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When candidates are coworkers

When candidates are coworkers

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THE BUZZCalifornia Democrats are busy eating their own.

The increasingly blue state is seeing one of the biggest political shifts in a generation—and ambitious politicians have nowhere to turn but against each other. The retirement of giants like Sen. Dianne Feinstein and (possibly) former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, combined with the effects of term limits, is causing a cascade of down-ballot shifts that, in some cases, have pitted fellow legislators against each other.

It’s not uncommon for legislators in adjacent districts to work closely together. Regional politics, similar constituents and common goals can often unite them in Capitol debates. But it does create ripe conditions for rivalries that can lead to sharp barb-trading in the event of a direct challenge — especially when you’re forced to compete for the same pot of resources and endorsements.

Nowhere else is the Rube Goldberg effect more apparent than in the race for the Senate. The openings left by Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff have brought forward dozens of Democratic hopefuls looking to ascend to the next level.

Assemblymember Laura Friedman and state Sen. Anthony Portantino are vying for Schiff’s seat in CA-30 alongside a slate of other Los Angeles notables like former city attorney Mike Feuer and Boy Meets World actor Ben Savage. Both candidates joined the Legislature in 2016 and are scooping up endorsements from fellow lawmakers.

Rep. Grace Napolitano, the oldest member of the House, also recently announced her retirement — prompting entrances from state Sens. Bob Archuleta and Susan Rubio, who represent bordering districts in the Legislature’s upper chamber. The potential retirement of Pelosi has also caught the eye of San Francisco-area lawmakers including state Sen. Scott Wiener.

Then, there are the local races.

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty and recently-departed state Sen. Richard Pan are also both running for the vacancy left by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who is mulling a run for attorney general.

Beleaguered Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin de León is facing challenges from two Democratic assemblymembers: Wendy Carrillo and Miguel Santiago. During the pre-recess drama over a human trafficking bill, Carrillo made some pointed remarks on Twitter, which many took as a jab at Santiago, who serves on the public safety committee and voted against the legislation.

“I don’t serve on Assembly Public Safety,” Carrillo wrote. “But if I did, I would have voted yes and plan on voting yes on the Assembly floor.”

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WHERE’S GAVIN? Back in the state after a quick jaunt over to Nevada for the Lake Tahoe Summit.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’ll call her labor secretary. I’m not going to say the word ‘acting.’” Vice President Kamala Harris defending Julie Su amid uncertainty surrounding her nomination to the post.



CANYON, CONT. — On Tuesday, we told you about Issam Najm, an environmental engineer and resident of Porter Ranch who, along with his neighbors, is asking the leading California Senate candidates to go on record saying they would oppose attempts to expand the capacity and use of the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility and support its closure by 2027.

Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff all took heed, vowing their opposition in statements to POLITICO:

LEE: “Aliso Canyon is not only hazardous to Los Angeles County residents, it’s not at all necessary for California to meet its energy needs. Addressing environmental injustice is a critical yet often overlooked part of our climate goals, and it’s a key priority of mine. It’s far past time that we close this dirty and dangerous facility for good.”

PORTER: “What happened in Aliso Canyon was total malpractice, with an entire community put at risk. I strongly support calls to stop any expansion of Aliso Canyon and shut it down by 2027, while also supporting the successful transition of its workers into new union jobs. As someone who’s never taken a single corporate PAC check from Big Oil, Californians can count on me to always put our citizens and their health ahead of fossil fuel industry profits. In the Senate, I’ll continue pushing for national policy that supports California’s continued leadership on clean energy investment and high-paying, green energy jobs.”

SCHIFF, via spokesperson Marisol Samayoa: “In Congress, Adam Schiff previously called for an investigation into the environmental tragedy that hit the Porter Ranch community, just miles from his district. He continues to support the closure of Aliso Canyon, strongly opposes any expansion and will fight to finish the job of shutting it down as Senator.”

NO SURPRISES — Older, white Californians tend to vote more frequently than other demographic groups, a new poll from the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies has found.

The survey, released Tuesday, found that regular voters — those who cast ballots in five or more of the last seven elections — are considerably older, disproportionately white and are more likely to be college graduates, married and own their homes. That’s not necessarily representative of California’s eligible voter population, which has disproportionately higher numbers of non-white, non-college educated renters.

Voter advocates said the results show that, despite recent investments, the state has a long way to go on outreach and education.

“Almost a third of infrequent voters in California say they don’t vote regularly because they don’t know enough about what is on the ballot,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, executive director of California Common Cause. “That is a desperate cry for more voter education, from the state and from civic engagement organizations.”


BIG TIME RUSH — Many familiar faces have floated through Sacramento, but few with Hollywood roots as deep as Joshua Rush Nisenson.

The former Disney Channel child star, who now serves as Senate President Pro Tem Toni Akins’ deputy press secretary, has appeared in shows including Andi Mack, where he broke barriers playing the network’s first openly gay character.

Nisenson has a background in political work, previously holding the comms posts for Young Democrats of America and Nevada Democratic Victory prior to joining the pro tem’s team. Nisenson is a Texas native but has seamlessly entered the California politics fray — even having a “hot strike summer” on the picket lines for SAG-AFTRA.

Outside of the Capitol, Nisenson is an avid Swiftie, as his Twitter bio proclaims.


“‘More work for less money’: Protests at LAX, City Hall as thousands walk off the job,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Rachel Uranga, Rebecca Ellis, Milla Surjadi and Akiya Dillon: “Thousands of Los Angeles city workers hit the picket lines Tuesday for a massive one-day strike after union leaders accused the city of unfair labor practices, which Mayor Karen Bass and other officials denied.”

“L.A. County supervisors propose $25 minimum wage for hotel, theme park workers,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Jaclyn Cosgrove: “Chair Janice Hahn, who proposed the motion at Tuesday’s board meeting, said too many employers are paying their workers low wages, which exacerbates poverty, homelessness and housing insecurity.”

“Amid lack of accountability for bias in maternity care, a California family seeks justice,” by California Healthline’s Sarah Kwon: “California’s rate of maternal deaths is among the lowest in the country, but is up to 3.6 times as high for Black women as for women of other races.”

“UC admits record number of California first-year students for fall 2023, led by Latinos,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Teresa Watanabe: “Overall, UC admitted 88,285 Californian first-year applicants, an increase of 3.5% over last year, with gains posted at most of the nine undergraduate campuses.”


NEWS ON NEWS — Nonprofit news organization CalMatters is unionizing, per an announcementTuesday. The guild said in a statement 92 percent of non-management staff have signed cards authorizing union representation by The Pacific Media Workers Guild, NewsGuild-CWA Local 39521. They are asking CalMatters leadership for voluntary recognition.

TEAM TRANSITION — Former Google exec and Senate candidate Lexi Reese is no longer a client of GPS Impact, POLITICO has learned. Her team still includes SoCal-based firm Bryson Gillette and several in-house consultants.

SPOTTED — Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Alberto Carvalho talked cybersecurity with White House officials in Washington Tuesday and thanked them for “exceptional collaboration” through a massive ransomware attack that rocked the district last school year. California Teachers Association reps were also in the building.

CALIFORNIA POLICY IS ALWAYS CHANGING: Know your next move. From Sacramento to Silicon Valley, POLITICO California Pro provides policy professionals with the in-depth reporting and tools they need to get ahead of policy trends and political developments shaping the Golden State. To learn more about the exclusive insight and analysis this subscriber-only service offers, click here.

Want to make an impact? POLITICO California has a variety of solutions available for partners looking to reach and activate the most influential people in the Golden State. Have a petition you want signed? A cause you’re promoting? Seeking to increase brand awareness amongst this key audience? Share your message with our influential readers to foster engagement and drive action. Contact Jesse Shapiro to find out how: [email protected].