An Outsider’s Guide to Running—and Losing—a California Election

Pete Peterson
Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy

Though Ted White’s classic, The Making of the President, is far better known, the best book I’ve read about what it’s like to run for political office is To Be a Politician by Stimson Bullitt. In the 1950s, Bullitt ran twice as a Democratic Congressional candidate in his home district of Seattle—and lost both times.

“Men and women are drawn into politics for a combination of motives,” he writes. “These include power, glory, zeal for contention or success, duty, hate, oblivion, hero worship, curiosity, and enjoyment of the work.”

I ran for California Secretary of State last year for an even simpler reason: I knew the office was underperforming, and I believed my work and scholarship made me uniquely qualified to fix it.

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California Water Management Dilemma 

Lawrence H. Easterling, Jr.
Administrator at Kettleman Pistachio Growers and Director at American Pistachio Growers

We are witnessing the dismantling of the California water conveyance system that supplies drinking water for 25 million California residents and four million acres of prime farmland in the San Joaquin Valley.

Our water resources are being “Withheld” from the very people of this state who have shown what “Free Enterprise” can do not only for the well-being of all in California, but the entire nation. Unfortunately, several major environmental groups and complacent politicians are killing the freedoms that have been the bulwark of success in California. Let me explain.

Water is our most valuable renewable resource and Mother Nature gives it to California in copious amounts during most years. What we do with that water—water management—is critical to the future of the Golden State. 

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Celebrating Small Business

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

Wednesday was Small Business Day in Sacramento acknowledged by many of the legislature’s members who attended the event put together by the California Small Business Association headed by Betty Jo Toccoli. Members of the legislature recognized a small business in their districts from immigrants who started as dishwashers to owning their own restaurants; a bakery owner who makes treats for well-known athletes; to craft brewers, truckers and other small business owners.

All four legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, Senate President Kevin de León, Minority Senate Leader to be Jean Fuller and Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen all spoke.

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Retiree with $183,690 Annual Pension Attacks Pension Critics

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

“Critics of public employee retirement benefits are engaging in hyperbole and pointing to potholes as evidence that millions of elderly Californians should be stripped of their retirement savings.”Brian Rice, president, Sacramento Area Fire Fighters, Sacramento Bee, June 2, 2015

Notwithstanding the possibility that saying pension reformers want to see “millions of elderly Californians stripped of their retirement savings” is itself “hyperbole,” Brian Rice’s recent Sacramento Bee submission requires a detailed rebuttal. Rice’s piece, entitled “Pensions aren’t being paid at expense of filling potholes,” was in response to a study written by Stephen Eide and released by the Manhattan Institute entitled “California Crowd-Out, How Rising Retirement Benefit Costs Threaten Municipal Services,” published in April 2015.

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Attack on Prop 13 Faces Long Odds 

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

The original Proposition 13 was four paragraphs long fitting on one side of a piece of paper. SCA 5, the measure to change Proposition 13 introduced by Senators Loni Hancock and Holly Mitchell yesterday intended to increase taxes on business property is 30 pages long. Without going into the details of the proposed changes, suffice it to say the groups behind the proposal, liberal organizations and public employee unions, want more tax dollars to spend. That is despite the fact that the state treasury is enjoying a big boost in revenue.

The rhetoric of “fairness” spoken by supporters at the press conference announcing the bill does not match the impact of what the proposed law intends to do. Sen. Mitchell said at the press conference, “What we are looking to do is to take those few that are benefitting from under-assessment and bring them in line with everyone else.” 

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Let’s Play the Drought Blame Game

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)

I hate to play the blame game, but let’s face facts: This drought is all your fault.

You are watering outdoors too much. You kept your lawn when you should have taken it out. You tore out your lawn—and put in hard surfaces that will contribute to the heat island effect, making the drought even worse.

And you, with the beautiful swimming pool you keep refilling before your sweet summer parties? I’m shaming you on Twitter as the person most responsible for the drought. Not so popular anymore, are you?

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California’s Political Earthquake On Its Way

John Cox
California-based Businessman and Former Illinois Republican Official

California is facing an uncertain future – and it’s not an earthquake, despite a current blockbuster movie. There’s a water crisis, an education system declared woeful by a state judge and soaring costs on all levels – water, utilities, energy, housing and taxes. These could all be eclipsed by the huge elephant in the room – unfunded pensions and health care for state and local government employees that could be $1 trillion or more.

What are our public officials doing? As was recently reported, there are no fewer than a dozen proposals in the legislature to increase taxes AND spending, despite the massive underfunding of pensions and health care. The Governor crows about a California ‘comeback’ but he almost completely ignores the trillion dollar bomb expected to hit over the next 20 years. This government employee pensions and healthcare bomb only gets worse, as life expectancies expand and investments underperform the rosy scenarios built into their projections.

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Congress: Yes on Transportation, No on High Speed Rail

Congressman Kevin McCarthy
Majority Leader, United States Congress

The House passed H.R. 2577, the Transportation, Housing, & Urban Development funding bill.

America is a big country that relies on efficient and flexible transportation options to exchange goods, visit family, or simply head out to work. For many, it can take a lot to get from point A to point B, so our country needs continued investment to make sure people can travel where they need without a problem.

The House voted to support our interstate highway system, maintain efficient and safe air and rail transportation, and ensure that our housing safety net will be there for elderly and disabled tenants of public housing. But it’s more than just a funding bill. This bill prioritizes projects to ensure tax dollars from hardworking Americans aren’t wasted on projects that don’t reflect today’s reality and tomorrow’s potential. 

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It’s A Small World, After All

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

Just back from two weeks in London. It was a getaway from California’s dehydrated climate, but not from the many issues that confront us back home.

Britain certainly isn’t facing a drought and we’re not facing the Scottish Independence movement or a decision on whether or not to stay in the European Union. (Although there’s long been grousing about secession from, or splitting up, California. And in many ways, our debate over Fast Track trade authorization mirrors the fight over Britain’s relationship with the EU).

However, every day, the British press and the telly (when not fixated on the FIFA scandal) was full of stories about—and debate over– immigration, high speed rail, fracking, health care, social services, education, trimming the deficit, ISIS and defense spending, privacy, the role of unions and money in politics.

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Protests North, Protests South

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

California politics did not lack for full-throated policy debates yesterday when protestors turned out in Sacramento to oppose SB 277, the vaccination bill for school children, and in Los Angeles to oppose the proposed route of the high -speed rail through the San Fernando Valley.

Whether the protestors in either case will ultimately disrupt the policy decisions that they opposed is yet to be determined.

If political persuasion fails, in California there is always the question if the protestors can use direct democracy to achieve their goals?

There have been rumors that legislators backing the vaccination bill could face recall efforts from opponents. That would be a difficult course to follow even if only a couple of legislators are targets.

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