Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 6, 2014
Tom McClintock's GOP rival clinches spot in November election


Republican Art Moore has advanced to a same-party showdown with Rep. Tom McClintock in the Roseville-based 4th Congressional District.

Moore was outpacing independent Jeffrey Gerlach by about 1,500 votes Friday. He owes the fall challenge to the new top-two election system that allows candidates from the same party to advance to November rematches.

McClintock's campaign acknowledged Moore's top-two status in a memo issued to reporters that carried the tongue-and-cheek title "Moore is Less."

Chris Baker, the general consultant to McClintock, wrote that Tuesday's results, in which the incumbent drew 56 percent of the vote demonstrate Moore is not a serious candidate. Baker notes that Gerlach spent virtually no money, made few campaign appearances and received scant press attention -- "in effect not really running a campaign."

Strategist Rob Stutzman said Moore, a combat veteran, was carrying out his National Guard duties and unavailable to comment.

"We are very gratified and looking to the fall," Stutzman said. "It's clear that even in a low-turnout primary that nearly half the voters went against the incumbent without there even being much of a campaign. We're optimistic about November."

PHOTO: Congressional challenger Art Moore, a Republican taking on Rep. Tom McClintock, talks with folks during a Political Awareness Day at Sierra College in Rocklin on April 30. The Sacramento Bee/Lezlie Sterling

June 6, 2014
Republican, ex-GOPer in top two of Davis-based Assembly race


With ballots still being counted, preliminary results in the strongly Democratic 4th Assembly District show a Republican and Republican-turned-Democrat advancing to November.

Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd, a business-backed Democrat who left the GOP less than two years ago, believes he'll receive enough votes to be among the top two vote-getters in Tuesday's primary election.

"Based on the number and county origin of the remaining ballots it is a statistical improbability for Dodd to finish outside the top two vote-getters," campaign strategist Matt Reilly said in an emailed statement.

Dodd finished election night trailing Republican Charlie Schaupp by a single vote in the district that covers Yolo and Napa counties. On Friday, an updated tally had Schaupp at 26.1 percent and Dodd at 25.4 percent.

Democratic Davis Councilman Dan Wolk trailed Dodd by 522 votes. In a statement, he said there remained as many as 20,000 votes left to count.

"We are still optimistic that, in the end, we'll be moving on to November's General Election!" the statement said.

The Democrat who advances will be a heavy favorite in the fall. Schaupp, a farmer and military veteran, raised no money and had $100 on hand at the end of the last reporting period. There also was no spending on his behalf by outside groups.

Meantime, corporate allies of Dodd and labor union supporters of Wolk, the son of Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars to help elect their preferred successor to liberal Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis.

The outside spending ranked fourth in races across California.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Bill Dodd.

June 6, 2014
Patrick Johnston retiring from health plans association


Lobbyist Charles Bacchi will take over as president of the California Association of Health Plans when its current leader, former state Sen. Patrick Johnston, retires at the end of this year, the organization announced Friday.

Bacchi has worked for the group that advocates for health insurers for the last eight years, first as vice president of government relations and more recently as executive vice president. He has lobbied for insurance plans as California implemented the federal Affordable Care Act and expanded Medi-Cal.

"I am excited to work with California's health plan leaders on improving our health care system, delivering affordable coverage, and bolstering our partnership with the state of California," Bacchi said in a statement.

Johnston, who served in the Legislature from 1981 to 2000, is retiring after five years at the helm of the association. In a statement, he said:

"I have been fortunate to have had a fulfilling and enriching career engaged in public policy issues confronting California."

PHOTO: Former state Sen. Patrick Johnston is president of the California Association of Health Plans.

June 6, 2014
'High-needs' student counts fall short in three big districts


California's new formula for financing schools provides more money to districts with large numbers of poor and/or English-learner students, giving local officials an incentive to count as many of those "high needs" students as possible.

The Local Control Funding Formula, enacted last year by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature, is aimed at closing what's called the "achievement gap."

However, the actual count of those students is falling short of estimates in three of the state's five largest districts, according to a survey by EdSource, a website that reports on education trends in California.

Los Angeles Unified, the state's largest school district with about 10 percent of the state's six million K-12 students, had expected that 86 percent of its students would qualify for the extra money, but has found that just 81 percent meet the criteria.

Similar shortfalls were discovered in San Diego Unified and Elk Grove Unified. However, the hard counts in Fresno Unified and Long Beach Unified were slightly above estimates. The state has yet to release the official counts of high-needs students.

PHOTO: At right, Maiya Miller, 8, hugs Principal Shana Henry on the first day of school at Pacific Elementary school in Sacramento on September 3, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Renee C. Byer

June 6, 2014
Kamala Harris' GOP challenger favors pot legalization

Ronald_Gold.jpg.JPGRepublican Ron Gold, the presumptive challenger to Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris, wants California to legalize and tax marijuana and use the proceeds for substance abuse and mental health treatment.

Gold, a Woodland Hills lawyer and former deputy to Attorney General Evelle Younger, told The Bee that decriminalizing pot would decrease the costs of enforcing victimless crimes and allow the state to direct more resources to serious criminals.

"I just think that police resources are so few, and we have so much to do, that going after someone who is having a joint in West Hollywood is about as useful as having another Carter's Little Liver Pill," Gold said.

"An adult is an adult," he added. "If you use those things - and you're stupid - we can't bar stupidity."

Harris is an overwhelmingly favorite to win reelection in November. A rising star of the Democratic Party, she's received 53 percent of the votes tallied so far in the seven-candidate primary election Tuesday.

Gold's stance puts him at odds not only with Harris but other high-profile Democrats like Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Gold favors adopting a version of Colorado's law.

"Basically, I am to the left of Harris on an issue that's always been very popular and critical in California," he said. "I view it as a matter of principle."

Gold's chief GOP rival in the primary was former veteran lawmaker Phil Wyman. He said in a recent news release that state lawmakers found guilty of certain crimes should face the death penalty.

Gold paused when asked what he thought of Wyman's suggestion.

"I think it's a little absurd," he said.

PHOTO: Ron Gold. Courtesy of the Ron Gold campaign.

June 6, 2014
AM Alert: California primary election postmortem time


The tumult of Primary Election Night has given way to bleary-eyed day-after commentating as vote totals ticked upwards, which in turn has given way to a more thorough look at What It All Meant.

The experts will take on the perennial Why Does Nobody Vote question today during a Public Policy Institute of California talk. To no one's surprise, turnout on Tuesday was pitiful - historically so, it seems - a showing that will be dissected by a roster including Ethan Jones, chief consultant for the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee, and Sacramento County registrar of voters Jill LaVine.

Discussion gets under way at noon at the CSAC conference center on 11th street. In the meantime, let us refresh your recollection of the election:

-How Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari clawed back in the end, and how Republican gov voters divided geographically
-What Tuesday's results meant for the Top Two system
-Whether ballot tea leaves foretell anything about the odds of the Democratic supermajority persisting
-And how races for state controller and for top education guru became competitive

CAP AND TRADE: Having made clear where he wants to spend anticipated billions from California's cap-and-trade law, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, will elaborate on his plan with some Los Angeles bigwigs today. Joining Steinberg at an L.A. Metro Facility will be his incoming replacement as Senate head honcho, Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, and Mayor Eric Garcetti.

ACCREDITATION CONSTERNATION: The battle for City College of San Francisco continues. California Federation of Teachers President Joshua Pechthalt will join community college faculty members and students at a rally outside the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges meeting today, urging the body to reconsider its decision to revoke City College's accreditation. Follow the chants to the Citizen Hotel starting at 11.

PHOTO: The garage of a two-story home in Davis is used as a voting location on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 in Davis, Calif. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench.


Capitol Alert Staff

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

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

Jim Miller Jim Miller covers California policy and politics and edits Capitol Alert. Twitter: @jimmiller2

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

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

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

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. Twitter: @capitolalert

Koseff Alexei Koseff edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @akoseff

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

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