On politics in the Golden State

Category: GOP

Vote to confirm Cal State chairman in doubt, Senate leader says

Charles B. Reed, left, and Herbert L. Carter
State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) warned Thursday that he may not allow a vote on the governor’s appointment of Herbert L. Carter to the California State University board by next week’s deadline if Republicans don’t drop their opposition to the confirmation.

Carter, who is the board chairman, needs a two-thirds vote of the Senate to be confirmed, which would require at least two Republicans to join the Democratic majority. But GOP lawmakers have objected to Carter’s votes to raise student fees by 12% while he agreed to pay a new president at the San Diego campus $400,000.

"If there are no Republican votes, I’m not particularly interested in having a major floor fight," Steinberg told reporters at the Capitol. "The votes are either there or not there."

Steinberg said Democrats support Gov. Jerry Brown’s appointment of Carter last year to the post, which needs Senate confirmation within a year or Carter would have to step down.

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Fighting illness, Sen. Sharon Runner will not seek reelection

Sharon Runner
A month after announcing health problems that put her on a waiting list for a lung transplant, state Sen. Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster) said Wednesday she will not run for reelection this year.

Runner, 57, began working from home last month because of complications from limited scleroderma, an autoimmune condition that damages healthy tissue.

“Serving the people of our community over my lifetime has been an amazing blessing and I am so very thankful for their support throughout each of my elections and my tenure in office,” Runner said in a statement. “In the coming years, I will be working on behalf of the community that I love, but not in the role as an elected official.”

Runner had won a special election last year to fill a vacancy in the Senate caused when her husband, George Runner, won election to the state Board of Equalization. She had previously served in the state Assembly, where in 2008 she first announced she had been diagnosed with the autoimmune condition.

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California lawmaker to seek reelection after year in Afghanistan


Assemblyman Jeff Gorell of Camarillo needn’t worry about those contesting his reelection challenging any of his votes during the last year. That is because he has spent the time out of the country, serving on active duty in Afghanistan.

Gorell, a Naval Reservist, took office in December 2010 and left three months later for a one-year tour of duty as an intelligence officer overseas. He does not return until March 18, so on Friday his wife, Laura, stood in for him and announced her husband’s plans to seek reelection this year.

“Jeff is very excited to be coming home in March to resume representing his constituents in the state Assembly,” Laura Gorell said in a statement.

Redistricting has put Jeff Gorell in the newly drawn 44th Assembly District, where Democrats have a slight edge in voter registration. He already faces some challengers, including Democrat Thomas Mullens Jr. Mullens, a business officer at UC Santa Barbara, served four years in the Navy. He was careful when asked about the effect of the incumbent’s absence during the last year.

"As a veteran, I appreciate Assemblyman Gorell's service to our country, but the district has not had a voice in Sacramento in his absence," Mullens said. "It's difficult to quantify what impact that has had, but it is better to have a voice than silence."

Educator Eileen MacEnery has also filed papers inducating she may run for the seat.


California budget still imperiled by cash crunch

Brown, Feinstein to address Democrats at San Diego convention

Jerry Brown's tax-initiative rivals dismiss governor's concerns

-- Patrick McGreevy, in Sacramento

Photo: Jeff Gorell, pictured in 2010, is spending a year on military duty as a Naval Reservist in Afghanistan. On Friday, his wife announced he will seek reelection. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times


GOP-led drive for California pension initiative dead for this year

  Gov. Jerry Brown The Republican-led group California Pension Reform said Wednesday it is ending its campaign to put an overhaul of public retirement systems on the 2012 ballot.

The decision was made "after determining that the Attorney General's false and misleading title and summary makes it nearly impossible to pass," Dan Pellissier, the group's president, said in a statement.

The group, which includes former state GOP Chairman Duf Sundheim, proposed an initiative that would have gone beyond what Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed to reduce pension costs, affecting pension benefits for current workers as well as future hires and placing caps on how much an employer can pay toward a worker’s retirement.

Pellissier said his group would lobby elected officials to adopt pension changes this year and, if that fails, would focus on putting an initiative on the 2014 ballot.

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California Republican chairman lays out game plan for 2012

Voters in Venice in 2010
California Republican Party chairman Thomas Del Beccaro knows he won’t find many votes for right-leaning candidates in the Bay Area or Los Angeles. But he’s hoping his party can rally support for conservative ballot initiatives, giving Republicans a stronger voice in California politics.

Del Beccaro said Republicans' policy proposals resonate with individual voters statewide, even if the party lacks enough clout in Sacramento to block Democrats' legislation or spending plans.

Voters "agree with us on the tax issue. They agree with us on budget reform. They agree with us on law-and-order issues. They agree with us on local control for education,” he said. “We should be promoting these ideas not just as parties, but as candidates throughout the state so we can do better.”

By pushing ballot initiatives on these issues, voters may take a second look at Republican candidates, said Del Beccaro, who has been the state party chairman since March 2010.

“We’re not going to do anything less for legislative races,” he said. “But we need to add in this focus on initiatives, which will help us in legislative races.”

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Republicans fail in rare attempt to override governor's veto


California Republican lawmakers failed Thursday to engineer the first override of a gubernatorial veto in three decades

Republican state lawmakers failed Thursday to engineer the first override of a gubernatorial veto in three decades, while some Democrats who opposed the action said they remain open to using the power in the future.

The state Senate's 13-22 party-line vote fell far short of the two-thirds tally necessary to override Gov. Jerry Brown's veto of a measure that would make it easier for cities and counties to temporarily take over the operation of state parks targeted for closure because of the California's budget shortfall.

Sen. Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo) said he called for an override because he does not think Brown is willing to work with lawmakers on a compromise to keep parks open. He accused the governor of "circumventing" the Legislature and going to voters with a proposed tax increase.

"This is an opportunity for us to potentially keep some state parks open that would otherwise close," Blakeslee told his colleagues about SB 356.

Brown vetoed the measure in October, saying it was unnecessary because state officials are already talking to local governments about operating some parks.

Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) noted the last veto successful override occurred during Brown's first stint as governor. He referred to 1979 overrides on two measures, dealing with state employees and insurance.

"This has not happened in over a generation," he said, noting that he opposed Blakeslee's effort but that if the Legislature never uses its override authority "we lose some of our power.''

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said an override should only be considered on an issue of "great importance" and only when he and the Republican Senate leader agree that it is necessary.

"This isn't the bill," Steinberg said. "This isn't the time."


Gov. Jerry Brown to hit road after State of the State speech

Gov. Jerry Brown defends high-speed rail in State of the State speech

Jerry Brown needles GOP leaders for pre-taping response to his speech

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown redelivers his State of the State address to an audience in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Jerry Brown: GOP in 'denial' on climate change


Gov. Jerry Brown took on  Republicans and the Cato Institute and joked about Jesuits in a speech to his climate change conference in San Francisco Thursday.

Speaking to about 250 scientists, activists, policy officials and Richard Branson, Brown blasted Republicans for being in "absolute denial" about the risks of global climate change.

He singled out the conservative Cato Institute of contributing to the "cult-like behavior of the political lemmings that would take us over the cliff."

"I know something about cults," quipped Brown, a former seminary student. "I don't want to say my time with the Jesuits was a cult experience, but it was dogmatic, somewhat one-sided to say the least, and not particularly open to contrary opinion."

Brown said addressing the risks of a changing environment demanded cooperation.

"We have to pull together and do everything we can to wake people up" about climate change, Brown said.

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, will address the crowd Thursday afternoon.


Jerry Brown unveils mid-year cuts

Jerry Brown's environmental revenge?

-- Anthony York in San Francisco

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown. Credit: Reed Saxon / Associated Press

Group challenging new Senate maps gets warning on disclosure

A group pushing a ballot measure to overturn new voting districts for the state Senate failed to properly report major backers, including the California Republican Party, in its initial filings, according to a warning letter issued by the state’s ethics watchdog agency.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission’s chief of enforcement made the finding in a letter to the group Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting, which filed the proper disclosure after a complaint was submitted by California Common Cause.

"The FPPC has completed its investigation of the facts in this case," wrote Gary Winuk, the commission’s chief of enforcement. "Specifically, the FPPC found that the committee failed to timely amend its Statement of Organization … to reflect the names of its major donors as required by the act."

The amendment now reflects in the committee’s name that major donors include the California Republican Party, which donated $100,000 to the group in August.

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento


Biking with Schwarzenegger – and a sex-scandal joke

Photo: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Credit: Eamonn McCormack / Getty Images Arnold Schwarzenegger, months removed from office and with his popularity bruised by revelations of a love child with his housekeeper, apparently hasn’t lost his sense of humor.

When he was mistaken for Bill Clinton on a recent bike ride through Santa Monica, he replied to the confused passerby: “It’s one of those guys who has had a sex scandal.”

The remark came as the former California governor pedaled through red lights and coasted the wrong way up one-way streets with Michael Lewis, author of the bestseller “The Big Short,” during a mobile interview. The result appears in Lewis’ new Vanity Fair piece, which labels California the epicenter of coming financial and pension troubles.

In the interview, Schwarzenegger also offered a few insights into governorship, including his famed campaign announcement on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”

“I just thought, This will freak everyone out,” Schwarzenegger said. “It’ll be so funny. I’ll announce that I am running….And two months later I was governor. What the [expletive] is that?”

As governor, Schwarzenegger said, he was stymied by lawmakers frozen in fear of special interests. “People would say to me, ‘Yes, this is the best idea! I would love to vote for it! But if I vote for it some interest group is going to be angry with me, so I won’t do it,’” he told Lewis.

“I couldn’t believe people could actually say that. You have soldiers dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they didn’t want to risk their political lives by doing the right thing,” he said.

Overall, though, Schwarzenegger said he enjoyed being California’s chief executive. “You have to realize the thing was so much fun,” he said. “We had a great time!”


Assembly campaigns picking up steam

Gov. Jerry Brown plans bill-signing ceremony with stadium developers

Dianne Feinstein's campaign sues bank and Kinde Durkee, alleging fraud

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento

Photo: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Credit: Eamonn McCormack / Getty Images

California redistricting: New districts OKd by citizens panel

Photo: California state Capitol. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times A citizens panel gave final approval Monday to new boundaries for California’s state and congressional legislative districts, setting the stage for possible challenges to the plan in the courtroom and on the ballot.

The maps adopted Monday by the Citizens Redistricting Commission will be used during the next decade in elections for 120 seats in the state Legislature, 53 congressional seats and four seats on the state Board of Equalization.

"Given the conflicting requirements, I think we did a very good job," said Commission Chairman Vincent Barabba, a Republican businessman from Santa Cruz County who is a former director of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Interactive map: Has your district changed?

The 14-person panel was created after voters approved Proposition 11 in November 2008 to take the job of redistricting away from legislators, who drew the boundaries in a way that helped make sure incumbents were reelected.

Some Republican members of Congress have complained about how the districts were drawn and hinted that the new districts could be subject to a court challenge.

California Republican Party spokesman Mark Standriff said it is "less likely" the state party will go to court, and a decision on whether to put a referendum on the ballot to challenge the plan will probably be made this week.

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