Capitol Alert

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Fed up with political paralysis in the Capitol, some power players in California campaigns say they are setting their sights on electing a new crop of legislators.

California Medical Association's Paul Hegyi, speaking this morning on a panel at an American Association of Political Consultants conference in Sacramento, said that outside groups see the new, possibly more competitive district lines as well as the dynamics of the top-two primary system as opportunities to "look for new leaders, new candidates to try to shake up the Legislature."

"I think after this election cycle you're going to see much, much more turnover in the Legislature, and it just gives us a great opportunity to have an impact, to start to try to look for candidates who are going to try to do things differently, to bring a new era in the Legislature and find people that can be partners," said Hegyi, a former legislative aide and Republican Assembly candidate.

Liz Snow, of the California Dental Association, echoed Hegyi's comments, saying interest groups are "tired of insignificant issues moving and being the focus and really tired by the lack of leadership on the part of average members."

"People are sick of playing it safe," she said. "It hasn't really gotten us anywhere."

Snow said those frustrations and the state's changing political landscape will mean that "increasingly being an incumbent doesn't guarantee you anything in terms of support for future elections." She later noted, however, that re-electing freshman Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, will be one of her organization's top priorities in 2012 because of his work on health care issues.

David Howard of the California Association of Realtors said the desire for fresh faces in the Legislature and cost and opportunity associated with the new campaign dynamics will likely result in "historically oddball coalitions bubbling up" to support candidates in select districts across the state.

Those efforts will result in more outside funding going to support moderate candidates, predicted Gloria Fauss of SEIU-UHW, United Healthcare Workers West.

"I doubt that people will end up getting backed who are extreme on either end," Fauss said.


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