Hello everyone! It is I am Oreskes filling in from Washington while Laurel Rosenhall is on special assignment. The air quality here gives off the vibes of California’s great wildfires. It’s interesting to watch East Coasters learn what the Air Quality Index is and why a mask can do more than prevent the spread of COVID-19.
For now, let’s fly through the week that was in California politics.
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Senate split screen
Last week’s debate over the debt ceiling provided a powerful moment for voters to look at how their three Democratic Senate candidates differ.
Rep. Adam Schiff was one of 314 members of the House of Representatives who voted in favor of the compromise reached by President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) that would suspend the state borrowing limit until 2025 and impose cuts to certain federal programs that are popular among Democrats.
The other two candidates, Rep. Barbara Lee and Rep. Katie Porter, both voted against the deal. Schiff cast his decision to vote in favor of the deal as something he did reluctantly but to avoid “catastrophic failure.”
Porter said “the vote misaligned the important things: preventing defaults and protecting our environment,” she wrote.
“Both of these things are non-negotiable in my eyes, but this bill was full of giveaways for big oil companies.”
For Lee, her no vote “was about standing up to the extreme MAGA Republicans who are holding our economy hostage and standing up for my constituents and the 20 million Californians who are one paycheck away from poverty.
The Times touched on another disagreement between the candidates this week. It refers to appropriations from Congress — a small but significant funding mechanism for direct infusions of cash into local communities. They are now known as Community Projects Funding, which was reinstated in 2021 after a decade-long ban in Congress.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass is using them to address homelessness and has asked LA-area members of Congress – including Schiff – to file these requests. The Burbank congressman and Lee are all in on it. Porter is the only Democrat in the House of Representatives who did not file a request during the last Congress.
Her opposition to what many conservative members call “pork” is one of the clearest differences between Congresswoman Irvine, who won a hotly contested swing district, and her two opponents who represent safe Democratic territory.
Porter argues that this method of financing can be a source of corruption, citing former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Rancho Sante Fe), who went to prison for taking millions in bribes to direct funds to certain projects.
“People in the administrative branch have all the data on what programs are working best, where the money is most needed and how best to deliver it,” Porter said. “I think they are better positioned and can do it in a more transparent and fair way.”
Several members of the California delegation noted that when earmarks were reinstated, there were new eligibility restrictions and more disclosure requirements, as well as a ban on funds going to for-profit entities.
Schiff sees it differently, asserting, “If I can help my constituents, I will, and that’s more valuable to me than a talking point.”
It’s a family thing
When California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) retires from his powerful post at the end of the month, he will leave behind a legacy as one of the state’s longest-serving legislative leaders, who helped Democrats secure stronger labor protections for gig workers, launch universal preschool and expand the climate change agenda during his seven-year term.
The Times’ Hannah Wiley and Katie Licari explain how, outside the Assembly floor, Rendon is also one half of a political power couple that includes Annie Lam, a successful consultant and nonprofit executive who has devoted her career to diversifying California politics and other institutions of power. The two flourished together during Rendon’s unusually long tenure as speaker. He has held the position longer than anyone except Willie Brown, who led the Assembly in the 1980s and 1990s.
As Rendon’s influence grew, financial and lobbying disclosures show that Lam’s consulting business similarly flourished. During the years Rendon served as speaker, Lam founded a nonprofit organization, landed several new clients and became the executive director of a total of six organizations, a job that allowed her income to grow and her public profile to rise.
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Anyone who has been listlessly scrolling through Netflix like me these days may have noticed a new series starring our former governor called FUBAR. I’m no Times film critic Justin Chang, but suffice it to say, it’s worth skipping.
What’s essential viewing is a new three-part documentary on the life and times of Arnold. It includes some familiar faces, including our very own Mark Z. Barabak who covered his term and is basically an oracle on California politics. The big revelation from the show is hearing the ex-politician reflect on his affair and the secret child that rocked California when it was discovered.
The documentary also deals with tangible claims first reported by The Times when he ran for office nearly 20 years ago. Carla Hall, one of our editors, reported on these stories and writes that “It’s interesting to hear Schwarzenegger apologize more fully in [documentary’s director Lesley] Chilcott series. Admitting that he was once on the defensive over the allegations, he says in one episode: ‘Forget all the excuses, it was wrong.’ I am glad to hear that. I hope he means it.”
Keeping up with California politics
Newsom is launching a long-running push for a gun control amendment to the US Constitution
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday called for a gun control amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban assault weapons and mandate background checks and waiting periods for firearms purchases, a long-shot proposal with little chance of passage in a nation deeply divided on the issue. .
Florida says it is responsible for transporting the migrants to Sacramento
This week, Florida officials claimed responsibility for the charter flights that carried the migrants to Sacramento, after days of silence since the first group landed in California on Friday. The transport was deemed potentially illegal by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who raised the possibility of kidnapping charges in a tweet to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday.
Police give political power in the California Capitol
After the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, California’s Democratic-controlled legislature passed a wave of new laws to change the way police officers do their jobs, from a ban on strangulation to decertification of officers with misconduct records and increased investigations into fatal police shootings. Despite those gains for progressives, law enforcement groups last week reduced their power by blocking two controversial measures and securing changes to other laws aimed at limiting the scope of their work.
How California, the land of Nixon and Reagan, turned blue and changed American politics
In 1992, the five-term Arkansas governor became the first Democratic presidential candidate in nearly three decades to carry California, the political birthplace of Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Few, if any, saw Clinton’s victory in California as the beginning of a political realignment; he won only 46% of the vote. But his victory and a runoff in 1996 — the product of relentless courting and a firehose of federal spending — helped paint California a lasting shade of blue and dramatically reshape the race for the White House.
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