Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

April 8, 2014
California's tax collections jumped by $18.2 billion in 2013

PROP30.JPGCalifornia's tax revenues jumped by $18.2 billion in 2013, thanks to an improving economy and the impact of a temporary sales and income tax increase approved by voters, a new Census Bureau report shows.

All tax collections, including those for special purposes as well as the state general fund, increased from $115 billion in 2012 to $133.2 billion last year, with virtually of the increase generated by sales and income taxes. The general fund received about 75 percent of the taxes.

California's 15.6 percent increase was more than twice the 6.1 percent increase recorded by all states, the Census Bureau reported, Total state collections were $846.2 billion last year, with California's $133.2 billion being 15.7 percent of all state taxes, even though the state has just 12.2 percent of the nation's population.

The latter data bolster a new calculation by the Tax Foundation that Californians had the nation's fourth highest state and local tax burden in 2011, 11.4 percent of personal income.

Personal and corporate income taxes, the state's largest sources of revenue at $74.3 billion, jumped by $12 billion from 2012 while sales and other excise taxes, including fuel taxes, $48.1 billion last year, were up by nearly $7 billion. Personal income taxes alone totaled $66.8 billion while sales taxes alone were $33.9 billion.

In 2012, voters approved Proposition 30, which increased the state sales tax fractionally but sharply boosted income taxes on the state's most affluent families. It was estimated that those increases would add about $6 billion a year to the state's revenue stream but total revenues, including those from the tax hike, jumped by $18.2 billion, three times as much.

Editor's note: Calculation updated at 4:15 p.m.

PHOTO: Students, dignitaries and supporters cheer on Gov. Jerry Brown who holds up a campaign sign and encourages students to vote yes for Proposition 30 at Sacramento City College in 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench

April 7, 2014
Sean Noble talks about $1 million FPPC fine, ties to Kochs


Sean Noble, the man who operated an Arizona nonprofit group that channeled millions of dollars in anonymous donations to two California ballot measures in 2012, said in a television interview Sunday that the investigation he faced by California's political watchdog was "a complete over-reach."

In October, Noble's group, the Center to Protect Patient Rights, and another Arizona nonprofit agreed to pay California's Fair Political Practices Commission a $1 million fine for not properly reporting the source of their contributions to groups that were working to support Proposition 32 and oppose Proposition 30. Those measures sought, respectively, to weaken union influence and raise taxes.

The fine set the record as the stiffest penalty the state has ever levied for a violation of campaign finance laws, and made national news as a rare case of regulators successfully shining more light on the practices that allow donors to shield their identities while giving big money to political campaigns.

"It was an example where government has a tremendous amount of authority to do things that violate the rights of individuals. And the investigation that led them to levy this fine was a complete over-reach," Noble said in an interview with News 12, the NBC affiliate in Phoenix, Arizona.

Noble also talked about his relationship with the Koch brothers and his new political nonprofit group called American Encore, which you can watch here. The discussion about California's FPPC investigation starts around the 5:35 minute mark.

Gary Winuk, the FPPC's chief of enforcement, responded to Noble's comments with this prepared statement:

"Sean Noble agreed to and paid a record fine on behalf of the Koch network for a reason. It was the largest amount of undisclosed dark money in the history of California. His vain attempts to try to minimize the case should not serve to give comfort to anyone who tries to hide money in California, because we are prepared to confront them at every turn."

PHOTO: Ann Ravel, then-chairwoman of the California FPPC, announces October 24, 2013, a $1 million fine against Center to Protect Patient Rights and Americans for Responsible Leadership. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

Editor's note: This story was updated at 3:23 p.m. to include a comment from the FPPC's Gary Winuk.

January 24, 2014
California ethics panel collects $300,000 from Small Business Action Committee

fox.jpgWhen California's political watchdog fined two conservative groups $1 million last year for not properly reporting $15 million in campaign contributions, it also told the recipients of the money to turn it over to the state.

At the time, one of the recipients -- the Small Business Action Committee -- put up a fight and said it had spent up all the money it had received and didn't plan to pay the state a dime.

The group is now changing course.

Today, the Fair Political Practices Commission announced that the Small Business Action Committee headed by Joel Fox has paid the state $300,000.

The money amounts to less than 3 percent of the $11 million the group received from Americans for Responsible Leadership, the Arizona-based group that admitted in October it had not properly reported its donations. Still, the FPPC's chief of enforcement said the payment is significant -- the second largest California has ever collected.

"$300,000 is a lot of money to any committee," said Gary Winuk.

"The purpose of the disgorgement law is to make sure even if you give a contribution and don't disclose the true source that every party down the chain is going to suffer the consequences, and I think that happened here."

The FPPC's pursuit of the campaign finance case has been watched around the country.

The Small Business Action Committee and another group called the California Future Fund were raising money to support Proposition 32 and oppose Proposition 30 on the November 2012 ballot. They received money from groups that acted as intermediaries in a large network of conservative fundraising groups with ties to industrialists Charles and David Koch, though the FPPC never uncovered evidence that the Koch brothers were themselves donors to the California effort.

By passing the money through several nonprofits, the groups were able to shield individual donors from being publicly identified as backing the effort to defeat Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure and pass one that would make it harder for labor unions to mount political campaigns.

The California Future Fund is supposed to pay the state $4.08 million it received from a group that improperly reported its contribution. But Winuk said he thinks it's "extremely unlikely" that California will collect any more money in this case.

Fox, president of the Small Business Action Committee, said his group did nothing wrong in accepting the $11 million contribution but decided to pay some money to the state to put the issue to rest.

"We understood that fighting this lawsuit would incur large attorney fees and could be tied up in court for years," Fox said in a statement.

"Given that this is an election year with important issues we want to be engaged in, SBAC chose to put this lawsuit behind us."

Editor's Note: This post has been updated to include a response from Fox, clarify the Koch brothers' connection to the case and clarify that the the $300,000 is not a fine under the law.

PHOTO: Joel Fox. Courtesy of the Small Business Action Committee.

October 16, 2013
Prop. 39 energy retrofit funds heading to California schools

SCHOOLS_0154.JPGState officials have directed $381 million to California schools to retrofit aging campuses for energy efficiency, releasing a list Tuesday that shows how much each district will get.

The money comes from voter approval last year of Proposition 39, which raises taxes on out-of-state corporations. The ballot measure was pushed by hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer and state Sen. Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat.

"Used wisely, school districts that are most in need will be able to put a big dent in their energy bills and direct more money to classroom needs," De León said in a statement today. "Everyone wins with energy retrofitting - the students, the environment and workers."

De León's hometown includes California's largest school district and stands to gain the most from the program. Los Angeles Unified is slated to get more than $26 million in grants for energy efficiency, according to the list released by the state Department of Education. The 20 school districts in line to receive the most money are listed below. Scroll over the blue bars to see more detail:

You can see the full list of school districts and charter schools eligible for Proposition 39 funds at this page. Click on the spreadsheet called "Proposition 39 - 2013-14 Entitlements."

PHOTO: A teacher keeps an eye on her class at Greer Elementary School in Sacramento on Jan. 17, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Renée C. Byer

Editor's note: This post was updated at 1:50 p.m. to clarify that Los Angeles Unified is the state's largest school district.

August 5, 2013
Business uses digital media, but not in its California campaigns

Big money ballot measure campaigns in California spend the vast preponderance of their money on fairly traditional forms of voter outreach, such as television and radio ads and direct mail, but that will have to change as voters' habits evolve, a new study suggests.

The statistical study of how business-backed ballot measure campaigns spend their funds - contrasting with how commercial business now operates - was produced by Forward Observer, a Sacramento-based political consulting firm headed by Joe Rodota, a one-time top aide to Republican Govs. Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as the Reagan White House.

It analyzed five 2012 business-supported ballot measure campaigns and found that they spent 78.5 percent of their funds on traditional media, and another 12.5 percent on direct mail appeals, with the remaining 9 percent distributed among consultants' fees, polling, legal services and miscellaneous costs.

Less than 1 percent was spent on digital messages, even though voters increasingly rely on the Internet and social media for news and discussion about political issues, even though business is increasingly oriented toward digital commerce and even though business groups provided much of the money spent by the ballot measure campaigns.

April 16, 2013
Villaraigosa drops Romney's name, wants 'friends to be bolder'

Villaraigosa_Press_Club.jpgWhen it came to fielding a question Tuesday on whether he's going to endorse someone to succeed him as Los Angeles mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa dropped a name that surprised many attending his lunch address at the Sacramento Press Club.

It wasn't Eric Garcetti or Wendy Greuel.

"You know, I said this to Mitt Romney yesterday on the telephone and I actually said it to him a couple months ago at a dinner right after the election, I have a lot of respect for people who are willing to put their name on the ballot, run for president of the United States, in this case run for mayor, so I hold both individuals in high regard."

Reporters in the room were abuzz -- and atwitter -- with speculation about why Villaraigosa has been dining and talking with last year's GOP nominee.

The Los Angeles Democrat -- a Democratic National Convention chairman and President Barack Obama campaign surrogate rumored on the short list for an administration appointment -- didn't give much more detail after his speech, except that he had previously met the former Massachusetts governor at a dinner with a guest list of mostly Republican leaders.

"You know, I have a couple of Republican friends who kind of think that I'm challenging my friends from time to time, and they like it," said Villaraigosa.

Villaraigosa didn't shy from challenging his friends during his remarks Tuesday, urging fellow Democrats in the California Legislature to get behind the education policies he supports that are largely opposed by powerful teachers' unions.

"I want to work the Democrats and Republicans alike," he said. "President Obama, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, anybody who wants to move our country, our state, our cities to a better place."

And, for the record, Villaraigosa isn't endorsing Garcetti or Greuel -- the two Democrats competing in next month's runoff election -- for now.

"I did, after all, encourage my friends to be bolder and to speak out on the issue of education reform," Villaraigosa said. "And I'd like to see them swing to the fences."

PHOTO CREDIT: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa speaks before the Sacramento Press Club, in Sacramento on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. (AP Photo/ Rich Pedroncelli).

March 11, 2013
Want a California House seat? Price tag is more than $1 million

BB RNC DAY 1 0919.JPGWhat's the price of a California congressional seat? Well over $1 million, if campaign contributions are any indication.

California's 53-member congressional delegation raised a combined $85 million for their successful 2012 races, with the average member accepting $1,611,767.30 in contributions, according to data collected by

That figure, which doesn't count the millions poured into the state's races by outside groups, is slightly lower than the national average of $1.68 million raised by winning House candidates cited in MapLight's report. In both cases, members were taking in more than $2,000 a day on average.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, took in the most cash of all California members, reporting more than $4.5 million in contributions. While McCarthy didn't face a serious challenge last year, his leadership position as House majority whip makes him a magnet for campaign money.

February 8, 2013
National Journal charts rise, fall of Berman-Waxman machine

howardberman.jpgWhen Howard Berman lost the most expensive congressional race in the country last year - falling to fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman after the two were thrown together in the same district - it marked the end of a fabled Southern California political machine.

Berman and Rep. Henry Waxman, along with Berman's campaign/redistricting consultant brother, Michael, had been major factors in regional and statewide politics for decades, making or breaking countless political careers.

The rise and fall of the Berman-Waxman machine is chronicled in a lengthy article in the National Journal.

Shane Goldmacher, a former Sacramento Bee and Los Angeles Times Capitol reporter, charts how the organization got its start in campus politics before Waxman and Howard Berman moved to the Legislature and then to Congress, becoming major forces in domestic and foreign policy.

February 1, 2013
Poll: California business leaders see state's climate as difficult

More than two-thirds of California business leaders see the state as an extraordinarily difficult state in which to operate, a new survey by the California Business Roundtable has found.

The poll adds heft to the often-voiced complaints about the state's business climate from Republicans and business groups -- complaints that Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders say they want to address as the state struggles to emerge from a deep recession.

Brown and top legislators have pledged to reform the California Environmental Quality Act and examine other ways to make the state more attractive to investment, but environmental and consumer groups are leery.

The Business Roundtable polled 1,142 leaders of both large and small businesses and learned that more than 60 percent see the state's economy as worse than the nation's as a whole and 69 percent say it is harder to do business in California than in other states.

The survey also found that just 26 percent of business leaders believe that the results of the 2012 election, in which voters passed new taxes and expanded Democratic legislative majorities, will have a positive effect on the economy while 51 percent said it would have a negative effect.

January 16, 2013
American Lung Association critiques California on smoking

smoke 044.JPGCalifornia has one of the nation's lowest rates of smoking -- just 13.6 percent of adults light up -- but the American Lung Association gives the state low marks for reducing tobacco use, primarily for not taxing cigarettes more and not spending more on anti-smoking programs.

The critique of California is contained in the organization's annual state-by-state "report card" on anti-smoking efforts.

While praising the state as an early leader in persuading its residents to give up cigarettes, the association raps the state for not raising cigarette taxes higher than the current 87 cents a pack and decried voter rejection of a $1 per pack increase last year (Proposition 29). It said California is one of only three states that haven't raised smoking levies since 1999. It also singles out the Legislature for stalling action last year on Senate Bill 575, which would have removed exemptions from smoke-free places.

January 16, 2013
Politico says Sherman facing wrath of Berman's friends

BermanSherman.jpgFormer congressman Howard Berman's friends in Congress are making political life difficult for congressman Brad Sherman, who defeated Berman when the two Democratic incumbents were thrown into the same Southern California district, the Politico website reported Wednesday.

The Politico article indicated that the revenge - Sherman being aced out of committee positions he sought - was being orchestrated by Berman's long-time friend and political partner, Henry Waxman.

Waxman and Berman, along with the latter's brother, Michael, an expert on redistricting and mail campaigning, had headed a powerful political organization in Los Angeles for decades. Michael Berman was hired every 10 years by the state's Democratic politicians to handle redistricting matters.

January 3, 2013
Nine former CA legislators join 113th Congress freshman class

The 82-member freshman class taking seats in the U.S. House of Representatives today includes nine former members of the California Legislature.

Former Sens. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, and Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, and former Assembly members Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, Tony Cardenas, D-Los Angeles, Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, and David Valadao, R-Hanford, won election to the House in the November election. All but Cardenas served in the 2011-2012 legislative session.

They join more than a dozen other California Legislature alumni already serving in the House, including former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass.

"Officially sworn in as a member of the 113th Congress moments ago," the Los Angeles Democrat tweeted. "Hoping this Congress is a more bipartisan and productive one."

Fourteen of California's 53 seats are filled by freshman members this year. The state's congressional delegation saw more turnover than usual because of retirements, redistricting and the new "top-two" election rules.

Read more: Congress ushers in new members, with old divide

January 2, 2013
State Sens. Negrete McLeod, Vargas resign to take House seats

California Budget (1) Gloria Negrete McLeod.JPGJD_JUAN_VARGAS (1).JPGDemocratic Reps.-elect Gloria Negrete McLeod and Juan Vargas are stepping down from the California Senate today ahead of the start of the 113th Congress.

The two will be sworn in as members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday. A spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg confirmed that both members have submitted their letters of resignation, which take effect later today.

Negrete McLeod, of Chino, ousted Democratic Rep. Joe Baca in the Inland Empire's 35th Congressional District, while Vargas won election in San Diego's open 51st Congressional District.

Special primary elections to fill the vacant Senate seats will be held in the coming months, on a date set by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Candidates for Negrete McLeod's 32nd Senate District seat include Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Pomona, and San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller Larry Walker.

Democratic Assemblyman Ben Hueso of San Diego, meanwhile, has announced his candidacy to succeed Vargas in the 40th Senate District.

PHOTO CREDITS: Left, then Assemblyman Juan Vargas, D-San Diego. John Decker / Sacramento Bee file, 2003. Right, Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, speaks at the Senate session in Sacramento, on June 14, 2012. AP Photo / Rich Pedroncelli.

December 17, 2012
California casts Electoral College votes for Barack Obama

MC_ELECTORAL_01.JPGAssembly Speaker John A. Pérez called to order this afternoon California's members of the Electoral College, declaring 2 p.m. to have arrived on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.

Electors across the country were gathering to ratify President Barack Obama's re-election, and in his Assembly chambers, Pérez was not taking the tradition lightly.

"Each of you are partaking in a ceremony and a process unique to the American experience," he said. "Though the role of elector has changed over time, the actions you take today are a timeless expression of our Democratic values."

The vote, said Pérez, D-Los Angeles, would "memorialize forever" that California voters on Nov. 6 chose Obama.

"This is a solemn duty," Perez said, "but one we carry out with joy."

December 14, 2012
Bowen: Mail ballots hit an all-time high in CA general election

votepic.JPGCalifornia saw a record share of general election voters opt to cast their ballot by mail this year, with 51 percent of the state's 13.2 million participants using mail-in ballots.

The general election record, which still trails the state's all-time high of 65 percent mail-in ballots set in this year's primary, was announced today as Secretary of State Debra Bowen's released the official statement of vote. The numbers include vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at polling stations as late as Election Day.

In all, 72 percent of the state's 18.2 million registered voters participated in the general election. That number is lower than the 79 percent average turnout rate for presidential elections over the past century.

"While the election results show an increasing number of Californians rely on the convenience of voting by mail,100 years of election data also demonstrate the fact that too many registered voters choose to sit elections out," Bowen said in a statement. "The crucial factor seems to be whether election issues or candidates strike a chord with each voter.'

December 12, 2012
L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa taking heat from Democratic left

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who's seeking a political platform after his mayoral term ends next year, attached himself to a bipartisan organization that seeks to close the federal budget deficit - but that's bringing heat from the activist left wing of his Democratic Party.

A coalition of liberal groups this week delivered petitions with more than 21,000 names to Villaraigosa's office, demanding that he resign from the Campaign to Fix the Debt, which those on the left consider to be a right-wing plot to slash Social Security, Medicare and other social service and support programs, and protect the wealthy against tax increases.

December 5, 2012
High-income Californians may pay nation's highest tax rate

Thanks to passage of Proposition 30 last month, high-income Californians would pay the nation's highest marginal income tax rates -- nearly 52 percent -- if President Barack Obama and Congress fail to make a deal to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff," according to a new study.

Without a fiscal cliff deal to the contrary, the Bush era tax cuts on high-income taxpayers would expire next year and rates would return to their previous levels.

Gerald Prante, an economics professor at Lynchburg College in Virginia, and Austin John, a Lynchburg economics student, calculated marginal tax rates -- the highest rates on the highest levels of income -- for all 50 states. They combined state, federal and, where applicable, local income taxes, plus payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare and included the deductibility of some taxes.

Proposition 30 added three percentage points to the marginal state income tax rate for California's highest-income taxpayers, bringing it to 13.3 percent. That action raised California over other high-tax jurisdictions to a marginal rate of 51.9 percent, slightly higher than New York City's level. Hawaii was the only other place with a calculated rate above 50 percent.

Their report was published by the Social Science Research Network.

December 2, 2012
Democrat pulls ahead to win Southern California Assembly seat

The final vote update from Los Angeles County has given Democrat Steve Fox a slight lead over the presumed Republican victor in the 36th Assembly District, putting the seat in Democrats' column by a margin of just 145 votes.

Fox trailed Republican Ron Smith by about 2,000 votes the day after the Nov. 6 election, according to local reports, but the gap has narrowed in recent weeks as remaining absentee and provisional ballots were counted. The final count by Los Angeles County, which is one of three counties in the district, put Fox ahead with just over 50 percent of the vote.

A win in the 36th Assembly District gives Democrats control of 55 seats in the lower house -- one above the supermajority Assembly Speaker John A. Perez secured with another Election Day upset. Fox is unlikely to be a sure vote for Democrats in the 2013-2014 Legislature, however. The attorney and teacher ran as a Republican in a 2008 Assembly contest and has signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge against raising taxes.

Smith said Sunday he is planning to seek a recount. He said a stronger than usual Democratic tilt for provisional ballots in his district and other races has left him with the belief that "there is a political group that has learned how to manipulate the election by playing with provisionals," which are ballots that are cast in cases where a voter who has requested an absentee ballot, has moved within a district without updating his or her registration, or is not on the polling place voter roster shows up in person to cast a ballot.

"No one, including myself or any consultant, could have conceived that I was over 3 percentage points ahead after the election...and now the provisionals came in... that it would overturn the (results)," he said. "Mathematically, statistically, that just doesn't happen."

Given his lead, Smith had been preparing to be sworn into the state Legislature along with the other 79 members of the Assembly tomorrow.

"I had most of my staff getting ready to be hired, my picture was up on the wall, I had my office that was assigned to me, and I already had two pieces of legislation that were going to be introduced Monday," he said.

Assembly Democrats, meanwhile, were celebrating plans to add another member to their supermajority during today's swearing in ceremony.

"This is icing on the cake-- a tremendous win and part of the Democratic wave in our state in an area the Republicans took for granted," Steve Maviglio, a strategist and spokesman for Assembly Democrats, said. "We'll be rolling out the welcome mat on Monday."

Editor's note: This post was updated with comments from Smith and Maviglio.

November 23, 2012
Richard Bloom widens lead over Betsy Butler in LA Assembly race

Richard Bloom expanded his lead over sitting Assemblywoman Betsy Butler from just 79 votes to 430 in tallies released Friday afternoon by Los Angeles County.

The two Democrats are separated by just a quarter of a percentage point in a nailbiter for Los Angeles County's newly drawn 50th Assembly District seat.

Bloom, Santa Monica mayor, has 87,270 votes in the latest count. Butler, seeking a second legislative term, has 86,840 votes.

Los Angeles has about 155,000 ballots remaining countywide. An unknown number of those ballots, a small portion, is expected to be from the 50th Assembly District, which represents about 7 percent of Los Angeles County's voters.

Bloom said Friday that the race remains undecided as vote-counting continues -- and that tension builds as the gap grows or shrinks.

"Unfortunately, this is like being on being on 'Who Wants To Be a Millionaire,' except that they don't let you step out of the game, collect your winnings and leave," Bloom quipped. "You have to go to the next level."

Whoever wins the seat will be part of a Democratic supermajority in the Legislature. In the Assembly, Democrats will control 54 of 80 seats; in the Senate, 29 of 40.

* Updated at 5:10 p.m. Friday with Richard Bloom's comment and an estimate of ballots remaining countywide.

November 23, 2012
Senator-elect Galgiani says voters responded to issues, not mud

Reacting to her come-from-behind victory for a state Senate seat, Cathleen Galgiani said voters responded to a campaign in which she focused on legislative issues, not mudslinging.

The Stockton Democrat, who had trailed in ballot counting since Election Day, overtook Republican Bill Berryhill on Wednesday night to win the 5th District Senate seat in San Joaquin, Stockton and a tiny portion of Sacramento counties. Both currently are Assembly members.

Galgiani's campaign touted her support of California's proposed high-speed rail system and her efforts to create and develop UC Merced. She also cast herself as a protector of the San Joaquin Delta, water rights for farmers, and mental health care for youth, including those in the gay and lesbian community.

"I believe I made a case to the voters about what I have done as their Assembly member," Galgiani told The Bee. "I kept my message positive and I talked about my record and what I wanted to do if elected, and voters in my district responded."

November 21, 2012
Cathleen Galgiani defeats Bill Berryhill in hot Senate race

After trailing since Election Day, Democrat Cathleen Galgiani overtook Bill Berryhill by more than 2,100 votes Wednesday night, assuring her of victory in their hotly contested 5th Senate District race.

Thomas Lawson, Galgiani's campaign manager, said the trend is clear and that her victory will make Thanksgiving Day even sweeter.

Berryhill's campaign consultant, Duane Dichiara, stopped short of conceding defeat but admitted, "It's a tough row to hoe" now.

Galgiani inched ahead of her Republican opponent on the strength of her showing in San Joaquin County. She started Wednesday about 1,500 votes behind and now leads by 2,111 votes.

Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties currently are counting provisional ballots, which are ballots that are in question for some reason, such as a vote cast when the voter is not on the list at the polling place. A ballot will not be counted unless the question surrounding it is resolved.

About 1,600 provisional ballots remain uncounted in San Joaquin County and an estimated 2,100 in Stanislaus and Sacramento counties combined that stem from 5th District voters.

November 16, 2012
Online voter registration clearly a hit with young Californians

Youth really do let their fingers do the talking, apparently.

When offered the chance to register online to vote, hundreds of thousands of young Californians took advantage of the opportunity in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 presidential election.

Nearly half -- 49 percent -- of the 590,788 new voters who registered through California's nascent online system were between the ages of 18 and 29, according to the secretary of state's office.

Combining totals for online and paper applicants, the state registered 986,290 new voters in the 45 days before the Oct. 22 deadline. Of that number, 46 percent were ages 18 to 29, spokeswoman Shannan Velayas said.

Political analysts have attributed a surge of youth interest in casting ballots Nov. 6 to President Barack Obama's candidacy and to the Proposition 30 tax measure, which was touted as a way to raise billions and avert deep cuts to schools.

California does not maintain a statistical breakdown of its voter registration base by age, but pollsters routinely say that only a small percentage of eligible youth typically cast ballots.

The Field Poll had predicted that voters ages 18 to 29 would cast only about 13 percent of all ballots Nov. 6. That number, partly because of online registration, swelled to perhaps 20 percent, according to Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll.

November 16, 2012
Galgiani inching closer to Berryhill in hot battle for Senate seat

Republican Bill Berryhill continues to lead, but Cathleen Galgiani has cut into his margin considerably in their nail-biting battle for a Senate seat.

Berryhill, who once led by about 4,800 votes, ended Friday with a 1,465-vote advantage as counting of provisional and mail ballots continued in the 5th Senate District of San Joaquin, Stanislaus and a tiny portion of Sacramento counties.

The fight for the 5th Senate District was one of the most contentious statewide, with both parties targeting it for capture.

If she wins, Galgiani would represent the Democrats' 29th vote in the 40-member house, two more than necessary for a two-thirds supermajority. That extra cushion could be crucial to the party, at least in the early months of 2013, because two incumbent Democratic senators won seats to Congress in the Nov. 6 election. Once they resign from the state Senate, their strongly left-leaning districts would not pick a replacement for months.

In the Senate race pitting Berryhill against Galgiani, a majority of the ballots left untallied are from San Joaquin, the only county in which Galgiani has garnered more votes - by about 4,000 -- than Berryhill, a current Assembly colleague and fellow Stockton resident.

November 15, 2012
Pollster: Younger voters didn't decide outcome of Prop. 30

Younger voters turned out in surprisingly high numbers on Nov. 6, but they didn't spell victory or defeat for Proposition 30 or other key ballot issues, according to the director of the Field Poll.

"It helped the margin of victory, but it didn't change the outcome," Mark DiCamillo said of a surge in balloting by voters ages 18 to 29 that bolstered support for the Proposition 30 tax measure.

DiCamillo estimated that the unexpectedly large youth vote raised the Proposition 30 tally by about four percentage points, but the measure won by nearly nine percentage points.

DiCamillo and Mark Baldassare, head of the Public Policy Institute of California, dissected election results Thursday at a session of the Sacramento Press Club.

Even more significant than the youth vote was the impact of ethnic-minority voters. They turned out in record numbers and tended to oppose Republican positions, the duo said.

November 15, 2012
Ami Bera ousts Rep. Dan Lungren in congressional race

Democrat Ami Bera has won his tight race against incumbent GOP Rep. Dan Lungren to fill the 7th District Congressional seat representing the suburbs of Sacramento.

The Associated Press called the race this afternoon as Bera's lead over Lungren had grown to almost 5,700 votes, according to the latest vote count.

Bera, an Elk Grove Democrat, led longtime Republican lawmaker Lungren by 184 votes on election night. His lead grew to about 3,800 votes on Tuesday.

As of today's count, Bera has 51.11 percent of the vote to Lungren's 48.89 percent.

November 15, 2012
Ami Bera's lead over Dan Lungren continues to grow

The tight race for Congress between Rep. Dan Lungren and Ami Bera is tilting further in Bera's favor. His lead has grown to almost 5,700 votes, according to the latest vote count released today.

Bera, an Elk Grove Democrat, led longtime Republican lawmaker Lungren by 184 votes on election night. His lead grew to about 3,800 votes on Tuesday in the race to fill the 7th District Congressional seat representing the suburbs of Sacramento.

As of today's count, Bera has 51.11 percent of the vote to Lungren's 48.89 percent. Brad Buyse of the Sacramento County registrar's office said officials still have more than 7,700 vote-by-mail ballots to count in addition to 31,000 provisional ballots.

The contest was one of the country's most expensive Congressional races this year, with outside groups spending more than $8 million - largely on negative advertising.

November 13, 2012
Bera widens lead over Lungren in tight Congressional race

Democrat Ami Bera extended his narrow lead Tuesday over GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in the hotly contested 7th Congressional District, moving 3,824 votes ahead in the suburban Sacramento seat.

Bera now leads the longtime Republican lawmaker by a 50.81 percent to 49.19 percent margin in the latest tally of 235,628 votes.

The Lungren campaign estimates there remain nearly 40,000 ballots left to count in the race. "We want to see more ballots counted," strategist Rob Stutzman said Tuesday.

Though vote counting continues, Bera is in Washington, D.C. this week for legislative freshman orientation.

"There are still ballots remaining, but we are confident that Sacramento County voted for new leadership that will put the people first," Bera said in a statement.

Bera led Lungren by a mere 184 votes out of 180,000 counted at the end of Election Night.

The local battle was one of the country's most expensive races, as outside groups spent more than $8 million. The next vote update is expected to come Thursday.

Post updated at 3:55 p.m. with a Bera comment.

November 13, 2012
Assembly Democrats capture tight race needed for supermajority

Democrats have captured one of the two tight Assembly seats they need to gain a supermajority in the lower house.

In a race too close to call on Election Day, Democrat Rudy Salas has defeated Republican Pedro Rios in the 32nd District of Kern and Kings county.

Salas' lead had grown from 268 votes last Tuesday to about 2,500 this morning through the counting of absentee and provisional ballots. Scattered votes have not yet been tallied, but not enough to alter the outcome.

In the other race critical to Assembly Democrats' supermajority hopes, Sharon Quirk-Silva continued to extend her lead over incumbent Republican Assemblyman Chris Norby in Orange County. Her lead of 1,004 after the precinct count widened to 2,222 votes this morning.

November 9, 2012
Ken Cooley now an assemblyman after Peter Tateishi concedes

It's official: Democrat Ken Cooley is Sacramento County's newest assemblyman.

Republican Peter Tateishi conceded Friday to Cooley in the 8th Assembly District, stretching from Citrus Heights to south of Wilton. The vote margin between them had widened from about 4,900 to 7,400 in early counting of mail and provisional ballots.

"The trend is showing that it's not going to move," Tateishi said.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez had named the newly drawn 8th District, in which Democrats hold a four percentage point lead in voter registration, as a targeted seat for capture by his party this year. Millions of dollars were spent by each side.

Pérez, benefiting partly from a wave of youth voters and supporters of Democratic President Barack Obama, has declared victory in seizing two more Assembly seats than his party had last year, giving it a supermajority, 54 of 80 seats.

Republicans have not yet conceded in two close Assembly races, however, one in Orange County, the other in Kings and Kern counties.

Cooley attributed his victory, in part, to months of door-to-door contacts with voters. The leader of his campaign, Andrew Acosta, said it helped that Cooley had a solid record of job creation and the "ability to work across party lines to get things done."

"I'm honored," said Cooley, an attorney, legislative aide and longtime Rancho Cordova councilman. "I'll continue to work with everybody, and try to work on what really matters -- we've got to grow jobs here in California. Everybody's got to work on that."

Tateishi, former chief of staff to Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren, said he left a message on Cooley's telephone voice mail to congratulate him and wish him well in his new job, which begins in December.

"I hope he lives up to his promise to be bipartisan," Tateishi told The Bee.

Tateishi said he was proud of his campaign but was outspent by millions of dollars. Campaign documents show that about $5 million was spent by Cooley or by groups on his behalf, compared to roughly $3 million for Tateishi.

"They ran a great campaign, an effective campaign," Tateishi said of Cooley's effort. "I didn't care for all their tactics but it was a winning campaign. You have to give them credit for that."

Cooley currently is on unpaid leave of absence from his job as legislative director to Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello. Earlier this year, he served as principal consultant to the Senate's insurance committee.

Cooley's resume also includes stints as chief of staff to former Assemblyman Lou Papan, 1977-85; chief counsel to the Assembly banking and insurance committee, 1988-91; and state counsel for State Farm Insurance Co., 1991-08.

* Updated at 5:07 p.m. to add comments from Cooley.

November 9, 2012
Bera lead over Lungren wider in Sacramento County House race

Democrat Ami Bera has widened his lead over GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in the 7th Congressional District, with the latest vote count this afternoon putting the challenger ahead by 1,779 votes in the suburban Sacramento swing seat.

The two rivals are still separated by less than one percentage point. Bera has won 50.43 percent of the 208,711 votes counted to Lungren's 49.57 percent. Election officials still need to process more than 100,000 ballots submitted throughout Sacramento County, a total that could include tens of thousands of votes in this race.

Bera led Lungren by 184 votes by the end of election night, when about 180,000 votes in the race had been tallied.

This year's battle between Lungren and Bera is one of the country's most competitive and costly congressional races. While Lungren beat Bera by seven percentage points in 2010, redistricting gave Democrats an edge in the suburban Sacramento seat. Outside groups poured more than $8 million into the contest, with pro-Bera forces outspending Lungren's allies by more than $2 million.

Sacramento County election officials plan to update the results again on Tuesday.

November 9, 2012
Moody's says Proposition 30 passage a boost to school credit

After previously threatening downgrades if Proposition 30 had failed, Moody's Investors Service said Thursday that voter approval of the tax initiative positively impacted the credit ratings of California's K-12 districts and colleges.

Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers enacted a June budget that put education funding at risk this year if voters had rejected the measure. Moody's warned before the election that it would have begun reviewing the most perilously positioned K-12 districts for a credit downgrade if that had come to pass.

"Passage of this proposition is credit positive for the state's K-12 school districts, community college districts and university systems because it averts the state executing a $6 billion, mid-year cut to education funding," Moody's wrote in its Thursday report.

Moody's observed that K-12 funding for the current school year will now remain about the same as last year. The ratings agency embraced Brown's plan to use extra cash to begin reversing delayed payments, which had forced districts to borrow to pay their bills on an annual basis.

The agency said that in the coming years, Proposition 30 revenues "could provide district with more revenues, assuming economic growth and taxable income rise above our current expectations."

Earlier this week, ratings house Standard and Poor's said the initiative's passage was a positive development for the state's credit rating as a whole. Analyst Gabriel Petek said that California could climb out of the ratings basement - its A- remains the nation's worst - if the state uses this period of increased taxes to enact permanent changes that steady the budget system.

November 7, 2012
Food activists look to other states after failed California measure

Organic farmers and others who backed Proposition 37 to label genetically engineered food said today that failure of the measure in California won't stop similar efforts in other states. They're looking north to Washington and Oregon and east to Connecticut and Vermont.

Even though 53 percent of California voters rejected Proposition 37, the measure gave a huge push to the the national movement to label genetically modified food, said Dave Murphy, a co-chair of the Yes on 37 campaign and executive director of Food Democracy Now.

"We won a moral victory," Murphy said. "We've exposed this issue nationally in a way that's never been done before."

Genetic engineering, also called genetic modifying, is a process in which scientists splice the DNA of one plant or animal and combine it with DNA from something else. Most often, the process is used to produce crops that are resistant to pests or can withstand being sprayed by weed killers such as RoundUp. Genetically modified corn, soy beans and canola are in thousands of common grocery products.

Some people oppose the technique, saying it is unnatural and could be harmful to the environment or human health. They want labels so shoppers who care about the issue can avoid GMOs at the store. Others say genetic engineering - also called biotechnology - is a safe way to produce food with desirable characteristics, and that special labels would imply a danger that hasn't been proven.

Anti-GMO activists are gathering signatures in Washington for a food labeling initiative they hope will make it on the November 2013 ballot, said Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association, a major contributor to the Proposition 37 campaign.

They're hoping to run an initiative in Oregon, Cummins said, though signature gathering has not begun there. If it makes the ballot it would be the second time Oregon voters are asked to require labeling of genetically engineered food; they rejected a similar measure 10 years ago.

Advocates are also working on GMO labeling bills they hope the legislatures in Vermont and Connecticut will soon consider, Cummins said. He said he doesn't expect the federal government to act on the issue.

"Most activists believe our power is in the realm of educating the public, putting pressure in the organic and natural food sector and working at the state level," Cummins said.

He likened the GMO labeling issue to efforts to legalize marijuana, which voters in Washington and Colorado approved Tuesday.

"Like with marijuana legislation, voters took matters into their own hands," Cummins said.

"I think we're going to get some victories in the next 12 months and this will put additional pressure on the federal government."

November 7, 2012
Mary Hayashi runs third in Alameda County board bid

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, who pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor shoplifting charge earlier this year, ran third this week in her bid for a seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Hayashi had been seeking the seat vacated by Nadia Lockyer, the estranged wife of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, but faced a barrage of campaign hit pieces dwelling on her shoplifting incident. She garnered less than a fourth of the vote in the county's Second District, running behind Richard Valle and Mark Green.

Much of the anti-Hayashi campaign was financed by a faction of physical therapists who had feuded with the assemblywoman over legislation affecting their profession, as The Bee's Torey Van Oot detailed in this
Capitol Alert posting last month.

November 7, 2012
ACLU files lawsuit over Proposition 35's sex offender provisions

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the courts to block provisions of California's new voter-approved law targeting human trafficking.

Proposition 35, which passed with 81 percent of the vote Tuesday, enacts harsher penalties for persons convicted of crimes related to human trafficking, a concept that gained broad support in polls and at the ballot box. But a less-noticed provision in the measure requires registered sex offenders to disclose to authorities aliases and service providers they use online.

American Civil Liberties Union's Northern California arm and Electronic Frontier Foundation believe that unconstitutionally restricts the First Amendment rights of registered sex offenders in the states. The groups filed a lawsuit challenging just those provisions related to the Internet identifiers in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Wednesday on behalf of two registered sex offenders and a group called California Reform Sex Offender Laws.

November 7, 2012
California voters OK most local tax and bond measures

California voters approved nearly three-fourths of the 240 tax and bond measures placed on their ballots by school districts and local governments, according to a compilation by Michael Coleman, an adviser to the League of California Cities.

Coleman said 85 of 106 school bond issues and 52 of 66 tax increases were approved by local voters, including a number of add-on sales taxes sponsored by city governments. Only three of those proposed sales tax measures were rejected and those approved ranged from a quarter-cent (the same as Proposition 30, a statewide ballot measure) to as much as a full cent.

Other approved tax measures included utility and hotel taxes, business license fees and, in some school districts and local governments, parcel taxes.

November 7, 2012
Jerry Brown urges 'prudence of Joseph' on future spending

Gov. Jerry Brown said today that he will not use an expected Democratic supermajority in the California Legislature to raise taxes further than were raised by passage of his ballot initiative Tuesday, urging "the prudence of Joseph" on spending in the next few years.

"We have to make sure over the next few years that we pay our bills, we invest in the right programs, but we don't go on any spending binges," the Democratic governor said at a news conference at the Capitol.

Brown said he will be guided by a biblical reference to seven years of plenty being followed by seven years of famine, and to the need in better times to save crops for less abundant years.

November 7, 2012
Race between Bera and Lungren could be up in the air for days

Democrat Ami Bera clung to a razor-thin lead this morning in his fight to unseat Republican Rep. Dan Lungren, though both sides cautioned that it could be days before a winner is declared in the 7th Congressional District.

The two-time rivals for a suburban Sacramento swing seat spent Tuesday night locked in a near tie, with both candidates pulling ahead by margins of fewer than 1,000 votes at different points in the night. Bera now leads by just 184 votes out of more than 176,000 ballots cast.

Many more ballots still need to be counted. County election officials have not yet tallied all the absentee and provisional ballots turned in by Election Day, but spokeswoman Alice Jarboe said the sheer volume appears to be "record breaking."

"I can tell just by the bins and all.... the pink return containers that are filling up these hampers," she said of the scene at the elections office this morning.

Lungren's campaign manager estimated that tens of thousands of unprocessed ballots remain, telling supporters in an email that "we may not know the outcome of this race for days or even weeks."

November 7, 2012
Opponents of Jerry Brown's California tax measure concede

If the photograph of a bottle of Scotch whiskey posted on Twitter early this morning by the spokesman for the campaign against Gov. Jerry Brown's ballot initiative to raise taxes wasn't a clear enough acknowledgment of defeat, the statement issued this morning was.

"While we are disappointed in the outcome of the campaign, the voters have spoken," the campaign against Proposition 30 said in a prepared statement. "We congratulate Governor Brown and his team on their victory and thank all the small business owners, taxpayers and other groups from every corner of the state for their extraordinary commitment to the 'No on 30' campaign."

The concession comes nearly 12 hours after Brown claimed victory.

Aaron McLear, who posted the photograph of the 12-year-old Cragganmore, wrote separately, "Anyone know of a good realtor in Incline Village?"

The Nevada town is just over the California border.

November 7, 2012
Election dominoes could impact timing for supermajority in CA

California Democrats are on track to secure a supermajority in both houses of the Legislature for the first time in more than a century.

But the domino effect of the balloting in other races raise questions about when -- and for how long -- Democrats would have a legislative supermajority.

November 7, 2012
Jerry Brown: 'Big issues' remain after California tax vote

Gov. Jerry Brown, successful in his ballot initiative to raise taxes and buoyed by the prospect of Democratic supermajorities in the state Legislature, said this morning that the state still faces "big issues" and that the challenge for Democrats will be to "earn and maintain the people's trust."

"We have big issues," the Democratic governor said on CBS This Morning. "We still have a divided state, between, you know, the red and the blue. But we have a predominant Democratic majority now in the Legislature, and the challenge is what can we do with it? Can we earn and maintain the people's trust? And that's no easy thing."

Brown attributed the success of his initiative to raise taxes to an electorate tired of billions of dollars in state spending cuts.

"This has been a very tough fiscal program of austerity, $3 of cuts for every $1 of income, and I think that's the reason why people finally said, OK, enough is enough, 'We'll vote you some more money.'"

Brown said, "This January, we'll have the first balanced budget, probably, since 1998."

Brown, governor before from 1975 to 1983, was asked how he was feeling.

"Well I'm feeling good," he said. "But I mean, I've been around this business a long time, and I know that whatever happens one night there's always another challenge the next day."

November 7, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: California reformers missed their chance

VIDEO: Dan says the forces behind Proposition 31 missed an opportunity.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 7, 2012
Assembly speaker says he has supermajority in lower house

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said tonight that Democrats have secured a supermajority in the lower house, a surprising development that could give the party the ability to raise taxes on their own if the Senate follows suit.

Democratic candidates led their GOP opponents in two swing Assembly districts early Wednesday morning, and an upset was brewing in a race between Fullerton Mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva and GOP Assemblyman Chris Norby. Quirk-Silva led Norby by 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent in the 65th Assembly District with 100 percent of precincts reporting. The difference amounts to 1,004 votes.

"This just gives us 54 people that we know are going to come together on day one to focus on improving the economy," Pérez said.

While Senate Democrats emphasized early and often their goal was to claim a two-thirds supermajority in the upper house, there was relatively little expectation the same would occur in the Assembly this year.

Gov. Jerry Brown asked voters for statewide tax hikes in Proposition 30 largely because he couldn't get them in the Legislature, where Republican votes were necessary for two-thirds approval. That may no longer be true.

"Let's be very clear," Pérez said. "This is something that nobody expected to be possible."

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said early Wednesday he was not ready to declare victory but felt "very good" about his prospects for taking two-thirds control of the upper house.

Democrats only need to win one of three swing seats for that to happen, and two of those are in Los Angeles County, where results are lagging other parts of the state. If Democrats take both houses by a supermajority, it would be the first time a party has done that since 1933, Steinberg said.

"If we get there, and it's certainly possible, we will use it but also govern with humility," Steinberg said. "It's an even larger responsibility."

One irony: the two-house supermajority may have come on a night when Democrats asked voters for tax increases largely because they lacked the two-thirds control to do so on their own.

At least one Senate Democrat won a congressional seat Tuesday - Sen. Juan Vargas - so Democrats may need to win a special election before they can claim two-thirds control.

Kevin Yamamura contributed to this report.

November 7, 2012
Proposition 32 opponents declare victory

Opponents of Proposition 32 have declared victory.

In a statement released shortly before midnight, Lou Paulson, chairman of the No on Proposition 32 campaign, said, "By soundly rejecting Proposition 32, the voters of our state said 'no' to a deceptive initiative written by wealthy special interests, for wealthy special interests."

With 95 percent of precincts reporting, 56.2 percent of ballots cast have rejected the measure. "No" votes in populous Los Angeles County were running at 62 percent with a little less than half the precincts there reporting. Nearly three-quarters of the votes in San Francisco opposed the measure.

Organized labor targeted Proposition 32, which includes a provision to ban unions and corporations from using money deducted from paychecks for political purposes. Payroll deductions are unions' sole means of political funding. Corporations use other means to raise political cash that the measure doesn't limit.

The Yes on 32 campaign and independent committees that backed the measure raised about $60 million. Unions raised more.

"When you're up against one ot the most powerful interests in the state that's willing to spend $71 million, it's very difficult to pass an initiative," said Jake Suski, spokesman for the Yes on Proposition 32 group.

Vote results: Customize your races's Election Central: News, photos, video
Voter Guide: Candidates, issues
California propositions
Sacramento Bee endorsements
Live today: Tell us if you voted. Report what's going on at your polling place, in your neighborhood, at your workplace. Share aphoto: email

November 7, 2012
Jerry Brown says 'yeah,' that was a victory declaration

Gov. Jerry Brown told supporters tonight that his campaign to raise taxes had "overcome a lot of obstacles," and that California is perhaps "the only place in America where a state actually said, 'Let's raise our taxes.'"

But it was not entirely clear to the audience that the speech he was delivering was a victory declaration.

As he was leaving the stage, a reporter asked him if it was.

"Yeah," he said. "Well, we're ahead. All the indications are that (Proposition) 30's going to win."

Brown said it was his "last talk" for the night but that he will hold a news conference on Wednesday at the Capitol.

In remarks to a few hundred supporters at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Brown said his campaign was "up against some pretty tough opposition."

"Here we are," he said. "We have a vote of the people, I think the only place in America where a state actually said, 'Let's raise our taxes for our kids, for our schools, for our California Dream."

November 6, 2012
'Three strikes' change wins California voter approval

Voters have approved a revision of California's landmark Three Strikes sentencing law, passing a measure that eliminates 25 years-to-life sentences for inmates whose third felony offense is not a serious or violent crime.

Proposition 36 changes the 18-year-old law, considered the nation's toughest, by allowing inmates to seek new hearings if their third strike was not violent or serious, and is estimated to save the state $70 million to $90 million annually.

Vote results: Customize your races's Election Central: News, photos, video
Voter Guide: Candidates, issues
California propositions
Sacramento Bee endorsements
Live today: Tell us if you voted. Report what's going on at your polling place, in your neighborhood, at your workplace. Share a photo: email

November 6, 2012
Proposition 38 rejected by voters

Voters on Tuesday handily rejected Proposition 38, an initiative raising income taxes on middle- and upper-class households for education.

Wealthy activist Molly Munger and her husband spent more than $47 million on the initiative this year, mostly on statewide advertising that tried to convince voters her measure was most beneficial for California schools.

In mid-October, Munger incurred the wrath of advocates for Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 when she ran a week of ads criticizing his campaign as "misleading" and for allowing lawmakers to tap the money.

Though Munger had a well-funded campaign, she lacked the institutional support that Brown's enjoyed, plus her measure faced an uphill battle trying to convince middle-class voters to raise their own income taxes.

With about 18 percent of the vote counted, the measure was trailing, 74.5 percent to 25.5 percent.

Vote results: Customize your races's Election Central: News, photos, video
Voter Guide: Candidates, issues
California propositions
Sacramento Bee endorsements
Live today: Tell us if you voted. Report what's going on at your polling place, in your neighborhood, at your workplace. Share a photo: email

November 6, 2012
Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative leads in early exit polling

Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative led in an initial exit poll Tuesday evening, giving comfort to advocates who grew concerned when recent surveys showed flagging support in the final month of the campaign.

Proposition 30 led 53 percent to 47 percent in a California exit poll conducted for The Bee by Edison Research. The numbers are subject to change as the evening wears on.

The initiative would raise income taxes on top earners and the statewide sales tax by a quarter-cent on the dollar to generate roughly $6 billion annually for the state budget, which pays for education, social services and public safety. The tiered income tax hike kicks in retroactively for the 2012 tax year at $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for joint filers.

November 6, 2012
Pelosi's road to majority hits roadblock before CA polls close

PELOSIBB DNC 0382.JPGHouse minority leader Nancy Pelosi predicted earlier this year that the road to a Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives would run through California.

"Simply put, to win back the House, to succeed in our drive for 25 ... California Democrats will lead the way," the former House speaker said in a speech at the California Democratic Party convention last winter.

Not so much.

Television network projections showed Republicans securing another two years in control of Congress before the polls in California even closed today, thanks to GOP wins in other parts of the country.

Still, a handful of GOP-held seats in California are expected to be close calls tonight. Reps. Dan Lungren, Jeff Denham and Mary Bono Mack are among the Republican incumbents facing a serious challenge.


Democrats optimistic about keeping Senate; House likely to stay GOP-led

Democrats' chances of big California congressional gains dim

Vote results: Customize your races's Election Central: News, photos, video
Voter Guide: Candidates, issues
California propositions
Sacramento Bee endorsements
Live today: Tell us if you voted. Report what's going on at your polling place, in your neighborhood, at your workplace. Share a photo: email

November 6, 2012
Jerry Brown found 'human quality' in surrogate dog Sutter

Pet License Plates.jpgIt caused more than few eyes to roll when it was announced last month that Gov. Jerry Brown would dispatch his pet dog to visit Democratic field offices on behalf of Proposition 30, Brown's initiative to raise taxes.

But it was inexpensive, as campaign activities go, and it required no time of Brown's. Jennifer Fearing, of the Humane Society of the United States, would tour Sutter, the Pembroke Welsh corgi, around.

The press swooned.

Television and light newspaper coverage was abundant. In one city, Fearing said, Sutter "got the key to the city from the mayor - on a live shot!" As she arrived with Sutter at a campaign party this evening at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Fearing said the two had logged 3,200 miles.

On Sunday, the Democratic governor had finished a series of campaign stops in Los Angeles when he was asked about the dog's involvement in the race.

"I think there are a lot of people who like animals, more than you think," Brown said. "And I also think there's a certain human quality that it adds ... in a campaign world which is very mechanical, driven by polls, focus groups and scripted commercials, to have an element of spontaneity."

There are certain liabilities that a politician accepts when he appoints an animal to be his surrogate, interacting with people on live television. But Sutter is exceedingly well behaved.

It may also be true, as Brown said, that "his favorability ratings are higher than mine."

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown and first dog, Sutter Brown, promote sales of specialty license plates in Los Angeles on May 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

November 6, 2012
Few reports of lines, aggressive poll monitors across California

By Jim Sanders

Long lines at the ballot box, overly aggressive poll monitors, malfunctioning machines - hundreds of complaints were reported about voting today, but generally they were minor and affected only a small fraction of Californians.
"By all accounts, everything is going very smoothly," Shannan Velayas, spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office, said about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

The election hotline manned by the secretary of state's office had received 6,700 calls by mid-afternoon, but only about 200 of them were complaints, Velayas said.

November 6, 2012
Munger spends $600,000 urging yes on Prop. 40

By Jim Sanders

The Election Day tally is in: Charles T. Munger Jr. has spent more than a half-million dollars to tell Californians that yes on Proposition 40 means no.

In other words, voting yes means opposing the referendum and retaining new Senate districts that were drawn for today's election. No group has formally campaigned to redraw those districts, which are supported now by both the Democratic and Republican state parties.

Even the sponsors of Proposition 40 have abandoned their measure, urging support of the new Senate maps. But Munger and others are concerned that voters mistakenly could check the wrong ballot box.

November 6, 2012
Jerry Brown votes for measure to repeal death penalty

Jerry Brown.JPGOAKLAND - Gov. Jerry Brown this morning said he voted for a ballot initiative to repeal the death penalty, after declining during the campaign to say how he would vote on the measure.

The Democratic governor had maintained a careful distance from Proposition 34. Despite his longstanding moral reservations about capital punishment, Brown enforced the death penalty as state attorney general and promised during his gubernatorial campaign in 2010 to uphold the law if elected.

Brown's vote was as expected. He was 21 when he persuaded his father, then-Gov. Pat Brown, to grant convicted rapist Caryl Chessman a temporary stay of execution. Later, as governor from 1975 to 1983, Jerry Brown vetoed death penalty legislation, though his veto was overridden by the Legislature.

Near his home in the Oakland hills this morning, the governor was asked about Proposition 34 outside the fire station where he cast his ballot.

"I voted 'Yes,'" he said. "Of course."

PHOTO CAPTION: A Dalmatian dog watches as California Gov. Jerry Brown, left, votes Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at a fire station in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

November 6, 2012
What to watch in California's House and legislative races

In addition to the presidential vote and eleven high-profile ballot measures, 154 congressional and state legislative seats are up for grabs today in California.

Changes to the state's political landscape, such as the top-two primary and political maps drawn for the first time by a citizens' commission, and heavy spending by outside groups in state and federal races have produced more competitive contests than in years past.

Those dynamics can make it hard for even the most observant political junkie to know where to turn his or her attention once the polls close at 8 p.m. To help, we've created an Election Day cheat sheet to describe some of the trends we're tracking and questions we'll be asking as we analyze tonight's results.

November 5, 2012
California officials consider civil, criminal action in mystery donation case

California regulators and attorneys said today they are seriously weighing next steps - including criminal charges - against parties involved in the $11 million contribution whose known trail leads through three different out-of-state nonprofits.

A lawyer for Americans for Responsible Leadership, the Arizona-based donor at the center of the controversy, appeared to acknowledge the possibility of future legal action in a letter he filed this morning with the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

Attorney Michael D. Bopp wrote that while new disclosures from Americans for Responsible Leadership and The Center to Protect Patient Rights may relate to state codes banning hidden intermediary contributions, the groups do not admit wrongdoing.

"While these letters relate to Cal. Gov. Code § 84302 and 2 CA ADC § 18432.5, we want to make it clear that they have been sent pursuant to a settlement agreement with the California Fair Political Practices Commission and that neither ARL nor CPPR admit any wrongdoing or that the letters are required by applicable law," Bopp wrote. "Further, ARL and CPPR reserve the right to contest any further proceedings that relate to the contributions discussed in the aforementioned letters."

Both FPPC Chairwoman Ann Ravel and state Attorney General Kamala Harris said today they are reviewing the matter to see whether further civil or criminal action is warranted. The state previously filed a lawsuit asking Americans for Responsible Leadership to submit records.

"What this committee agreed it had done is a clear violation of the state's money laundering prohibition," said Ravel, a Gov. Jerry Brown appointee.

Ravel said one civil penalty is that the recipient committee pay to the state general fund an amount equal to the contribution - in this case, $11 million. The party liable would be the Small Business Action Committee No on 30/Yes on 32.

SBAC spokeswoman Beth Miller said her group never was told that Americans for Responsible Leadership received its $11 million by way of two other nonprofits. Failing to disclose that information to a recipient committee is a potential violation of California Government Code § 84302.

SBAC immediately updated its campaign disclosure forms this morning to acknowledge contributions from The Center to Protect Patient Rights and Americans for Job Security.

"SBAC PAC had no knowledge that the contribution was from an intermediary," Miller said in a written statement. "As it does with all its donors, upon accepting the donation from Americans for Responsible Leadership SBAC PAC sent a donor advice letter explaining the organization's filing responsibilities. When SBAC PAC was informed this morning by the FPPC it amended its disclosure reports immediately."

November 5, 2012
Senate GOP leader 'cautiously optimistic' about blocking two-thirds

It's not just Democrats making a final push in the state's four competitive Senate seats.

Senate GOP leader Bob Huff hit the trail last week to boost candidates he needs to win to prevent Democrats from winning a veto-proof supermajority in the upper house.

The Diamond Bar Republican visited all four targeted races starting on Thursday, touring the 5th, 39th and 31st Senate Districts before landing at Republican Todd Zink's headquarters in the 27th Senate District today.

Huff said he's feeling good going into tomorrow's election, despite The California Republican Party's money challenges and California's new district lines, which the GOP sought unsuccessfully to have blocked by the court.

"We're actually feeling cautiously optimistic," he said.

November 5, 2012
Bill Clinton calls voters for Ami Bera in Sacramento House race

Some voters in Sacramento County are getting calls from former President Bill Clinton ahead of Tuesday's election.

The former president has recorded a robocall in support of Democratic congressional candidate Ami Bera, who is locked in a close race with GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in the suburban Sacramento 7th Congressional District. He's also featured in a call urging voters to oppose Proposition 32, a measure on campaign money fiercely opposed by unions.

Bera is one of at least 45 Democratic congressional candidates using the robocalls in the final days of the campaign, according to Roll Call newspaper. The former president also recorded calls for Jose Hernandez in the 10th Congressional District, Julia Brownley in the 26th Congressional District, Scott Peters in the 52nd Congressional District and Raul Ruiz in the 36th Congressional District.

Clinton has also campaigned alongside Democrats in California this year. He endorsed Bera and other Democrats running in competitive Northern California races during an October rally at University of California, Davis.

Click here to see the full list and listen to a recording.


Bill Clinton stumps for California Dems in tight congressional races

Dan Morain: Lungren, Bera vie for every last vote

Ad Watch: Deluge of ads at the wire

Editor note: an earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the seat Raul Ruiz is seeking.

November 5, 2012
Darrell Steinberg makes final push for CA Senate super majority

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is spending the final days of the campaign touring a handful of swing districts that could give his party a super majority in the upper house.

Democrats need to win two of four competitive Senate districts Tuesday to capture a two-thirds majority for the first time in more than 40 years. A super majority could allow Democrats in the upper house to approve tax increases and override vetoes without GOP votes. Assembly Democrats are not expected to hit two-thirds this year.

Steinberg was in Modesto Sunday for a campaign rally for Democratic Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, who is competing against GOP Assemblyman Bill Berryhill in the Stockton-based 5th Senate District.

Steinberg, who campaigned with Sen. Fran Pavley in the 27th Senate District last weekend, has stops planned in two other swing seats today.

Spokesman Rhys Williams said the Sacramento Democrat will do an event with Assemblyman Marty Block in San Diego's 39th Senate District and campaign with Richard Roth in Riverside's 31st Senate District today. He'll also join Gov. Jerry Brown in Los Angeles to promote Proposition 30.

Senate GOP leader Bob Huff has also been campaigning in the competitive seats since last week. Read more about his schedule here.


California Democrats bid for two-thirds control of state Senate

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

Editor's note: This post was updated at 1 p.m. with information about Senator Huff's schedule.

November 4, 2012
California Supreme Court orders nonprofit to face audit

Update (8:24 p.m.) After the state court declined to extend the deadline, Americans for Responsible Leadership said it was attempting to contact the FPPC to comply with the order, while continuing to seek a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Update (5:08 p.m.): Americans for Responsible Leadership did not submit information to the FPPC by 4 p.m. as ordered and instead has asked the state court to extend its compliance window to 9 a.m. Monday as it seeks a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court, according to FPPC chairwoman Ann Ravel.

The California Supreme Court this afternoon ordered an obscure Arizona nonprofit to submit donation records immediately to state regulators related to an $11 million contribution the group gave in October.

The state's highest court issued its unanimous 7-0 decision at 3 p.m. after a telephone conference and gave Phoenix-based Americans for Responsible Leadership until 4 p.m. to comply.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission had asked the Supreme Court to force ARL to turn over e-mails and transactions data behind the donation, whose specific donors the group has never disclosed. The group gave $11 million to a business campaign committee established to oppose Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30, and support a measure that would restrict union dues collection, Proposition 32.

The FPPC wants to review the information to determine before Tuesday's election whether ARL violated state rules requiring nonprofits to disclose donors if their money was earmarked for a specific initiative. If the FPPC finds a violation, it remains to be seen whether there is enough time to invoke administrative or legal procedures that would force ARL to disclose its donors by Tuesday.

ARL is directed by lesser-known Arizona GOP activists, and the group hired attorneys from a Virginia-based law firm with longstanding Republican National Committee ties.

November 3, 2012
Video: Tax measure draws financial support from unions, corporations

Capitol Alert's Torey Van Oot sat down this week with a few of her colleagues in the The Bee Capitol Bureau to go over the basics of some of the statewide ballot measures facing voters on Tuesday.

In this installment, she talks to Kevin Yamamura about Propositions 30 and 38.

Torey's chat with Jon Ortiz about Proposition 32 can be viewed here.

Torey's chat with Laurel Rosenhall on Proposition 37 can be viewed here.

November 3, 2012
Video: Organic backers, food industry spar over labeling law

Capitol Alert's Torey Van Oot sat down this week with a few of her colleagues in the The Bee Capitol Bureau to go over the basics of some of the statewide ballot measures facing voters on Tuesday.

In this installment, she talks to Laurel Rosenhall about Proposition 37. Look for a segment on the tax increase measures later today. Torey's chat with Jon Ortiz about Proposition 32 can be viewed here.

November 2, 2012
VIDEO: Jerry Brown touts study on millionaire migration, divorce

SANTA CLARA - Gov. Jerry Brown, campaigning this afternoon for his ballot initiative to raise income taxes on upper-income earners, sought to debunk the idea that the increase would drive them out of the state.

He cited a study that says millionaires are more likely to leave California because of divorce than higher tax rates.

Presuming some millionaires were in the audience as he participated in a panel discussion at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group's annual public policy luncheon, Brown told them: "People are afraid that you're going to move, and I want you to stay. I want to write you a letter of commendation because you're doing well."

The Democratic governor said he read the study during the luncheon "while I was trying to finish that sandwich ... What it says is the biggest factor in millionaires moving out of California is divorce."

Brown, who also proposes to raise the state sales tax, called divorce a "50 percent tax hit," suggesting millionaires concern themselves less with California's tax rate and "pay attention to your spouse."

November 2, 2012
Video: Why unions, business battle over Proposition 32

Capitol Alert's Torey Van Oot sat down this week with a few of her colleagues in the The Bee Capitol Bureau to go over the basics of some of the statewide ballot measures facing voters on Tuesday.

In this installment, she talks to Jon Ortiz about Proposition 32. Look for segments on the tax increase measures and Proposition 37, the food labeling measure, on Saturday.

November 2, 2012
California hits record-high 18.2 million voters ahead of election

The number of Californians registered to vote has reached a new high, with 18.2 million residents eligible to participate in Tuesday's election.

That represents nearly 77 percent of the state's eligible voting population, according to figures released today by Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

While registrations submitted through the state's new online system generated buzz this fall, the state saw fewer voters added to the rolls in the final weeks ahead of the Oct. 22 registration deadline than in the same period in 2008.

"Registering to vote is easier now than it was four years ago, yet fewer people actually registered in this final 45-day window than did in 2008," Bowen said in a statement. "This makes it clear that it's not just a question of making voter registration easier; it's really about what inspires people to care about their democracy and be part of the decision-making process."

Democrats continue to hold a double-digit lead in registration over other parties in the state, with the party's share of the electorate rising slightly since September to 43.7 percent. The percentages of Republicans and voters who decline to identify a party preference both dropped by less than a percentage point during the same period. Republican registration dipped below 30 percent. About a fifth of voters did not pick a party.

November 1, 2012
Brown debates economy long distance with manufacturers

It was just a a semi-coincidence that as Gov. Jerry Brown was touting California on Thursday as an engine of economic growth, the California Manufacturers and Technology Association was declaring the state to be falling behind the rest of the country.

Both have data on their sides.

During an appearance before the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco -- mostly to campaign for passage of his tax measure, Proposition 30 -- Brown skewered the "declinists" who believe that California is faltering.

The state has its flaws, he said, but "California ... has made some fabulous decisions, and our collective will ... will not be slowed by the skeptics, the declinists and those fearful individuals who can't see where they are: the greatest place in the world."

November 1, 2012
Dan Lungren dings Ami Bera for not showing up at local events

Republican Rep. Dan Lungren dinged Democratic challenger Ami Bera on Wednesday for being MIA at a series of local candidate appearances, characterizing such events as a way to add substance to a race dominated by heavy spending on attack ads.

"The way you get through the clutter of the negative ads and the way you actually revive the idea of a spirited debate between all of those candidates who are out there is to require people to show up at all of these forums so they can't hide behind the voters," he told KFBK's John McGinness during an afternoon radio appearance.

Lungren and Bera, competing for the second time in what is now the 7th Congressional District, squared off for the first time earlier this year in a Sept. 25 debate sponsored by The Sacramento Bee, News10 and Capital Public Radio. Both also participated in a late September candidate forum sponsored by the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association.

October 31, 2012
Judge confirms ruling against mystery donor to ballot campaigns

A Sacramento Superior Court judge confirmed tonight her ruling against an obscure Arizona campaign group, saying the failure to investigate the source of its funds would cause irreparable harm to California voters.

Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang's final ruling ordered Phoenix-based Americans for Responsible Leadership, which donated $11 million to kill Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase in Proposition 30 and support the campaign finance measure Prop. 32, to turn over information to state regulators on Thursday.

It's still far from certain, however, that voters will learn of the group's donors before Tuesday's election. The group said it will appeal, and it is unclear whether the courts can sort out the issues in expedited fashion or, even if they do, whether the state Fair Political Practices Commission will determine that donor disclosure is warranted..

"We are disappointed in the today's court ruling," Matt Ross, the Sacramento-based spokesman for the group's Virginia legal team, said in a prepared statement. "We have asserted all along that the FPPC does not have the authority to issue an audit in advance of the election. We continue to believe so and will appeal this case."

October 31, 2012
Groups spend more than $20 million on CA legislative races

Independent groups have spent more than $20 million on state legislative contests ahead of Tuesday's election.

The heaviest spending has occurred in two Sacramento-area seats so far. Independent expenditure committees reported spending nearly $2.7 million through Oct. 30 on the 5th Senate District battle between Republican Assemblyman Bill Berryhill and Democratic Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani. The Stockton-based seat is one of three swing districts that could determine whether Senate Democrats win a two-thirds majority in the upper house.

The 8th Assembly District is home to the second most expensive race, with outside groups dropping more than $2.5 million. Democrat Ken Cooley and Republican Peter Tateishi are fighting for that suburban Sacramento seat.

Spending by independent expenditure committees is certain to increase in the last week of the campaign, as the groups make their final appeals to voters. The committees can raise and spend unlimited amounts on state elections, provided they do not coordinate with candidate campaigns.

October 30, 2012
Feud with Mary Hayashi enters Alameda supervisor race

Democratic Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi's last days in the lower house apparently won't mark the end of her long-running battle with a faction of physical therapists.

A Southern California physical therapist who has battled for years with the Castro Valley Democrat over legislation affecting his trade is leading a new committee aimed at derailing the termed-out legislator's bid for an open seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

MORALS PAC, which stands for Masses Organizing Research Against Lying and Stealing Opposing Mary, distributed its first anti-Hayashi mail piece this week. The piece hits Hayashi not on legislative actions opposed by physical therapists, but her 2011 arrest on suspicion of taking more than $2,000 worth of clothes from a San Francisco Nieman Marcus without paying.

The mailer, designed as a riff on a movie poster for the 1998 comedy "There's Something About Mary," says the candidate's "political ambition and lavish lifestyle is starting to cloud her judgment and her ability to be an effective politician."

"Shoplifting is obviously a much more newsworthy thing than patients being denied access to physical therapy services," said Paul Gaspar, the physical therapist chairing the committee.

Hayashi, who pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor shoplifting charge, maintains the theft was not intentional. She is one of four candidates seeking to replace former Supervisor Nadia Lockyer, who stepped down earlier this year after her struggle with addiction and issues with her marriage to state Treasurer Bill Lockyer's became public.

Gaspar said the effort was created out of concerns that Hayashi will use the vacant supervisor seat as a stepping stone to return to the Legislature in 2014, when a state Senate seat in her area will be up for grabs.

"There's a pattern of behavior here with her dishonesty and the way she's acted not in the public's or the patients' best interest," he said.

Hayashi's political strategist could not immediately be reached for comment on this ad.

SomethingaboutMary1st Mailer

October 30, 2012
Ami Bera puts focus on women's health issues in final stretch

fluke.JPGDemocratic congressional candidate Ami Bera is making issues surrounding women's reproductive health central to his closing argument in the 7th Congressional District.

With one week to go until Election Day, the Elk Grove Democrat brought in activist Sandra Fluke to speak to supporters, and launched a new television spot attacking GOP Rep. Dan Lungren on his positions on abortion and access to contraception.

Bera framed the issue as a personal one when speaking to supporters at his Elk Grove campaign office this morning, citing his experiences as a doctor and a father to a teenage girl. But he also slammed the Republican-controlled Congress for "rolling back" health care access for women while the economy is in rough shape, calling such actions the "greatest travesty."

"They've forgotten what they were elected to do," he said.

October 25, 2012
Charles Munger drops another $13 million into ballot measure fights

Wealthy heir Charles Munger Jr. has ponied up another $13 million to kill off Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 tax increase and to pass the anti-union Proposition 32, according to new campaign finance reports.

The donations, made over the last two days, brings Munger's stake in the measures to some $35 million.

The money was sent to the Small Business Action Committee, the same organization that has received an $11 million contribution from an unknown Arizona-based group that has not disclosed its donors. That transaction has drawn interest from California's Fair Political Practices Commission, which went to court Thursday to compel Americans for Responsible Leadership to provide more documentation before the Nov. 6 election. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Munger's latest contribution comes as new independent polls show support plummeting for both Brown's tax measure and Proposition 32, which Munger supports. Proposition 32, opposed by more than $60 million in contributions from unions, would prevent labor from feeding its political accounts from employee payroll deductions.

Munger's sister, attorney Molly Munger, has contributed $32.4 million to the effort to pass Proposition 38, a rival tax increase measure. It, too, is flailing in the latest polls.

October 25, 2012
Sacramento judge sets hearing Tuesday on $11 million donation

A Sacramento Superior Court judge scheduled a court date for Tuesday -- one week before the Nov. 6 election -- to consider whether an Arizona-based nonprofit must provide transaction data related to an $11 million donation made this month.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission sued little-known nonprofit Americans for Responsible Leadership to obtain information related to the eight-figure check and determine whether the group violated campaign disclosure laws. The group donated $11 million to a business committee that is fighting Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30, and supporting a measure to restrict union dues collection, Proposition 32.

After a brief hearing in a packed courtroom today, Judge Barry Loncke asked both sides to submit court filings by Monday ahead of a hearing Tuesday morning, saying the court needed more time to consider whether Americans for Responsible Leadership must provide records.

October 25, 2012
Both sides use gas tax as a line of attack in Bera-Lungren race

lungrengas.JPGThis month's record-high gas prices continued to fuel attacks in the 7th Congressional District race today, as Rep. Dan Lungren again accused his rival of supporting policies that could drive up prices even more.

"The idea that all we need to do is raise taxes and drive down consumption is one that frankly may work with the elite in San Francisco, but it doesn't work very well with those of us in this district who have to live, to work, to take their kids to school, take their kids to soccer practice and things like that," the Gold River Republican said at a press conference at a Citrus Heights gas station today.

Lungren's attacks are based on comments Bera made on a telephone town hall held during the 2010 race between the two rivals. The Elk Grove Democrat said in response to a participant's question that increasing the gas tax to reduce use is "worth exploring." Bera says now that he has never supported such a policy.

October 25, 2012
Food labeling initiative Proposition 37 sliding in the polls

Proposition 37, which asks voters to require labels on genetically engineered food sold in California, is dropping in the polls as the well-funded opposition campaign pounds airwaves and mailboxes with arguments against the measure.

A USC Dornsife / Los Angeles Times poll released today shows 44 percent of surveyed voters support the initiative, down from 61 percent in September. The same poll shows those opposing it growing from 25 percent to 42 percent.

Those results are similar to recent polls released by Pepperdine University and the California Business Round Table, which showed support this month at 48 percent, down from 67 percent in September.

The No on 37 campaign has raised $35.6 million, according to MapLight, while the Yes campaign has raised $7.7 million. The opposition is funded largely by companies that make pesticides and genetically modified seeds that contain pesticides. They are running multiple television ads arguing that Proposition 37 would raise grocery prices and that genetically engineered food is safe.

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.


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

Independent spending on CA legislative races nears $5 million

October 23, 2012
Andy Pugno releases radio attack and asks donors to keep it on the air

Assembly candidate Andy Pugno, whose strapped coffers have forced him to run a low-profile campaign, launched a radio offensive this week attacking opponent Beth Gaines as an "insider politician" who is "hiding from voters."

Pugno and Gaines, a two-year assemblywoman, are Republicans vying for the newly drawn 6th District Assembly seat, based in Placer County but stretching into Folsom, Fair Oaks, Orangevale and El Dorado Hills.

Pugno said his 60-second ad began running Monday on about a half-dozen radio stations.

"The message of the ad is that California's problems have been caused by insiders from both parties and real change requires replacing the insiders with new blood," the Folsom attorney said.

Pugno's campaign has been strapped for cash, and in an email Monday to donors, he asked for immediate financial help to keep his radio ad running through Election Day, Nov. 6.

"At a cost of $110 each time the ad runs, we urgently need to raise additional funds - and quickly - to keep this ad on the air," Pugno's e-mail says.

Disclosure statements showed that Pugno's campaign had $29,314 in cash and $132,205 in debts through Sept. 30.

Gaines characterized the ad's claim that she hides from voters as an unfair act of desperation by Pugno. She works hard to attend community events and listen to people throughout the 6th District, she said.

"My job is to stay connected to constituents, and I'm very proud of how connected I am," said Gaines, who easily finished first in the June primary while Pugno edged Democrat Reginald "Regy" Bronner to secure a spot in next month's runoff.

Pugno countered that his point is that Gaines does not identify herself as a sitting legislator in her ballot statement, which has been "widely recognized, particularly in this anti-incumbent environment, as a strategy for downplaying or hiding incumbency status."

The following is a transcript of Pugno's radio ad:

October 23, 2012
More than 1 million Californians have already voted by mail

Election Day is still two weeks away, but more than 1 million Californians have already cast a ballot.

That's according to vote-by-mail data tracked by Political Data, a firm that provides campaigns and others with voter information. The firm's latest tracking numbers show that county election officials have reported receiving ballots from about 12 percent of the state's 8.3 million residents who vote by mail.

Voting by mail has continued to grow in popularity in California. Almost half of California's 17 million registered voters now opt to receive an absentee ballot.

Political Data has gone beyond counting the number of ballots returned this year. The firm is also tracking the partisan breakdown of the early voters, including using past election performance and political donations to project the leanings of voters who don't declare a party preference. Its latest full report, distributed by firm vice president Paul Mitchell, can be viewed here.

October 23, 2012
Jerry Brown defends tax initiative, says 'I hate spending money'

Gov. Jerry Brown, campaigning in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley for his ballot initiative to raise taxes, said on "Good Day LA" this morning that his initiative is not a "shell game" aimed at funding non-education programs.

He also described himself as a governor who loves to "cut stuff" but is need of additional revenue.

"I've hacked away," Brown said on the popular morning show two weeks before Election Day. "We've cut the blind and disabled, we've cut redevelopment. We've cut salaries 5 percent. My own salary's been cut 23 ... 23 percent. The Legislature's been cut 23 (percent)."

October 22, 2012
Jerry Brown's dog, Sutter, dispatched to help tax campaign

Some politicians reward their campaign volunteers with dinner or a signed photograph. Gov. Jerry Brown will let you meet his dog.

The California Democratic Party announced this afternoon that Brown's Pembroke Welsh corgi, Sutter, will visit 30 Democratic field offices throughout the state on behalf of Brown's initiative to raise taxes. The animal will appear on a "limited edition Sutter Brown trading card" available to volunteers, the party said.

"With only two full weeks left before Election Day we're unleashing our cutest and cuddliest secret weapon out into the field," party spokesman Tenoch Flores said in a prepared statement.

Brown can use all the help he can get. His tax measure, Proposition 30, hangs precariously above 50 percent in public opinion polls.

Brown has previously brought his dog to campaign events. At a news conference in August, the pet came dressed in a red vest with Proposition 30 stickers on it.

October 21, 2012
VIDEO: Broadening appeal, Jerry Brown says tax initiative about jobs

OAKLAND - For the second time in as many days, Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday said his ballot measure to raise taxes is about jobs, seeking just more than two weeks before Election Day to broaden its appeal.

The Democratic governor had previously focused his campaign for Proposition 30 almost exclusively on education and the $5.4 billion in cuts to schools and community colleges the initiative would prevent this year.

The initiative would also help bolster the state budget, however, and Brown's message had become muddled in controversy with Molly Munger, the proponent of a rival tax measure, about Proposition 30's relative benefit to education.

Brown told the congregation at Acts Full Gospel Church in Oakland on Sunday that the initiative is "very important to schools, to families, to jobs and to California's future."

He was even more explicit about jobs at a campaign event in San Francisco the previous day.

"I say Proposition 30 is about jobs, because it's about kids and teachers, and they produce the brains and the skills that make the jobs of the future possible," Brown told members of the California Teachers Association on Saturday. "So Proposition 30 is about a lot of things. It's about kids, it's about teachers, it's also about the credit rating in California, it's about social harmony, it's about hope, and it's about those who've been most blessed to have an opportunity to give something back."

Brown's campaign stop at the Oakland church on Sunday was his second of the day, following a brief address at Third Baptist Church in San Francisco. In both appearances he cited a passage from the Gospel of Luke that has long been used by politicians and by Brown in his tax campaign at least since August.

"To those whom much is given, much will be required," Brown said in Oakland. "Much will be required. And this Election Day, you make sure it's required, for our kids, for the schools, for the jobs."

October 20, 2012
VIDEO: Jerry Brown, an 'all-purpose candidate,' takes call from space

SAN FRANCISCO - It is less than three weeks before Election Day, and Gov. Jerry Brown is finally out and about, reveling in his characteristically awkward, unscripted stride.

In one speech lasting less than 15 minutes, the Democratic governor described his desire to limit his hand gestures while speaking and to be an "all-purpose candidate," before taking a message he said came from outer space.

Brown, taking to the podium a sign for Proposition 30, his Nov. 6 ballot measure to raise taxes, said, "I'm going to hold onto it, so that way I won't make as many gestures."

He said, "I don't know where I learned that, but I'm talking more and more with my hands."

October 20, 2012
Jerry Brown accuses anti-tax group of illegal money laundering

SAN FRANCISCO - Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday accused opponents of his Nov. 6 ballot measure to raise taxes of illegal money laundering, saying the committee that accepted an $11 million donation from an out-of-state group is shielding the identities of its donors because it is ashamed of them.

"I think it's crucial to find out about this stuff, and I think the law of California is violated in this respect: A committee, when it gets money, particularly of $11 million, has a duty to understand where it comes from," Brown told reporters after speaking to members of the California Teachers Association at a campaign event here. "Is this money from a foreign source? That's illegal. Is it money from terrorists? That's illegal. Or what? So, in order to assure yourself that everything is up and up, you've got to find out where it is."

October 19, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Cash flows in California, on Sacramento airwaves

VIDEO: Dan says there's lots of campaign cash flowing in California, despite the lack of a competitive race at the top of the ticket.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 18, 2012
Jerry Brown stumps for Prop. 30 at Sacramento City College

prop30jerrybrown.jpgGov. Jerry Brown rallied hundreds of students at Sacramento City College today as he continued the campaign to get college students excited about his Proposition 30 tax increase.

"The idea of Proposition 30 is to put some more money into state coffers so we can pay for schools and colleges and the University of California. This is a crucial opportunity," the governor told the crowd gathered in a small courtyard on campus.

Proposition 30 involves two temporary tax increases: raising sales taxes by a quarter cent on a dollar for four years and income taxes for seven years on those making more than $250,000.

October 18, 2012
Taxpayer group sues Cal State for advocating on Prop. 30

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has sued the California State University alleging a professor at the Monterey Bay campus sent students an email advocating in favor of a tax measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The email is from Professor Ernest Stromberg, director of the humanities division, according to the lawsuit. It urges students to help pass Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's attempt to raise taxes to alleviate the state budget deficit. The email notes that students will face higher fees and fewer classes if Prop. 30 fails, while they stand to receive a $498 refund if the initiative passes.

The state plans to cut CSU funding by $250 million if voters reject the measure.

October 18, 2012
Trouble sorting through the ballot? Try new 'Proposition Song'

The nonpartisan California Voter Foundation has released "The Proposition Song" to introduce voters to the 11 ballot measures whose fate will be decided in the Nov. 6 election.

The nonprofit group, which tracks the state's election process, produced similar ditties for the 2000, 2006 and 2010 elections.

Foundation President Kim Alexander wrote the lyrics to this year's song, which features a traditional folk melody. She and five musician friends recorded it Oct. 3 at Capital Public Radio's downtown Sacramento studio.

"We hope our new 'Proposition Song' gives voters an entertaining and informative alternative to the negative campaign advertising filling our state's airwaves," Alexander said in a written statement.

October 17, 2012
Sacramento TV one of country's busiest markets for political ads

Lungrenadwatch.jpgFeel like your commercial breaks are filled with campaign spots for candidates and ballot measures?

They probably are.

TV watchers in the Sacramento media market are getting pounded with campaign spots at levels close to those seen in some of the country's top swing states for the presidential election.

The region's media market currently ranks 8th in the nation for political ad buys and related filings disclosed in the last week, according to data collected by the Sunlight Foundation's Political Ad Sleuth site.

October 16, 2012
VIDEO: 'Don't be complacent,' Jerry Brown urges students at Prop. 30 rally

LOS ANGELES - Gov. Jerry Brown urged college students this afternoon to rally support on campus for his Nov. 6 ballot initiative to raise taxes, saying that by doing so they can avoid a tuition increase.

"My plea to you is, don't be complacent," the Democratic governor told about 200 students at a rally at the University of California, Los Angeles. "You can avoid that tuition hike."

The event marked the start of what Brown said will be a "full-on campaign" for Proposition 30, his initiative to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners. The measure would avert about $5.4 billion in cuts to schools and community colleges this budget year, but it would also have a direct impact on college students: If the measure fails, University of California officials have said they will raise tuition by about 20 percent.

"A lot is riding on this election," Brown said.

October 16, 2012
Outside groups spend big in 7th Congressional District race

Congressional hopefuls put their fall cash hauls on public display Monday, the filing deadline for third quarter fundraising reports.

But those reports, which covered money raised and spent through Sept. 30, don't show the full picture of spending in many contested races. Much of the big-money action in House races across the country this year is coming from super PACS and political party committees.

That's the case in the 7th Congressional District, where Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera are locked in a tight race.

October 16, 2012
Group for 'courageous' candidates sits out November campaign

A new political committee created to back California legislative candidates with courage has decided not to drop cash on the general election races.

Govern for California was launched last year by Democrat David Crane, a former adviser to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, investor Ron Conway and WalMart Board of Directors member Greg Penner, who are both registered without a party preference. The committee was one of several new political efforts created in the wake of California's new political maps and top two primary system.

October 16, 2012
AM Alert: Jerry Brown hits the campaign trail

VIDEO: 'Tis the season of rule-making, Dan Walters says in today's video post.

PROPOSITION 30: Gov. Jerry Brown will be at UCLA today, stumping for his Proposition 30 tax increase. It's likely the first of several campaign events he'll hold on college campuses in the next three weeks, as the governor tries to motivate a hard-to-nudge crowd: students. As we reported in today's Bee, many students so far are unengaged - even though their tuition will rise or fall with the fate of Proposition 30.

DEBATE: President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney square off again tonight for their second debate, a town hall format in which audience members will ask questions on domestic and foreign policy. If you think Obama is going to try to bring a stronger game this time, drink!

Well, maybe not at this hour. But perhaps you'd like to take your favorite debate-watching drinking game to one of these viewing parties:

  • Metro Edge - the Sacramento Metro Chamber's group for under-40 professionals - is hosting an event at the California Museum, touting mingling, munchies, and a panel of pros dissecting the issues. Kitty O'Neal of KFBK moderates the panel including Sac State Professor Emeritus Barbara O'Connor, Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad, GOP consultant Tony Quinn, political blogger Greg Lucas and others. All the details are here.
  • The University of Southern California's Sol Price School of Public Policy hosts a 6 pm debate-watch followed by a 7:30 pm discussion with Janet Denhardt, a professor of public administration. It's at USC's State Capital Center, 1800 I Street, Sacramento. For more information, email or call 916-637-8981.

NEW JOB: Kim Belshé, former Secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is the new executive director of First 5 LA, the county-level agency created by Proposition 10 in 1998 that promotes the well-being of children from birth to age five.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Best wishes to Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Gardena, on his 65th birthday.

October 15, 2012
Legislator says officials 'should be shot' as lousy tax stewards

Assemblyman Mike Morrell's opponent released videotaped remarks of a campaign speech in which the Republican incumbent said that government officials "should be shot" for how they handle tax money.

Democrat Russ Warner's campaign released the tape today, calling Morell "too extreme for our Democracy."

Warner, fighting Morell for San Bernardino County's 40th Assembly District seat, said the controversial remarks came during an appearance by Morell at the Salt and Light Conference in Highland on Sept. 29.

Morell was videotaped saying the following:

"Government picks winners and losers. So what I decided to do in California; study how good of a job does government do with our tax money in helping the poor. ... (Laughter from the audience) ... Somehow I don't think you guys think they do very well. Well, let me tell ya. Let me tell ya. It ain't very good. I mean, it's, they should be shot."

October 15, 2012
Munger phasing out ad critical of Gov. Jerry Brown initiative

Wealthy attorney Molly Munger is phasing out her ad critical of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, her campaign said.

Munger formed a committee earlier this month to point out flaws in Brown's Proposition 30, which raises $6 billion in taxes on wealthy earners and sales to help the state budget and schools. She launched a 30-second ad last week that called Brown's campaign misleading and depicted politicians taking money from a schoolhouse.

The statewide ad, backed by nearly $5 million in new donations from Munger, sent chills through education groups and labor unions supporting Brown's initiative. Many leaders called on Munger to drop her ad, including state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who is supporting both measures.

October 15, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Campaigns' audience shrinks as voting starts

VIDEO: Dan notes that political campaigns are now pitching to a steadily declining audience of voters.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 12, 2012
Jerry Brown to start 'full-on' tax campaign Tuesday

OAKLAND - Gov. Jerry Brown, who has done little public campaigning for his Nov. 6 ballot initiative to raise taxes, said tonight that he has been busy fundraising but will launch a "full-on campaign" of events starting Tuesday in Los Angeles, the state's largest media market.

"It's definitely a very close and challenging race, and I'm going to spend the next three weeks doing everything I can to make sure we put it over the finish line," the Democratic governor said after an appearance in Oakland. "This will be a full-on campaign."

Brown, whose Proposition 30 seeks to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners, said he has been "very busy" raising money, including at a fundraiser Thursday night in Sacramento.

He said his appearance Tuesday will likely be at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"You have to raise the money," Brown said over salmon cakes at a restaurant here. "This is not a free good. I've got to be on the phone ... calling people. When you ask people to give you 35 million bucks, it takes time. You have to eat, you have to drink, you have to talk, you have to sit, you have to stand. And I do all of that."

Brown's remarks come after Molly Munger, the proponent of a rival tax measure, unloaded on Brown with a television ad this week criticizing his initiative. Her measure, Proposition 38, would raise income taxes on all but California's lowest-income earners.

Brown, who also started campaigning relatively late during his 2010 gubernatorial run, held a handful of events at schools earlier this year. He billed an August press conference as a "kickoff" to his campaign, though his public appearances were few.

Brown said the initiative campaign is only now beginning to resonate with undecided voters.

"Now's the time," he said. "We didn't need to do this a month ago."

Brown acknowledged the difficulty of persuading undecided voters to support his initiative, however, saying people "who are undecided tend to vote 'No.'"

Brown was in Oakland to address a gathering of faith-based community organizations. He was speaking in a tented area of a restaurant when someone outside heckled him for his recent veto of legislation that would provide overtime and other job-related protections to caregivers and other domestic workers.

Brown acknowledged the heckler, saying, "This is part of speaking truth to power, so that's good."

Later, Brown said he is "very concerned about domestic workers, that they be treated right," but he also worried about the cost of the legislation to "ordinary people who have to take care of their mother or father or their aunt or their uncle, and they need someone to come in."

Brown said further study is in order.

"This is a very personal thing. I've had two cousins and one aunt die in the last 12 months, and they all had live-ins, and they all were not subject to this law," he said. "So I think we've got to ... see how it works."

October 12, 2012
Molly Munger believed brother wasn't spending against Brown

Molly Munger, who has spent nearly $36 million on tax initiative Proposition 38, said she believed her brother was not financing the campaign against a rival tax increase measure, Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30.

Charles Munger Jr. has contributed $22 million to the Small Business Action Committee PAC, designed to both oppose Brown's tax measure and to support Proposition 32, a campaign finance measure aimed at curbing union power.

Her brother, she said, "has assured me his money is going to 32 and not 30. I don't know where they're getting their money...The first time he put money into that PAC, I called him and said, 'What are you doing? And he said, 'I'm doing what I always said I was doing, I'm backing 32 ... He said, 'It's all for 32, that's my deal with that PAC.'"

But the math suggests that Charles Munger Jr.'s money has to be flowing to No on 30. SBAC has spent $5.9 million so far on No on 30 ads - yet the PAC has only collected $2.2 million from contributors not named Charles Munger Jr.

Beth Miller, SBAC spokeswoman, said the committee "does not accept contributions earmarked for any specific measure...All donors understand that it is up to the discretion of SBAC PAC regarding how any funds are spent."

October 12, 2012
VIDEO: Howard Berman and Brad Sherman get physical in debate

Here's the You Tube video of the debate last night in which California Democratic Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman went nose to nose -- literally.

"You wanna get into this?" Sherman asks at one point -- before law enforcement interceded.

The two veterans are battling for one redrawn House seat in the San Fernando Valley.

Related: Read the AP story about the debate here.

October 11, 2012
Dollars to Andy Pugno this week are bucks to fight gay marriage

Two donations for the price of one?

Assembly candidate Andy Pugno made supporters an offer today that he hopes they can't refuse: For every dollar donated to his debt-ridden campaign this week, an equal amount will be sent to the group defending Proposition 8, the state's same-sex marriage law, in its fight at the U.S. Supreme Court.

"This would be an offer to both support my campaign and help support a charitable cause at the same time," the Republican candidate and Folsom attorney told The Bee.

Pugno's fundraising appeal said that a "generous financial supporter of Proposition 8" will match up to $25,000 in campaign contributions he receives through Sunday.

October 11, 2012
Molly Munger says Jerry Brown using 'impostor strategy' to win votes

Tax proponent Molly Munger said Thursday she plans to fund her Proposition 38 efforts up to Election Day and has no reason to back away from an ad critical of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax campaign.

Munger has become the focal point of California political conversations this week after launching an ad Tuesday that calls Brown's campaign "misleading." She said, in an interview with The Bee, the governor's Proposition 30 campaign was pursuing an "impostor strategy" by claiming the mantle of boosting school funding and sidestepping Sacramento politicians.

Public polls have shown Brown's initiative hovering just above 50 percent while Proposition 38 has been in the low 40s. Munger, a wealthy attorney who has spent more than $30 million on her campaign and attacking Proposition 30, said her own polls show "a nearly dead heat" and both below 50 percent, though she would not provide data.

October 10, 2012
Independent spending on CA legislative races nears $5 million

Independent groups are dropping big bucks to influence dozens of state legislative races, spending more than $4.8 million on television ads, mail pieces and other campaign activities since the beginning of August.

Not surprisingly, more than half that spending has targeted three competitive Senate races that could determine whether Democrats hold a two-thirds majority in the upper house.

October 9, 2012
Bill Clinton stumps for California Dems in tight congressional races

clinton.jpgFormer President Bill Clinton rallied thousands on the quad of UC Davis this morning, endorsing four California Democrats running for Congress and encouraging Californians to vote for Proposition 30 and against Proposition 32.

Clinton endorsed current Reps. John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney as well as challengers Ami Bera and Jose Hernandez. The four contests they're in are among the most competitive in the nation, and the national Republican and Democratic parties are spending big to try to take the seats.

The districts at stake span a 200-mile swath of the northern Central Valley from Modesto to Yuba City.

"The four people I'm on the stage with -- two in Congress, two trying to get there -- each in their own way, they represent the American dream," Clinton said. "They prove that a commitment to shared prosperity works better than 'trickle down, you're on your own.'"

October 9, 2012
Tax rival Munger unloads on Gov. Jerry Brown initiative

Molly Munger, an attorney who has spent more than $30 million on the Proposition 38 campaign to raise taxes, launched an ad today criticizing Gov. Jerry Brown's rival tax increase measure, Proposition 30, for allowing "politicians" to "take" money away from schools.

Her proposal would raise income taxes on all but the poorest residents to generate $7 billion annually for education and early childhood programs and $3 billion for the state budget.

Brown's campaign, meanwhile, continued accusing Munger and her brother, Charles Munger Jr., of trying to damage education funding in California.

October 8, 2012
Nutrition group says Prop. 37 foes are mischaracterizing its position

A national group of nutritionists says its position on the safety of genetically-engineered foods has been misrepresented by opponents of Proposition 37 in the California voter guide.

"We are concerned that California's voters are being misled to believe the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals is against Proposition 37, when in fact, the Academy does not have a position on the issue," said a statement from Ethan A. Bergman, president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

October 8, 2012
Dan Logue drops out of 4th Senate District special election

With four weeks to go until Election Day, Assemblyman Dan Logue is abandoning his bid for an open state Senate seat because of health issues.

Logue was one of six candidates seeking to replace former Sen. Doug LaMalfa in the 4th Senate District. LaMalfa, who is running for Congress in a safe GOP district, resigned at the end of the legislative session so that the special primary for his seat could be consolidated with the November general election.

Logue's campaign said today that the Marysville Republican has been advised by his doctor to lay low while he recovers from kidney damage caused by an adverse reaction to antibiotics. While he will remain an active candidate in the 3rd Assembly District, where he is running for a third term, his health issues will prevent him from campaigning in the special election for the 4th Senate District, which spans 12 Northern California counties.

October 8, 2012
Beth Gaines receives new boost from Charles Munger Jr. group

Assemblywoman Beth Gaines once again is getting a campaign boost from a group funded largely by wealthy Stanford physicist Charles T. Munger Jr.

Munger's Spirit of Democracy reported spending about $80,000 on Gaines' behalf last week in her 6th District Assembly race against Andy Pugno, a Folsom attorney.

The two Republicans are fighting to represent a newly drawn Assembly district that is based in Placer County but extends into Folsom, Fair Oaks, Orangevale and El Dorado Hills.

October 8, 2012
Despite plea for cash, Andy Pugno's Assembly bid running on fumes

Andy Pugno is not really "running" against Beth Gaines for the Assembly - he's just limping along, judging from newly filed disclosure statements.

Pugno reported outstanding debt of $132,205 and campaign contributions totaling just $59,524 from July 1 through Sept. 30, a pittance for an Assembly race in which the opponent is a sitting lawmaker.

Gaines, by contrast, reported collecting more than twice as much during the three-month period, $125,850.

October 7, 2012
Molly Munger calls Jerry Brown's ads 'utterly deceptive,' plans to counter

Accusing Gov. Jerry Brown of running "utterly deceptive" ads in his campaign to raise taxes, Molly Munger said on a Los Angeles TV show this morning that her own tax campaign will air television ads making a "distinction" between her measure and Brown's.

Munger, the chief proponent of Proposition 38, said on NBC 4's "News Conference" that a series of ads released by Brown last week unfairly cast his initiative, Proposition 30, as the most helpful for schools.

"It is utterly deceptive," she said. "And so you really can't be in a situation where 30, which is really a budget patch, is going around saying that it's the schools initiative, when we - who are really the schools initiative - you know, are being asked not to say anything."

Munger said, "If you're going to say that you're something you're not, we do have to say, 'Well, actually, that's not the case.'"

October 6, 2012
Bill Clinton coming to Davis to endorse Democratic candidates

Former President Bill Clinton is coming to the Sacramento area Tuesday to throw his support behind four Democrats running in some of the country's most closely watched congressional races.

Clinton is scheduled to appear alongside incumbent Democratic Reps. John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney and challengers Ami Bera and Jose Hernandez at a 10:30 a.m. rally at the University of California, Davis, campus.

All four candidates are running in districts that are considered top targets by both Democrats and Republicans as they battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives. National party organizations and federal super PACs are already spending heavily in the Sacramento media market, which covers all four seats.

October 5, 2012
Prop. 38 camp vastly outspent Gov. Jerry Brown, still trails

The still-lagging tax initiative financed by wealthy attorney Molly Munger spent more than seven times Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign committee through September, new campaign finance filings show.

Munger's Proposition 38 reported spending $26.8 million during the first nine months of the year, compared to $3.5 million over the same period for Brown's Proposition 30. The main differences were her widespread television ads and spending far more on campaign advisers.

Brown's committee had $22.2 million in cash on hand as of Sept. 30, while Munger's committee had $1.4 million. But the cash number may matter little when it comes to Munger, who has thus far has been willing to refill her campaign coffers as often as necessary.

October 4, 2012
How California newspapers advise voters on ballot measures

California voters will decide the fate of 11 ballot measures this year, including such heavyweight issues as Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax increase and the latest version of a years-long fight over union political power.

That means that the state's newspapers have many opportunities to recommend yes or no votes on the measures to their readers.

Scott Lay, a veteran Capitol political operative and blogger, has assembled a chart showing which side major newspapers are taking. It's in his "The Nooner" blog.

October 4, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Political season in full swing

VIDEO: Dan says it's time to get ready for the barrage of political ads.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 2, 2012
Local California voters also asked for new taxes and bonds

While three multi-billion-dollar tax measures on the November ballot are getting much media attention, dozens of local governments and school districts are also asking voters to issue bonds and raise taxes or fees, according to a report compiled for the League of California Cities.

Michael Coleman, a fiscal policy advisor for the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers and the League of California Cities, wrote the report, which covers more than 350 local measures, including 237 seeking bonds, taxes or fees, nearly half of which are school bond issues that total more than $14 billion. Three of the measures are initiatives while the rest were placed on the ballot by the affected agencies.

There are also 25 school parcel tax measures, 34 city or county sales tax increases and 23 non-school parcel taxes. The local tax increases placed before voters this year reflect widespread fiscal angst in local governments. Three California cities have already filed for bankruptcy this year and a number of others have declared financial emergencies.

October 1, 2012
Poll finds strong -- but shaky -- support for labeling genetically engineered food

An overwhelming majority of California voters favor Proposition 37, which would require new labels on genetically engineered foods, according to a poll released today. But support is likely to erode in the next month as Californians are exposed to more ads against the measure, says the study by agricultural economists at Oklahoma State University.

The poll, which was paid for by a university endowment, found that 76.8 percent of California voters said they plan to vote "yes" on Proposition 37 to require more labeling of food. But almost half of those people (46 percent) switched to a "no" vote when asked if they would still support the measure if it increased food prices. Support also diminished after poll respondents were shown an ad urging they vote against Proposition 37.

October 1, 2012
CA high-speed rail funding gets little love at candidate forum

California's bullet train won little support from congressional hopefuls from the Sacramento region Sunday, with just one of five congressional candidates participating in an election forum vowing to vote for federal funding for the project.

Third Congressional District candidate Kim Vann , Rep. Dan Lungren, and 9th Congressional District candidate Ricky Gill, all Republicans, and Democrat Ami Bera, who is challenging Lungren in the 7th Congressional District, all came down against funding construction of the high-speed rail line, citing the high cost of the project.

"We have failing infrastructure all over the state," said Vann, a Colusa County supervisor. "Until we address the failing infrastructure that we have, we shouldn't be planning for something that we cannot afford today."  

October 1, 2012
DreamWorks founders give $100,000 to Proposition 30

Hollywood giants Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen gave a combined $100,000 toward Gov. Jerry Brown's tax hike initiative.

A campaign finance filing showed that the founders of Universal City-based studio DreamWorks SKG contributed to Brown's initiative committee Friday. Paramount Pictures acquired the company for $1.6 billion in 2006.

The three have contributed heavily in the past to California campaigns. Spielberg and Katzenberg gave to Schwarzenegger's initiative drives, while Geffen gave to Brown and a 2008 committee opposed to a same-sex marriage ban.

The donations came two days before Brown announced he signed bills extending an annual $100 million film tax credit until 2017. The program, initiated by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers as part of a 2009 budget deal, was scheduled to end in 2015.

October 1, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown's tax measure on the edge

VIDEO: Dan says Jerry Brown's political future is riding on the success of Proposition 30.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

September 30, 2012
Lungren makes Bera's gas tax comments an issue at forum

Rep. Dan Lungren blasted Democratic challenger Ami Bera Sunday afternoon over comments he reportedly made in support of increased gas taxes, accusing his challenger in the 7th Congressional District of pursuing a vision of "tax and spend."

"He wants you to pay more at the pump than you do now, not for infrastructure but for punishing you, because he says as a doctor he knows how that's changed (behavior)," the Gold River Republican said at a forum sponsored by the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association. "Well I guess the single mom who has to drive her child to soccer ought to be punished for that. They ought to pay higher rates. You see his answer every time is to tax more, tax more, tax more."

Lungren was citing comments Bera reportedly made to more than 7,500 voters during a 2010 telephone town hall conducted by the Democrat's first campaign to unseat the incumbent Republican congressman.

"One idea that certainly is out there is thinking about a gas tax to reduce consumption," Bera said at the time, according to the Elk Grove Citizen. "As a doctor, (I) certainly saw what happened to smoking rates (with cigarette taxes), so that's something that's worth exploring."

September 30, 2012
Munger not moved by polls showing her tax measure faltering

When state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson asked the optimists in the audience at the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association's annual election forum to raise their hand, civil rights attorney Molly Munger lifted her arm in the air.  

That sunny outlook, it seems, extends to Munger's effort to persuade Californians to approve a $10 billion income tax hike to fund schools and early education programs. The Nov. 6 ballot measure, Proposition 38, continues to make a poor showing in public polls, with a recent survey by the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California finding just 34 percent of voters supporting the proposition.

That level is much lower than the support for Proposition 30, a rival tax measure backed by Gov. Jerry Brown that has support of a slim majority of voters in the polls.

September 28, 2012
U.S. Chamber launches ad blitz against California Democrats

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has begun a multimillion-dollar television ad buy blasting Democratic congressional candidates in California, including three in the Sacramento area.

The ads from the Washington-based business group hammer both incumbents and challengers for supporting taxes or President Barack Obama's national healthcare overhaul. Many of the ads warn seniors of a $716 billion reduction in Medicare spending, an attack Democrats counter is misleading because the reductions are envisioned over time from providers and insurers and would not affect services.

September 26, 2012
Video replay: Dan Lungren-Ami Bera debate in Sacramento

Candidates for congressional District 7 -- Republican Congressman Dan Lungren and Democrat Dr. Ami Bera -- faced off Tuesday in their first debate. The district includes several Sacramento suburbs like Citrus Heights, Carmichael, Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove. The race is considered one of the nation's most competitive congressional contests.

The debate, sponsored by The Sacramento Bee, News10 and Capital Public Radio, featured questions from panelists Dan Smith, Bee Capitol Bureau chief; News10 Political Editor John Myers; and Capital Public Radio senior reporter Marianne Russ.

See the hourlong debate in five segments:

September 26, 2012
Lungren backed 'forcible rape' bill before language was removed

Republican Rep. Dan Lungren distanced himself from controversial bill language involving abortion funding in cases of "forcible rape" during a Tuesday debate with 7th Congressional District rival Ami Bera, saying he told the original sponsors of House Resolution 3 that he "would not support" the proposal unless the word "forcible" was taken out.

"So in fact, if you're talking about the mistake they made, I was the one who pointed it out," Lungren said. "... I can tell you it was after I went to them and told them I couldn't support it if they didn't take the word forcible out that they changed it."

Congressional records show, however, that Lungren signed on as a cosponsor of the bill when the legislation was first introduced, before 'forcible' was deleted from the text.

September 26, 2012
Assembly candidate Brian Dahle to voters: Call me -- maybe?

Call me - maybe?

At 530-251-3888.

Assembly candidate Brian Dahle is taking the unusual tack of listing his cellphone number on ballot statements sent by counties to voters in the 1st Assembly District, which stretches from Modoc to Placer counties.

He did the same thing before the June primary and usually got a handful of calls each day.

"Most people were amazed that I answered the phone," said Dahle, a 46-year-old farmer, seed salesman and Lassen County supervisor who is running against fellow Republican Rick Bosetti for the newly drawn Assembly seat.

"I believe that you need to be transparent," Dahle said. "That's the way I run my life and my business."

Dahle, who is married and has three young children, said he has the cellphone take messages during "family time," but otherwise, he tries to answer calls and will return those he misses.

Most callers are polite and want to ask about his positions, Dahle said, but occasionally someone is abusive or just wants to vent.

"I'll take a few bad with a lot of good," he said.

September 26, 2012
Ami Bera says he will take congressional pay if elected after all

lungrenbera.jpgElk Grove Democrat Ami Bera's campaign said today that the 7th Congressional District candidate misspoke during Tuesday's debate when he pledged to forgo his own pay if elected to Congress until unemployment drops in the Sacramento region.

"Here's my promise to you," Bera said in his closing statement of a Tuesday debate. "I pledge not to take any salary until unemployment in Sacramento is below 5 percent. I pledge not to take a pension until we've secured Social Security and Medicare for the next generation and our seniors."

Bera spokeswoman Allison Teixeira said today that the candidate has committed to "oppose congressional pay raises" until Sacramento unemployment levels, which are currently at more than 10 percent, drop to the rate referenced in his statement. He has featured that no pay increase pledge on his website and in his first television ad. She said Bera will consider the entitlement programs "secured" when they are "safe from being privatized by the Republicans," though she could not say whether Democratic control of Congress and the White House would meet that criteria.

September 25, 2012
Medicare, personal attacks dominate Lungren-Bera debate

There were no shortage of political and personal swipes as Republican Rep. Dan Lungren and Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera took the stage for the first and only scheduled debate of one of the nation's most competitive congressional contests.

The rivals for Sacramento County's 7th Congressional District traded jabs on a variety of issues, including job creation, health care and immigration, during the hourlong debate at the News10 studios in Sacramento.

Some of the most heated exchanges, however, occured during the back-and-forth over both parties' plans for Medicare, the federal health care program for seniors. Both candidates accused the other of backing changes to the program that would lead to reduced access and higher costs for the region's seniors.

September 25, 2012
Live chat replay: Dan Lungren-Ami Bera debate

September 25, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Top-two primary could produce revolution

VIDEO: Dan says the top-two primary has altered campaigning throughout the state.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

September 24, 2012
Molly Munger's tax campaign swipes at Jerry Brown in first statewide TV ad

In a swipe at Gov. Jerry Brown and his ballot measure to raise taxes, the campaign for a rival tax measure suggested in its first statewide TV ad, released today, that Brown's initiative is the product of "Sacramento politicians" who have reduced school funding for years.

In its ad, the Proposition 38 campaign, backed by wealthy civil rights lawyer Molly Munger, touts its Nov. 6 initiative as a "new approach," sending money for schools directly to school districts.

The ad does not mention the Democratic governor or his tax initiative by name, but it criticizes the campaign's central argument, that failure to pass Proposition 30 will result in about $5.4 billion in cuts to schools and community colleges.

"For years, Sacramento politicians have chopped away funds for our schools," the ad says. "Today, we're 47th out of 50 in per-pupil funding. Now these politicians say unless we send more tax dollars to Sacramento, they'll cut education again."

The ad comes as the campaigns prepare to ramp up ahead of Election Day. Brown has yet to release a statewide TV spot. He said over the weekend that "the campaign is just beginning."

September 21, 2012
Democrats regain registration edge in Lungren-Bera seat

Democrats have regained a slight voter registration edge in the hotly contested 7th Congressional District, though the two parties still represent almost equal shares of voters heading into the Nov. 6 rematch between Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera.

The latest voter registration figures, released today by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, show Democrats leading 39.16 percent to 38.37 percent - a margin of 2,822 voters. Independent voters who decline to state a party preference accounted for 18.25 percent of the electorate. The numbers have flipped since late May, when Republicans were up by 888 voters.

The race between Lungren and Bera is considered one of November's most competitive congressional races.

September 21, 2012
Democrats gain on voter rolls for hot Sacramento Assembly race

A Sacramento County Assembly race touted as one of California's most competitive just tilted slightly more to the left.

Voter registration statistics posted by the secretary of state's office today showed that Assembly District 8 has gained 6,256 Democrats since May, while Republican ranks have dropped by 665.

The news was applauded by the campaign of Democrat Ken Cooley but downplayed by that of Peter Tateishi, the Republican candidate. Assembly District 8 stretches from Citrus Heights to the Sacramento County line south of Wilton.

September 20, 2012
Poll: Support for Prop. 30 highest among wealthy, educated

Among the more interesting findings of the Field Poll released on Gov. Jerry Brown's ballot initiative to raise income taxes on high-income earners is that support for the measure is highest among those who are relatively well off.

While overall support for Proposition 30 is just 51 percent, support for the measure climbs to 59 percent among likely voters whose annual household incomes exceed $100,000, according to the poll.

The measure is supported by 48 percent of likely voters whose annual household incomes fall between $40,000 and $99,000, according to the poll, and by 51 percent of likely voters whose household incomes fall below that lower threshold.

Proposition 30 would raise sales taxes and hike income taxes on those earning more than $250,000 a year, the very people who appear to back it the most.

But Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said support for the measure among California's wealthier people is a reflection less of their income than of their typically higher educational attainment. Among likely voters, 54 percent of college graduates and 61 percent of people who have done postgraduate work support Brown's initiative, according to the poll.

It isn't clear how many of the relatively wealthy voters Field interviewed earn enough to be affected by the proposed income tax increase. DiCamillo said he has a feeling they might oppose the measure, but he said, "I'm just not sure."

September 20, 2012
Ask Dan Lungren and Ami Bera a question

The Bee, News10 and Capital Public Radio are sponsoring a debate next Tuesday in the 7th Congressional District contest pitting Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, against his Democratic challenger, Dr. Ami Bera of Elk Grove.

The hour-long debate will be webcast live on at 3 p.m. with full coverage online and in Wednesday's printed Bee.

Here's where you can help. Send us your questions for one or both of the candidates. We'll sift through them and try to ask one during the debate. Email your question with your name, city of residence and phone number to Dan Smith, Bee Capitol Bureau Chief, at

September 20, 2012
Poll: Should the national political conventions get tax dollars?

Rep. Dan Lungren wasn't in Tampa as other members of the GOP gathered for the Republican National Convention last month.

Now, the Gold River Republican is part of a bipartisan push to ensure taxpayer cash skips out on the quadrennial political conventions, too.

Lungren voted aye this week on federal legislation to prohibit the use of public funds for the national nominating conventions, which are currently partially subsidized by taxpayers who elect to send some of their own tax dollars to a public campaign financing fund.

The Associated Press quoted Lungren as calling the events ""weeklong televised movie sets and almost entirely symbolic."

"American taxpayers should not be subsidizing political party conventions," he said.

September 13, 2012
Tax campaign for Prop 38 issues call for ads - just 'be positive'

In perhaps the touchiest, feeliest appeal yet of the November tax campaign, Carol Kocivar, president of the California State PTA, invites viewers in an online ad to "be" Proposition 38 - just like her.

"I am 38," she says. "Will you be, too?"

The campaign for Proposition 38, the initiative rivaling Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure, was in the digital equivalent of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood today to announce a video contest urging Californians to record stories about how higher taxes could help their local schools.

The campaign said the contest winner will be featured in a primetime TV ad this fall.

"We're not looking for a full-length, Hollywood feature," Kocivar says. "Just a clip showing your face and sharing your authentic story, and you can even record it on your webcam or your camera phone."

The video, she says, could be "funny, serious, creative or dramatic. It could feature you, your family, your school. Just don't use any copyrighted content, and be positive."

September 11, 2012
GOP congressional candidate backs off abortion-cancer link

Doug LaMalfa.JPGRepublican congressional candidate Doug LaMalfa walked back today from a claim that women who have abortions are more likely to get cancer.

The Richvale Republican, who is running in the 1st Congressional District, made that argument during a Monday debate between him and Democrat Jim Reed sponsored by the Redding Tea Party. He repeated the stance in a post-debate interview with KRCR News.

"Research has shown there is that there is that higher level of incidence, there is that risk and so I would want women to be fully informed of all the aspects of it before they would make a decision like that," he told the station. "I think that shows more care for women then by simply shuffling them off to an abortion mill and so that's a very important distinction that needs to be made."

While a link between abortion and breast cancer has been the subject of medical studies and used as fodder for anti-abortion advocates, groups such as the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute have concluded that there is not scientific evidence to back such claims.

September 11, 2012
Jerry Brown: Chamber 'clearing the way' for tax bid by staying neutral

REDWOOD CITY - Gov. Jerry Brown said today that it is "amazing" the California Chamber of Commerce's decided to take no position on his Nov. 6 ballot initiative to raise taxes, adding that the group's neutrality is "basically clearing the way" for passage of the measure.

"The chamber is neutral," Brown said, "which is amazing that the Chamber of Commerce would work so carefully with my administration and is not in opposition at all - is basically clearing the way for us."

The Democratic governor said at a bill signing event here that the chamber's neutrality "is a very important sign ... it's a very, very positive indicator of Proposition 30's potential to get the 'Yes' vote."

Brown's Proposition 30 proposes to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners.

September 11, 2012
Congressional rivals Dan Lungren, Ami Bera to debate Sept. 25

Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera have agreed to debate later this month.

The Sept. 25 debate, sponsored by The Sacramento Bee, News10 and Capital Public Radio, is the first for the 7th Congressional District rivals, who also went head to head on the 2010 ballot.

The debate, to be held at News10's Sacramento studios, will stream live on and the other sponsors' sites at 3 p.m. on Sept. 25. It will air the following day on News10 and Capital Public Radio. News10 Political Editor John Myers, Bee Capitol Bureau Chief Dan Smith and Capital Public Radio senior reporter Marianne Russ will serve as panelists for the debate, which will include reader-submitted queries and questions posed by the candidates themselves.

A close registration split in the eastern Sacramento County district and the expectation of heavy spending by both candidates and outside groups has made it one of the most competitive and closely watched congressional contests in the country this year.

"That's why this is such an important election for us locally," Bee's Publisher and President Cheryl Dell said in a statement. "The newly redrawn district includes so much of our readership area that we feel it is important for voters to hear from the candidates themselves on the issues that matter in the region."