done it could change the complexion of the mid-term elections, he said.

Other California notes from Politicon:

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox made the rounds talking to reporters and introducing himself to gubernatorial candidate John Chiang’s supporters manning a table for the Treasurer.

The California National Party was visible, supporters among other things of an independent state of California backing the current circulating initiative were in attendance handing out literature.

Finally, Los Angeles radio personality Doug McIntrye of KABC made a presentation as George Washington titled, “George Washington is pissed.” The routine was a mix of history and commentary on current state of affairs with a strong and correct message that we must know more history.

But he also had a thought for those who want to break up California. “You can’t love your country and want to break up your country.”

Updated to reflect the California National Party was at Politicon

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