End of Brown Era – Pat & Jerry

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

At the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs post election conference yesterday at Cal State L.A., political consultant Mike Madrid declared that the Brown era of politics focused on building and infrastructure is over with the end of Jerry Brown’s fourth term as governor. He wasn’t referring to just the current governor but to his father, Pat Brown, as well. Both Browns focused on building from water works and highways to the bullet train.

Darry Sragow, editor of the California Target Book echoed that thought, calling Jerry Brown brilliant, but as governor, he “replicated” his father as a builder of things and didn’t move too far on social programs. Sragow predicted that would change under new governor, Gavin Newsom.

Sragow argued that Newsom would have to do something positive to establish his governorship and create a vision for the future. Making a statement by blowing up the high-speed rail is not the way for Newsom to begin his new administration, Sragow suggested.

Madrid concurred saying Newsom will need to do something big and bold. “That takes money,” Madrid said, “and he’s got it.”

A newly released report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office declared that California’s budget is flush.

Politico California Playbook’s Carla Marinucci, the third panelists, argued that Newsom must be concerned with the jobs picture that would change dramatically as technology and automation advances.

Madrid said the new governor would be defined by how he deals with social problems. He noted that the state’s problems with poverty, income inequality, and housing all happened with Democrats in charge. However, he gave credit to Newsom for raising these issues in the campaign and said he believed Newsom is prepared to address them.

Long time Los Angeles journalist and moderator of the popular “To the Point” radio program, Warren Olney, moderated the panel.

Whatever course Newsom lays out, he will have to navigate the legislature that despite having a supermajority of his own party will have their own ideas how to spend the state’s surplus dollars. Sragow predicted the legislative would be “headstrong” in dealing with the new governor.

When challenged that the supermajority Democrats could splinter into ideological camps and even break apart, Sragow pushed back on the idea saying that the Democratic coalition, despite a wide range of views, would hold.

Republicans, however, are a different story according to the panel.

In reviewing the election results, Marinucci talked of two important groups that deserted Republicans: suburban women and college educated women and men.

Republican consultant Madrid was tougher on his party. He said Republican prospects in California were “nil!” He said conservatism was designed to lift people up through economic policy but that the GOP, which complains about Democratic identity politics, is now a party of white identity politics. He emphasized the point claiming that anyone who is against the boondoggle high speed rail because it would hurt the economy but is for building a wall which would also hurt the economy does so for one reason—unspoken was the issue of race. He predicted the collapse of the GOP coalition of coastal white color Republicans and inland blue collar workers.

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Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti, delivered the program’s keynote address. In a post speech Q&A, the Pat Brown Institute’s executive director Raphael Sonenshein asked Garcetti, what criteria he would use in deciding whether or not to run for president. Garcetti’s travels to other states and support for Democratic candidates in the recent election have been interpreted as laying the groundwork for a presidential run.

Garcetti said mayors should consider running for the presidency because as chief executives they deal with major issues that a president would face such as security and trade but also gain unique perspectives from local, hands-on issues. He said the key decision point is whether he feels he can add something that is different than other candidates, including new ideas.

If he decides to run he will have lots of company.

ditor and co-publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily.

Gavin Newsom and Impending Tax Increases

Gavin newsomIn his successful campaign for governor Gavin Newsom promised to advance a number of programs like universal pre-school, health care for all and education that will be costly. Where does he get the money while also considering how to reform the state’s tax system?

Shortly after the election, fellow Democrats, including Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon are also talking tax increases.

If the Democrats secure the two-thirds supermajority in the legislature required to raise taxes—which appears likely at this time—the foundation will be in place for tax increases.

In a state notable for decades as the home of tax resisters, there are signs that voters may not object. In the last few statewide elections voters have raised income and sales taxes and rejected repeal of gas taxes and extending property tax breaks.

On the local level, voters continually vote to raise numerous taxes.

How many more tax increases are in the future and where will Newsom draw the line?

Is Newsom planning on confronting Proposition 13 when the split roll appears on the 2020 ballot—a position his predecessor, Jerry Brown, avoided?

Newsom is already listening to Senator Bob Hertzberg, re-elected Tuesday, to consider an overhaul of the entire tax system that would include some form of service taxes. If Newsom wants to spend political capital on such an ambitious effort it would likely come soon.

However, Newsom has said such an effort would take time. Look for another tax reform committee to be formed—which would be the fourth such committee over the last 20 years.

Or the incoming governor could rely on Hertzberg’s connection with Nicolas Berggreun’s Think Long Committee to do the heavy lifting on formulating a tax reform plan….or cut an overall tax package deal in the legislature that could include a move on commercial property taxes.

Another question: Will tax reform venture into the difficult area of spending issues, particularly the cost of pensions?

And what happens if the economy turns sour? Are all bets off on reform…or is that the time to go for it considering California’s current tax structure was birthed in the gloom of the Great Depression.

Look for early signs on tax questions in the budget and official announcements from the governor’s office.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Will California Blue Wave Lead to Insolvency Faster?

However, California is another story, remaining as blue as can be, and headed right into insolvency. In the contest for governor, California voters chose Democratic politician Gavin Newsom over Republican businessman John Cox, who is not a politician.

California goes ‘Full Nuthouse’ as my friend Leslie Eastman reports at Legal Insurrection. In addition to electing Newsom, Eastman points out voters rejected a repeal of the gas tax, and says, “a majority of Californians are thrilled that Sacramento will squander more of their money.”

A friend pointed out “California is a state where everyone bitches about how poor they are and how they need rent control, and yet constantly vote to raise their taxes every chance they get. The voters of this state have never seen a tax increase or bond measure they didn’t love.”

Brilliant.

Californians also re-elected long-time incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, rejecting Democratic State Senator Kevin de Leon (Los Angeles). Dumb and dumber was the choice there.

There were some surprises as well. California Democrats flipped three Republican districts: Rep. Steve Knight, (CA-25th District) lost to Democrat Katie Hill, Republican Diane Harkey lost Rep.Darrell Issa’s 49th District to Democrat Mike Levin, and Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher lost his race in the  48th District to Democrat Harley Rouda.

In statewide races, it appears Marshall Tuck has beat Assemblyman Tony Thurmond in the race for Schools Superintendent. Tuck is a real reformer. “Tuck made a name for himself in Los Angeles turning around high-poverty, low-performing charter schools before then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recruited him to improve schools within the conventional public school system,” the San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board said in their endorsement of Tuck. “Marshall Tuck is the clearest and most emphatic voice for reform in the field.”

Democrat State Senator Ricardo Lara and Steve Poizner appear in a near tie for Insurance Commissioner.

California’s Legislative Democrats appear poised to regain their supermajority in the state Senate and retain the supermajority in the Assembly.

Democrat Assemblywoman Anna Caballero beat Republican Rob Poythress in the race to succeed outgoing Republican Sen. Anthony Cannella in the Central Valley 12th Senate District.

Incumbent Republican State Senator Andy Vidak surprisingly lost his reelection against Democrat Melissa Hurtado in Senate District 14.

“Picking up both seats would give Democrats 28 seats in the Senate and restore the supermajority they lost in June when voters recalled Josh Newman of Fullerton,” sacbee.com reported.

The ballot initiatives were another surprise. Proposition 3, the water bond, was thankfully defeated. “With millions of dollars of unspent water bond money from 2006 and 2014 water bonds, why is there yet another a water bond on today’s June Primary ballot, and another on the November ballot?” I wrote in June 2018.

Proposition 5 was defeated, which would have allowed homeowners age 55 and older to sell their current homes, purchase a replacement property anywhere in the state and transfer the property tax assessment from the home they sold to the home they bought. The opposition lied and claimed that the state would have lost millions of dollars if Prop. 5 passed. Not so – Prop. 5 would have encouraged empty-nesters to sell their large family homes and downsize without being penalized. And it would have meant more money with the sale to the new owners.

Proposition 6, the gas tax repeal was also defeated – California’s high gas taxes and high car registration fees will remain. Sadly. Prop. 6 would have also amended the state constitution to require voter approval of all future increases in fuel and vehicle taxes or fees.

Proposition 8, which would have authorized State Regulation of Kidney Dialysis Clinics, was defeated. Thankfully.

Proposition 10, repeal of Costa-Hawkins, was defeated. Prop. 10 would have allowed state government to regulate rent, and would actually have created an even worse housing shortage in California.

Sacramento’s Measure U sales tax increase, a slush fund for greedy politicians, was passed by voters, despite that Sacramento city revenues are more than $120 million up from 2010, and up 16 percent in just the past two years.

Measure U doubles the 2012 half-cent sales tax increase and makes it permanent, raising Sacramento’s sales tax to 8.75 percent.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg and most of the members of City Council can’t or won’t be honest about their gross spending and particular taste for other people’s money. Despite promising to spend the Measure U tax increase money wisely, the additional $50 million will likely go straight to unfunded city pensions, which are expected to increase by $60 million a year and are projected to hit $129 million by 2022-23.

What is needed is spending discipline rather than continuing to pick the pockets of the taxpayers and business owners.

Buried at the end of the SacBee article on Measure U’s passage, is this little gem:

“Even with Measure U’s passage, the city’s budget is still projected to be in the red. The city deficit is estimated to be $7.6 million in fiscal year 2019-2020 and $28 million in 2022-23, according to the city budget. If Measure U had failed, the city’s deficit was projected to grow to $47.3 million in fiscal year 2019-2020, and to $80 million in 2022-23.”

Will California’s Blue Wave lead to insolvency faster?

Costa Mesa Republican Sen. John Moorlach’s fiscal report, “Financial Soundness Rankings for California’s Public School Districts, Colleges & Universities” finds 2/3 of California’s 944 School Districts bleed red ink. That report follows his March 2018 reports on the state’s 482 cities that found 2/3 of them in the red; of 58 counties, 55 suffered deficits and only three enjoyed positive balance sheets. His May 2018 report on the 50 U.S. states found only nine were financially healthy, with California ranked among the worst, in 42nd place.

There is only so much we faithful, native Californians can take. How much beautiful weather is worth this leftist insanity, and/or before this leftism turns into liberty crushing authoritarianism? Just sayin’ …

This article was originally published on the Flash Report

Once again, California Prop. 13 is ‘on the table’

property taxIn the contest to see who will be California’s next governor, political pollsters haven’t given Republican John Cox much of a chance of prevailing over former San Francisco mayor and current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. After all, California remains a fairly progressive state and the Newsom campaign has more money. Cox, to his credit, has closed the gap significantly in recent weeks and stays focused on his message highlighting that California’s government is dysfunctional, and what can be done about it.

Newsom and Cox have had only one debate — which was actually billed as a “discussion” rather than a true debate — and no further debates are scheduled, although Cox has agreed to them. Given his advantages in the race, Newsom appears to be steering clear of anything that could trip him up.

However, their one debate was illuminating in one, troubling respect. In a discussion of tax reform connected to housing, Newsom was asked directly whether Proposition 13 was “on the table.” He answered, “everything is on the table.” This is a comment to send cold shivers down the spines of Californians whose homes are their lifelong and most important investment.

To read the entire column, please click here.

To read last week’s complete column, please click here.

This article was originally published by the Orange County Register

Time to hit the pause button on high-speed rail

High speed rail constructionJerry Brown did not invent the idea of a high-speed rail system to connect Northern and Southern California.

It was voted on by the state Legislature and ratified by voters years before he returned to the governor’s office in 2011. But for the last eight years, as cost estimates have skyrocketed and federal and private sector funding for the project has evaporated, Brown has become high-speed rail’s most persistent defender.

Only weeks away from the election to replace him, neither candidate for governor appears to share the depth of Brown’s commitment to a statewide rail system.

Fellow Democrat Gavin Newsom only talks about it under duress, and has indicated that he would adopt a much more gradual and incremental approach. Republican John Cox wants to scrap it altogether. Polling shows that public support has dropped considerably since Californians voted to authorize the project 10 years ago. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

Trump Blasts Newsom’s Universal Healthcare Plan for Illegal Immigrants

trump-debatePresident Donald Trump on Friday blasted California Lieutenant Governor and gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom for supporting universal health care for illegal immigrants, asking, “What happens if the whole world decides to go to California?”

Speaking at a North Carolina event, Trump said Newsom wants “health care for everyone. He wants everything for everyone. He wants to open up the borders. He wants to take care of everyone.”

“And I was just saying, what happens if the whole world decides to go to California?” Trump continued.

Trump said Newsom’s plan means “they’re going to take care of the whole world.”

“Where do you stop?” Trump asked. “You’re going to take care of a lot of people, but they’re not going to be able to do it for very long because it’s not going to work.”

Earlier this week, Newsom said he would like to extend San Francisco’s universal healthcare plan for illegal immigrants that he ushered in when he was mayor to the rest of the state.

“I did universal health care when I was mayor. Fully implemented, regardless of pre-existing conditions, ability to pay, and regardless of your immigration status,” Newsom said. “San Francisco is the only universal health care plan for all undocumented residents in America. Very proud of that. We proved it could be done without bankrupting the city. I’d like to see that extended to the rest of the state.”

Newsom also claimed on Twitter that offering universal health care to illegal immigrants is “the economically smart thing to do.”

“If we don’t offer coverage to everyone – regardless of income or immigration status – we will still carry the expense,” Newson said. “Universal access isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s the economically smart thing to do.”

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Poll: Half of CA Republican Voters Unlikely to Vote in Dem-on-Dem Senate Race

Dianne FeinsteinWith no Republican candidates to choose from, 47 percent of Republican likely voters and 24 percent of independents “say they would not vote in [the Senate] race.”
New poll from Public Policy Institute of California has Gavin Newsom with 24 point lead for governor:

How the California Republican Party Can Win Elections Again

CA GOPThe California Republican Party (CRP) has been a disaster since Gov. Pete Wilson’s re-election campaign and Gov. Schwarzenegger accelerated its demise when in 2006 to save his failed governorship he passed Assembly Bill 32 – the California Global Warming Solutions Act, which has done nothing to lessen emissions in California. The fault lies with the leadership of the CRP and the big-money donors who pushed for the top two primary now called “the jungle primary.” Republicans are also losing in the state because stalwart conservatives (#NeverTrumpers, Evangelicals and older-white voters) long for the day of Ronald Reagan or some pure conservative candidate that doesn’t exist. Democrats though only care about winning and will do anything possible to achieve power.

As a former candidate for the 43rd California State Assembly district in 2014 where I made the top two against the Democratic incumbent there were valuable lessons that I took away from my election. Subsequently, my election into the top two allowed me CRP voting rights at the county and state level, and I was also elected to the CRP presidential nominating committee that assisted drafting the party platform. That platform is now being followed by Trump to incredible economic success. In other words, Republicans can win, but here’s what needs to happen.

FIGHT

The days of the congenial white male of George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, John McCain, and most of all, Ronald Reagan are over. Fight or don’t run. California isn’t working and Joel Kotkin, Michael Shellenberger, Ed Ring, and Heather MacDonald give detailed reason on issues ranging from unsustainable environmental laws to racism emanating from the Democratic party. Ed Ring also gives policy recommendations for any candidate struggling to find his or her voice on the campaign trail in California.

As an example here’s how John Cox can defeat Gavin Newsom on global warming by asking this questions backed by facts. Gavin, if global warming is really happening and your party has the answers by overtaxing energy and relying on green energy that doesn’t work then answer me this from Dr. Walter Williams:

“Today’s CO2 concentration levels worldwide average about 380 parts per million. This level is trivial compared to earlier geological periods. For example, 460 million years ago, during the Ordovician Period, CO2 concentrations were 4,400 ppm, and temperatures were about the same as they are today.”

And other periods of history like the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) are warmer than today with average global temperatures as high as 73 F.

Then explain to me Gavin how exactly are humans causing global warming when the earth was significantly hotter when humans or dinosaurs hadn’t evolved on the global scene yet and more significantly the industrial revolution or fossil fuels weren’t yet in existence? Ask this simple question and watch him and the entire Democratic Party stumble at the polls.

This can also be done with abortion. Make it a geopolitical issue instead of a social one by asking: It’s been proven here that countries that allow abortion are more hegemonic in nature (the United States, Russia and China); therefore Mr. or Ms. Democrat do you believe in war more than you believe in peace by allowing abortion?

Democrats have been trapping Republicans for decades with false canard-like statements; reverse the narrative on them and fight back otherwise California will continue cratering into the abysmal dustbin of failed leftist states. These are just two examples of how this can be done but if you aren’t ready to know your facts, have the ability to build a narrative that improves people’s lives and answer your critics then don’t run in California.

THE ECONOMY, STUPID!

Highlight how Republican policies are always better economically than Democratic ones. From single-payer health care that would cost over $400 billion a year in California to the highest taxes in the nation the CRP has dropped the ball for decades on economic issues. Here are the facts candidates can use on the trail to help Republicans in California keep control of Congress and possibly win the governorship.

The Republican-killer – President Bill Clinton – used Republican polices to Democratic gains and left office with unusually high approval ratings understood Americans and I’d add Californians by advocating, “it’s the economy, stupid.” President Donald Trump seems to have figured that axiom out with May’s U.S. jobs growth forecast that blows past expectation according to the Wall Street Journal. Over 223,000 jobs were added in May and the unemployment rate went down to 3.8% and is the lowest level since 1969. Black unemployment is at record lows and the number of Americans employed set its ninth record under Trump.

Somehow the CPR hasn’t figured out what Trump, Clinton and other Americans have always known: in America people vote with their wallets, first and foremost. The CPR and California Republican candidates can win in California by also hammering home this fact from the Los Angeles Times, “There now are more job openings in the U.S. than unemployed workers to fill them.” Use Clinton tactics and call it the Republican economy and go into minority neighborhoods and ask if Gavin Newsom and the Democrats provided this type of economic progress under President Obama? The answer is no and you will pull percentages of votes away from Democrats you never thought possible.

WALK PRECINCTS

The biggest mistake candidates make is not walking precincts. What voters want is to know you care enough to speak to them and can explain complex issues in an understandable fashion that doesn’t have them spending hours reading The Economist or need a master’s in public policy to understand what you are saying. By walking precincts it allows you to connect and I know from experience that every precinct I walked or in particular this one volunteer named Marv walked, I won. I was a no-name candidate who only raised $26,000 but beat the former Democratic incumbent Chairman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee everywhere I walked the precinct.

President Obama said this in a recent interview for BBC’s Today program about meeting hostile, biased people and voters:

“When you meet people face to face, it turns out they’re complicated, there may be somebody who you think is diametrically opposed to you when it comes to their political views, but you root for the same sports team. You find areas of common ground. It’s hard to be obnoxious and cruel in person.”

And that’s exactly what I encountered on the campaign trail – people who told me they were openly hostile to Republicans listened to me – and ultimately they voted for me as well. Party insiders told me I would receive roughly 8-14% of the vote and I got over 35% by walking the district. Republicans can win the 43rd district again and can also win a majority of California; there is no reason to split the state into three different parts.

Democrats have been going into Red states and Christian churches – supposedly hostile places for decades – it’s time for Republicans to use these three tactics and start winning in California again. It will take multiple election cycles but California can once again be a Republican stronghold that includes every race, color and creed in the state. America needs for California to once again be an incubator of dreams and upward mobility if the CRP will stop longing for Reagan and candidates begin following the three simple steps that I know are a proven template to electoral success.

Gavin Newsom Embodies California Liberalism

Gavin newsomGavin Newsom — the former San Francisco mayor, current lieutenant governor, and likely next governor of California — embodies Golden State liberalism: the perfect appearance, the bear-hug embrace of identity politics, the celebration of Silicon Valley moguls tempered by hand-wringing about income inequality, the grandiose, fanciful plans for building the state into a modern utopia.

This is no accident. For better or for worse, Newsom has already done a lot to shape modern California. As San Francisco’s mayor from 2004 to 2011, he pushed the outer boundary of Democratic party politics leftward. His first gubernatorial-campaign ad reminded viewers that he issued same-sex marriage licenses way back in 2004, in calculated defiance of state law. As mayor, he banned plastic bags, the use of Styrofoam in restaurants’ takeout containers, and sales of cigarettes in convenience stores, pharmacies, grocery stories, and big-box stores. He signed laws mandating composting and requiring retailers to display the radiation levels of the cellphones they sold. He gave 400 city employees the authority to write citations for littering. He proposed, but never succeeded in passing, a surcharge on all drinks with high-fructose corn syrup.

Since taking over as lieutenant governor in 2011, Newsom hasn’t had a ton of governing responsibility. In 2012 and 2013, he found the time to host a weekly show on Al Gore’s old Current TV. The Los Angeles Times’ limp endorsement of Newsom in 2014 is unintentionally hilarious: “Being lieutenant governor mostly serves as a perch for gubernatorial candidates-in-waiting. Nevertheless, voters are asked every four years to choose among the aspirants, so here goes . . .”

With little to do in his day job, for the past few years Newsom put his energies into promoting state initiatives. In 2016, he supported and the state adopted Proposition 47, which made just about any crime involving less than $950 — shoplifting, grand theft, forgery, fraud, receiving stolen property or writing bad checks — a misdemeanor for sentencing instead of a felony. Also that year he proposed Proposition 63, prohibiting the possession of large-capacity gun magazines and requiring certain individuals to pass a background check in order to purchase ammunition. The measure passed, but in June 2017, a federal judge issued an injunction, saying that it probably violates the U.S. Constitution. (California’s attorney general is appealing the injunction.)

Yet as Newsom and his like-minded allies unleashed a cornucopia of bans and restrictions and mandates from San Francisco and Sacramento, quite a few Californians started falling out of love with the state. More Americans are leaving California than joining it, concluding that the cost of living, taxes, regulation, traffic, and other problems are just too unbearable, despite the gorgeous coastlines and weather and everything else that once made the Golden State so golden. The state has the highest poverty rate in the country after accounting for its stratospheric cost of living, and the second-highest housing costs, behind only Hawaii.

All of this is probably something of an abstraction to Newsom. His has been a life of privilege that would get a typical Republican office-seeker torn to shreds. His grandfather, William Newsom, was close friends with Pat Brown, the governor of California from 1959 to 1967 and the father of current governor Jerry Brown. His father, also named William, attended St. Ignatius prep school with oil heir Gordon Getty. In 1975, Jerry Brown picked the younger William Newsom to be a state judge. He remained a close, trusted friend to the Getty family, and when young Gavin Newsom had entrepreneurial dreams, the Gettys were happy to invest. In 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle found that “Getty, or trusts and firms he controls, is lead investor on 10 of Newsom’s 11 businesses.”

Newsom likes to describe himself as a small-business owner with “a strong bias for entrepreneurs, a strong bias for those putting themselves on the line and taking risks.” One wonders just how risky a business venture can be when the Getty family and their fortune is so consistently ready to help out. …

Click here to read the full article from the National Review

In California, the “Jungle” Is Predictable

Gavin NewsomOne doesn’t expect the unexpected in California elections. A progressive Democrat will become governor; Dianne Feinstein will return to the Senate yet again; and so on. Nuances still matter, particularly at the congressional level, in part due to the “jungle primary” system, but nothing much has changed. Statewide, the ideological die, at least for now, is cast.

Perhaps the best news for Republicans, with the surprisingly strong showing of businessman John Cox, is that they will actually have a candidate on the November ballot for governor. Businessman Cox easily beat out the Democratic challengers to the front-running Democrat, former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. Some conservatives, like Newt Gingrich, think that Cox has a serious shot at victory in November, but all GOP candidates combined pulled in barely 35 percent of the vote.

Here’s the reality: California Republicans, constituting barely a quarter of the electorate, now make up a smaller cohort than Independents. Combined with Independents who lean to the GOP, they perhaps could win 40 to 45 percent of the vote in November—still not good enough. The big money that once filled the coffers of Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon now goes overwhelmingly to the other side: the top three Democratic gubernatorial candidates raised over $70 million, more than ten times what the GOP’s top candidate, the largely self-funded Cox, had drummed up by the end of last month.

Even more than money, the problem for Republicans is demographics, which suggest a continued decline of the state party. In the last decade, the state gained 2 million Hispanics and 1 million Asians—both groups now trending overwhelmingly Democratic—while losing almost 800,000 whites, the GOP’s vanishing base. Migration patterns show middle-aged, middle- and working-class families exiting a state increasingly dominated by the unmarried childless and older, affluent white voters, including many who have profited from the rise in housing prices and are the most bullish on the state’s future.

The Republican brand’s weakness was dramatized in the success of former state insurance commissioner Steve Poizner, a onetime Republican now running as an Independent for his old job. Poizner, who sold his GPS company to Qualcomm for $1 billion in 2000, came in first, with 43 percent of the vote. Another promising result was the first-place finish in the state superintendent’s race of school-reform advocate Marshall Tuck, also an Independent, against teachers’ union-backed Tony Thurmond. Poizner and Tuck will face the progressive money machine’s full fury in November, but each has resources with which to fight back. Such non-party candidates, suggests former GOP congressman Tom Campbell, could draw some moderate Democrats and help reestablish a modicum of policy debate.

At the top of the ballot, Newsom’s large plurality suggests that he will become the next governor. Given his strong financial support from the state’s public employees, the tech oligarchy, inner-city real estate developers, and Bay Area progressives, he represents the apotheosis of California gentry progressivism. Newsom’s showing displays how dominant the Bay Area machine, with its media, union, and tech support, has become. He swamped former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a charter school advocate, even beating him easily in L.A. (Villaraigosa’s handlers may have erred in promoting him primarily as an anti-Donald Trump candidate rather than as an independent reformer. All Democrats compete to show their hatred for the president.)

In the manner of the old Miller Lite commercial, Newsom is much like departing Governor Jerry Brown, but less filling. Brown may sometimes sound hysterical about climate change, recently suggesting that it would kill “billions,” but he has also been willing, sometimes, to speak hard truths, notably on fiscal issues. His stature allowed him to go off the progressive reservation—for example, shooting down egregious Title IX abuse—and get away with it. Newsom, a good-looking, callow opportunist, lacks this kind of uncalculated independence. When California’s economy was on the rocks, he seemed concerned about the state’s business climate, even visiting arch-rival Texas in search of inspiration. He expressed doubts about Brown’s out-of-control bullet train project. But as the economy improved, particularly for state workers and oligarchs, Newsom learned how to stop worrying and love the bullet train, though it is increasingly unpopular with voters. He has reinvented himself as a “futuristic” prospective governor, a kind of digital moonbeam who sees tech as the solution to all problems.

California’s economy is slowing some amid the national surge, but as long as it seems healthy, Newsom will feel little urgency to address the state’s serious long-term issues: pension-driven fiscal realities, a dearth of high-wage growthoutside the Bay Area, poorly performing schools, a huge homeless problem, and decaying infrastructure.

From a national perspective, the big California story is in Congress. Senator Feinstein’s reelection, based on her four-to-one margin over progressive Latino climatista Kevin de Leon, seems assured. Any Republicans who show up in November will likely back her. She will remain the most moderate, reasoned voice in the party, until she fades from the scene.

The real competition is at the House level. GOP seats are in play in seven districts that went for Hillary Clinton, mostly in suburban Southern California or the Central Valley. In many of these, an increasingly minority population spells trouble for Republicans. And with President Trump’s approval rating at roughly one-third among California voters, House Democrats have no reasonable fear of losing seats. In places like Orange County, Trump gets somewhat more support (37 percent), according to a recent Chapman University poll. Voters in this former GOP stronghold are evenly divided on whether the country would be better off under Democratic or Republican governance. Expect at least two to three California seats to flip, given the big Democratic edge in money and organization. GOP stalwarts like Devin Nunes and Kevin McCarthy won their primaries by sizable margins, though, and will be back to battle the Democrats in D.C.

With Republicans an afterthought, California’s Democrats seem poised to exert greater influence on the national stage. However wrongheaded the Golden State may seem to outsiders, it remains easily our most economically and culturally dominant state—and its massive influence likely will continue to push Democrats further left. The anti-Trump Resistance, consisting of media, oligarch-funded activists, academia, and government unions, regards the state as a role model. In the past, California Democrats have failed to win the presidential nomination, with the party choosing more pragmatic figures such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, candidates who could campaign effectively in what is now considered Trump country. But with many national Democrats increasingly contemptuous of red states, the door might open for a California presidential candidate. In 2020, that could mean three contenders—Senator Kamala Harris, presumptive-Governor Newsom, and L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti—crowding the stage. Of the three, Harris is clearly the front-runner. Part Asian, part black, and all San Francisco, she is an intersectional dream.

Yet as they consolidate control, California Democrats must face some profound contradictions, as the Marxists would say. The gentry—tech oligarchs, real estate speculators, and venture capitalists—stand comfortably with the left on symbolic race, gender, and environmental issues. But these party bankrollers could be hard-pressed if they face the prospect of higher taxes to pay for a state single-payer health-care system, massive housing subsidies, and Governor Brown’s choo-choo, not to mention the state’s ever-soaring pension costs. As Amazon is learning in Seattle, progressive politicos have figured out where to find the biggest piles of cash. Aggressive taxation of tech companies is already becoming a trend in Silicon Valley.

A stronger, motivated grass-roots Left could constitute the greatest immediate challenge to Governor Newsom. Many Californians, particularly millennials and minorities, face a lack of high-wage jobs, soaring rents, and essentially insurmountable barriers to homeownership. A majority of Californians, according to some surveys, express dissatisfaction with the state’s bifurcated economy. The disappearance of upward mobility makes these voters susceptible to embracing such things as rent control, higher minimum wages, free college, and free health care. They will support ever higher taxes on businesses and on generally white, affluent Californians. The call for new spending will become more problematic once the state comes back to earth from its Silicon Valley and real-estate inflation highs, which for now keep the operating budget in the black.

At some point, Newsom and the Democratic nomenklatura will have to deal with pervasive conditions of diminished opportunity, racial polarization, and fiscal weakness. When these realities eventually impinge, the state’s progressive rulers may find themselves on the defensive, and—if confronted with a plausible opposition—vulnerable, at long last.