THE BUZZ — DEMS RAMP IT UP: With two months to the 2020 election, Democrats in solidly blue California are coming up with some creative ways to mine for campaign cash in the nation’s political ATM — not only for checks to beat Donald Trump, but to boost their party’s chances in Congress.
TAKE ALEX CLEMENS, a veteran San Francisco-based Democratic strategist, who’s found a new twist on what it means to get fellow Dems to shake out their pockets for key contests in both houses of Congress. He’s become a race handicapper — with a following.
Clemens, a founder of SF and Sacramento-based Lighthouse Public Affairs, was getting desperate calls from loyal Dems pleading for intel on critical House and Senate races around the country that were within Democratic reach. “They were saying, ‘I feel helpless and anxious and I want to do something,’’’ Clemens said in an interview. “They wanted to know exactly where to place their bets.”
His solution: Clemens formed “Sawbuck Patriots”’ — and began signing up Democrats who would agree to donate at least $10 a day in contributions to campaigns across the country. Clemens doesn’t take any of the money — it goes all to the candidates. But he’s now spending three to four hours a day seeking out intel, analyzing and handicapping, and he sends out his daily tipsheets to his faithful.
What began 10 days ago as an intimate group of cash-giving Democratic friends has turned into hundreds, who are now donating thousands every day to races around the country — in many cases far more than the $10 buy-in. “We’ve got people who say, ‘You know what? I’m giving $100, or $500 today,'” he said.
Among those he’s highlighted as potential winners: CA-04 Democratic challenger Brynne Kennedy, 36, of Roseville, who seeks to be the first tech startup founder to make it to Congress. The Yale and London Business School-educated Kennedy — who also speaks Mandarin and French — has won the attention of major media like Katie Couric and Hollywood names like Mark Hamill and Valerie Bertinelli in her quest to vanquish GOP incumbent Tom McClintock, 64, who’s seeking his sixth term in Congress.
Some analysts, like the Cook Political Report, still call CA-04 a tough “lean Republican” race — but Clemens said Kennedy’s Roseville and Rocklin bases in South Placer County have become booming suburbs in recent years. And suburban women — a key electorate — could make the critical difference this time around, he said. Especially with the president’s falling numbers on Covid-19 strategy, and the economic hit in the largely rural district dominated by four national parks, “there are a lot of people there who sit at the kitchen table, and read what the president says and they say, ‘If my kids talked like that, I’d smack them,'” he said. Stay tuned.
BUENOS DÍAS, good Tuesday morning. Welcome back from the Labor Day weekend. Let’s hope for a cooldown, California. Jeremy is off for the week, so hit [email protected] with any tips, events.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Not a competent person in my opinion. Would destroy this country… She will never be president. Although I have to be careful because Obama used to say that about me.” President Donald Trump on Sen. Kamala Harris Monday. Read more from POLITICO’s Gabby Orr: “Trump’s new offensive: Defining Kamala Harris.”
BONUS QOTD: “They’re saying global warming is causing these forest fires. Look, the people of the Valley need to say, ‘Shut up, politician, you’re a fool… Don’t ever come back. Don’t ever talk to me ever again.‘ That’s what people need to be saying at this point.” — Rep. Devin Nunes on KMJ radio Monday.
TWEET OF THE DAY — @KevinKileyCA: “Article IV, Section 22 might be the provision of our Constitution that the Legislature works hardest to ignore: ‘It is the right of the people to hold their legislators accountable.'”
PODCAST OF THE DAY: Loyola Law School’s Jessica Levinson discusses the gig economy’ and workers’ rights — and Carla’s POLITICO story about how Willie Brown and other freelancers got ensnared in AB 5. Listen here.
WHERE’S GAVIN? Nothing official announced.
KING JAMES INDEED? — “Could LeBron James Defeat Donald Trump?” by Derek Robertson in POLITICO Magazine: “The snark elides how the NBA throwing its weight behind voting access could have a huge impact on this fall’s elections—and, therefore, the near-future not only of criminal justice reform, but of any number of longtime progressive priorities.”
THEY’VE HAD ENOUGH — “29 female journalists sign letter denouncing SF blogger as sexist,’’ via SFGATE: “Twenty-nine female journalists from around the San Francisco Bay Area have united against a local blogger who has made comments about many of them in his posts they describe as disturbing and sexist, commenting on the “boob power” of one anchor in one story and headlining another “Boner of the Day.”
WILLIE’S GREAT AB5 ADVENTURE — “Willie Brown gets assist from Newsom to keep writing Chronicle column,” by POLITICO’s Carla Marinucci: “I signed the bill, write the damn column!,’’ Newsom wrote to Brown in a text message that Brown shared with POLITICO.
WHAT A SPEAKER’S WEEK — “Meet California’s new laughingstock: Anthony Rendon’s treatment of a new mother defies belief,’’ by the Sac Bee’s Marcos Breton: “State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon made himself a national laughingstock on Monday and Tuesday, a distinction he earned by orchestrating one of the most odious displays of failed leadership that we’ve seen in sometime here in Sacramento. And my friends, that’s saying something.”
AND THERE’S THIS… “In leaked email, California Assembly Speaker’s top aide blasts critics, defends boss,’’ by the Sac Bee’s Gil Duran: “On Friday, Rendon’s top aide sent an all-staff email that could reignite criticism of Rendon’s decision to force a nursing mother — Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks of Oakland — to take in-person votes at the Capitol during a coronavirus pandemic. On Saturday, Wicks told CNN that she is also recovering from C-section surgery.
THE FURNACE STATE — “Bobcat fire in Angeles Forest threatens foothill cities amid California’s worst fire season on record,” by LATimes’ Ben Poston, Harriet Ryan and Mary Forgione: “As several wildfires raged across Southern California on a third day of excessive heat, the National Forest Service announced unprecedented closures of campgrounds and trails amid the largest fire season on record.
“Through only early September, wildfires so far this year have burned more than 2 million acres in the state, surpassing 2018 for the most acres destroyed in a year, according to figures from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Times research.
“After historic high temperatures in the region over the weekend, officials with the National Forest Service announced they would temporarily close eight national forests at 5 p.m. Monday because of the extreme heat and dangerous fire conditions. Closing those recreation areas — including the Angeles, San Bernardino, Los Padres, Cleveland, Stanislaus, Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo national forests — will help reduce the potential for human-caused fires, they said.”
— “Power shut-offs to hit parts of Napa and Sonoma counties as PG&E braces for ominous winds,” by SFChron’s Cynthia Dizikes and Joaquin Palomino
BREAKING… “New evacuation order for Walbridge Fire in Sonoma County,” via SFChron
— “Creek Fire grows to 78,790 acres with 0% containment, thousands of structures threatened,” via ABC30: The fire has forced evacuations in numerous Fresno and Madera County mountain communities.
— “California endures record-setting ‘kiln-like’ heat as fires rage, causing injuries,” by WaPo’s Andrew Freedman: “The scorching temperatures forced the National Weather Service to issue heat alerts for nearly the entire state. Many areas were also under red-flag warnings for high fire danger as the heat worsened blazes already burning and helped fuel new ones.”
GENDER REVEAL?!! — “A gender reveal sparked a wildfire in California that’s grown to 7,000 acres,” by the Press-Enterprise’s Richard K. De Atley and Jennifer Iyer: “The 7,050 acre-El Dorado wildfire above Yucaipa in San Bernardino County was caused by a pyrotechnic device used to generate smoke during a party, authorities said, as hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze Sunday with more record heat forecast for Southern California.”
— “Mojave Desert fire destroys the heart of a beloved Joshua tree forest,” by the LA Times’ Bettina Boxall.
FRONTLINE FALLOUT — “Meatpacking was already a dangerous job for California workers. The pandemic made it worse,” by the LA Times’ Jie Jenny Zou, Andrea Castillo and Erin B. Logan: “Workers not only fear contracting the virus, but getting injured as more employees call out sick, leaving less staff to meet heightened demands for food production.”
GOOD NEWS? — “Hospitalizations keep decreasing in California,’’ by The Mercury News’ Leonardo Castañeda: “Deaths increase slightly California is projected to reach 15,000 deaths by mid-September.’’
THE FIFTY: Governors and mayors have never mattered more to the future of the nation, and The Fifty, a new series from POLITICO, takes you inside the role they’re playing in the pandemic and more.
KEEP COUNTING — “Federal judge orders Census Bureau to keep surveys going — halting Trump administration’s shutdown,” by the SF Chronicle’s Bob Egelko: “U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of San Jose issued a temporary restraining order at the request of civil rights organizations and local governments, including San Jose and Los Angeles, that fear a curtailed census will deprive them of congressional representation and federal funding based on population counts.”
NEW FROM REVEAL STAFF — “How Donald Trump took down the Robert Mueller of Latin America,” by Reveal’s Aaron Glantz and Anayansi Diaz-Cortes: “At the center of the story is an alleged quid pro quo between Donald Trump and Jimmy Morales, a former television comedian who was elected president of Guatemala.”
TRUMP V. CALIFORNIA REDUX — “President Trump Threatens To Defund California Schools Over The ‘1619 Project,’” by Deadline’s Bruce Haring: “Trump said Sunday that the Department of Education was investigating allegations that California was incorporating the 1619 Project into its lessons. He threatened to take away federal funding if they do.”
YE’S PAYOUT — “Kanye spends nearly $6M on presidential campaign,” by POLITICO’s Zach Montellaro: “The majority of the campaign’s expenses have been to get on ballots in states across the country. … He’s currently on the ballot in a handful of states, and has litigation pending in others.”
KAMALA WEIGHS IN — “Harris says she wouldn’t trust Trump on any vaccine released before election,” by POLITICO’s Evan Semones.
MCCARTHY ON MAIL — “Kevin McCarthy warns Trump’s war on mail could screw GOP,” by Axios’ Alayna Treene: “McCarthy said the party can’t afford for Republicans to sit home, afraid of getting COVID-19, while Democrats flood the field with mail-in ballots.”
POLITICO SCOOP — “Key Kamala Harris political consultant heads to top Airbnb post,” by POLITICO’s Christopher Cadelago and Carla Marinucci. “Laphonza Butler leaves Ace Smith and Sean Clegg’s shop for a new landscape.”
NUNES WITH COPS: Rep. Devin Nunes has channeled some $305,000 to Proposition 20, the law enforcement-backed measure to roll back sentencing and parole reforms the voters passed via Propositions 47 and 57. Back in 2018, some Republicans thought this initiative could be a conservative turnout-juicer, but it didn’t make the ballot, so Nunes and other national Republicans poured money into a failed gas tax repeal effort. So far, Nunes is the only California House Republican to spend for Prop 20.
NEW THIS WEEK — ‘PLANTING THE FLAG‘ with GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy: Democratic prosecutor Andrew Janz made a national name for himself when he challenged Nunes in the CA-22 district in 2018. He came closer than many predicted — within 5 points. Now, he’s “planting a flag” and focusing a new PAC on McCarthy, “one of President Trump’s biggest enablers” in Washington.
Janz’ Voter Protection Project raised $450,000 in August, a 22 percent boost over July, and raised $150,000 in the aftermath of the Kamala Harris announcement as the Democrats’ VP candidate. He expects to raise and spend $6 million by the end of this cycle — and launched several new salvos this week. Among them, a full page Bakersfield Californian ad, a billboard asking “Why’d You Do It, Kevin?” that went up in McCarthy’s district Monday, and a series of digital ads that start today, including this one. Here’s Kate Irby’s story in the Sac Bee.
ARBALLO VS. NUNES — CA-22 incumbent GOP Rep. Devin Nunes‘ Democratic challenger Phil Arballo’s campaign insiders tell POLITICO he’s going to drop new ads today which will run more than 350 times in the Fresno broadcast market in addition to cable. His campaign has made 21,000 phone calls with 150 local volunteers, Arballo says. Watch the latest spot, “Results,’’ here.
POLITICO’S CALIFORNIA BALLOT TRACKER: No state does ballot initiatives quite like California, and interest groups are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to sway voters. It’s all here in POLITICO’s guide to California’s 2020 ballot initiatives.
READY FOR HIS SIGNATURE — “Long-fought nurse practitioner independence bill heads to Newsom,” by Kaiser Health News’ Rachel Bluth
TOUGH READ — “This sex trafficking victim is behind bars, suicidal. She seeks Newsom’s clemency,” by the LA Times’ Anita Chabria.
CHECKS IN THE MAIL — “California begins sending extra $900 to those unemployed due to COVID-19,” by the LA Times’ Patrick McGreevy: “The lump-sum payment covers three weeks of benefits retroactive to the week that ended Aug. 1 at the rate of $300 per week and is paid for by the federal government.”
BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE — “‘Reckless & selfish.’ Huge Burning Man bash leads mayor to close San Francisco beach,” by the Sac Bee’s Don Sweeney.
— “How California doctors are fixing how we die,” by The Mercury News’ Lisa M. Krieger.
SO LONG, FAREWELL — “People are fleeing the Bay Area. But they might not be gone for long,” by the SF Chronicle’s Anna Kramer: “The Bay Area’s high cost of living has become untenable for many frustrated with the shelter-in-place. Some are making permanent moves elsewhere, but others see making their way back post-pandemic.”
— “Bay Area housing to get $1 billion investment from union pension fund as financing dries up,” by the SF Chronicle’s J.K. Dineen: “A union pension fund is set to inject $1 billion into Bay Area housing construction, an initiative the group says will help finance more than 4,000 new residential units by 2025.”
— “Lyft says it could leave California if drivers become employees,” via SFChronicle’s Carolyn Said.
BRACING FOR NOVEMBER — “Zuckerberg warns of post-election violence,” by Axios’ David Nather and Mike Allen: New measures to curb the threat “include throwing a flag on posts by candidates who claim premature victory, and forbidding new ads within a week of Election Day.”
DANGEROUS BUT ATTRACTIVE — “Tesla could be the most dangerous stock on Wall Street, investment researcher says,” by CNBC’s Keris Lahiff.
GOTTA SEE IT — “Doris Day’s California Home Is Listed for $7.4 Million,” by Town and Country’s Annie Goldsmith.
END OF AN ERA — “How Legal Weed Destroyed a Counterculture Icon,” by POLITICO’s Ben Schreckinger: “Constantly running afoul of authorities, the magazine became an icon of the counterculture and an indispensable guide to the underground world of cannabis. … “But now that cannabis has become legal across much of the country, High Times finds itself in a different kind of trouble.”
— “Students at South Bay Labor Camp Face Challenges Accessing Online Classes,” by NBC7’s Damian Trujillo.
— “Controversy over USC professor’s use of Chinese word that sounds like racial slur in English,” by the LA Times’ Nina Agrawal.
Alexis Marks Mosher of Apple … former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is 7-0 … POLITICO’S Jeremy B. White
SACRAMENTO PRESS CLUB — Rep. Eric Swalwel (D-Calif.), Wednesday at noon: He’ll discuss his new book, “Endgame: Inside the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump” with @JohnDiazChron, @NikkiLaurenzo and POLITICO’s @cmarinucci. Join on Facebook. Free and open to all.
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