Poll: Newsom on top; Cox, Villaraigosa duel for 2nd spot
PPIC in Capitol Weekly: "Democrat Gavin Newsom remains the top choice among likely voters in the state’s gubernatorial primary, and Republican John Cox is in a close race with Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa to gain the second spot on November’s general election ballot. Senator Dianne Feinstein holds a double-digit lead over fellow Democrat Kevin de León."
"These are among the key findings of a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)."
California Republicans bet the House on unknown businessman
FROM Politico's DAVID SIDERS: "When President Donald Trump threw his endorsement Friday to John Cox, a little-known businessman running for California governor, he also gave House Republicans a potentially significant lift in their effort to maintain control of Congress."
"Republicans in this heavily Democratic state long ago abandoned almost any hope of winning the governorship, but getting shut out in California’s primary — where the top two finishers advance, regardless of party — could depress turnout and lead to devastating losses in House races statewide. In a warning to Republicans in April, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote that Cox advancing to the November ballot “will be vital for keeping the Republican majority.”
"Trump’s endorsement of Cox, a wealthy businessman who previously ran unsuccessfully for House and Senate seats in Illinois and, briefly, for president in 2008, was the culmination of weeks of effort by Republican leadership, including endorsements from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). The president’s intervention is considered especially significant as Cox failed to secure the California Republican Party’s endorsement, splitting activists’ support at the state party’s convention this month with another Republican, state Assemblyman Travis Allen."
READ MORE related to Gubernatorial Race: Cox slams Trump, who endorsed him for California governor -- Sacramento Bee's ALEXEI KOSEFF; Newsom and Republican endorsed by Trump headed to runoff for California governor, poll shows -- Sacramento Bee's ANGELA HART; Newsom strategy: Face Republican in the fall by knocking Dems out in June -- The Chronicle's MATIER & ROSS; Republican Meg Whitman backs a Democrat for California governor -- The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI
Conservative group starts ad campaign for Rocky Chávez and Diane Harkey
From JOSHUA STEWART in the Union-Tribune: "Following an attack ad by Democrats and outside spending from the left, a conservative political committee is launching an ad campaign to support two Republicans running for a highly-contested House seat."
"Federal Election Commission records show that the American Future Fund, an organization that says it defends free market economic principles, is spending nearly $500,000 to boost Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, and Board of Equalization Member Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, in their run for the House."
"Records filed Wednesday show that the Iowa-based organization is planning to spend $65,000 on door-to-door voter outreach and $180,487 on television commercials on both Harkey and Chávez. In all, it’s spending $490,973 in the race to succeed Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, in the 49th Congressional District."
"Polls have shown that Chávez is consistently in first or second place in the 16-candidate field and poised to advance to the November runoff. Harkey, however, usually finishes around fourth or worse, falling short in California’s top-two primary."
Majority of California voters want to repeal gas tax increase, poll finds
LA Times's PATRICK MCGREEVY: "As a new poll found a majority of California voters want to repeal increases to the state's gas tax and vehicle fees, Gov. Jerry Brown has begun campaigning to preserve them, arguing the sacrifice is needed to fix long-neglected roads and bridges and improve mass transit."
"Repeal of the higher taxes and fees was supported by 51% of registered voters in the state, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times statewide poll."
USC's Academic Senate calls on university president to resign after a series of scandals
From the LA TIMES: "The body that represents USC's faculty called on President C.L. Max Nikias to resign Wednesday in the wake of relevations that the university's longtime gynecologist faced years of accusations of misconduct by students and colleagues at the campus' health clinic."
"The Academic Senate took the vote late Wednesday afternoon after a fiery town hall meeting attended by more than 100 faculty members, many of whom voiced outrage over Nikias and the Board of Trustees' leadership. The vote came a day after the trustees' executive committee stood firmly behind Nikias, saying it has "full confidence" in his leadership, ethics and values."
"At the town hall meeting, Senate President Paul Rosenbloom said he did not think Nikias or Provost Michael Quick committed wrongdoing but that the university president deserved criticism for a lack of transparency."
"Professors then demanded that the Senate take an immediate vote of no confidence in Nikias. Those who spoke were also critical of the Board of Trustees, with some insinuating that the board answered to Nikias instead of the other way around."
Trump, Auto Officials Re-Affirm Goal of National Mileage Rules
From Bloomberg's RYAN BEENE and JOHJN LIPPERT: "California’s top air-quality official held a series of meetings with auto industry and federal officials in Washington on Wednesday who re-affirmed a desire to maintain a single national standard for auto efficiency."
"The talks with California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols were set in motion by President Donald Trump’s May 11 instruction to federal agencies that oversee the fuel efficiency regulations to pursue talks with California on revisions to the standards."
"After the meeting, White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said the administration would continue the conversation “so that domestic automakers do not have to comply with two different regulatory regimes.”
DA candidate Phillips 'embarrassed,' apologizes for response to sexist, racist email
Sacramento Bee's DARRELL SMITH: "Noah Phillips apologized to supporters Wednesday via Twitter for a racist and sexist email plumbed from his county-run email account that could threaten his campaign for Sacramento County District Attorney in the race's final days.
"Over two years ago, my 70-year-old uncle sent these emails. I should have challenged them," the tweet read. "Instead, I am embarrassed to say, I didn't. I failed to change a narrative with a close relative because it was simply easier not to."
"The email detailing what men can expect sexually by the third date with women of various ethnic groups was sent to Phillips by his uncle in February 2016 and was recently discovered by District Attorney's officials as part of an internal DA's investigation into defense attorneys' allegations of prosecutorial misconduct at trial in the 2016 murder of a south Sacramento man."
In Bay Area, six national sites would be threatened by offshore oil drilling, report says
The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE: "Six national park sites in the Bay Area would be in danger of being slimed by oil — one of the most hard-hit areas in the country — if President Trump goes through with his plan to expand offshore oil drilling along the California coast, a national report on federal parks said Wednesday."
"Oil spills would threaten beaches, marinas, historic and recreational sites in 10 federal park lands in California, including protected areas in San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma and Contra Costa counties, said the report by the National Parks Conservation Association and the Natural Resources Defense Council."
Trump violated First Amendment by blocking Twitter users, judge rules
The Chronicle's BENNY EVANGELISTA: "President Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking seven people from his official Twitter account because they posted comments criticizing his policies, a federal judge in New York ruled Wednesday."
A year after scathing audit, UC president's office to present transparent budget
The Chronicle's NANETTE ASIMOV: "The University of California regents grilled top UC officials Wednesday about why they missed a critical deadline for complying with the recommendations in a 2017 state audit that uncovered $175 million squirreled away in President Janet Napolitano’s office."
"That hidden money — much of it used for university projects but never disclosed to the regents in the UC president’s annual budget presentation — prompted the auditor to prescribe an overhaul of the $813.5 million president’s office that oversees the UC system."
SoCal's median home price hits a record $520k despite rising mortgage rates
LA Times's ANDREW KHOURI: "Southern California home prices in April surged 7.2% from a year earlier to reach an all-time high, a sharp increase at a time when rising mortgage rates are making an already pricey housing market even more so."
"The region's median sale price for new and resale houses and condos was $520,000, up $1,000 from the previous high set in March, according to a report released Wednesday by real estate data firm CoreLogic."