An Agenda to Make California’s GOP Relevant Again

CA GOPCalifornia’s Republican party has nothing to lose. They’ve lost every battleground district. The Democrats are going to do whatever they want in the Legislature. Corporate interests are cultivating competing factions among the Democrats. All the smart money is with the Democrats, because the Republicans don’t matter anymore. California’s GOP should seize this opportunity. This is a tremendous moment.

How often does any organization have the chance to experiment wildly, to try something radical, to risk everything, because they have nothing to lose? That’s what faces California’s GOP today. The GOP airplane is in a nose dive. Finding a pilot who will give the plane a soft landing, or prolong the time until the crash, accomplishes nothing. Push the throttle. Pull some Gs. Stress the airframe. Take a chance. Because otherwise you’re dead.

Trump, for all his tactless bombast and alarming disregard for convention in almost all things, has stimulated political engagement at a level not seen in the last 50 years. Trump’s ability to challenge the premises of America’s uni-party elite on the issues of trade, immigration, foreign interventions and “climate change,” along with his disregard for the pieties of libertarians and socialists, and his indifference to the encroachments of political correctness – all this may eventually be recognized as having had an extremely healthy impact on America at a critical time.

There are issues specific to California that can “make California great again.” It is not necessary for California’s GOP to select all of these issues. They can pick and choose. All of them address the greatest inequity that Californians confront, but never solve – the criminally high, utterly contrived, scandalously avoidable, punitive cost-of-living in this state.

To make California affordable again, a new, unafraid, assertive California GOP would have to rethink its ideological underpinnings. It would have to violate many socialist and libertarian taboos in favor of pragmatic choices reminiscent of 1950’s California, when vast sums of government funds were applied with an efficiency that makes mockery of today’s tangle of bureaucratic delays and interminable lawsuits.

For example. it isn’t heresy to use government funds, from bonds or operating budgets, to subsidize infrastructure. What’s needed, however, is a determination to set priorities that benefit the people of California, and a willingness to fight through waves of endless litigation to score precedent setting court victories. Doing this will help ensure that most of the money spent in subsequent projects will go to people who operate heavy equipment, instead of most of it paying people who sit in front of keyboards. Some of these priorities might themselves be heretical, or anathema to special interests, but here goes….

Education

Enact school choice. Don’t just fight a rear guard action protecting the beleaguered charter schools. Approve school vouchers and allow competition between traditional public schools, charters, parochial schools, and private schools. Quit tiptoeing around this issue. California’s public schools are failing. Turn the state into a laboratory for education, and let parents choose which schools their children will attend. A lot of pedagogical debates would be settled pronto, if principals and teachers were able to run their schools any which way they wanted, yet were held absolutely accountable by the parents.

Enforce the Vergara reforms so it is easier to retain quality public school teachers and easier to fire the incompetent ones.

Offer vocational training in the trades as an option for high school students after age 15, including private sector funded apprenticeships for high school credit. Look to the European systems for examples.

Restore the balance in California’s colleges and universities so that the ratio of faculty to administrators is 2-to-1, instead of the current ratio that allows administrators often to outnumber teachers.

End all discrimination and base college admissions purely on merit. Expand STEM curricula so it represents 40-50 percent of college majors instead of the current 15-20 percent. In all publicly funded institutions of higher education, fold all of ethnic and gender “studies” majors into the traditional fields of history and sociology. Consolidate these majors and reduce the number of enrollments to make room for more STEM enrollments.

Get rid of all of the horribly misguided campus “safe spaces” and other malevolent hate-nurturing segregationist boondoggles. Stop appeasing the professional race hustlers. Tell the truth to people of color – California is the best place in the world to thrive, California is a tolerant, diverse society, and all this victim mongering will not make society better and will not make you successful or happy. Say this loud and proud and never back down. Fire the entire diversity bureaucracy.

Criminal Justice and Immigration

Restructure the penal system to make it easier for prisoners to perform useful public services. For example. along with working the fire lines during fire season, they could work all year clearing dead trees out of California’s forests. Use high-tech monitoring devices to reduce costs. Reserve current prisons only for the truly incorrigible.

Support comprehensive federal immigration reform that includes merit based legal immigration, and attenuates chain migration. Support something, anything, that squelches illegal immigration. If that’s not a border wall, then push for stronger employer verification. Quit agreeing with the Democrats. This is not a “manufactured problem.” It is not in the interests of American citizens, especially in low income communities, to continue to allow the entry of unskilled immigrants – legal or illegal – and the only people who don’t accept this are either denying basic economics or they are part of a special interest group. Come to some reasonable accommodation with ICE.

Transportation

Add at least one lane to every major interstate in California, and upgrade and resurface all state highways. Widen and upgrade roads up and down the state. Kill High Speed Rail.

Begin investigating and facilitating private sector rollout of next generation transportation solutions, including coordinating development of aerial taxi corridors as well as high speed “hyperlanes” for next generation smart electric cars. Prepare for the advent of flying cars, self driving cars, share cars, ride hailing, micro-transit companies, and high speed cars.

Water

Complete plant upgrades so that 100 percent of California’s sewage is reused, even treated to potable quality. Kill the Delta Tunnel(s) and do seismic upgrades on the Delta levees instead – that will have to be done regardless. Build a hatchery to replenish Delta Smelt.

Unlock water markets. If farmers had the right to sell their water allotments without risking losing their historical water rights, municipalities would never have shortages of water. It’s truly that simple, because California’s total urban water consumption – all of it, residential, commercial, industrial – is less than 7 million acre feet per year, whereas farmers in California consume on average over 30 million acre feet per year.

Pass legislation to streamline approval of the proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach, and fast-track applications for additional desalination plants, especially in Los Angeles.

Spend the entire proceeds of the $7 billion water bond, passed overwhelmingly by Californians in 2014, on storage. Build the Los Banos GrandesSites, and Temperance Flat reservoirs, adding over 5.0 million acre feet of storage to the California Water Project. Support federal efforts to raise Shasta Dam. Pass aggressive legislation and fund aggressive legal actions and counteractions, to lower costs and enable completion of these projects in under five years (which is all the time it used to take to complete similar projects).

Work towards a grand bargain on water policy where environmentalists accept a few more reservoirs and desalination plants in exchange for plentiful water allocations to threatened ecosystems, farmers pay more for water in exchange for undiminished quantities, and taxpayers bear the burden of some new debt in exchange for permanent access to affordable, secure, and abundant water.

Energy

Permit slant drilling to access 12 trillion cubic feet of natural gas deposits from land-based rigs along the Southern California coast. Build an LNG terminal off the coast in Ventura County to export California’s natural gas to foreign markets. Permit development of the Monterey Shale formation to extract oil and gas. Permit construction of new natural gas power plants.

Promote nuclear power as a solution that not only makes the dawning electric age – from electric cars to rampant, exponentially multiplying bitcoin mining operations – utterly feasible. Nuclear power is only costly because permits and regulations and insurance premiums (mostly to insure against the cost of lawsuits, not actual hazardous calamities) are artificially elevated. Retrofit and reopen San Onofre. Keep Diablo Canyon on line and add capacity. Permit construction of “generation 3+” nuclear power plants and prototype micro-reactors.

Housing and the Homeless

Unlock open land for development. Quit acting like there’s not a single square mile of open space that isn’t sacred to the environment. California has over 25,000 square miles of cattle ranch land. If just one-third of that land were developed, California’s urban footprint would double. There’s plenty of room. Subsidize practical new public infrastructure (i.e., roads, not “light rail”) throughout new regions opened up for land development.

Repeal the 2006 “Global Warming Solutions Act” and “Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act” of 2008 and make it easy for developers to build homes on the suburban and exurban fringes, instead of just “in-fill” that destroys existing neighborhoods. Cancel the war on the single family dwelling, and allow developers (or in some cases even require them) to build homes with large yards again. Repeal excessive building codes such as mandatory photo-voltaic roof panels. Create a regulatory environment that encourages private investment in new housing developments instead of discouraging it.

Allow police to enforce vagrancy laws, even if it means expensive corrective litigation going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Build inexpensive tent cities for the homeless. Some cities in California have already had success with this tactic. The corrupt and futile opposite extreme is to construct “permanent supportive housing” which in Los Angeles has cost over $400,000 per apartment unit.

Pensions and Infrastructure

Require California’s public employee pension funds to invest a minimum of 10 percent of their assets in infrastructure projects as noted above. They could issue fixed rate bonds or take equity positions in the revenue-producing projects, or a combination of both. This would immediately unlock approximately $80 billion in construction financing to rebuild California’s infrastructure. At the same time, save the pension systems by striking down the “California Rule” that prevents meaningful pension reform.

Once the California Rule is abolished, prospectively reduce pension multipliers to pre-1999 levels for all future work for all employees, existing as well as new hires. That, along with defending the reforms of PEPRA, might be all it would take.

Vision and Leadership Will Save California’s Republicans

Until California’s GOP is willing to embrace bold policies that will offer California’s struggling middle and low income communities opportunities for upwards mobility, they will remain irrelevant. It isn’t enough to “join together.” It isn’t enough to secure some reliable flow of donor support. To thrive, a political party needs to have a distinct vision of the future, a policy agenda that will achieve that future, and leaders that understand and can express that vision. Those qualities are more important than money. Meg Whitman proved that.

An important reason Democrats win is because they invariably speak with moral authority, whether they deserve it or not. But the moral worth of Democratic policies is shallow. In the name of earth justice and social justice, they have made California the most inhospitable place in America for low and middle income residents. The Democrats are incapable of compromising on their rhetoric or their policies. They are locked into the ideological straight-jackets of climate change hysteria and identity politics. The Republicans must demonstrate their ability to find the balance that Democrats are incapable of finding. They must promote and enact policies, some examples of which have just been described, that challenge some of the premises of environmentalism and social justice. There is a moral value to providing opportunity by making California affordable. There is a moral value to instilling pride by abandoning race and gender preferences. There is a moral value to embracing policies of abundance – by turning the private sector loose to increase the supply of housing, energy, water, et al. – rather than creating politically contrived artificial scarcity.

One very encouraging sign at California’s state GOP convention of February 2019 was how diverse the attendees have become. Democrats should find this very alarming, because the so-called “people of color” at the GOP convention were not part of the rent seeking coalition that Democrats have built, looking for reparations and entitlements to compensate for their supposedly disadvantaged status. These were confident, self-sufficient individuals, who valued the opportunity to compete and succeed on their own merits. There were hundreds of Latinos, Sikhs, Indian Americans, African Americans, Asians. More of them than ever, they came to Sacramento to be among fellow Republicans. This should not only trouble Democrats, perhaps it should also trouble establishment Republicans, because nearly all of them were enthusiastic Trump supporters.

If you were at the GOP convention last weekend, you could have talked to a Latino whose cousin has a ranch in the Rio Grande Valley. He would have told you why we need border security. You also could have talked to an African American grandmother who has watched hope return to members of her extended family, because they have good jobs in the Trump economy. These people are proud Americans. They don’t want to be patronized or appeased, and more and more, they see right through the Democrat’s game. They want the tough truth. Because honest hard work, reckoned by immutable and evenly applied standards, is the only true pathway to achievement. They are waiting for Republican leadership to fight to make California great again, not attempt to become Democrat-lite.

The themes that will capture new voters can’t just be marketed as “bold.” They have to be bold. There is an alternative vision, embracing solutions, not just identifying problems. It can incorporate some or all of the agenda just set forth. But it will mean launching a sustained assault on the government unions, the extreme environmentalists and their allies, the plaintiff’s bar, and the social justice fanatics that have taken over public education. It will require challenging not their lofty idealism or their proclaimed altruism, but their premises and their methods.

No, we are not running out of land, energy or water, and yes, we will entitle vast tracts of open land for development and build infrastructure including dams and desalination plants and encourage private sector investment partners.

No, if we don’t go “100 percent renewable” by 2050 the planet will not burn up, and yes, we will develop natural gas reserves and build nuclear power plants.

No, we will no longer admit unqualified students to colleges and universities, and yes, we will establish uniform admissions requirements, reserving our enrollments for the finest students in the world.

No, we will not tolerate mediocre results in our public schools, and yes, we will fight for school choice, vouchers, charters, and eliminate union work rules that prevent dismissing bad teachers and protect good teachers if layoffs occur.

No, we will not allow pensions to bankrupt the state, and yes, we will restore pension benefits going forward to pre-1999 formulas, and we will require California’s pension funds to invest at least 10 percent of their assets in California infrastructure projects.

For every no, there is a yes. For every problem, there is a solution. And the moral worth of these solutions must be asserted unflinchingly. These solutions will create opportunity for all Californians. Fighting for these solutions is risky. It will invite a furious response from the entire Democratic machine. But it could work. And it’s the right thing to do.

Edward Ring is a co-founder of the California Policy Center and served as its first president.

What Needs to Change for California Republicans to Survive

CA GOPThe shellacking California Republicans received on November 6 can certainly be attributed to a variety of factors unrelated to the party’s messaging or political infrastructure. Obviously, the enormous demographic changes that have occurred in the Golden State over the last several decades played an important part in seeing GOP representation in the Assembly, for example, slashed by one-half since the halcyon days of 1994 when the party briefly seized control of the lower house of the Legislature. As uncontrolled immigration takes its toll and older, conservative white voters flee the state, a party wedded to those voters will ultimately pay the price of inexorable electoral decline. The massive liberalization of voting rules to even include Election Day “ballot harvesting” also played a part as the Democrats’  formidable union-paid GOTV machine can now overcome Republican leads on Election Night through “late” votes that continue to be counted weeks beyond the day and hour when the polls actually close.

There probably is little that can be done to reverse the demographic transformation of California. Even if a Border Wall is eventually built, the horse has already left the stable and the ironclad Democrat hyper-majority in Sacramento will ensure that its ready supply of Democrat voters-in-waiting across the border will receive their voter registration forms the moment they set foot (legally or illegally) on U.S. soil. And, taxpayer-paid health care, housing and education awaits the party’s new charges as they arrive in the once-Golden State. While Republicans can probably count on as much as 30% of the Latino vote in elections, it is highly questionable how high that number can rise unless the GOP simply abandons its core political principles and moves left to outflank the Democrats in offering more free goodies to the immigrant caravans. Trying to reform the “loosey-goosey” election laws Speaker Paul Ryan referred to is out of the question as Republican numbers in the new Legislature are more appropriate to caucusing in a telephone booth than enacting policy.

So, where does the California Republican Party go now? I have heard various ideas, from blowing up the entire party and starting over to organizing a new political party entirely. These are radical, impractical solutions.

What should happen is to examine the avenues of opportunities that still exist in the state that are somewhat independent of the iron hand of the Democrat Party’s autocratic control as well as addressing the amazingly weak CRP strategy at the grassroots level. In short, a return to Hiram Johnson-style popular democracy and a new focus on city and county political organizing.

With the Legislature and statewide offices out of reach for the foreseeable future, the CRP needs to refocus on initiative, referenda and recall as the way to short-circuit the Democrats in Sacramento and enact positive public policy. This is what Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann did with Proposition 13 in 1978. This route was used repeatedly throughout the 1980s and 1990s to enact tax and spending limits and criminal justice reforms (“Three Strikes,” etc.). And, despite the shrinking pool of reliably red voters, Proposition 6 would have likely passed this year had it not been for Xavier Beccera’s deliberately deceptive ballot language.

The CRP needs to invest resources in a program of initiative qualification and enactment, including legal counsel, signature-gathering campaigns and successful fundraising. A range of popular issues that could be conceivably passed at the ballot box even in a deeply-blue state should be identified and vetted by the campaign attorneys. In addition to circumventing legislative Democrats, such a strategy could stimulate voter enthusiasm and turnout for our candidates, recruit volunteers, and, at a minimum, advance a serious policy agenda that is sorely lacking. Recall of elected officials should also be on the table, as it is a tool that the CRP has often used successfully in recent decades (most recently with state Sen. Josh Newman). Blanket the state with popular initiatives with cross-party appeal and go after legislators who have clearly gone off the deep end.

Even more critical is to return to the grassroots, the cities and counties. Have you ever looked at a political map of California? Is it all blue? Hardly. It is actually mostly red. Most California counties voted for Donald Trump and John Cox. The problem is these are the small, inland, sparsely-populated rural counties. The population-heavy San Francisco, Santa Clara and Los Angeles regions are, of course, overwhelmingly Democrat. The question arises: Why are we not doing a better job harnessing the strengths we do have at the local level to develop candidates and even promote ballot measures at the city and county level?

Actually, Republicans have done a reasonably good job in recent years at capturing local offices, such as school boards, city councils, mayors and county supervisors. In the past, we largely ignored these offices and allowed the opposition to build its “farm team.” The beauty of these local offices is that they are officially non-partisan, permitting Republican candidates to downplay their party affiliation and laser in on important city- and county-specific issues that often lack any firm partisan boundaries (development and growth issues, for example).

While Republicans have had some success at the down-ballot level, they have failed miserably at using those offices and officeholders to build any kind of effective or long-lasting local political infrastructure. The GOP central committees are largely irrelevant in many counties and the constant infighting usually discourages and drives away promising candidates rather than recruiting them. Most committees are too poorly-funded to offer any candidate more than a smile and a pat on the back; they have no permanent political structure of consultants, field organizers, volunteers, donors, phone banks, voter lists, slates, sign locations, or the other important resources candidates need. They have no field or GOTV operations. In many cases, they even lack a permanent campaign office.

The Democrats are fortunate in that their local political operations are drawn from the unions, public employee and others. The unions have established local political structures and networks that are automatically plugged in to Democrat candidates, giving them a huge advantage in many parts of the state. They have the precinct walkers, doorbell ringers, and phone bank volunteers; we don’t.

The solution? The California Republican Party needs to invest in a dramatic ramp-up of its presence at the city and county level:

— Develop county Republican Resource Centers to provide local candidates with the services and campaign infrastructure needed to wage viable campaigns, from volunteer lists to donor lists, campaign software, precinct maps and phone bank centers. These resources would be provided at no cost and can be shared among many candidates.

— Start devolving the political consultant community out of Sacramento where it has presided over the complete collapse of Republican congressional and legislative representation in the state over the last two decades. Contract with local Republican consultants who know their regions and have winning track records there

— Use the business community to counter the power of the labor community. Develop relationships with local businesses and employers to create a political infrastructure rivaling what the unions offer the other side. Reach out to the realtors, farm bureaus, grower-shipper associations and other bodies which have members, donors and facilities. Ever heard of running phone banks from a real estate office or produce sales office instead of a union hall?

— Start focusing on fundraising at the grassroots. Republican fundraising consultants in California are about as rare as Jeff Flake at a MAGA rally. No one is out there raising local money for local candidates. Again, the top-heavy approach of Sacramento PAC fundraisers setting up dinners at Frank Fat’s does nothing to help a candidate running for the Tulare County Board of Supervisors.

— Start building candidate development committees in every county, a body of respected party elders and donors who are plugged in to the business community and can raise money for candidates they identify as promising prospects. Unless we have funded candidates, we lose. It simply isn’t enough to simply have the right philosophy.

In the desolate 2018 political wasteland that is California, the Republican Party is doomed if it continues along the same course it has for years. The top-down strategy of a burned-out political consultant class in Sacramento running the show isn’t working any more. It is said that “all political roads in California lead to Sacramento.” Well, those roads are now blocked to Republicans. For a rebirth of our prospects here, we need to start taking the back roads that run through Paso Robles, Gilroy, Hanford, Manteca and Modesto. Go local or die!

Andrew Russo is a Republican political consultant based in Hollister, CA. He owns Paramount Communications. He can be reached at russo@winwithparamount.com or 831-595-8914.

Making the DMV Audit a Reality

dmv

Motorists across the state have had to wait in hours-long lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to register their vehicle or license renewal. Some have spent an entire day waiting in line. Upset drivers have flooded my office with calls and emails.

To make matters worse, DMV personnel mangled 23,000 voter registrations. How did this happen?

In 2015, Democrats passed the Motor Voter Law, directing the DMV to automatically register new voters, unless they choose to opt out. State Senate Republicans warned that this would be problematic. At the time, my colleagues and I expressed our concerns of adding to an already overburdened workload at the DMV. Furthermore, the DMV is the wrong venue to register new voters since this is not the agency’s area of expertise.

Three years later, we learn that tens of thousands of Californians have been registered to vote even though they did not want to be registered. The DMV also made “mistakes” that assigned some voters a different political party preference than the one they chose. We sincerely hope this was not a case of voter fraud.

Once again, the DMV is the state agency that just can’t get it right. It already has been criticized by the public for long wait times, which it blames on an antiquated computer system and the federal REAL ID law – passed in 2005 and set to be implemented by 2020.

Before the legislative session concluded in August, a group of Assembly Republicans called for an audit of the DMV. At the Joint Committee on Legislative Audit hearing, DMV Director Jean Shiomoto apologized for the long wait times, asked for more money and reassured lawmakers that the problem would be corrected by the end of the year. The request for an audit failed after some Democrats did not vote for it.

The public has lost confidence in the DMV.

It has mishandled its core mission, along with a long list of problems including the erroneous registration of voter affidavits. Something needs to be done to regain that trust. The best way to do so is for the DMV to undergo a nonpartisan audit, which would reveal the extent of its problems and suggest recommendations for fixing them.

Enough excuses. Let’s audit the DMV now.

California State Senate.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

GOP Votes Give Jerry Brown Big Win on Cap-and-Trade

jerry-brownThe “shadow presidency” of California Governor Jerry Brown scored a win Monday night as eight Republican legislators crossed the political aisle and voted with most Democrats to extend a key component of the “cap-and-trade” program that has literally shifted $4.42 billion from the private sector to the government since mid-2012.

While a lot of politicking went into rounding up the votes for the cap-and -trade extension among both political party caucuses in both chambers, it was clear that Governor Brown had enough political capital, along with a willingness to “strategically target” the spending of cap-and-trade tax dollars to woo Democrats.

So in the final days preceding a vote, much of the attention was focused on Republican legislators. Because it is a tax increase, the bill required a two-thirds vote to pass. Democrats have barely over two-thirds in either chamber and so, in theory, could have passed it without a solitary GOP vote. But Democrats were not 100% unified, and also at least one Democrat in the State Assembly was going to be absent this week on a long-planned family vacation, meaning at least one GOP vote would be needed in the lower house.

On the GOP side it was a David vs. Goliath situation, with a small coalition of small business and taxpayer advocates, as well as GOP groups like the Orange County Lincoln Club. They were out-gunned and out-spent, up against many well-heeled interests, including the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Manufacturing and Technology Association, and others. (Big businesses can handle navigating a cap-and-trade system, and largely pass along the costs to consumers. The small- and medium-sized businesses suffer the most, and of course taxpayers in general.) Those billions and billions in taxes paid to the California Air Resources Board drive up the costs of so many products — most notably gas and electricity prices: it is estimated that by the early 2020s, cape-and-trade will be adding over 70 cents to the price of a gallon of gasoline. In the end Goliath won, with more than enough Republicans voting for the extension.

Ultimately eight Republican legislators voted to extend the multi-billion dollar tax: State Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Stanislaus), and Assemblymembers Catherine Baker (R-Walnut Creek), Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside), Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), Health Flora (R-Modesto), Devin Mathis (R-Visalia), Mark Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga), and Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley), the latter being the Assembly Republican Leader.

While much attention will be paid to the “Crazy 8” (as they are already being called) Republicans who voted to extend this draconian program, it is significant to note that 34 GOP legislators voted against it, with a good number of them speaking out on the floors of their respective legislative chambers. Perhaps none spoke as eloquently as State Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford), who said, in part, “I represent the poorest district in the state. I cannot, in good conscience, vote for yet another bill that will raise gasoline and electricity rates on the poorest of the poor.  Let’s be honest, this is a tax — and a regressive one at that! Then where does the money go? It goes to rebates for rich folks who buy a Tesla. Billions go to the boondoggle that is high-speed rail, which is a gross polluter, now and for decades to come — again, off of the backs of the poor who currently live in energy poverty.”

Interestingly, the political win for Assembly Democrats wasn’t just in passing the cap-and-trade extension, but also the fact that so many Republicans voted for the bill that Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) was able to let three of his targeted members, who are occupying seats the GOP would like to pick back up, either not vote at all or vote no. A big strategic blunder for Assembly Republicans.

After the vote was held, despite the fact that over two-thirds of Assembly Republicans voted against the bill, a gleeful Assembly GOP Leader Chad Mayes spoke in a press conference with Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders as they celebrated the passage of a package of the legislation. Mayes could hardly contain himself as he touted that with this legislation “we lowered taxes, we reduced costs, we reduced regulations – and at the same time we are going to protect our environment.”

You may ask how a two-thirds vote to raise taxes for this program for another decade could lower taxes, reduce costs and reduce regulations? Apparently Mayes and other Republicans justified their votes by imagining what it would be like if, in the absence of cap-and-trade, Democrats implemented a different and worse system. The “lowering” and “reducing” Mayes refers to are the imaginary savings achieved because the other, allegedly worse regimen of regulation, was averted.

Mayes went on to say: “We believe that markets are better than Soviet style-command and control. We believe that markets are better than the government coercing people into doing things they don’t want to do… .”

Apparently Mayes believes that when the government creates Soviet-style limits on resources but leaves people with the freedom to exist in a world of artificial scarcity on their own terms, that is not command and control.  This is analogous to having a hundred people but food for only ten, and choosing which ten get the food, versus simply putting ten meals in the room and letting the hundred people figure it out themselves.

With the cap-and-trade vote now in the rear-view mirror, it remains to see what the political fallout will be. If 2009 is any guide, which was the last time a small group of six GOP legislators crossed party lines to vote for a massive tax increase, all six legislators ended up paying a steep political price. Both legislative leaders lost their leadership posts.

Either way, the California GOP has a unique messaging problem for next year, having provided support for a multi-billion dollar carbon emissions tax.

Jon Fleischman is the Politics Editor for Breitbart California. His columns appear regularly on this page. Follow Jon on Twitter here.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

NeverTrump’s Nemesis: California Delegation to Republican Convention

U.S. Republican presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump speaks at a veteran's rally in Des Moines, Iowa January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking - RTX24HM9

CLEVELAND, Ohio — California was the state where Ted Cruz was going to make his last, decisive stand against Donald Trump for the Republican nomination. Instead, the California delegation to the Republican National Convention is Donald Trump’s doomsday weapon.

The state’s 172 delegates were almost entirely “hand-picked by Trump,” the Sacramento Bee reports. And the sheer size of the delegation — the convention’s largest — makes it an effective tool for Trump to use to stop any “NeverTrump” insurgency at the convention.

The California contingent has been housed far away from the convention site, 60 miles west of Cleveland, in the Lake Erie town of Sandusky. The venue: the Kalahari water park and resort, where the drought-conscious Californian delegation might enjoy the sight of precious fresh water being wasted in every direction. (Some were not so impressed by the atmosphere, reminiscent of  National Lampoon’s Vacation: “It reminds me of a bad Chevy Chase movie,” one delegate told the Bee.)

Yet the delegation will be seated in the front rows for the duration of the convention, because it will present the most visible and enthusiastic bloc of Trump supporters in the Quicken Loans Arena.

The San Francisco Chronicle elaborates:

The 172-member California delegation, the nation’s largest, is Trump’s designated enforcer.

“We are the backstop,” California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte — in Hawaiian shirt — told me near the Zanzibar.

“If you want to mess, bring it on,” Trump’s California state director, Tim Clark — in flip-flops and shorts — explained. “This delegation was built for a fight. If the Never Trumpers want to start something, they have to go through us.”

Some members of the delegation have been on the Trump train forever; some, like Republican National Committeeman Shaun Steel, once called Trump a “clown” but now feel he is the best, and the only, alternative to Hillary Clinton. And one delegate, billionaire Peter Thiel — who is not staying in Sandusky — has a prime time speaking slot on the last night of the convention, when Trump accepts the GOP nomination.

The delegation has come a long way from early April, when the Cruz campaign mockedTrump’s California operation, predicting that Trump would fail to find enough delegates in each of the state’s 53 congressional districts.

Today, the delegation is strong, loyal, and — as even the East Bay Times observed — diverse, with youth, women, and minorities all represented amply.

Even the Chronicle acknowledged that the delegation’s vibe has changed. No longer is it made up of the “white-haired state senators” and “the political fanboys,” but grassroots activists like Rachel Casey, the woman who was infamously assaulted by anti-Trump demonstrators in full view of the media last month.

California was once among the states most skeptical of Trump. Today, in Cleveland, it is Trump’s most loyal.

Republicans hope that the rest of the party catches the same spirit.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, will be published by Regnery on July 25 and is available for pre-order through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This piece was originally published by Breitbart.com

Record Voter Registration in California

As reported by the Wall Street Journal:

LOS ANGELES—Amid a surge in voter interest stoked by the presidential race, nearly 18 million Californians had registered to vote by Tuesday’s elections—the highest number ever for any state before a primary, according to the California Secretary of State’s office.

That figure compares with about 17.2 million registered voters before the state’s 2012 presidential primaries, according to the office.

California officials reported a boom in residents registering as Democrats within the last 45 days of the sign-up period before Tuesday’s primary. During that time about 500,000 Californians newly registered or re-registered as Democrats, 136,000 as Republicans and 60,000 without a party preference.

Of all the state’s registered voters, the office said 44.8% are Democrats, 27.3% Republicans and 23.3% have no party affiliation. Minor-party registrations make up the rest. …

Click here to read the full article

Current One-Party System is Bad for California

californiaTechnically speaking, California’s political system is a “two party system,” but that is largely in name only in most places in the state.

California has become a “one party state” controlled by the California Democratic Party and California Democrat politicians.
Two key drivers was the decline of the Republican Party in the wake of Pete Wilson’s Prop. 187, and the redistricting deal in the early 2000s that helped Congressional Republicans and Republican incumbents by making most of California’s districts solidly Democrat or solidly Republican, according to a conversation with the late Allan Hoffenblum, legendary GOP strategist and former publisher of the California Target Book.

Republicans are not competitive in the vast majority of districts, and once the 2016 election is over it has been reported by David Crane, Stanford University, that there will be no open Assembly seats in the state until 2024. Campaign consultants are already sulking over the lack of potential competitive elections in the years following 2016.

This lack of party competition will primarily hurt California working families and the declining middle-class and help powerful special interests. The reason is that the lack of a viable political opposition in the vast majority of districts allows politicians to pander to their “core constituencies” and ignore the vast majority of voters including independents and the political center.
The one bright spot is the passage of the “top two primary system” as the result of a back door budget deal which has enabled the rise of the “moderate democrat” in California politics which tend to be less tied to the Democratic pro-labor base and more sensible on business and independent voter issues (i.e. taxes, government regulation).

Republican challengers, and their backers, tend to be the ones who can challenge California Democrat politicians on their weakest policy stances including taxes, out of control government spending, and onerous and costly government regulation.
But in most legislative races in California the Democrat establishment candidates do not have a viable Republican challenger. The result is that many of the key issues facing California are not even debated in the campaign. This is bad for the state’s political system and its voters.

Most competitive legislative races in California are characterized as a race between a far-left “progressive, pro-labor” Democrat, and a more moderate “pro-business” Democrat. This trend is the result of the state’s relatively new “top two primary system” and is surely better than having no competition but does not provide the same benefits as a true two party system.
Most “moderate Democrats” are still pro-labor, just not as far left as the organized labor establishment–backed Democrat candidates. And most “moderate Democrats” stick to the California Democratic Party platform on most economic and social issues. They are essentially Democrats, with a pro-business slant, which is good for the state and its political debate, but does not tend to challenge the Democratic status quo on most important issues in the state.

For example, take the example of Senator Bill Dodd (D), running as a moderate Democrat in the Sacramento valley in 2016. He is selling himself as a reasonable centrist Democrat who can work with both Democrats and Republicans to get things done. But he is still “pro-labor” and tied to the Democrat labor base on most issues including environmental regulation and state spending issues–perhaps the state’s two most important current policy issues.

Perhaps most alarming, is that after 2016 many of the “moderate Democrats” may not even have the threat of a viable moderate pro-business challenger, which makes it likely that they could sway back to the left, even the far-left, staked out organized labor and California Democratic Party.

In conclusion, there are really two potential paths to bringing back electoral competition to California politics.
First, the Republican Party and its candidates could move closer to the political center to better challenge Democrat candidates. This is unlikely to happen because the state’s Republican candidates are simply a reflection of the state’s Republican voters who tend to be very conservative.

Second, the more likely scenario is that you will see an increasing split in the California Democrat Party between its “pro-labor” base and “moderate Democrats.” This split has increased dramatically in the last year, and likely to continue.
If one considers voting data, one finds that the political center is huge, larger than either party, and there is really a lot of room for new varieties of Democrat candidates to stake out a more centrist positions that appeal to independent voters who tend to be more fiscally conservative than the Democratic base yet still pro-environment. These voters tend to be more reasonable on regulatory issues and other common sense policy positions, such as keeping a lid on the state’s rising tax burden and expansion of the welfare state.

Only time will tell, but one thing is for certain, the state’s current one-party system is bad for California and the average voter, particularly independents, who in many cases do not even have the option to vote for a candidate that fits their political and policy preferences.

Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Trump Has Big Lead in New California Poll

In a new poll on the eve of two crucial primary votes in Ohio and Florida, Donald J. Trump has a commanding lead among Republicans in California, which is the state with the largest single remaining source of delegates on the path to the Party’s nomination for President.

When matched with his three other contenders: Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Marco Rubio, Trump wins the “closed” California Republican primary with 38.3%  of the GOP vote, compared to 22.4% for Cruz, 19.7% for Kasich, and 10.1% for Rubio.  Voters registering an “undecided” opinion were 9.6%.  Trump’s almost 16% advantage over Cruz is statistically significant and well above the margin of error of the poll, which is 4.8%.  The poll results demonstrate that Trump’s standing among Republicans in the Golden State has grown significantly in the last two months.  (In January, in a similar poll using a smaller sample size, the Field Organization pegged Ted Cruz as the leader in California, 25% to 23% for Trump.)  Trump’s lead is commanding in all four “Board of Equalization” districts across the state, suggesting if the election were held today, that he would win in virtually all of the state’s Congressional Districts and capture all of the state’s delegates.

Donald Trump

A total of 172 delegates to the Republican National Convention are up for grabs in the 2016 California primary election, more than 7% of all delegates who will decide the next Republican Presidential nominee, and 14% of the delegates needed to win the nomination.

The poll was commissioned by Landslide Communications.   This new Landslide Communication’s California Poll of Republican Presidential Preferences of likely Republican voters in the 2016 primary election is the second such poll to be released.  In early February, 2015, Landslide released a similar poll showing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker leading in the state, with similar results confirmed in a subsequent Field Organization poll a week later using a smaller sample size.

Poll Frequencies, NSON Opinion Research’s Summary, and Demographic Cross Tabs are available for download at the end of this article.

Further Details on Landslide’s California Poll appear below.

 California’s importance in 2016 Presidential election to Republicans:

California is a decidedly “blue” state in which Democratic Governor Jerry Brown recently won re-election by over one million votes, bucking a national trend that favored Republicans.  And a Republican candidate for President has not won the state of California since 1988.

However, because California is the largest state in the union by population, with 53 Congressional districts, California has a very large delegation up for grabs for GOP presidential contenders at the next Republican National Convention.

There will likely be a total of 2,461 delegates at the 2016 GOP Convention. California is allotted 172 of those delegates, about 7% of the total. Of California’s delegates, 10 are awarded to the candidate who wins the statewide vote. In addition, a candidate who finishes first in any one of California’s 53 Congressional districts is awarded 3 delegates. The state party chairman and two national committee members are also delegates.  The winning margin at the Republican National Convention will be 1,230 delegates. Theoretically, a candidate who could sweep California’s Republican Presidential primary election could count on the state to deliver just over 14% of the total delegates needed for victory.

List of Presidential contenders in poll:

Poll participants were read a randomized list of the 4 candidates to choose from.

Poll questions:

The poll questions were prepared by James V. Lacy, Managing Partner of Landslide Communications, Inc.  Landslide is one of the largest producers of election slate mail in California. Lacy is the author of the book “Taxifornia” and editor and contributing author of “Taxifornia 2016: 14 Essays on the Future of California” available at Amazon.com, and is a frequent guest commentator on California issues on Fox Business News Channel’s “Varney & Company.” Lacy is also an election law and nonprofit organization attorney through his law firm, Wewer & Lacy, LLP, and is a recipient of the American Association of Political Consultant’s “Pollie” Award. Lacy is not associated with any Presidential campaign. Landslide Communications, Inc., has a history of conducting polls in California, including presidential polling and in the 52nd Congressional District race in 2014 between incumbent Scott Peters and Republican challenger Carl DeMaio.

Interview list:

The list used to make the calls was based on a sophisticated, representative election turn-out model for likely Republican voters in the 2016 California Presidential primary election prepared by Political Data, Inc., located in Norwalk, a respected source of voter files.

To account for a slight bias in the delegate selection process that awards a small “bonus” pool of delegates based on the statewide result, the interview list was balanced for region by Board of Equalization District, with the two more Republican leaning BOE districts of four having marginally more interviews reflected in the statewide total than average, to most accurately reflect the opinion of California’s Republican population.

Interviews and data compilation:

The poll questions were completed by 407 likely Republican voters in the 2016 California Presidential primary election based on Political Data’s model. (The Landslide Communication’s sample size is 25% larger than the sample size used by the Field Organization for similar polling in California.)  The sample size is considered large enough by NSON Opinion Strategy, a respected strategic public opinion research company based in Salt Lake City, Utah, to offer statistical significance in outcome, with +/- 4.8% margin of error at a 95% confidence level statewide. Telephone survey interviews were conducted statewide over two days from Wednesday, March 9th through Thursday, March 10th, by NSON Opinion Strategy.

A summary of the poll prepared by NSON, along with “frequencies” and “crosstabs” may be downloaded below.

For comment, please contact James V. Lacy at 714-878-6191.

James V. Lacy is publisher of California Political Review.

CA Rep Pres Pri – Frequencies

16′ CA GOP Presidential Primary Poll (March)

CA Rep Pres Pri – Crosstab Tables

 

CA Primary Could Determine GOP Presidential Candidate

James Lacy, author of Taxifornia, explains to radio host Hugh Hewitt why the CA primary in June might actually matter in the quest for the GOP presidential nomination:

Angry California Republicans Call Drought Bill Dead for the Year

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Angry California Republicans threw in the towel late Thursday, conceding that a California water bill that had divided the state was dead for the year.

In a remarkably acrimonious ending to negotiations that once seemed close to bearing fruit, GOP House members acknowledged the bill’s failure while putting the blame squarely on California’s two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

“It’s dead, unfortunately,” Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, said in an interview Thursday afternoon, adding in a later statement that “our good-faith negotiations came to naught.”

The utter collapse of negotiations means a California water package – that in its latest manifestation spanned 92 pages – will not be slipped into a much larger, must-pass omnibus federal spending package needed …