Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 24, 2012
Poll: Jerry Brown's tax measure slips below 50 percent

Public support for Gov. Jerry Brown's ballot measure to raise taxes has fallen below 50 percent two weeks before Election Day, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California poll.

Forty-eight percent of likely voters support Proposition 30, down from 52 percent in September, according to the poll released tonight. Forty-four percent of likely voters oppose the initiative.

The survey comes as Brown makes a final push around the state to rally support for his proposal to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners.

The outlook for Proposition 38, the rival tax measure backed by wealthy civil rights lawyer Molly Munger, is even dimmer than for Brown's. Just 39 percent of likely voters support it, according to the poll.

Brown's job approval rating has held about steady, at 42 percent of California adults and 45 percent of likely voters. Disapproval of the state Legislature stands at 68 percent of likely voters surveyed.

Pessimism about the state's overall direction has declined since September, with 53 percent of Californians now saying the state is heading in the wrong direction, compared to 60 percent last month. Still, 80 percent of Californians believe the state is in a recession, according to the poll.

October 24, 2012
Congressional robocalls escalate Berman-Sherman contest

It's difficult to believe that the Southern California shootout between two veteran Democratic congressmen, Howard Berman and Brad Sherman, could get any nastier after their recent physical confrontation. But it has.

A political website, BuzzFeed Politics, reports that two other Southern California congressmen, Democrat Henry Waxman and Republican Elton Gallegly, have recorded robocalls to voters in the San Fernando Valley's 30th Congressional District in which they disparage Sherman's character.

Gallegly terms Sherman's grabbing Berman during a debate "unacceptable" while Waxman, Berman's long-time partner in a local political organization, calls Sherman "an embarrassment."

Also Wednesday, the House Democrats' No. 2 leader, minority whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, endorsed Berman, who has received backing from virtually every prominent California Democrat, including Gov. Jerry Brown.

Berman, however, needs all the help he can get. Polls have shown him running behind Sherman, who has represented most of the 30th CD in the past. The two were thrown together in the redistricting plan written by a voter-approved independent state commission.

October 24, 2012
Beware the barbarians? New group sends mail in Senate race

With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, barbarians are entering the fray in the heated 5th Senate District race.

A new committee going by the name of "Barbarians at the Gate" is sending mail pieces opposing Democrat Cathleen Galgiani in her bid for the San Joaquin County swing seat.

The committee, first noted by daily political email newsletter The Nooner, has reported spending almost $12,000 so far.

Chris Orrock, who is working as a political consultant for the committee, said the name is "just a reference to what's happening in California politics."

"It can be taken any way. It can be that there's barbarians at the gate of California trying to take over, or it could be that there's other people behind the gate trying to defend it," he said.

Orrock, who is president of the Elk Grove Republicans, said the barbarian PAC isn't connected with that organization.

As for who is backing the PAC, Orrock described its contributors as "business sources in the Central Valley." He said forthcoming reports will list donors supporting the initial mail piece, which targets Galgiani's support for high-speed rail.

Orrock's committee isn't the only group spending in the battle between Galgiani and Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Stockton. Independent expenditure committees have dropped nearly $2 million to influence the outcome of the race, which could determine whether Senate Democrats win a two-thirds majority in the upper house.

RELATED POSTS:

Stealth group of corporations funds pro-GOP campaign in Senate races

Independent spending on CA legislative races nears $5 million

October 24, 2012
California has lowered number of medically uninsured children

California, the nation's most populous state, also has the nation's largest number of medically uninsured children, but has lowered that number sharply in recent years, according to a new study by Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute.

Ironically, however, the study attributes that decline from 2009 to 2011, in part, to the state's Healthy Families program, which was repealed this year as part of the 2012-13 state budget, saving $13 million. Children who had been insured under Healthy Families are now being shifted into the Medi-Cal program, a move that has angered children's health advocates.

Georgetown's Center for Children and Families calculates that the number of medically uninsured California children dropped from 890,998 in 2009 to 744,797 in 2011 and the proportion from 9.5 percent of the state's children to 8 percent, just slightly above the national rate of 7.5 percent.

The 2011 rates ranged from a high of 16.2 percent in Nevada to a low of 1.7 percent in Massachusetts, the latter reflecting the universal health insurance program instituted by the state's former governor, Mitt Romney, now the Republican candidate for president. California's 8 percent rate was the 35th highest among the states.

October 24, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Californians 'getting a dose of democracy'

VIDEO: Dan says that Californians, like other Americans, are "getting a dose of democracy" in the weeks before Election Day, thanks to more competitive races.

Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 24, 2012
AM Alert: California campaigns go full throttle

VIDEO: Dan Walters says Californians are "getting a dose of democracy" these days, just like in other states.

With the election just two weeks away, candidates are scrambling for recognition, trying to draw attention to their work for better levees, fresh food, green jobs, and on behalf of little people. Here's what some campaigns are up to today:

Democratic Rep. John Garamendi, in a fierce competition to hold onto his seat in Congress, holds a morning press conference at the Freeport Regional Water Project Facility in Sacramento on what he describes as the need to strengthen the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta levees and conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Also on the agenda are a few more candidates on next month's ballot: Democrats Sen. Lois Wolk and Assemblywomen Mariko Yamada and Cathleen Galgiani, and Republican Assemblyman Bill Berryhill.

In the afternoon, Garamendi and two other Democratic congressional candidates --Ami Bera and Jose Hernandez -- will be joined by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to walk precincts in Sacramento and Modesto. In addition to pushing their own campaigns, the candidates will ask voters to approve Proposition 30 and reject Proposition 32 -- key goals for organized labor.

Labor leaders are also coming out today for Tom Steyer, the (former) hedge fund manager behind Proposition 39. He is holding a presser in San Francisco touting support for his measure from business, labor and environmental leaders. Joining him will be Art Pulaski of the California Labor Federation; Jim Lazarus of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce; Timothy Donovan of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, David Hochschild of Solaria, Lisa Hoyos of the BlueGreen Apollo Alliance, David Festa of the Environmental Defense Action Fund, and Brian Brennan of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Democratic Assemblyman Richard Pan, running for re-election, is touring the Fresh Producer's program at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento, a program that promotes healthy eating. Scheduled to appear with him are Sacramento City Council members Kevin McCarty and Jay Schenirer.

Democratic Assemblyman Jared Huffman, who is running for Congress, presents a resolution declaring October as "Dwarfism Awareness Month." Huffman joins members of Little People of America for an 11 a.m. presser on the Capitol's north steps.

And lest we forget that there are also a couple guys running for president. Republican Mitt Romney will headline a rally this morning in nearby Reno, at 11:45 a.m. at the Reno Events Center. President Barack Obama touches down in California briefly this evening to tape an appearance on the Jay Leno show.

NEW JOB: Jack Scott, the former legislator who retired last month as chancellor of the state's 112 community colleges, has landed a new gig as a higher education consultant. He's joining the College Brain Trust, a Sacramento firm that provides advice to community colleges, private colleges and other education agencies.



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Capitol Alert Staff


Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. jwhite@sacbee.com. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. achance@sacbee.com. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. smith@sacbee.com

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. ccadelago@sacbee.com. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert. mmassimino@sacbee.com

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. lrosenhall@sacbee.com. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. dsiders@sacbee.com. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. dwalters@sacbee.com. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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