Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Can California Secretary of State hopeful Pete Peterson help the state Republican Party?

Pete Peterson

Frank Stoltze

Pete Peterson is a Republican candidate for California Secretary of State in 2014.

Pete Peterson is a Republican who supports abortion rights, backs gay marriage and endorses an immigration reform plan that includes a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants. In fact, he points out California’s state constitution was written in English and Spanish in 1849.

The next Secretary of State likely won’t deal with any of these issues. But Democrats repeatedly have used them to sink Republican candidates in socially liberal California. Right now, the GOP holds no statewide office. Less than 30 percent of voters statewide are registered as Republican.

So maybe Peterson can help lift a sinking party. He’s taking an interesting approach to his first run for office.

“More than Secretary of State, I am running to be California’s first ‘Chief Engagement Officer,’” Peterson told a Sacramento news conference Wednesday.

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Assembly Speaker pushes California agenda in DC

John Perez Doug LaMalfa

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Reunion on Capitol Hill: California Assembly Speaker John Pérez trades business cards with former Sacramento colleague and current GOP Congressman Doug LaMalfa of Redding.

The California legislature is in recess, so Assembly Speaker John Pérez headed east this week to meet with his Capitol Hill compadres. Pérez talked up California's recovery and other particular interests.

Politicos come to Washington for money or regulation issues. Standing outside the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, with whom he'd just met, Pérez put it this way: "This is a great opportunity for us to continue to partner on California initiatives where there's a federal overlap."

Pérez told a House Democratic luncheon that California is back — but it'll take cooperation and partnership to keep up economic growth. He's continuing talks with the Department of Education about the extra $2 billion California received this year for K-12 funding. He also outlined for Democratic lawmakers how the state is implementing the Affordable Care Act.

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A rare bi-partisan public forum on immigration reform

Congressman David Valadao

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Freshman Republican Congressman David Valadao represents a Central Valley district that is 71% Latino. His parents, who are of Portuguese descent, immigrated to the U.S. in 1969.

House Republicans are in the bullseye of labor activists, religious leaders, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Silicon Valley executives and others pushing for immigration reform. Activists plan to keep the pressure on during the August recess. 

But one GOP lawmaker from Bakersfield is stepping away from his hard-line colleagues, initiating a conversation this weekend about immigration with a colleague from across the aisle.

Freshman GOP Congressman David Valadao will join Illinois Democratic Congressman Luis Gutiérrez on Saturday afternoon at an immigration town hall in Bakersfield. Gutiérrez is one of the bipartisan "Gang of Seven" group that has been crafting a comprehensive immigration bill in the House. They'll be joined by United Farmworkers Union co-founder Dolores Huerta, as well as other community and religious leaders.

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Immigration reform: Anything less than citizenship is so 'last century,' says Rep. Becerra

Democratic Congressman Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Democratic Caucus Chair Becerra updates reporters on status of "Gang of Seven" immigration bill

President Obama made the rounds of Spanish-language TV networks Tuesday night to talk about immigration reform. The President said there's a problem with the House GOP approach of tackling reform in pieces, which could result in the topics that are hardest to swallow being saved for last "If you’ve eaten your dessert before you’ve eaten your meal – at least with my children – sometimes they don’t end up eating their vegetables."

There's a lot of talking going on about immigration reform on Capitol Hill — much of it in back rooms. And to pick up on the president's analogy, the question is whether those legislative vegetables are served buffet-style or mixed into a casserole. 

The House is still waiting for the bi-partisan "Gang of Seven" members to introduce their comprehensive immigration bill. It's unlikely to happen before Labor Day.

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Maven's Morning Coffee: protests a test for Eric Garcetti, Long Beach mayor won't run for reelection, Villaraigosa gets a job

Frank Stoltze/KPCC

The ongoing protests related to the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial present Eric Garcetti's first real test as mayor.

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Today is Wednesday, July 17, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:

Headlines

The protests over the verdict in the George Zimmerman case have been the first real test for Eric Garcetti as mayor, per the Los Angeles Times. "The disturbances offered a jarring demonstration of how forces beyond his control can disrupt his efforts to shape a new City Hall agenda," according to The Times.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is in agreement that Men's Central Jail needs to be replaced, but it wants further analysis on the estimated $1.37 billion price tag, according to the Daily News.

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