What a post-Roe election looks like in California- POLITICO

THE BUZZ RUBBER, MEET ROAD: The potential downfall of federal abortion protections has ignited a fiery discourse among California Democrats, who are already working to harness the fear and outrage for the upcoming midterm elections.

But will this inferno change the outcome of any races in the Golden State? Perhaps — but it’ll likely be limited to the matchups that were already close.

It’s not that California voters don’t care about abortion protections (the majority, in fact, want to keep them) but rather, there aren’t a lot of vulnerable Democrats in statewide races to begin with. For years, the Democratic Party has enjoyed a plurality of registered voters, and the latest numbers from the secretary of state show nearly 47 percent of voters are signed up as Democrats, compared to about 24 percent of Republican and 23 percent of unaffiliated voterers. A Republican hasn’t won statewide office since 2006, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in office, and GOP registration was significantly higher then (around 35 percent).

Whichever statewide candidates end up winning the conservative vote in the primaries can almost certainly expect to get hammered for their position on abortion (or lack thereof) in the November run offs. Lanhee Chen, a Republican policy wonk with four Harvard degrees and an endorsement from the Los Angeles Times, is running for state controller and widely considered to be one of the most viable GOP candidates this year. Malia Cohen, the Democratic endorsee for controller, has wasted no time blasting Chen for dodging the abortion issue.

It’s already difficult for candidates with an “R” next to their name to win in California, especially in down-ballot races that voters don’t give a lot of thought to. In order to be victorious, they’d have to swing a significant amount of no-party-preference and Democratic voters to their side. But that’s going to be even harder to do if abortion remains a key issue this year, as liberal strategists are anticipating.

Where this could really matter is in districts that have Republican incumbents and a large population of young, college-educated suburban women. We’re talking, of course, about Orange County. Incumbent Republican Reps. Michelle Steel and Young Kim flipped their seats in 2020 and were already in Democrats’ crosshairs for November. Kim’s district, CA-40, is more Republican than Steel’s (R+5 compared to D+4). But both districts have a significant chunk of NPP voters who could swing toward the Democrats if so motivated. It’s not a done deal, though. Steel’s new district also boasts a 36.9 percent Asian population, a bloc she has proven to be adept at mobilizing.

Democratic Rep. Katie Porter is also considered to be somewhat vulnerable this year. The new CA-47, which includes Irvine, has a nearly-even split of Democrats and Republicans. Porter, who is herself a suburban college educated woman, certainly stands to benefit politically from renewed progressive fury over reproductive rights.

BUENOS DÍAS, good Friday morning. Primary ballots will start hitting mailboxes next week. Prepare yourselves.

Our producer, Graph Massara, would also like the chance to say goodbye to CA Playbookers as he moves on to his next gig, after just under four years at POLITICO. You can find him on Twitter or at City Lights in North Beach, perusing the basement.

Got a tip or story idea for California Playbook? Hit us up [email protected] and [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @JeremyBWhite and @Lara_Korte

QUOTE OF THE DAY — “We want kids to talk to their parents and feel comfortable talking to their parents. But there are some kids who, for whatever reason, can’t talk to their parents.” State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) speaking in support of his Senate Bill 866 to allow those 12 and older to consent to vaccines without parent permission, via CalMatters’ Emily Hoeven

TWEET OF THE DAY — Republican consultant Max Rexroad @MattRexRoad: “Cal Access was a cool thing back when Bill Jones was Secretary of State… but that was 20 years ago. It really should be far better than it is.” (Is it bad if we agree?)

WHERE’S GAVIN? Nothing official announced.

OH NOCOVID in California: Omicron as deadly as previous variants, large study finds,” by the SF Chronicle’s Aidin Vaziri: “What made the omicron surge apparently less severe was widespread vaccination and prior infections.”

WHOOPS — “California Democratic Party messed up: State voter guide doesn’t say it endorsed Alex Padilla,” by the SF Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli: “Nearly one in three (31%) of likely voters don’t know enough about Padilla to form an opinion of him, according to a March survey by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.”

—  “Why did federal police square off with abortion rights protesters in L.A. streets?” by the LA Times’ Kevin Rector: “In its own statement, the LAPD said the department had not requested assistance from Federal Protective Service during the protests and that its officers had not been working in conjunction with the federal officers who called for help.”

ROE ELECTION — “Newsom seizes on the fight over abortion as a key part of his reelection campaign,” by the LA Times’ Taryn Luna: “The ad singles out Newsom’s main GOP opponent, state Sen. Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), in an attempt to quickly brand him as an antiabortion extremist in a state that strongly favors abortion rights.”

ANOTHER ONE — “Endorsement: Give Newsom a second term,” by the LA Times Editorial Board.

GLUED TO THE SCREEN — “Column: We watched all of Rick Caruso’s campaign commercials so you don’t have to,” opines the LA Times’ Gustavo Arellano: “Caruso at least knows that L.A. is a city of immigrants — he mentions his Italian roots multiple times. That’s one reason he channels Korean Rick, spending nearly $170,000 on three commercials airing on Korean-language channels.”

— “Prop. I could make social housing a reality— if the mayor disburses funds,” by Mission Local’s Annika Hom: “Last year [Mayor London Breed] refused to spend $64 million in Proposition I revenue on the city’s Small Sites preservation program, despite the Board of Supervisors approving the expenditure. To date, it has not been spent.”

— “’We Are All More Than Our Worst Mistake’: Five Takeaways From SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s Appearance at KQED,” by KQED’s Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez: “Throughout Tuesday’s event, Boudin pushed back against his critics, accusing them of oversimplifying and generally misrepresenting the issues.”

— “New San Francisco ad blasts Chesa Boudin over drugs. There’s just one problem,” by the SFGATE’s Eric Ting: “One piece of information that’s not in the ad: [Max Young] closed Mr. Smith’s in September 2019, which is well before Boudin was elected in November 2019 and assumed office in January 2020.”

THE VIEW FROM D.C. — “The bogus backlash against progressive prosecutors,” opines Radley Balko for the Washington Post: “Ultimately, the case against [San Francisco District Attorney Chesa] Boudin rests on two assumptions: that crime in the city has exploded and that Boudin isn’t charging people at the rate his predecessors did. And neither of those assumptions is true.”

“L.A. city attorney race features a couple of ex-Republicans. And the Daffy Duck factor,” by the LA Times’ Marisa Gerber: “Both candidates say that they’ve undergone political evolutions since then, including apologizing for past comments on polarizing issues — one referencing a cartoon duck — and that they’ve dedicated themselves to upholding the values of the Democratic Party.”

— “Black women saw Roe’s end ‘a long time ago,’” by the SF Chronicle’s Justin Phillips: “‘They’ve been planning this day for years,’ Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, told me the day after the leaked Alito draft was reported by Politico.”

— “Abuse-clouded prison gets attention, but will things change?” by the AP’s Michael R. Sisak and Michael Balsamo: 

— “S.F.’s Tenderloin has a new supervisor. Can Dean Preston tackle the district’s homelessness and drug crisis?” by the SF Chronicle’s J.D. Morris: “Preston said he would not shy away from his staunchly held views on key issues such as policing and affordable housing as he tries to address the neighborhood’s challenges.”

— “California’s All-Renewable Moment Shows the Future of the Power Grid,” by Bloomberg’s Nathaniel Bullard: “On the last day of April, California hit a milestone: For a brief spell during a sunny Saturday afternoon, renewable sources met 99.87% of electricity demand.”

— “With abortion rights in danger, some S.F. companies will pay for employee access,” by the SF Chronicle’s Roland Li: “Abortion opponent Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced a bill Wednesday that would prohibit tax deductions for company expenses related to travel for employee abortions or their children’s gender-affirming care.”

Panel advances bill to allow kids’ shots without parental consent in California, by POLITICO’s Victoria Colliver: Wiener was the first lawmaker to introduce legislation out of a seven-member vaccine caucus officially formed early this year near the height of the Omicron surge.

— “Celebrated Plan to Close SF’s Juvenile Hall in Tatters as City Moves to Build New Facility,” by the SF Standard’s Matt Smith: “Today, there are 14 young inmates still at juvenile hall, but no agreed plan on where they should go.”

— “Staff at a San Francisco Hotel Battle an Overdose Crisis,” by KQED’s Holly McDede: “By contrast, zero people have fatally overdosed in Alameda County’s Project Roomkey hotels, according to the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency.”

— “Bill would put homeless courts where the unhoused live,” by CalMatters’ Nigel Duara: “The idea is to help counties take their courts to places the unhoused are more likely to show up, while providing services such as employment assistance and substance abuse recovery.”

— “Chappelle attack: Suspect is now facing 4 misdemeanor charges after DA declines felony prosecution,” via ABC7.com: “On Thursday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office announced 23-year-old Isaiah Lee won’t face any felony charges and referred the case to the L.A. City Attorney, who only handles misdemeanors.”

— Nick Baumann will be deputy Washington bureau chief for enterprise at the LA Times. He currently is politics editor at The Atlantic.

— “No, the Stanford Dish Isn’t Listening for Aliens — but It Was Built to Spy on Russia,” by KQED’s Rachel Myrow.

Patrols, fines, altered landscapes: How severe SoCal water restrictions will roll out,” by the LA Times’ Hayley Smith.

— “How to get more people vaccinated? ‘You stop talking and you listen,’ Walensky says,” by the LA Times’ Luke Money and Rong-Gong Lin II 

— “Judge who overturned California’s Prop. 8 blasts draft Roe v. Wade opinion: ‘It makes the justices look like politicians’,” by the SF Chronicle’s Dustin Gardiner.

— “SF Upgraded to Yellow Risk Tier as Covid Cases Soar,” by the SF Standard’s David Sjostedt.

Belatedly: Daniel Villaseñor is leaving Sen. Bob Hertzberg’s office to work for Newsom’s team as deputy press secretary.

Actor George Clooney…

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