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Pete Peterson promptly promoted at Pepperdine

Pete Peterson, the 2014 Republican candidate for California Secretary of State, has been named interim dean of Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy.

Pete PetersonPeterson, 48, of Santa Monica, will remain executive director of the school’s Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership while doubling as interim dean starting Aug. 1. He took 46.4 percent of the vote in November’s election, losing to Democrat Alex Padilla.

“Pepperdine offers America’s most unique graduate program in public policy – an education I was grateful to receive about a decade ago, and one that directly informed my own run for statewide office,” Peterson said in a news release. “I’m looking forward to bring my experiences in civic engagement and technology learned through my Davenport Institute work to this new position, as my recent campaign taught me the importance of these issues in addressing today’s public problems.”

Peterson’s release said that since November, he has joined the advisory councils of the Public Policy Institute of California and the bi-partisan reform organization California Forward. He also maintains a blog at rightlyunderstood.com.

The Pepperdine School of Public Policy’s founding and current dean, James Wilburn, announced this month that he’ll become dean emeritus, go on sabbatical for a year and then return to the classroom for the 2016-17 academic year.

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Fun with numbers: Statewide candidates

I thought it might be interesting to see in which counties some of our statewide candidates did best, per the unofficial results as they stand this morning.

The Democrats did best in the Bay Area – shocker! The Republicans most-concentrated support was found mostly in sparsely-populated far Northern California, including several counties – Modoc, Glenn and Tehama – that have signaled their desire to secede from the Golden State. In controller candidate Ashley Swearengin’s case, some southern Central Valley counties – Madera and Tulare – ranked high, too, perhaps due to her name recognition as nearby Fresno’s mayor.

Gov. Jerry Brown (D)
1.) San Francisco – 87.5 percent
2.) Alameda – 80.9 percent
3.) Marin – 78 percent
4.) Santa Cruz – 77.9 percent
5.) (tie) San Mateo and Sonoma – 74.2 percent

Neel Kashkari (R)
1.) Modoc – 72.6 percent
2.) Lassen – 67.2 percent
3.) Glenn – 65.9 percent
4.) Tehama – 64.6 percent
5.) Madera – 62.6 percent

Secretary of State-elect Alex Padilla (D)
1.) San Francisco – 77.7 percent
2.) Alameda – 72.9 percent
3.) Santa Cruz – 69.5 percent
4.) Marin – 68.9 percent
5.) Sonoma – 66.1 percent

Pete Peterson (R)
1.) Modoc – 74 percent
2.) Glenn – 73.1 percent
3.) Lassen – 72.7 percent
4.) Tehama 70.2 percent
5.) Sutter – 66.7 percent

Controller-elect Betty Yee (D)
1.) San Francisco – 80.6 percent
2.) Alameda – 75.1 percent
3.) Santa Cruz – 71.4 percent
4.) Marin – 70.6 percent
5.) Sonoma – 68.2 percent

Ashley Swearengin (R)
1.) Modoc – 71.4 percent
2.) (tie) Lassen and Glenn – 71.1 percent
3.) Tulare – 67.7 percent
4.) Tehama – 67.3 percent
5.) Madera – 66.4 percent

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Musings on the state GOP, Congress, pot & Kansas

A few observations on Tuesday’s elections, with a hat tip to my colleagues Paul Rogers and Ken McLaughlin for their thoughts:

CALIFORNIA GOP: Tuesday’s results seem to be a vindication and victory for the “Brulte Doctrine,” spelled out by the state GOP chairman at his party’s convention in March: Don’t waste much effort trying to win unwinnable statewide races, but instead rebuild the party by “grinding it out on the ground” in local races – a strategy that will take several election cycles to bear larger fruit.

Despite their buzz, Ashley Swearengin and Pete Peterson couldn’t make it happen statewide: as it stands now, it looks like a 5.6-point loss for Swearengin in the controller’s race and a 5-point loss for Peterson in the secretary of state’s race. Those are respectable losses but losses nonetheless, and I submit that the GOP putting more money and party resources behind them might actually have resulted in wider margins of loss – I think they did this well in part by distancing themselves from partisanship.

Instead, Brulte’s GOP concentrated on denying Democrats their legislative supermajorities – and now it’s “mission accomplished” in the state Senate while the Assembly still hangs by a thread as vote-by-mail ballots are counted.

In doing so, the GOP is hatching a new generation of up-and-comers. Exhibit A: Catharine Baker, who at this hour is up 3.8 points over Democrat Tim Sbranti in the East Bay’s 16th Assembly District race. Baker, an attorney hailed as a cream-of-the-crop “California Trailblazer” at her party’s convention in March, was far outspent by Sbranti, who already had some name recognition among the electorate as Dublin’s mayor. But GOP officials and activists came from around the state to pound the pavement for her, and it looks like it could pay off with the first Bay Area Republican sent to Sacramento since Guy Houston was term-limited out (in the same part of the East Bay) in 2008.

CONGRESS: Anyone who’s surprised that Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate and gained seats in the House isn’t very well-versed in history. A two-term president’s party almost always loses ground in his sixth-year midterm.

Sure, President Barack Obama’s job-approval rating stood at 42 percent (per Gallup) on Tuesday. And President George W. Bush’s job approval was at 38 percent in November 2006 as Democrats picked up five Senate seats and 31 House seats, making Harry Reid the new Senate Majority Leader and Nancy Pelosi the new House Speaker. And President Ronald Reagan was riding high with a 63 percent job-approval rating in November 1986 (although he was about to take a precipitous dive as details of the Iran-Contra scandal came to light) as Democrats picked up eight Senate seats, putting Robert Byrd in the driver’s seat, and five House seats to cement the majority they already had.

The exception was President Bill Clinton, who saw his party pick up five House seats in 1998 – a stinging defeat that left Republicans in control but forced Newt Gingrich to resign as Speaker – while the Senate was a zero-sum game. Clinton, under fire for the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, still was at a 66 percent job-approval rating at the time.

But Bubba always had a way of defying the odds.

MARIJUANA: If Oregon and Alaska got enough younger voters out to the polls in this midterm election to approve marijuana legalization, just imagine what California can do in 2016’s presidential election with an initiative forged in the trial-and-error of four other states’ experiences.

KANSAS: Kansas has had private-sector job growth that lags the rest of the country, and adopted tax cuts big enough to blow a still-widening hole in the state budget requiring school closings, teacher layoffs and increased class sizes – but doubled down with its Republican governor and Republican U.S. Senator. I guess you can lead a Jayhawk to water, but you can’t make it drink…

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New Padilla TV ad, Peterson radio ad in SoS race

Alex Padilla, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, launched a 30-second television ad Thursday highlighting his personal background and legislative track record.

Padilla, a state senator from Pacoima, doesn’t mention his Republican rival, Pete Peterson, at all in the ad.

The ad is running on cable channels in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles media markets, said Rose Kapolczynski, Padilla’s campaign consultant. “We’ll be adding in broadcast a little bit later, and we’ll be on now through the election.”

She wouldn’t say how much the campaign is spending to air the ad, but said it’s not as much as usual.

“If we had all of the statewide races heavily on the air, we’d be paying a premium for every spot,” she said. “But most of the statewide candidates are not heavily advertising, so for a down-ballot race like ours, we’re getting more bang for the buck.”

Peterson hasn’t aired television ads, but has a new one-minute radio ad that urges voters to look beyond party labels, underscores that Peterson sees the job as nonpartisan, and touting his newspaper endorsements.

Campaign finance reports show Padilla had about $410,000 cash on hand but about $4,600 in debt as of Sept. 30, but it seems he has collected at least $342,000 in new contributions since then. Peterson basically was in the red as of Sept. 30 – $52,500 cash on hand but $81,100 in debt – and has raised only about $46,000 in major contributions since.

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GOP steps it up for convention, Sec’y of State race

California Republicans are trying to build some momentum headed into November’s elections, scheduling the state’s most powerful Republican as a convention keynote and putting a former state chairman in charge of fundraising for one of their statewide candidates.

Kevin McCarthyRep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, who takes over later this week as House Majority Leader, will speak at the state GOP’s 2014 Fall Convention on Saturday, Sept. 20 in Los Angeles.

“Majority Leader Elect McCarthy personally understands the importance of California in protecting the Congressional majority,” California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte said in a news release. “He is an innovative thinker whose policies are making life better for Americans each day, and he fights for California each and every day.”

Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon said McCarthy “supports policies that encourage job growth by freeing the private sector to do its job. Those policies are exactly what we need here in California, and I am excited that our delegates will get to hear this message from him.”

The party in May announced U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kent., will speak at the convention as well.

Meanwhile, Pete Peterson – the Republican candidate for secretary of state – announced today that former state GOP chairman Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills will serve as his campaign’s finance chairman.

Pete Peterson“Whether you have known Pete Peterson for years as I have, or you have recently met him, as the San Jose Mercury News Editorial Board has, you reach the same conclusion: Pete Peterson is the superior candidate for Secretary of State,” Sundheim said in a news release. “Peterson has the fresh ideas and experience to make a real difference.”

Peterson said he shares Sundheim’s “focus on government reform and increased citizen participation in the political process. With rampant corruption in Sacramento, one of the lowest voter turnouts in the country, and businesses fleeing the state, it’s clear that we need to change the way things are being done.”

Sundheim will need to shake the money trees vigorously. Peterson’s campaign had only about $12,000 cash on hand as of mid-May, and has reported raising only about $25,000 in major donations since then. His opponent, state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, had about $340,000 banked for the campaign as of mid-May, and has reported raising about $40,000 in major donations since.