Tom Steyer shook up the race to replace retiring Senator Barbara Boxer yesterday with the announcement that he will not run for the seat, leaving Attorney General Kamala Harris as the only major candidate who has thrown a hat in the ring – so far. Michael Finnegan and Seema Mehta have the story in the Los Angeles Times, Ben Geman and Rebecca Nelson report for National Journal, and Carla Marinucci at SFGate: “’This was a very hard decision,’ he said in a blog post on Huffington Post. ‘The U.S. Senate offers a unique opportunity to serve, but I also know that we will have excellent candidates. ... Given the imperative of electing a Democratic president — along with my passion for our state — I believe my work right now should not be in our nation’s capital but here at home in California and in states around the country where change is on the move.’”
And on cue, all eyes turned to former LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is still playing coy.
From Curtis Tate, Sacramento Bee: “Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had a roomful of mayors Thursday night thinking he might give them a taste of his possible plans for a U.S. Senate seat…
“’I just want you to know that there’s press here in the back of the room,’ said Villaraigosa, a 61-year-old Democrat. ‘So I have an important announcement to make: The dessert will be served in just a moment.’”
Meanwhile, Rep. Adam Schiff, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says he is mulling his own run for the job.
“’Since Senator Boxer announced her retirement, I have been encouraged by many Californians to run for her seat in 2016,’ Schiff, a 54-year-old Democrat from Burbank, said in a prepared statement. ‘As the opportunity to run for a California Senate seat comes around very seldom and I would relish the chance to serve the entire state, I am giving the matter serious consideration.’”
Who will be electing California’s junior Senator in ’16? As usual, the deciding factor will the independents. Capitol Weekly’s John Howard looks at the state’s growing No Party Preference crowd:
“Distrustful of institutions, disenchanted with government and leery of the major political parties, the reach of the independent voter is widening, according to the head of a top research institution.
“’They tend to be young, highly educated, male more than female,’ said Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California… ’Some of them are people who left the party, or new voters who don’t see a reason to belong to a party,’ he added. ‘I wouldn’t call them infrequent voters, but they don’t necessarily think they have to vote in every election,’ Baldassare told a Capitol hearing of the Little Hoover Commission, adding that they are ‘distrustful not only of government, but of institutions.’”
Nice to get some good news at the end of the week: the Los Angeles Times reports that the number of Californians refusing to vaccinate their children has dropped for the first time in a dozen years. Take that, Jenny McCarthy.
From Rosanna Xia, Rong-Gong Lin II and Sandra Poindexter: “The shift came amid rising alarm over the number of children being exempted from immunization, which prompted new campaigns to reverse the trend.
“A state law that went into effect last year made it more difficult for parents to excuse kindergartners from vaccines. Instead of signing a form, parents now must get a signature from a healthcare provider saying that they have been counseled on the risks of rejecting vaccinations. Alternatively, they can declare they are followers of a religion that prohibits them from seeking medical advice from healthcare practitioners.”
Late yesterday, Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro announced the tribe’s opposition to AB167, a bill that seeks to legalize online gaming in California. That’s bad news for those hoping to see an online gaming bill on the governor’s desk this year. From John Mehaffey at California Online Poker.com:
“’There is much for tribes to dislike about this bill,’ states Macarro in the statement. ‘We are disappointed that the bill disregards important principles from a broad coalition of respected tribes and card rooms that help prevent corporations and entities that previously violated federal law from profiting from tainted software, brands, and databases derived from illegal activity.’”
And, Jim Miller has even worse news if you have a favorite dish at Griselda’s World Café in the Capitol basement.
“California legislative officials and the operator of Griselda’s World Cafe in the Capitol basement have agreed to part ways, effective Feb. 6, following the cafe’s recent closure by county health inspectors after they found roaches and other health and safety violations.”
We can’t say we’re surprised, given the negative tone the negotiations have been taking, but still a sad end to the capitol career of Griselda Barajas, who wins the Worst Week in Sacramento this week. So long, we hardly knew ye...