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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« May 2006 | | July 2006 »
June 30, 2006

Props 1A through 1E and 83-90

Secretary of State Bruce McPherson (with a little help from the Legislature) has numbered the propositions for the November ballot. Here they are:

1A SCA 7 Transportation Funding Protection. This is the so-called Prop. 42 fix that makes it much more difficult for lawmakers and the governor to divert the sales tax on gas from transportation to the general fund.

1B SB 1266. Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security Bond Act of 2006. The $19.9 billion transportation bond.

1C SB 1689. Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2006. The $2.85 billion housing bond.

1D AB 127. Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2006. The $10.4 billion education bond.

1E AB 140. Disaster Preparedness and Flood Prevention Bond Act of 2006. The $4 billion flood control bond.

INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS AND STATUTES

83 Sex Offenders. Sexually Violent Predators. Punishment, Residence Restrictions and Monitoring. Known as Jessica's Law.

84 Water Quality, Safety and Supply. Flood Control. Natural Resource Protection. Park Improvements. The $5.4 billion resources bond placed on the ballot by initiative.

85 Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy. A re-run of the parental notifications for abortions initiative that failed in the 2005 special election.

86 Tax on Cigarettes. The $2.60 per pack tax increase on cigarettes to pay for an expansion of health care.

87 Alternative Energy. Research, Production, Incentives. Tax on California Oil. A $4 billion-a-year tax on oil to pay for alternative energy research.

88 Education Funding. Real Property Parcel Tax. A $50 tax on property parcels to raise money for class size reduction, textbooks, school safety, Academic Success facility grants, and a data system to evaluate educational program effectiveness

89 Political Campaigns. Public Financing. Corporate Tax Increase. Contribution and Expenditure Limits. The "Clean Money" initiative that creates public financing and new, lower contribution limits.

90 Government Acquisition, Regulation of Private Property. The initiative that reforms -- or cripples, depending on your viewpoint -- eminent domain.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:04 PM



Next year: cuts, or taxes?

With Gov. Schwarzenegger signing the new state budget, Phil Angelides has put out a statement repeating his charge that next January, if Schwarzenegger is reelected, he will close the state's structural gap by slashing school spending, raising college tuition, cutting health care for kids and reducing stipends for the elderly. I actually think it is more likely that Schwarzenegger will raise taxes if he is reelected and the budget shortfall does not disappear on its own. Raise taxes or use the final $3 billion-plus still left from the deficit bond voters approved in 2004. College fees might rise by 10 percent, as many experts believe they should to maintain a steady division of the cost between taxpayers and students and their families. But what chance is there that Schwarzenegger would propose, and the Legislature would approve, another suspension of Proposition 98, the minimum guarantee for schools? Or that Democrats would cut grants for the elderly or the disabled? Very little. Schwarzenegger gave his best shot at cutting spending, succeeded here and there, but was mostly overwhelmed by the Democrats, and the public, demanding more services, even if the money isn't there to pay for them.

I am still waiting for the governor to issue an ironclad declaration that he will not raise taxes in his second term to close the budget gap. I haven't heard it. And until I do, I'll assume that the option is on the table, and that it's more likely than the scenario Angelides is painting. But then, it doesn't make real good campaign rhetoric to say, "Elect me, and I'll raise taxes, but if you elect the other guy, he will too."

Posted by dweintraub at 2:33 PM



June 28, 2006

Not baked yet

John Myers has a report on this morning's committee hearing on the proposal to fragment power in the LA school district among the board, the superintendent, the unions and the mayor.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:20 PM



Crimes and victims

Bill Bradley takes a look at Schwarzenegger's "red meat" strategy.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:48 AM



From many, one

Jerry Bowyer says immigration will not be the death of the West but its renewal.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:26 AM



Postponing the reckoning

The $131-billion state budget the Legislature approved on a bipartisan vote Wednesday night represents the latest step in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s go-slow (some would say very slow) approach to cleaning up the fiscal mess he inherited when he became governor almost three years ago.

Schwarzenegger’s strategy has been both cautious and risky at the same time, reflecting the hybrid style of politics that has characterized his time as governor.

It is cautious because he has rejected calls by Republicans to slash programs, and he has turned back demands by Democrats to raise taxes. Instead, Schwarzenegger has pursued a middle ground, trying to trim the projected growth in public services while focusing on expanding the economy in hopes that a natural surge in tax receipts would solve the problem.

But this approach is also risky because, if it does not work and the state’s economy slows, tax receipts would likely fall, leaving the state even worse off than it was in 2003, when Schwarzenegger was elected on a promise to balance a budget without raising taxes.

Schwarzenegger, in fact, promised to cut taxes, which he did on his first day in office, slashing the vehicle license fee by two-thirds -- and worsening his budget problem by $4 billion a year. Projections made in 2003 by the state’s nonpartisan legislative analyst forecast that by this year, if the trends then in place continued, the state would be facing a $16 billion shortfall between its spending and the revenues needed to cover it.

Instead, that gap has shrunk, thanks to tax revenues coming in consistently higher than projected.

When Schwarzenegger took office, the legislative analyst’s long-range forecast said that general fund revenues by the coming year would total $85.3 billion. Spending, if left unchecked, was supposed to reach $101.2 billion by now.

The spending projection proved to be remarkably accurate. Despite being criticized in past years for cutting schools, higher education, health and welfare programs and local government, Schwarzenegger will sign a budget that spends about $101.3 billion from the state’s general fund next year. That’s about 25 percent more than the state was spending when he arrived.

Revenues have not kept pace, though they have grown faster than projected. Driven by taxes on corporate profits and personal incomes, particularly among the wealthy, tax receipts in the coming year are expected to be about $94.4 billion. That’s $20 billion more than they were when Schwarzenegger was elected, and $9 billion more than the legislative analyst projected then for the year that begins July 1.

To be fair, the raw numbers don't tell the entire story. The revenue number from when Schwarzenegger took office was inflated by a variety of gimmicks, like mortgaging the state's future take from a lawsuit settlement with the tobacco companies so it could all be spent in one year. The revenue projections for next year, in contrast, are almost all from actual tax revenues.

On the spending side, the numbers when Schwarzenegger arrived were artificially reduced by deferrals that have now come due. His current numbers are, in turn, higher because he is making good on those promises by spending more on the schools, roads, and other programs that were forced to get by on less over the past few years.

Still, if you put all those numbers together you get a $7 billion gap between what the state will spend and what it will take in during the next 12 months. That shortfall will be covered by $9 billion carried forward from the current fiscal year, leaving a projected $2 billion reserve at the end.

But that $9 billion is more like a year-end bonus than regular income. Once it is spent, it will be gone. The gap between spending and taxes, while it might shrink a bit, will still exist.

The new budget increases spending on kindergarten through community college education by $5 billion, or 10 percent. It freezes tuition at the University of California and California State University and rolls back community college fees. It boosts grants for the aged, blind and disabled, gives local government more for public safety and increases spending on roads and transit. A pay raise for state employees is also planned.

All of this leaves the state on the same precarious path it has traveled for years. At the moment, the best projections suggest that whoever is governor in January 2007 will face a shortfall of about $3.5 billion in the budget they are required to submit to the Legislature.

Schwarzenegger’s gamble is that one more better-than-expected year in the economy will wipe out that shortfall and allow him to finally balance the budget for the long term without raising taxes. It would take about a 4 percent bump in ongoing revenues to allow him, assuming he is still governor, to accomplish that goal.

But without such an economic surprise, Schwarzenegger or Democrat Phil Angelides, who is trying to unseat him, will have to either cut programs or raise taxes next year. Those are the same choices that state policymakers have faced for most of this decade but have continually ducked in favor of muddling through with an approach that offends few voters but does not really solve the problem.


Posted by dweintraub at 9:58 AM



Supremes back Texas plan

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld most of Tom DeLay's controversial Texas redistricting plan.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:33 AM



June 27, 2006

Budget details

With a vote expected in just a few hours, the details are finally dribbling out about the budget deal agreed to by the four legislative leaders and the governor.

Some highlights:

The budget would spend about $7.4 billion more than it takes in, with about $4 billion of that going toward debt repayment or other one-time expenditures, leaving a “net operating deficit” of about $3.5 billion. The shortfall is to be covered by funds carried over from the current fiscal year. At the end of the budget year, lawmakers and the governor expect to have about $2 billion left in reserve. If that money is there and is applied to the following year’s shortfall, the remaining, projected problem in '07-08 would be about $3.4 billion.

“We have some work to do next year,” Finance Director Mike Genest told reporters.

On the biggest item in the budget – education – the negotiators split their differences. The Democrats wanted more of the new money to go to the schools unencumbered by strings from Sacramento. The governor wanted to direct how more of that money would be spent. In the end, the one-time money that the schools will be getting will be split between a block grant of $534 million directly to the districts (25 percent) and the school sites (75 percent), and a separate grant to districts of $500 million directed toward PE, arts and music.

The governor also got $200 million to expand high school counseling and $50 million to expand preschool, directed at children in low-performing schools. The Democrats also got $350 million directed to poor children in what is known as Economic Impact Aid.

In other parts of the budget, the Democrats got an extra $25 million ($75 million counting what the governor proposed) to expand foster care services, and $100 million for services to people on CalWorks, formerly known as welfare. They kept the governor from spending $300 million targeted for local transit on bond repayment instead.

The governor got $1.4 billion to pre-pay the state’s obligation to Proposition 42 transportation fund. And he got $126 million more for local public safety than the conference committee was proposing.

Altogether, the budget includes nearly $5 billion in set-asides that won’t be spent for ongoing programs - $2 billion in reserves and $2.8 billion in debt prepayments and repayments.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:24 PM



Budget schedule

It's looking as if the budget votes will occur late tonight. The Assembly has a briefing scheduled for reporters at 2 p.m. The Department of Finance will follow up at 3 p.m. The Assembly convenes at 7 p.m.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:59 AM



June 26, 2006

Prison politics

Displaying quicker instincts than either he or Steve Westly did during the primary campaign, Phil Angelides spoke to reporters this afternoon to rip Schwarzenegger's record on prisons in the wake of the governor's call for a special session.

Angelides noted that the only real effect of a special session would be to allow bills to take effect a few weeks early, on Dec. 1 rather than Jan. 1 if the session lasts until the end of August.

He said Schwarzenegger has presided over a "meltdown" of the prison system that is "threatening the public safety of Californians." He said the special session and reform proposals the governor unveiled today were a "cosmetic action to cover over his failures, his mistakes."

Angelides did not, however, offer an alternative. If elected, he said, he would appoint new and better managers, conduct a "thorough review" and put in place a "long-term plan" to ensure that the state has adequate prison capacity at the least possible cost. He did say the first priority ought to be to fill 3,000 empty positions in the prisons. He did not say how much that would cost or how he would pay for it.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:59 PM



Lucky 13

The California Nurses Association's public financing initiative has qualified for the ballot, according to Secretary of State Bruce McPherson. That brings to seven the number of initiatives on the November ballot, plus six added by the Legislature. This one would raise corporate taxes to pay for campaigns. Several other measures would also raise taxes: the tobacco tax for health care, parcel taxes for education, oil taxes for alternative energy.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:33 PM



Leaders reach budget deal

The Assembly is scheduled to go into session at 5 p.m. and immediately recess into party caucuses to review the contents of a budget deal reached this morning by the four legislative leaders. Here's the statement put out by the leadership, via Assembly Democrats spokesman Steve Maviglio:

“We have reached a tentative agreement on a balanced, responsible budget today after several months of productive discussion. It reflects the values of both parties and moves our state forward. We hope to have a vote prior to July 1st.”

Details to come.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:18 PM



Coasting to victory

Phil Angelides has rolled out a new multi-point coastal protection plan. He wants a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling, a more aggressive effort to purchase undeveloped land along the coast, and more money for the Coastal Commission. He's also blaming Schwarzenegger for actions taken by the Bush Administration or proposed by Rep. Richard Pombo.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:35 AM



Correcting corrections

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is calling a special session of the Legislature to focus on what he says is a crisis in the state prison system. He wants lawmakers to approve the construction of new prisons using lease-revenue bonds, which do not require voter approval, and to expedite purchasing in the prisons. He also wants to transfer several thousand female prisoners to community correctional facilities to free up one prison for more dangerous male inmates. And he proposes to send all inmates to a secure “reentry” facility 90 days before they are released for psychological counseling and other assistance to help them return to the community with a better chance of staying there. The initiative comes as Schwarzenegger acknowledges that the prison system is “a mess” and in danger of being taken over by the courts.



Posted by dweintraub at 11:27 AM



June 23, 2006

May revenues up $379 million

State tax revenues in May were $379 million above the estimate for the month in the May revision of the budget...Here is the Department of Finance report. It's always interesting to see how the budget negotiators react to May revenues. They can either ignore them and figure the upward bump might get washed away by a later drop. Or they can add them into next year's budget, as one-time revenues, to ease the way toward a deal-closer.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:45 PM



Term limits reform

According to Capitol Weekly, legislative leaders are leaning toward a term limits proposal that would create an independent commission to consider possible changes. That would make a nice parallel to the independent redistricting commission that is apparently headed for the ballot. But will voters buy it? Probably not if it is open-ended. Perhaps if it were worded to give the commission the authority to adjust the term limits law as long as the total number of years served in the Legislature was not allowed to increase. This would simply be another way of creating the plan everyone thinks is the most politically doable: 12 years in one house or the other or a combination of the two.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:20 AM



LA school plan

This LA Times article on Mayor Villaraigosa's school reform plan shows why it should not be approved quickly, without a thorough public airing and debate. The biggest potential problem with the plan is that it blurs the lines of authority and accountability. It gives teachers, and their union, control over the curriculum at the school site but still leaves the principals, the superintendent and the elected district trustees responsible for the results. Local control is good, but not when it is disconnected from accountability. Here is an excerpt from the article:

United Teachers Los Angeles has long chafed under what it considers overly rigid mandates from the district's top officials, and the union has wanted more leeway for teachers to decide what works best at their schools.

But teachers and principals at several L.A. Unified campuses said the mayor's proposal could ravage districtwide reading and math programs that they say have brought continuity to thousands of classrooms and helped drive up standardized test scores over the last six years.

Uniformity is important, the educators said, because 28% of the district's 727,000 students leave L.A. Unified schools at least once during a school year, with many of them going to other district campuses. Requiring schools to use the same programs enables students who move to keep up with lessons, the educators said.

"We need to put the children first," Cahuenga Elementary teacher Grace Blanc said. "I think the consistency is what the children need."

Such resistance to Villaraigosa's plan echoed warnings by school district leaders this week about what they perceived as a threat to the district's progress and revealed deep divisions between some classroom teachers and their union leaders, who forged the agreement with the mayor.

The plan also calls for the mayor's office to assume direct control of a handful of particularly troubled inner city schools. I wonder if, at those schools, the teachers will dictate the curriculum. If not, why not? Shouldn't they have the same freedom that the mayor wants to give to every other school in the district?

Posted by dweintraub at 7:09 AM



June 21, 2006

Angelides on school budgets

At a press event today at a Sacramento elementary school, Phil Angelides said if he were governor, he would have the state pay the disputed $3.2 billion in education funding without adding the money to the base upon which future school budgets are built. This contradicts what he said during the primary when he pledged to add the money to the base. That statement put him ahead of what even the CTA was asking for. Now he is back in sync with the union. But since the union is also back in sync with the governor, Phil's only real difference with Schwarzenegger is over how long it should take to add that money to the budget.

On a related matter, Angelides likes to say that the governor "took the money from the schools." It's almost as if he thinks Schwarzenegger -- and the two-thirds of lawmakers who approved those budgets -- personally pocketed the money. Of course, the money they "took" was actually spent on other things they considered a higher priority at the time, like health care for poor kids, aid to the aged, blind and disabled, and public safety.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:39 PM



Count no evil

Health benefits for retirees are the next looming obligation for taxpayers. Orange County has a plan to move its obligation off the books, though it's not clear how that helps.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:17 PM



With enemies like this...

Until I read this story I hadn't realized that Schwarzenegger was the recipient of this year's "pink brick" award from the organizers of San Francisco's Gay Pride parade, given to the public figure who has most hurt the gay rights cause. If that's the case, the cause must be doing even better than I thought.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:18 AM



Border tolls

Nathan Smith suggests that we regulate immigration by taxing it.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:07 AM



June 20, 2006

We're all the media now

With a former White House webmaster now working for him, Gov. Schwarzenegger has been steadily pushing the envelope when it comes to politicians using the Internet to communicate with their constituents. He's had live webcasts of his events, and his top appointees contribute to an ocassional blog. Today, Schwarzenegger will do a live web video interview session with the public. A local television reporter will screen questions submitted by the public, and the governor will respond to the ones she puts to him. You can watch it at 10:30 a.m. here.

It's no accident that the home page for the event features a picture of Schwarzenegger with reporters at a press conference. Or that the governor's main home page has been redesigned with recent entries getting headings like "top story" and "more news." This is all part of an attempt by the governor's office to communicate directly with voters, without the traditional filter of the mainstream media. The Bush White House has used the same approach, with a very obvious anti-media edge. Schwarzenegger is doing it with a smile.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:41 AM



June 19, 2006

Lawmakers might give up power

The constitutional amendment to create an independent redistricting commission might move out of the Senate as early as this week, according to the AP.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:20 AM



June 17, 2006

The enviro scorecard

Here is the League of Conservation Voters' take on the primary results, from Susan Smartt. Via the California Progress Report. The most interesting winner from an environmental perspective appears to be Jared Huffman, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, who is positioned to joined the Assembly if he wins in the fall.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:45 AM



Payrolls, unemployment up

Payrolls rose again in May, but the cooling housing market appears to be leading to a slowdown in employment growth.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:27 AM



Trickle down

Hugh Hewitt pressures the governor on why there are no marquee conservatives in his inner circle. Schwarzenegger's response: He is the marquee conservative.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:21 AM



June 16, 2006

Expand now, pay later

Legislative Democrats say they learned a lesson from the fiscal disaster that cost Gray Davis his job. But their proposal to expand health insurance for children is very similar to the way Davis expanded eligibility for Medi-Cal earlier in this decade. It starts small, then grows quickly in future years. By 2008, the latest proposal is expected to cost the state at least $300 million. It's kind of like a homeowner who can barely pay his bills taking on an adjustable rate mortgage that is likely to grow more expensive as interest rates rise. Schwarzenegger's alternative is to try to enroll every child who is eligible now for the program, then talk about expanding eligibility later, if the state has the money to pay for it.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:01 AM



June 15, 2006

Boxer backs Kerry motion

Barbara Boxer was one of six senators to oppose tabling John Kerry's motion to withdraw most U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2006.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:50 PM



This Jerry Lewis isn't funny either

If California's powerful Republican delegation in Congress had worked as hard to secure federal funding for the state as they have lining the pockets of themselves (Duke), their spouses (Doolittle) and their aides (Lewis), the state's budget shortfall would be gone by now. The latest on Rep. Lewis and his aide who made millions going back and forth between the congressional staff and a lobbying firm.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:38 AM



The cable guys

It is beginning to look as if the big Internet video v. cable industry battle really might bog down into one of the Capitol's infamous juice bill battles, a stalemate that drags on for months or years while lawmakers wring contributions from both sides. The cable guys have now hired former Sens. Burton and Alpert to represent them as the fight shifts to the Senate.

I'm still intrigued by the Speaker's enthusiasm for this project. He said on KPCC radio yesterday that once the phone companies get into the business, prices will plummet and service will improve, thanks to the magic of competition. I agree with him, but why does he only believe in competition when it comes to the distribution of television signals?


Posted by dweintraub at 9:34 AM



Now they've arrived

Anthony York has an interesting piece on Latino candidates playing the race card.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:29 AM



Immigrant children

The Republicans are holding up the budget because they don't want to subsidize health care for children who are illegal immigrants. Aside from the merits of the case, this move does not strike me as a political winner, despite what I have said previously about the anti-immigration position having the upper hand in a swing district. Children have their own political niche that changes all other calculations.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:27 AM



June 14, 2006

Cause and effect?

Will Wilkinson explains a counter-intuitive reason why high minimum wages and low unemployment might go together.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:37 PM



The Whole Foods thing

John Mackey is one of my favorite people in the world: an idealistic, vegan, granola-crunching, tree-hugging libertarian businessman. He is the founder of Whole Foods. Here is an excerpt from a speech he delivered a couple of years ago and recently updated for print:

At the time I started my business, the Left had taught me that business and capitalism were based on exploitation: exploitation of consumers, workers, society, and the environment. I believed that "profit" was a necessary evil at best, and certainly not a desirable goal for society as a whole. However, becoming an entrepreneur completely changed my life. Everything I believed about business was proven to be wrong.

The most important thing I learned about business in my first year was that business wasn't based on exploitation or coercion at all. Instead I realized that business is based on voluntary cooperation. No one is forced to trade with a business; customers have competitive alternatives in the market place; employees have competitive alternatives for their labor; investors have different alternatives and places to invest their capital. Investors, labor, management, suppliers — they all need to cooperate to create value for their customers. If they do, then any realized profit can be divided amongst the creators of the value through competitive market dynamics.

In other words, business is not a zero-sum game with a winner and loser. It is a win, win, win, win game — and I really like that. However, I discovered despite my idealism that our customers thought our prices were too high, our employees thought they were underpaid, the vendors would not give us large discounts, the community was forever clamoring for donations, and the government was slapping us with endless fees, licenses, fines, and taxes.

Read the whole thing here.

Or go to the web site of the new organization he has founded to try to draw idealistic young people to the cause of freedom: www.flowproject.org


Posted by dweintraub at 3:02 PM



Airtalk

I was a guest today with Larry Mantle of KPCC, the Pasadena-based public radio station that closely watches state government news and politics. Mantle, broadcasting from the offices of Sen. Jack Scott, had a succession of Democratic lawmakers and officials on the show as a one-man counter to the mostly Republican radio fest on the front porch of the Capitol the day before. None of the guests broke news, but there were some interesting tidbits:

Mantle asked John Garamendi if Cruz Bustamante was “up to the job” of insurance commissioner. Garamendi did not answer that question. Instead, he said, “Whoever takes that job will have the tools to protect consumers.”

And Garamendi, who plans to focus on environment issues if he is elected lieutenant governor, was asked if he could work with Schwarzenegger if the governor is reelected.

“He is way out in front on the issue of global climate change,” Garamendi said. “We’re in sync.”

Senate Leader Don Perata characterized the state’s structural deficit as an issue “I don’t think any human being has any interest in.” Of course, he once said the same thing about redistricting, and his house might be about to pass a bill to create an independent panel to do that job.

On the legislative leadership:

“We’re like four college roommates when we get together. It’s very candid. We say what’s on our minds. I think it’s very constructive. I enjoy it a lot.”

On the immigration discussion in the Capitol:

“The caliber of intelligence here seems to be a lot higher than it is in Congress… We have a much more civilized debate.”

Speaker Fabian Nunez, meanwhile, said he expects the Legislature to send Schwarzenegger a minimum wage bill “he can sign.” He said such a bill would not include everything the Democrats want, meaning an automatic annual increase tied to the cost of living. But he said he expected it to include some kind of escalator clause.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:32 PM



Mock 1

The first Phil Angelides ad of the general election pokes fun at Schwarzenegger and his first ad, which shows people moving backwards to illustrate his point that Phil’s policies are retrograde. The Angelides response: We’re not moving backward, he is! The ad shows a Schwarzenegger stand-in riding a motorcycle backwards. The voiceover says “It’s Schwarzenegger who’s taking us backwards, with billions in corporate tax giveaways, cuts to schools, and just like George Bush, Schwarzenegger’s saddled us with billions in debt.”

A fact sheet distributed with the ad says the line about “corporate tax giveaways” refers to tax cuts enacted under previous governors that Schwarzenegger has not repealed. The “cuts to schools” refer to his move to slow the growth in education spending, which despite his policies has climbed from $46 billion when he took office to about $50 billion today and would be $55 billion under his proposal for next year. The reference to Bush-like debt is a slap at Schwarzenegger’s approach of postponing scheduled transportation and education spending that he (and two-thirds of the members of the Legislature) decided the state could not afford during the lean years.

And when Angelides himself appears in the ad to say he will close corporate tax loopholes, roll back college tuition and “put a stop to tax hikes on middle class families,” the last part of that line refers to the tuition hikes, which he says are the moral equivalent of raising taxes on the middle class. No mention in the ad of the Angelides plan to raise taxes on the wealthy.

Angelides aides say the ad will air statewide for at least a week, using about $1 million they have in their campaign account that was raised during the primary but could not be spent until the general election.

The ad was produced by Bill Carrick, Phil's new media man.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:46 PM



June 13, 2006

Strike politics

Members of the state's largest public employees union have authorized an unprecedented strike if contract talks don't go their way. I still think the unions and the administration will come to terms. But if there is a strike, I think it can benefit the governor politically -- if he handles it firmly, fairly, maturely and professionally. Private sector wages have not exactly been soaring lately. I think most people understand that the government is still facing hard times. Given that, I don't think most Californians would support such a strike. But if the unions are able to draw the governor into a nasty, personal spat, as they did in 2005, then he could be the big loser.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:40 AM



Lawyer: Rove cleared

Karl Rove's lawyer says his client has been told he probably won't be indicted in the Plame leak case.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:56 AM



June 12, 2006

Budget briefing

When Democrats announced over the weekend that they intended to put the budget up for a vote on Thursday, the constitutional deadline for passing the new spending plan, everyone in the Capitol assumed it would be a "drill" -- a dog and pony show with a pre-ordained outcome. That's because the plan being put to a vote came out of the two-house conference committee with a 4-2 tally along partisan lines, Democrats in favor, Republicans opposed.

But at their briefing for reporters today, Democratic budget writers Sen. Wes Chesbro and Assemblyman John Laird made it clear that they knew the deal was not yet baked. There was not even a hint of pretense about expecting Republicans to vote for their plan. Their message was: we've put all the big pieces in place, now it's time for the leadership and the governor to nail down the particulars.

"What remains to be worked out is the details," Chesbro said. Of course, in a budget, the details are what matters.

Laird said he would be surprised if the budget was not settled by the Big Five -- the governor and the four legislative leaders. Once those talks begin, we will know they are closing in on a deal.

Here are the big pieces, as laid out by the Democrats, using numbers supplied by the Department of Finance.

The governor's revised budget proposal would spend $101.3 billion next year.
The Democratic plan would spend $101.2 billion.

The governor's proposal would have a reserve of $1.67 billion.
The Democratic plan would have a reserve of $1.90 billion.

The governor's plan would leave a problem for next year -- the projected year-end deficit at the end of 2007-08 would be 3.14 billion.
The Democratic plan would leave a projected of $3.01 billion.

The biggest difference between the two plans is the way they set aside $1 billion to pay down the state's budget debt. The governor proposed using $1 billion to retire early the economic recovery bonds the voters approved in March 2004. Because those bonds are not fully due until 2011, his proposal would have had no effect on the short-term structural deficit.

The Democrats proposed using the same money to pay down budget debt coming due in 2007-08. That should have had the effect of reducing the structural deficit in that year by $1 billion below the governor's plan. But as you can see from the above numbers, their structural deficits are pretty much the same.

Why? Because the Democrats are committing to more ongoing spending that would eat up the ground they would gain in 07-08 by paying down that debt.

The Democrats, not surprisingly, tried to hide the ball on this spending at today's briefing. The members would not or could not answer questions about it, and the staff did not have a comprehensive list available to explain where the money is going.

Based on what they did say, a big part of the difference comes from their treatment of the gasoline sales tax revenues. About $336 million that the governor wanted to use to offset general fund obligations for repaying transportation bonds would instead go into local public transit under the Democratic plan, as they say is required by law.

They say some final accounting will show their out-year problem to be about $250 million smaller than the governor's.

But that still leaves about $400 million in ongoing spending that they have included in their budget beyond what the governor has proposed. Some of that comes from increased spending for foster care ($75 million) and the cost of broadening eligiblity to child care for more families. It's not clear where the rest is going. It would be easier if the Democrats would just provide a comprehensive list of everything they are proposing that was not in the governor's budget. But so far, no such luck.

Other than this complication, the Democratic budget seems superior in other ways. It unties many of the strings the governor tried to use to direct education spending by local school districts. And the concept of paying down budget debt sooner seems smarter than the governor's idea, as long as they don't then replace that budget debt with more current year spending.

UPDATE
: The Dem staff has provided some more details on how their spending differs from the governor's. Some of this above, but the more complete list:

$336 million to public transit from gasoline sales tax
$42 million for higher education
$100 million to backfill federal cuts in welfare
$30 million for the developmentallly disabled
$140 million for parks and resources
$25 million for foster care
$130 million for children's health care

Also, I edited this post to reflect that the number they are using for the long-term problem is the projected year-end deficit at the end of 2007-08, not the structural deficit. The structural deficit would be larger because the year-end red ink is reduced by money they carry over from one fiscal year to the next.


Posted by dweintraub at 4:16 PM



Carrick to aid Angelides

Longtime Democratic consultant Bill Carrick has joined the Angelides campaign as media consultant.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:41 PM



Tilting to the right

Jon Fleischman says next year's Assembly Republican Caucus will be more conservative.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:17 AM



Immigration as an issue

I favor more open borders, but as a political judgment, I continue to believe that no member of Congress will lose his or her seat this year because they are too tough on immigration. This Washington Post story suggests that fate might befall Rep. J.D. Hayworth. But it also notes that Hayworth has an Abramoff problem. If that's the case, he might go down anyway. But rather than be the cause of his demise, his stand on immigration is more likely to be the thing that saves him. I wish it weren't so, but until I see evidence to the contrary, I think most voters in even marginally competitive House districts will side with the candidate that takes the strongest stand against immigration, legal and illegal. Let me know as soon as you see an example to the contrary.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:17 AM



June 11, 2006

Movement toward a new state budget

Asembly and Senate Democrats have resolved their differences on the budget, and they plan to put their version to a vote on Thursday, the constitutional deadline for passing the next budget. But Republicans on the conference committee say they don't like the Democrat plan and will vote against it. Here is a story from AP.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:21 AM



June 10, 2006

GOP GOTV

The AP's Michael Blood takes a close look at the Republican plans for a massive get-out-the-vote operation in California this fall.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:14 PM



June 9, 2006

How tax measures fared Tuesday

Local finance expert Michael Coleman has posted his preliminary rundown of every tax, fee and bond measure on local ballots Tuesday, and how they fared. You can find it here.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:09 PM



Carrick might join Angelides

Carla Marinucci says longtime Democratic handler Bill Carrick is talking to Angelides about coming on board.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:04 PM



Flipping the bird

The governor's campaign unveiled two new ads this morning, which his people say will be running statewide for at least a week. One is a positive ad extolling his record. The other says Phil Angelides would take the state backward by raising taxes. But it doesn't just say that. The first part of the ad, including a few frames of Phil, runs backward in a creative device that is definitely eye-catching and will drive home the point. Then, near the end, the action reverses course and moves forward. It is definitely worth watching.

One big problem with the ad. It says Angelides wants to take us back to a time "when taxes were soaring" and jobs and businesses were fleeing the state. But when, exactly, would that have been? Taxes were not soaring under Gray Davis. He cut taxes. He tried to raise the car tax just before he was recalled but the increase never took full effect. The last governor to really raise taxes was Schwarzenegger's mentor, Pete Wilson, in 1991. But Steve Schmidt, Schwarzenegger's campaign manager, said the ad was not referring to the Wilson era. When, then?

You can see the ad here, titled "Bird."

Television industry sources say that, based on the campaign's first buy, they believe the "Bird" ad will be running about 90 percent of the time and the positive ad will hardly be running at all.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:41 PM



Gas bags

Last year the price of houses in my neighborhood climbed by about 20 percent. I don't remember any politicians -- or voters -- calling for a cap or a windfall profits tax on my nieghbors who sold their homes and made a killing. But that does not stop legislators from proposing such schemes when it comes to gas prices. AB 457 would cap gas prices when they rise more than 10 percent under certain conditions.

As most people (who are not politicians) know, prices are signals. When they rise, they are telling consumers to buy less of a thing and producers to sell more. When you short-circuit that signal with a price cap, the result is often a shortage.

From the Sacramento Bee:

Severin Borenstein, director of the University of California Energy Institute, said AB 457 could "do more harm than good."

When government reacts to a gasoline scarcity by capping prices, not reducing use, the result can be increased tension between supply and demand that can alarm consumers and prod a rush to fill half-empty tanks, he said.

"As much as we don't like $3-a-gallon gasoline, I think most people would prefer that to having to wait in line for an hour every time they buy gas," he said.

Exactly.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:59 AM



Why Bilbray won

This is the best analysis I have seen of what happened in the 50th congressional district election to succeed Duke Cunningham.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:41 AM



June 8, 2006

Coincidence?

arnoldlogo.jpg
Above is Schwarzenegger's new campaign logo, in green, symbolizing his goal of protecting the environment while growing the economy, and orange, which Schwarzenegger said he chose because "it's a strong color."

Below, however, is the coat of arms of Styria, Austria, Schwarzenegger's home state and the place that calls itself the "Green Heart of Austria." See the resemblance?

styria.gif

Barbara Gasser, a reporter for Kleine Zeitung, the second largest paper in Austria and Schwarzenegger's hometown newspaper, asked him about the similarity in a press gaggle on the campaign bus Thursday.

"I happened to recognize it because especially the green is identical to what we have in our seal," Gasser told me. "Sometimes you remember things from your childhood. That's why I recognized it."

Posted by dweintraub at 4:33 PM



Mobbed in Modesto

crowdscenereduced.jpg

arnoldwithkidreduced.jpg

The governor returned today to the scene of this incident during the recall campaign in Modesto.

Walking the 10th Street Plaza protected by a pack of CHP security agents and Modesto police but no "bike racks" to keep the public back, Schwarzenegger was mobbed by a mostly adoring crowd the likes of which I have not seen since the early days of the 2003 Recall campaign. People held up their children, gave him pieces of paper to autograph and posed for pictures. "Keep fightn' for us," one said. "Terminate Angelides!" said another. Without his security detail, Schwarzenegger would not have been able to move. They firmly pushed their way through the crowd, opening a path through which he could walk, shaking hands along the way.

But not everyone was supportive. Lee Miller, who said he teaches political science at Cal State Stanislaus, held a sign that said, "Don't mess with my union."

"He's done a terrible job as governor," said Miller, a member of the California Faculty Assn. "He hasn't addressed the problems of the state...We need a change."

teacherreduced.jpg



Posted by dweintraub at 3:21 PM



Gov: might endorse some Dems

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said today that he would consider endorsing Democrats running for statewide office.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:02 PM



Meet and Greet

arnoldbyronreduced.jpg
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks to voters at the Byron Inn Cafe in rural Contra Costa County.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:29 PM



'We are shining again'

Day two of the Schwarzenegger re-election campaign began with a town hall meeting in the Delta town of Antioch, on the far eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay Area.

The town hall was organized by the local Republican Party leaders and held in the bingo hall of the Antioch chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 6435. Although the campaign said the forum was open to the public, almost everyone inside seemed to be there at the invitation of local party officials. A small but more politically diverse crowd gathered outside along a rope line after local news programs reported that the governor would be in town. The event was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., but just before the appointed time the governor’s staff announced that he would be a half-hour late. He was. Exactly.

For the forum, about a hundred people sat in folding chairs arranged in a square around an open area, where the governor, holding a microphone, was able to roam around and face each questioner. The room’s fluorescent lighting was augmented by four studio lights brought in by the campaign to improve the picture for television. Behind Schwarzenegger were American and VFW flags on poles, and a lighted bingo board attached to the wall. Six ceiling fans kept the air moving in the stuffy hall.

The questions were not particularly tough, but they were not all softballs, either. One person asked the governor to defend his decision to send the National Guard to the border. Another wondered why languages other than English appear on official state documents, One woman asked why more of the lottery money does not find its way to the schools.

Some of the other questions: Can he exempt special-needs kids from the high school exit exam? Can he ensure that the transportation bond money will be spent efficiently? Why are business insurance costs so high?

For the most part, Schwarzenegger parried the questions and turned to his usual talking points. But he did try to offer at least partial answers.

On the National Guard, he said he agreed to send the troops only after the Bush Administration addressed most of his concerns.

“I don’t think we ought to make them into the Border Patrol,” he said. “That is something the federal government should do.”

On the English-only issue, asked by a man who identified himself as a German-immigrant and Vietnam veteran, the governor said he thought it was harmless to have more than one language on government forms and ballots.

“Even though I totally understand what you are saying,” Schwarzenegger said. “It doesn’t hurt if we have a few more languages on any of those forms. It doesn’t hurt me personally.”

He did not answer the lottery question directly – as Steve Westly showed, this is one of the most misunderstood programs in state government – but he did turn the woman’s question into a summary of public education funding and what he is doing about it. He also said that he believes how the money is spent is as important as how much is spent.

He got only one question that referred directly to Phil Angelides, and it was, predictably, about taxes. The gist of the question: “What is he thinking?”

“I cannot answer for him,” Schwarzenegger said. “I can just tell you I don’t believe in the recipes and in the prescriptions that have failed…And those are the same recipes from two and half years ago that did this state in. I think that is the wrong way to go.”

More than anything, Schwarzenegger, as you might expect in a campaign event, tried to use every question as an opening to defend his policies and performance and portray himself as the man with a vision for the future of the state. He talked about his immigrant experience, his love of the state, exuding optimism. When he talks about his infrastructure plans, he sounds more enthusiastic about growth than any other Californian I know.

"We are going to build and build and build," he said. "We can have cranes everywhere in California. Pouring oncrete and laying steels and building and building and building. That’s what we need to do."

In his view, California is the comeback state and he is the comeback governor. We have better schools, more jobs, and more tax revenue, without raising taxes, then we had three years ago, he said.

“I am so lucky that today I can stand here proudly and say to you that I think the state of California has done a great job of coming back,” he said. “Look at where we were.” Becoming governor when he did, he said, was like “taking over a house that was falling apart” with a leaky roof, a cracked foundation and broken windows.

“That’s where we were two and half years ago. Now the state is shining… Number one in stem cell research. Number one in economic growth. Number one in creating more businesses. We are shining again.”

Posted by dweintraub at 12:23 PM



Who voted?

According to the LA Times exit poll, 45 percent of voters Tuesday chose a Democrat ballot, 44 percent chose a Republican ballot and 7 percent voted decline to state. That would be pretty incredible, if true, since the Democrats had the only high-profile contested race.

One problem though. The Times' partisan breakdown of the vote does not seem to match the vote totals so far in the governor's race. As of 9 p.m. Wednesday, there were 3.68 million votes cast for governor. The Democrats had 2.1 million, or 56 percent of them. The Republicans had 1.6 million, or 42 percent. The other 2 percent were spread among the minor parties.

Tens of thousands of absentee ballots still must be counted, but they are not likely to chage the partisan numbers much if at all.

Am I missing something?

UPDATE: One answer from Doug Johnson at the Rose Institute:

Your math is closer than the LA Times exit poll, but not quite complete. The appropriate denominator in your equation is not the total number of ballots cast for Governor. It should be the total number of ballots cast for Prop 82 (which had higher turnout than Prop 81), because Decline to State voters who did not specifically request a party ballot would have received a ballot with only the Propositions and Non-Partisan offices on it.

The result is as one would expect:

50.9 % Democratic ballots (compared to 42.7 % of registered voters)
38.4 % Republican ballots (compared to 34.4 % of registered voters)
1.7 % third-party ballots (compared to 4.5 % of registered voters)
9.1 % Decline to State ballots (compared to 18.5 % of registered voters)


Posted by dweintraub at 6:08 AM



June 7, 2006

So Happy Together...

philandsteve.jpg
Angelides and Westly, United they Stand.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:29 PM



Calculator dependence

I liked this piece by William Kohl on calculator dependence. It tackles a sometimes emotional subject in a calm, rational manner.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:54 PM



Newt on the 50th

Joe Justin has Newt Gingrich's take on the 50th Congressional result. Since a Busby win would have prompted nationwide coverage as signal of impending Republican doom, seems fair to let the GOP crow about what they think the opposite outcome means.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:48 PM



A riverside chat

Kate Folmar posts the first blog item from the gov's campaign bus.

Here is Bill Bradley's take. At the bottom of the item he posted earlier.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:41 PM



Bellwether? Not this county. Not yet.

The Imperial County results sure are fun.

Schwarzenegger got 82 percent, compared to 90 percent statewide.

Angelides (42) and Westly (28) combined for 70 percent, compared to 91 statewide. Frank Macaluso, Jr. got 11.4 percent and Barbara Becnel got 4.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the library bond got a majority and Prop 82 did pretty well, losing by only a six-point margin.

In the Democrat race for lieutenant governor, Liz Figueroa took 54 percent! Garamendi got 32 percent and Speier 13.

Deborah Ortiz, meanwhile, demolished Debra Bowen, taking the county by a 64-36 margin, almost the opposite of the statewide numbers.

Rocky Delgadillo and Abel Maldonado also won there. See a trend?

Posted by dweintraub at 1:38 PM



How the polls did

That Datamar robo poll I linked to on Monday turned out to be pretty close. It had Angelides ahead by 43-41, and, strangely at the time, it had 82 getting clobbered in a landslide, 63-33. It had the library bond going down 57-36. I still think there was something screwy in the sample. It was, after all, more Republican than Democrat. But however they did it, they got the results right. Keep an eye on them.

Meanwhile, the more established SurveyUSA robo poll ended with it 44-36 for Angelides. Not bad, either.

Everyone else had it too close to call.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:21 PM



Debates

The debate about debates has already begun. Angelides called for a series of debates as he boarded his campaign plane this morning. And Schwarzenegger's people just sent a letter to Phil saying they were looking forward to "an honest discussion" in "a public forum." Note the use of the singular.

I'm not sure who would benefit most from a debate or more than one. Schwarzenegger would clearly be more prepared to discuss the issues than he was three years ago, when the only debate he participated in was a wild free-for-all that didn't shed a whole lot of light. In that debate, Schwarzenegger did well enough to persuade Californians that he was at least somewhat prepared for the job. In a debate this year, he would be able to show viewers how much more he knows today than the did when he ran in 2003. He would also get to speak directly to voters about some of his accomplishments, from reducing workers comp insurance rates to increasing spending on the schools, a million solar roofs, and the infrastructure package. His natural optimism also goes over well on television.

Angelides is very smart, and a very good public speaker. He knows the issues in this race from every angle, and he can quote numbers and studies and history for hours on end. He would win any debate on points. But he also can be arrogant and irritating, and he likes to hear himself talk too much for his own good. If he does not take some personality classes first, he would risk persuading Californians that the last thing they want is to listen to him for the next four years.

My early take: high expectations for Angelides, but probably a net benefit for the governor unless he really screws something up.


Posted by dweintraub at 12:16 PM



Turnout: 28 percent

The current turnout estimate from the Secretary of State is 28 percent of registered voters. If that holds up, it will be the lowest since 1920.

UPDATE: Tony Quinn advises that 28 percent would be the lowest, period, since the Secretary of State started keeping records.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:04 PM



Talking the talk

Carla Marinucci says the gov's people are trying to hide his talk radio comments from the media.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:55 AM



Moorlach wins big

John Moorlach, the Orange County treasurer who was running for county supervisor while highlighting the county's unsustainable pension and health care liabilities, won in a landslide. He was a 70-30 winner over an opponent backed by the county's public employee unions with a quarter-million-dollar war chest.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:26 AM



Bus blogging

The governor's campaign press bus is equipped with wi-fi, and Kate Folmar, Bill Bradley and John Myers will be live-blogging it today. I'll try to monitor. I'll be on the bus tomorrow.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:22 AM



Win some, lose some

The conservative Republican candidate for Placer County supervisor backed big-time by Angelides patron Angelo Tsakopoulos lost by a wide margin.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:32 AM



Angelides 48, Westly 43

Posted by dweintraub at 7:07 AM



State Senate primaries

Here are the results in the Senate districts I was watching:

10th: Ellen Corbett
20th: Alex Padilla
28th: Jenny Oropeza
30th: Ron Calderon leading
32nd: Gloria Negrete McLeod
34th: Lou Correa

Padilla, Calderon, Negrete-McLeod and Correa were the business-backed candidates in these Democratic primaries. Corbett was a big favorite of the trial lawyers. Oropeza might be somewhere in the middle. Of the six, only Corbett and Oropeza were endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters. These results definitely nudge the Senate a little bit to the right.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:51 AM



CD 50: Republicans hold

Republican Brian Bilbray held onto the 50th congressional district seat vacated by the resignation of Duke Cunningham in disgrace after the former congressman admitted to massive corruption. The race was seen as a signal of Democratic strength in the fall, but the party's nominee, Francine Busby, took about the same share of the vote that John Kerry won in the district in 2004.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:47 AM



LAT exit poll

Here is the LA Times exit poll. Schwarzenegger had higher favorables than either Angelides or Westly among all those who voted Tuesday.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:39 AM



Done

Westly peaked too soon. He had the resume. He had the tech aura. He had the money. But he really didn't have much of a message. And he didn't have any emotional connection with the voters. He was Arnold without the biceps. When Phil ran out of money and went off the air for a few weeks, Westly's ad buys were enough to get a lot of voters to start leaning toward him. But they were never attached. They were dating, not married. The poll result that jumped out at me during that time was the one showing that Democrats who thought we should raise taxes and give the money to the schools were siding with Westly over Angelides. That made no sense. It could only mean that Angelides was not getting his message out, that core Democratic voters did not know that he was the lefty in the race. Once he came back on the air, with his own ads and the big ad buy from Tsakopoulos and Co., the ideological lines became a lot clearer. And the apparently low turnout did not hurt, either. The casual voters who were impressed by Westly tuned out at the end instead of turning out. They didn't bother to vote. That left labor and older voters to dominate the field, and they sided with Angelides. It was really his to lose all along. He almost did, but not quite. I am still amazed that the candidate with the passion and the vision that we saw in speeches and in editorial board meetings pretty much was absent from the Angelides mass media campaign. That candidate is going to have to make a bigger appearance in the general for Angelides to win in the fall.

Now that he is the nominee, I am also not sure I agree with the CW that the governor is better off running against Angelides. Maybe in the short term he is. But Westly was so thin he could have been knocked over with a few well placed blows. Angelides will not be knocked over. He will start off behind or not as far ahead as Westly would have. But his negatives are probably about as high as they are going to go. Republicans already loathe him. And Democrats will learn to love him. That leaves the independents. And they are up for grabs.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:18 AM



San Benito to Angelides

San Benito just finished up. And it flipped to Phil. Probably closer than the state as a whole. But looks like it will get it right again.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:18 AM



Tick. Tick. Tick.

San Luis Obispo is in the books, 50-42 for Phil. San Francisco is done, 52-42. And more than 70 percent of the vote has been counted in LA, where he is still leading. Time is running out for Westly. In fact, I think time has already run out.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:06 AM



June 6, 2006

Looking strong for Phil

More than 40 percent of the vote has been counted in LA, and Phil is up there, 49 percent to 43 percent. The trend is starting to look very strong for him. A Republican consultant notes in an email that results-watchers need to remember that you don't see big shifts late in the count in a primary the way you do in a general, when there are Democrat counties and Republican counties. Everyone who voted in this primary was either a Democrat or a DTS. You're not going to see a big swing all in the sudden when a "Westly county" comes in. If he is going to win this he is going to have to start closing the gap in the next few minutes.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:37 PM



This is odd

In Santa Barbara County, Democrats outnumber Republicans by 74,000 to 65,000. But the governor is drawing more votes than the two major Democrats combined. Seems strange. And this was supposed to be a Democratic-weighted turnout. Looks like a lot of DTS voters are going with the governor today. We will have to see if that trend holds up elsewhere.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:29 PM



Santa Barbara to Phil

Santa Barbara County tends to be another pretty good bellwether. And with 99 percent of its precincts counted, Angelides is leading there by 50%-41%.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:16 PM



Library bond trailing

Is the library bond going down? With about 36 percent of the vote counted, the bond is losing 54-46. If it is defeated, folks will start to wonder about the public works package on the November ballot. My early feel is that they are not connected. There was not a very visible campaign for the libraries, and a lot of people do not use libraries. There will be a big campaign for the bonds in November, and most people use roads, or schools or care about the Central Valley flooding.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:13 PM



Bowen leading for Secretary of State nomination

With about a third of the vote counted, Debra Bowen is crushing Deborah Ortiz in the race for the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State. It's 63%-37%.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:00 PM



LA trending toward Phil

LA County is starting to come in and Phil is widening his lead. With 17 percent of LA precincts counted, he is up in the county 49% to 43%.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:55 PM



"Others" taking 9 percent

So far 9 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary is going to other than the two major candidates. That seems high to me. But it's about the same in the Republican primary, where the governor is getting 90.5 percent.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:38 PM



Central Valley for Westly

If Angelides gets the nomination, he is going to have to do some major repairs in the Central Valley. Westly looks to be running up some pretty big margins. He's got 59% in Fresno, 58% in Kings, 54% in Kern, 54% in Merced. These are small counties, but they start to add up after a while. Angelides has the more urbanized Sacramento and San Joaquin counties so far.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:33 PM



Placer goes to Phil

Placer County has counted 100 percent of its precincts. Angelides 47.5, Westly 45.2.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:26 PM



Santa Clara not strong for Westly

Another troubling sign for Westly: with a third of the vote counted in Santa Clara, he is only up by 4 percent.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:24 PM



Westly's shrinking gap

If you have noticed Phil's lead steadily shrinking, the gap closers seem to be coming from Westly's advantage in the small rural counties. The urban and coastal counties that gave Phil his early lead reported one big batch and then stopped. The smaller rural counties are counting their vote faster and that is helping Westly a bit. But we will need to see more of the urban vote before we know whether Westly is really gaining ground or it is just a mirage.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:31 PM



San Benito leaning to Westly

With half its vote counted, my favorite county, tiny San Benito, is giving a slight edge to Westly. But his vote total -- 44 percent -- is lower than either candidate has in any other county in which they are leading. SB is giving more than 5 percent of its vote to Barbara Becnel.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:14 PM



Inland Empire trending for Phil

Most of the results are very sketchy so far, but Riverside County has a third of its vote in and Phil is up 46%-41%. If I were Westly that would worry me. Riverside should not be Angelides country.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:11 PM



Tahoe voters going for Phil?

Defiling Lake Tahoe didn't seem to hurt Angelides in one of the lake's surrounding counties: Placer. With 34 percent of precincts counted, he leads Westly 49-44.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:58 PM



LA Times: 82 going down

The LA Times exit poll says 82 is going down and the Democratic race for governor is too close to call.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:29 PM



Do not call

One of Kevin Roderick's readers writes that she is tempted to vote against any candidate who bothers her with a prerecorded phone call from themselves or a surrogate. I have heard from a lot of voters who agree. Including my wife. I have to race her to the phone to hear the tapes because if she answers she will hang up before they spit out their second word.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:22 PM



Labor GOTV

The California Labor Federation is taking some credit for the Angelides victory, just in case it happens later tonight. Art Pulaski, the fed's executive secretary-treasurer, notes that the unions will have greater influence if the turnout is lower, because their members are more likely to vote. He says they have 5,000 volunteers on the streets today, contacting 100,000 union families. He said he checked out a precinct this afternoon in his hometown of San Francisco and found that 61 percent of targeted union members had voted, compared to 7 percent overall.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:46 PM



Gov heads to Samoa

In the past, candidates have lost elections by vacationing in Hawaii when they should have been campaigning. But the governor is going to begin his general election campaign in Samoa. Samoa, Ca., that is. On the North Coast, near Eureka. He does a meet and greet there Wednesday morning before heading to Redding, Chico and Auburn. He does another bus tour on Thursday.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:19 PM



More races

Some reader nominations on more races to watch tonight:

Lt. governor....With the idea that whoever is the Democratic nominee will be the favorite in November, and a credible third option to Antonio V. and Gavin Newsom for governor in 2010, assuming Schwarzenegger wins a second term.

45th Assembly District. Apparently one of the candidates -- DeLeon -- is an old friend of the speaker and was his hand-picked candidate for the job. But he is not tied into the community and is facing some significant opposition.

26th Congressional District, where Rules Committee chairman David Dreier, like Doolittle and Pombo, is facing a spirited primary challenge. It probably won't succeed, but it might be another indicator of GOP dissatsifaction with its leadership in Congress. And Dreier, whose 2004 victory was narrower than expected, faces another challenge in the fall.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:11 PM



Another Pelosi

Christine Pelosi, Democratic operative and daughter of Nancy, is liveblogging from Francine Busby's HQ tonight in the 50th Congressional District.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:54 PM



Undecided, and staying that way

Another undecided voter --Roger L. Simon -- explains himself.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:45 PM



Races to watch

Other than the race for governor, here is what I will be watching tonight:

Proposition 82. Rob Reiner's latest ballot initiative would tax the rich to pay for universal preschool for four-year-olds. The measure started out with a big lead in the polls but has steadily slipped as voters realized that most of the $2-billion-plus it raises would go to subsidize preschool for children whose parents are already paying for it now. Despite its liberal reputation, California has a mixed record on soak-the-rich proposals, rejecting one in the 1990s and then passing a millionaire's surcharge two years ago to finance an expansion of mental health services. As they say in baseball, this is the rubber match.

Moderate Democrats? With our political districts drawn by legislators to protect incumbents and eliminate competition between the parties in the fall, all the action now takes place in the primaries to fill seats left vacant by the departure of termed-out or upwardly mobile lawmakers.

This year, much of the focus has been on the state Senate, where several retirements have opened up seats that have become battlegrounds for ideological factions, with business and professional groups lining up on one side and labor unions on the other.

You will know if the business-backed moderates are on the rise if half or more of the following candidates win the primaries today:

John Dutra in the 10th, in Santa Clara and Alameda County
Alex Padilla in the 20th, in the San Fernando Valley
George Nakano in the 28th, centered in the South Bay area of Los Angeles
Ron Calderon in the 30th, south and east of Los Angeles
Gloria Negrete-McCleod, in the 32nd, around San Bernardino
Lou Correa, in the 34th, in Orange County.

The Republican Congress. We might get an early glimpse tonight of how strongly the political winds are blowing against Republican control of Congress.

The first place to look will be the 50th Congressional district in northern San Diego County, where there is a special election to replace former Rep. Duke Cunningham, who resigned in disgrace and pled guilty to corruption charges. The district is heavily Republican, but the Republican nominee, former Rep. Brian Bilbray, is having trouble nailing down the seat against the Democrat, school board member Francine Busby.

Both national party organizations have been playing heavily in the election, where the immigration issue has recently risen to top status, perhaps even overtaking the general disenchanment with the direction of the Republican Congress and corruption in Washington. I think the actions of both candidates in this race confirm my suspicion that despite the recent mass protests, or maybe because of them, the anti-immigration position (which is not mine) is still the more popular position to take in any contested general election race in America.

If Bilbray wins, the Republican leadership will breathe a sigh of relief, and it will help the House push for an enforcement-oriented immigration bill. If Busby wins, it will be seen as a sign that Democrats have a solid chance to take over the House in the fall, and it will slightly weaken the Republican opposition to a comprehensive immigration package that includes a modified amnesty and a guest worker program.

Two other interesting races to watch will be Republicans primary challenges to Reps. Richard Pombo and John Doolittle in the Central Valley and Sierra foothills. Both men have been close to the Republican leadership. Pombo, as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has battled environmentalists. Doolittle was a top lieutenant to former Majority Leader Tom Delay and has come under fire for paying his wife a 15 percent commission on the money she helps raise for his campaign. Both incumbents will almost certainly win their races against underfinanced opponents, but if the results are anything but overwhelming, it could be an indication of Republican dissatisfaction with the performance of the party's leadership in Congress.

John Moorlach. The Orange County treasurer, who rose to fame 12 years ago as the first to warn that the county's investment portfolio was in danger of collapse just before the county slid into bankruptcy, is running for a seat on the county Board of Supervisors. Moorlach has been warning of late that Orange County's government, like many local jurisdictions, has over-committed itself to pension and health care obligations for its retirees. The county employee unions are going all-out to keep him off the board, spending about a quarter-million dollars so far. If they succeed in defeating him, it will force second-thoughts on any other public official who tries to bring attention to this looming problem.

Angelo's other race. Angelo Tsakopoulos, the Sacramento developer who with his daughter has spent more than $8 million supporting Phil Angelides for governor, has also poured $100,000 into conservative Republican Jerry Simmons' campaign for Placer County supervisor. Simmons does not exactly fit the profile of the kind of candidates Tsakopoulos has backed in the past. But he is running against incumbent Robert Weygandt, who has raised questions about a big development that Tsakopoulos is pushing involving housing and a potential private university in the suburbs east of Sacramento.

And finally, I will be watching San Benito County. Last fall I picked this small but growing Central Coast county as the bellwether for election results watchers. As San Benito goes, so goes the state. I have checked its performance in Democratic primaries, and the place has a pretty good record in those races too. So if you don't want to stay up late, just check San Benito's results, which should be in early, and there's a good chance they will tell you who will win the Democratic nomination for governor.



Posted by dweintraub at 8:58 AM



Field: lowest turnout ever

The Field Poll says to expect just 34.6 percent of those registered to vote in today's election. Here is the story from the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:19 AM



June 5, 2006

Survey USA: back to 44-36

The final preelection robo poll.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:22 PM



Recount?

When Steve Westly beat Tom McClintock to win the controller's job four years ago, the vote was so close that it took two weeks after the election to declare a winner.

From the Sacramento Bee:

McClintock and Westly were separated Monday by fewer than three votes for every 1,000 cast in the race for controller. Westly garnered 45.4 percent of the vote and McClintock 45.1 percent, with three minor-party candidates splitting the remainder.

Too close to call since Election Day, the controller's race - and the two legislative contests - have been the focus of a tedious, county-by-county tally of more than 800,000 provisional ballots whose validity had to be verified and of absentee ballots received on Election Day.

What if that -- or an even closer result -- happens Tuesday? It's unlikely, but it could happen, and it could be a disaster for the Democrats. Schwarzenegger already has benefited from their intraparty mudslinging. A nasty fight over vote-counting that dominates the headlines for weeks could make him look positively statesmanlike.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:13 PM



Alameda could slow statewide tally

Alameda County, having shelved its electronic voting machines, will be using paper ballots and counting them by scanner and by hand. The county might not have its result, reflecting 5 percent of the state's registered voters, until Wednesday. Here is a story.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:30 PM



SurveyUSA: Angelides 41, Westly 37

The SurveyUSA robopoll, which has shown Angelides with a big lead, now has the trend moving toward Westly with Angelides just four points ahead.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:13 PM



My take

Late last week my gut was telling me that Phil Angelides was going to pull this thing out. It just seemed as if he had the advantage among core Democrats, and core Democrats were going to be the dominant group in the election. Now I am having second thoughts. Just about every Democrat with whom I have spoken since then, in a highly unscientific sample, told me they were voting for Westly. Most of them -- and I am talking about non-insiders here -- have been influenced by Westly's ads on the environment. And this tiny sample included several people who are far to the left on the ideological spectrum. Westly is clearly cutting into Angelides' base by hitting him on an issue that the base cares about, and might even care about more than it cares about taxes. I don't think the "Twins" ad has been nearly as effective, I don't think it pushes the same kinds of emotional buttons, and I don't think it's playing nearly as widely as the Westly environmental ads. More broadly, I just don't think Angelides has defined himself with the Democratic electorate nearly as well as he could have and should have, as the candidate with the left-leaning vision for the state, beyond being Anti-Arnold and beyond raising taxes. His ads have never captured the message you hear from him at the Democratic Party convention, in a stump speech or in an editorial board. He might yet win this thing, but if he does, it will be in spite of the campaign he has run, not because of it.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:02 PM



Datamar: Dem race tied

Here is a link to a Datamar robopoll on the governor's race. Like everyone else, it shows a dead heat. I link to it mainly for those who like to track new pollsters and check their track records. Datamar has done some good stuff in San Diego and is branching out to do more statewide polling. This poll is a little odd in that it surveys "high propensity" voters and thus ends up with a sample heavily skewed to the Republicans. That does not affect the Democratic primary result, but the poll shows both the library bond and the preschool measure losing badly, and Schwarzenegger far ahead in the fall match-ups. I guess if the bonds and the tax go down big we should take another look at Datamar's work. But they are definitely an outlier here.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:48 AM



Field: 41% approval for gov

Here is the latest Field Poll showing that Schwarzenegger's approval rating is creeping back toward positive but still stalled short of the mark.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:35 AM



One picture...

twins.jpg

In case you hadn't seen Rex Babin's Sunday cartoon.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:19 AM



June 4, 2006

Guardian Angelo

The Bee takes a closer look at the Tsakopoulos connection, and what it means.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:11 AM



Preschool taking a time out

Support for Prop. 82 is dropping. The preschool measure is down to 41 percent (46 percent opposed) in latest Field Poll. The full poll is here.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:09 AM



June 2, 2006

Suing Big Oil

While Westly and Angelides fight down to the wire over who is the greener candidate, take a look at the latest from one of Schwarzenegger's top environmental advisers.

I just saw a promotion for a new book to be published this fall by Island Press. "Lives Per Gallon -- The true Cost of our Oil Addiction," is by Terry Tamminen, former Cal-EPA Secretary and still an adviser to the governor.
An excerpt from the ad:

"While the petroleum industry is raking in huge profits, Tamminen shows, it is studiously avoiding measures that would lessen the hazards of its products. Using the successful lawsuits by state governments against big tobacco as a model, the author sets forth a bold strategy to hold oil and auto companies accountable and force industry reform."

Should be interesting.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:43 PM



Behind the Orange Curtain

The Orange County Registrar of Voters is promising to provide live election results Tuesday night down to the precinct level. As far as I know they are the only county doing this. The Web site is here.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:46 PM



Gov in a chimp suit

Kate Folmar passes along the latest venom from the angry pen of Bob Mulholland, adviser to the Angelides campaign. A taste of what's to come if Phil is the nominee.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:34 PM



A 'chair-throwing incident'

Longtime political pro Bob Kholos has a blog (Saigon Bob) on which he seems to be writing an autobiography. The latest installment focuses on his role in Tom Bradley's 1973 campaign for mayor of LA against Sam Yorty. A young Gray Davis, in his first political campaign, plays a cameo role:

Internally, tensions were palpable between the Bradley people and the old Tunney cronies. Longtime political coordinator Warren Hollier actually slapped one of the campaign managers in the face. Gray Davis was a nightmare to work with. He had an uneven elitist temper, which included a chair throwing incident. When one campaign aide asked me to query Davis when the paychecks were coming in, he responded, "You Don't Deserve to be Paid, KHOLOS!" For a moment, I thought I was working for the Nixon campaign.

Hat tip: Kevin Roderick.


Posted by dweintraub at 1:51 PM



Old enough to know better?

Bill Cavala thinks the older (but not oldest) voters will put Angelides over the top.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:29 AM



Forward spin

Matthew Dowd, Schwarzenegger's chief campaign strategist, is trying to lower expectations for post-primary polling. The campaign has distributed a memo from him today about the state of the race. It does not say much, other than that Dowd expects the winner of the Democratic primary on Tuesday to get a bounce that puts him ahead of the governor.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:36 AM



McPherson: 38% will vote

Secretary of State Bruce McPherson is projecting a 38 percent turnout of registered voters on Tuesday. That's right in the middle of the trend from recent primaries, which have ranged from a low of 34.6 percent in 2002 to a high of 42.5 percent in 1998.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:31 AM



Field: race still tied

Today's Field Poll shows -- surprise -- a dead heat in the Democratic primary and a boatload of undecided voters. More undecideds, says poll director Mark DiCamillo, than any top-of-the-ticket primary in at least 30 years. For the record, it's Westly 35, Angelides 34, with 5 percent for "others" (who knew?) and 26 percent for nobody, yet.

Some interesting threads:

Angelides leads among union households (45-29) and among liberals (40-32). He also is ahead among voters aged 50-64, but trails among voters 65 and older.

Angelides leads among absentee voters but Westly leads among those who say they will vote at their local precinct.

To me all of these add up to at least mild red flags for Westly. If the turnout is low, then liberal union households and folks 50-64 will make up a big chunk of the electorate, and they all favor Phil. DiCamillo says he's already taken all of that into account in his turnout projection, upon which these numbers are based. But if it goes even lower than he expects (and he has not made his actual projection number public yet), then these hard-core voters who favor Phil will have more of an impact on the result. And if people can't drag themselves to the polls on Tuesday, more people who had intended to vote for Westly are likely to be staying home. More of Phil's voters have already voted.

The Field Poll also looked at Schwarzenegger, and he is doing better. He has started to win over independents, who now have a 46-41 favorable impression of him, after being down on him 34-56 in February. The non-partisans also support the gov in both hypothetical match-ups with the Democratic nominees, 41-39 over Westly and 43-35 over Angelides. Overall, Schwarzenegger leads Westly 44-42 and leads Angelides by 46-39.

Finally, Angelides' favorability numbers have tanked. He is at 27-34 among likely general election voters, compared to 30-24 for Westly and 46-46 for Schwarzenegger. If Angelides were to win the nomination, he would probably be the first non-incumbent candidate for governor in recent history to begin the general election campaign with more voters viewing him unfavorably than favorably.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:00 AM



June 1, 2006

Payback

In 1994, John Moorlach, while running for treasurer of Orange County warned that the the county's investment portfolio was in serious trouble and could go upside down if interest rates rose. Moorlach was ostracized by the county establishment and defeated. A few months after the election, the county filed for bankruptcy because its interest rates rose and its investment portfoilo tanked.

Moorlach was later elected treasurer and is now running for county supervisor. He has been warning that the county's health and pension obligations for its employees are seriously underfunded. The public employee unions have spent nearly a quarter-million dollars to try to keep him off the board.

Matt Cunningham has more of the inside story at flashreport.org.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:49 PM



Record number registered for primary

Nobody seems to care about the campaign, but a record number of voters for a primary have registered to vote in the June 6 election, according to Secretary of State Bruce McPherson.

McPherson said 15.7 million Californians are registered, up 387,000 from the primary four years ago. The all-time record was 16.5 million for the November 2004 general election.

From his report:

Since the 15-day Report of Registration for the 2002 Gubernatorial Primary Election:

·The percentage number of total registered voters compared to eligible voters has declined from 71.5% to 69.5%.

·The percentage registration in the qualified political parties has declined from 84.4% to 81%.

·The percentage registration in the Democratic Party declined from 45% to 42.7%.

·The percentage registration in the Republican Party declined from 35% to 34.4%.

·The percentage number of voters who have “Declined to State” their political party has increased from 14.8% to 18.45%.

You can read the whole thing here.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:22 PM



95814

The Capitol Weekly has done a zipcode analysis of contributions in the governor's race. Schwarzenegger has raised more in downtown Sacramento -- our version of Washington's K Street -- than any other zipcode in the state. CW blogger Shane Goldmacher has more.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:35 PM



Health care bills

Anthony Wright of Health Access offers this update on the fate of health care bills in the Legislature this week from the perspective of a group that lobbies for a more aggressive government approach to providing health care for all.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:28 PM



On the fence...

Sara Nichols says she has never been so undecided before voting in a party primary for governor. She explains why she voted for Westly even though she probably has more in common ideologically with Angelides.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:22 PM



Redistricting

Dan Schnur reports here on the latest move to build critical mass for redistricting reform.

Mickey Kaus (scroll down) wonders where all these good people were last year when the governor was pushing Proposition 77. And he notes that if that proposition had passed and been implemented this year, Democrats would probably be in better position to take over the House of Representatives. Why? Because several more California districts would have been competitive, winnable by either party in a big year. And this is looking like the Democrats' year.


Posted by dweintraub at 11:58 AM



 
 

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