Photo: Craig Miller/KQED
If you're like me, there are those days you always remember in your life... days where fate kindly turned you the right way. For me the list includes February 10, 2003 -- the day I signed on as the guy in Sacramento for KQED Public Radio and The California Report.
Within weeks, I was on the hottest political story in a generation -- the recall of a sitting governor -- and by my first anniversary, I was forever hooked on public radio.
Today, after more than nine years, I'm signing off.
California's real political colors, says a new report (Graphic: PPIC)
For years, we've talked about how the national color coded shorthand for California politics is overly simplistic. Yes, the state may be "blue" in total votes cast in some races -- presidential, most notably -- but the real color palette of California is far more complicated.
Which is where a new academic study comes in, one that shows just how politically complicated we Californians really are.
Republicans party the weekend away in Burlingame. (Photo: John Myers/KQED)
BURLINGAME-- This weekend's gathering of the California Republican Party provided another example of how hard it must be for a political party to dig itself out of a deep popularity hole, when every option comes with a downside.
Throw the party's base supporters some choice red meat... and risk that persuadable voters who tune into the media coverage recoil. But tamp down the fiery rhetoric in hopes of projecting a "kinder, gentler" image... and risk leaving the party faithful full of accusations that moderates are trying to water down the GOP brand.
'Tis a dilemma to be sure.
Hello, San Diego! (Photo: John Myers/KQED)
SAN DIEGO -- At every turn in the early hours of this 2012 California Democratic Party convention, you could hear party leaders urge the donkey-loving conventioneers to unite and fight. And yet even on day one, there were clear signs that there's a lot for Dems to sort out before it's all over... a lot of debating before they can come together for the election season ahead.
And the issues to debate come down to cash (as in taxes) and candidates.
You don't get many political multi-tasking days like this one: heated debate over legislation down to its final day to survive, a new alarm over the state's finances, and public disclosure of all the campaign cash raised by candidates and campaigns in 2011.
The Democratic faithful cast early, early votes. (Photo via Twitter by Jason Moore)
For casual political watchers, it may be hard to believe that small gatherings of diehard Democrats in January will decide who wins races for the Legislature or Congress come November.
And yet, in some cases, that's exactly what could happen after this weekend. Welcome to the world of intraparty competition under California's new primary election rules.
The November election could feature a slugfest over an initiative focused on money in politics. (Photo: Getty/David McNew)
While talk about California's November ballot has focused largely on tax proposals or possible social and criminal justice measures, watch for the real political slugfest to be over an issue near and dear to the hearts of organized labor: union dues deducted from members' paychecks.
And the size of that slugfest may play a large role in determining the fate of other measures -- including Governor Jerry Brown's pitch for higher taxes.
"California is on the mend," said Gov. Jerry Brown in his State of the State speech. (Photo: Justin Short/Governor's Office)
If there's one takeaway from Governor Jerry Brown
's 2012 State of the State address, it may be this: Brown faces the unique task this year of preaching both boldness and austerity... all at the same time.
The governor's roughly 20 minute speech before a joint session of the Legislature was a creative cocktail that blended a defense of his tax plan, the state's need for big thinking, and -- at times, it seemed -- the very reputation of his native California.
"Contrary to those declinists, who sing of Texas and bemoan our woes, California is still the land of dreams," said Brown before rattling off a list of what makes the Golden State one of a kind.
"Numbers don't lie," said McCarthy in pointing out several recent analyses critical of California's plans for high speed rail. (Photo: KQED/John Myers)
For the man whose Central Valley hometown is supposed to be an anchor point in the first construction phase of high speed rail, Rep. Kevin McCarthy
seems intent on doing everything he can do block the project.
And given McCarthy is the third highest ranking member of the GOP congressional leadership, he may be able to do a lot.
"I think it's a bad investment," the House majority whip on Monday afternoon during a wide-ranging interview in Sacramento with a group of Capitol reporters.
A new year has arrived and, now that we've closed the book on 2011, here's a glimpse into the crystal ball at what might be some of the interesting things around the bend in California politics for 2012.
Yes, some of them are more likely than others. But foresight isn't 20/20, so take this with all of the appropriate caveats.
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