Presidential Campaigns, California Style

October 12, 2011 · Filed Under CA Politics, Elections · 2 Comments 

Getty/Darren McCollester

As Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has ramped up his rhetoric on the topic of illegal immigration in the 2012 race for the White House, you can forgive California political watchers if they feel a sense of déjà vu.

Not just on the issue itself: we actually heard almost the exact same words and phrases in the 2010 race for governor.
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Brown Paddles Left, Right on Bills

Getty/Justin Sullivan

It is easily the most familiar (and perhaps overused) shorthand for Governor Jerry Brown's philosophy of governance and politics. And yet Brown's self-described "canoe theory" seems to have stood the test of time, with his paddling skills put to the test this past week navigating Capitol waters thick with hundreds of pieces of legislation.

For now, the paddle has been laid down, as has the signing pen, giving the public the chance to gauge whether Brown's path was straight or wildly off course.
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Message or Messenger? California GOP Wrestles With Answer

September 18, 2011 · Filed Under CA Politics, Political Parties and Independents · 3 Comments 

NOTE TO READERS: This will the last blogging until early October, as I take a break from the Capitol and political coverage. I also hope to bring back the weekly podcast at that time, which so many of you have asked about (and thank you, by the way!). See you in three weeks. --JM

Getty/Kevork Djansezian

LOS ANGELES -- The only thing more reliable at gatherings of the California Republican Party than intraparty warfare has been the familiar groan of the GOP faithful when asked, "What's wrong with the party?"

And perhaps that's what made this weekend's fall convention so unusual. No longer was it something talked about quietly or when pressed by reporters. This time it was a dominant theme... so much so that, at times, there seemed to be a collective therapy session for a party that some say has fallen to the level of "regional" political entity rather than actual statewide movement.
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Reporter's Notebook: Bill-o-Rama!

September 12, 2011 · Filed Under CA Government, CA Politics, Elections, Taxes · 6 Comments 

California's state legislators have gone home, leaving in their wake hundreds of bills either ratified or rejected. They have also, for the time being, shut down their interparty warfare operations... which gives us a moment to open up a raft of questions about why things played out the way they did these last few weeks.

Which begs a cleaning out of the Reporter's Notebook for the 2011 legislative session, and the bills that drove much of the narrative of the final days.
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Good Government or Political Power Play?

September 9, 2011 · Filed Under Ballot Measures, CA Politics, Elections · 2 Comments 

Getty/David McNew

After a debate on everything from fixing direct democracy to allegations of welshing on a deal, the Legislature approved legislation on its final day that strips June statewide ballots of initiative measures and -- in an unrelated move -- delays a pending ballot measure to beef up the state's rainy day fund.

The measure, if signed into law, would have major political ramifications... most notably, for several Republican-backed measures now expecting a shot at the June 2012 primary election.
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5 Questions I Wasn't Supposed to Think About on Vacation

September 6, 2011 · Filed Under Ballot Measures, CA Budget, CA Government, CA Politics · Comments Off 

There's a sort of unwritten, and yet often violated rule, when my family goes on vacation: don't keep checking your smartphone. I didn't break it too often while visiting my waterlogged family on the coast of North Carolina this past week, but the peeks I took left me with some nagging questions.

And the questions will no doubt shape my approach as a reporter to the upcoming final four days of the 2011 legislative year here in Sacramento.

In no particular order...
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Poll: Longer Legislative Terms, Stronger Initiative System

August 22, 2011 · Filed Under CA Government, CA Politics, Elections · 2 Comments 

Getty/Justin Sullivan

If a unique gathering of Californians for a weekend full of talks about government proved anything, it may be that the best chance for consensus lies in the what's most absent in politics: substantive dialogue.

On the last weekend in June, 412 citizens from around the state gathered in Torrance to discuss what's wrong with California's system of governance and how it might be fixed. This morning, the backers of the event released their findings at a news conference in Sacramento.

Tops on the list: longer legislative terms, an initiative process that allows for amendments by citizens but not by politicians, and a focus on performance measures for state government.
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Refer Madness 2012

August 18, 2011 · Filed Under Ballot Measures, CA Politics, Elections · 1 Comment 

Getty/David McNew

Whether most voters realize it or not, the vast majority of measures that appear on the ballot in statewide elections ask them to authorize a brand new law. Rarely are voters asked to approve or reject a standing law.

And that's why the current crop of proposed ballot measures is so unusual: so far, five petitions offer voters the chance in 2012 to scrap statutes and other government decisions via a ballot referendum.
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Redistricting Maps Official. Soon, Officially Challenged.

August 15, 2011 · Filed Under Ballot Measures, CA Politics, Elections · 2 Comments 

KQED/John Myers

You'd be hard pressed to describe the mood of most members of California's first-ever independent redistricting effort as anything other than relieved -- relieved that a very long and complex process has come to its official end with certification of 177 newly created political districts.

But their relief didn't come without a very public airing of some internal commission disagreements, ones which we may hear more about as critics of the maps mount formal challenges in the coming weeks.
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For Some, Redistricting is Splitsville

August 14, 2011 · Filed Under CA Politics, Elections · 2 Comments 

Rose Institute Web Image

Even with testimony from the public and formal guidelines written into law, California's first-ever citizens redistricting effort has found no easy answers to the question, "What is a community?"

And so, in the statewide maps being certified Monday morning, some will see their communities split between political districts. Others will be lumped together with communities with which they think they have nothing in common.
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