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This is Essential Politics, our in-the-moment look at California political and government news.

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Ballot measuresCalifornia LegislatureCalifornia Republicans

John Cox, Republican candidate for governor, pledges 'six figures' support for initiative to repeal gas tax hike

John Cox speaks at a tea party conference in Fresno. (Silvia Flores / For The Times)
John Cox speaks at a tea party conference in Fresno. (Silvia Flores / For The Times)

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox said Wednesday he will donate a “substantial” amount of money — in the “six figures” — to a campaign to qualify a ballot measure that would repeal increases in gas taxes and vehicle fees in California.

Cox, a wealthy businessman, was named Wednesday as honorary co-chairman for the campaign, which needs to collect 584,000 signatures to qualify a constitutional amendment for the November 2018 ballot that would repeal the tax increases and require action by voters to raise taxes in the future.

“In my travels across the state, I am finding working Californians who are questioning whether they can even stay in a state that the politicians are making even more unaffordable, even as we speak,” Cox said at a news conference at California Republican Party headquarters in Sacramento. “You also can’t keep making it unaffordable for businesses to be in this state.”

Cox’s announcement means there are two Republican candidates for governor backing separate initiatives to repeal the gas tax. Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) is launching a different initiative — which is not a constitutional amendment — that would invalidate the gas tax and vehicle fee increases approved by the Legislature in April.

Both ballot measures are opposed by the Fix Our Roads coalition, which includes business and civic groups. The coalition is open to talks on alternatives to ballot measures, said spokeswoman Kathy Fairbanks.

“We will campaign against it if it should get on the ballot,” Fairbanks said. “Voters are fed up with the traffic, with the bad roads and they want to move forward and fix our roads.”

2018 electionCongressional races

Republican Justin Fareed hasn't announced he's running for Congress again, but fundraising numbers suggest he will

 (Javier Panzar / Los Angeles Times)
(Javier Panzar / Los Angeles Times)

Republican Justin Fareed has tried to be coy about whether he'll make a third run for Congress against Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara). 

He filed in August for the 2018 election cycle but hasn't made any announcements on social media or elsewhere about his plans. He told a local TV news station that he's "been encouraged by friends, family and countless voters" to throw his hat in the ring again. An email to supporters this week said he's still "exploring" whether to run. 

But his campaign fundraising tells a different story.

Fareed, 29, reported raising $215,565 between July 1 and Sept. 30, and he had $258,528 in cash on hand as of that date. That's after he reported receiving no campaign contributions in the first six months of the year.

Another Republican, civil engineer Michael Erin Woody, has said he's challenging Carbajal. He reported raising a total of $11,200 as of Sept. 30, nearly half of it in the form of a loan to himself.

Last year, Fareed lost to Carbajal by nearly 7 percentage points in a race to fill the open seat of Lois Capps, who was retiring. It was one of the most expensive races in the state.

A campaign spokesman for Fareed did not return calls for comment.

2018 electionState government

Conservative activists want to overturn California's 'sanctuary state' law through a 2018 ballot measure

Gov. Jerry Brown with state Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), the author of the “sanctuary state” legislation. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Gov. Jerry Brown with state Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), the author of the “sanctuary state” legislation. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Marco Gutierrez, the founder of Latinos for Trump, gained overnight notoriety during the 2016 presidential campaign when he warned against the spread of his culture. 

"If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner,” he said on national television.

On Tuesday, Gutierrez and a handful of conservative activists from Fresno filed a referendum to allow voters to block the implementation of California's landmark "sanctuary state" law. Supporters would have to collect 365,880 voter signatures by early January to qualify the measure.  The law would then be on hold pending the results of the November statewide election, when voters would be asked whether to keep or reject the law.

The law, signed earlier this month by Gov. Jerry Brown, will limit law enforcement agencies from questioning and detaining people for immigration violations. It was the centerpiece of an effort by legislative Democrats to seek new protections for some 2.3 million people living illegally in California from the Trump administration's call for more deportations.

Ben Bergquam, a Trump supporter and small business owner who identified himself on Tuesday as a spokesman for the small group pushing the referendum, said the effort is led by five citizens in California and a few others across the state.

"It is a lawless law by politicians," he said.

2018 electionCongressional races

A Darrell Issa challenger has raised nearly $1 million this year, and it's not the one who almost beat him

 (Courtesy of Mike Levin for Congress)
(Courtesy of Mike Levin for Congress)

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) is on the defensive this year, with three Democrats already jumping in to challenge him fresh off a narrow 1,621-vote victory in 2016.

One of them, environmental attorney Mike Levin, has raised more than $918,000 since the beginning of the year, the most of any challenger facing Issa. Nearly all of that money has come from individual donations, campaign finance records show, and Levin posted the biggest fundraising numbers of any California challenger last quarter.

Another challenger, real estate investor Paul Kerr, outraised Issa during the third quarter of 2017, pulling in $504,327 in his first campaign finance report thanks to more than $262,000 of his own money.

And Doug Applegate, the retired Marine colonel who nearly bested Issa last year, has raised $734,704.

All three challengers still have much less money in the bank than Issa, who has raised more than $1.6 million this year and reported $852,028 in cash on hand as of Sept. 30.

Levin reported having $530,326 in the bank, while Kerr had $229,040 and Applegate had $263,160.

Issa is considered one of the most vulnerable GOP members in California but is also one of the wealthiest

California Legislature

California Assembly leader on harassment in the Capitol: 'Clearly we need to do more'

Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, is among six legislators to sign the letter (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)
Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, is among six legislators to sign the letter (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

A blunt open letter on a culture of sexual harassment and mistreatment in the Capitol has prompted Democratic leaders to pledge to review the Legislature's policies on handling abuse complaints.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) said the scandal over Harvey Weinstein's treatment of women has prompted introspection in the California statehouse.

"When women stand up to point out those abuses, I applaud their bravery and I cringe for their pain. My discomfort is for what they have gone through, not for how it reflects on the institution I represent," he wrote in a Huffington Post blog post Tuesday afternoon.

Rendon said a special panel on harassment — which was created in June to examine the Assembly's reporting protocols — will examine the issue. The panel is chaired by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), one of six sitting legislators to sign the original letter.

Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said Monday night, prior to the letter's publication, that the Senate also can do more to protect its workers.

"The Senate is reviewing its procedures and policies to ensure we are doing all we can to promote a safe workplace and culture of respect, to encourage and protect victims who come forward and to demand accountability from those who violate these policies,” De León said in a statement.

The letter was published Tuesday morning with more than 140 signatories. More than 200 women have now signed the letter.

Other California elected officials chimed in on Twitter with their support. 

5:05 p.m.: This post incorrectly stated the special subcommittee on harassment was established in August. It was created in June.

This post was originally published at 4:53 p.m.

2018 electionCongressional races

California's GOP members got a big boost from group that held fundraiser with Vice President Pence

 (Andrew Jansen / Associated Press)
(Andrew Jansen / Associated Press)

California Republican House members have received more than $1 million from a committee that recently benefited from a fundraiser with Vice President Pence. 

California Victory 2018 -- a joint fundraising committee that helps political action committees belonging to Pence and Rep. Kevin McCarthy as well as congressional campaign accounts of McCarthy and seven California Republicans -- received proceeds from a string of Pence fundraisers across the state last week.

The fundraisers were originally scheduled for the week of Sept. 14 but were canceled at the last minute due to hurricane recovery efforts. 

McCarthy's campaign account received the biggest chunk of money, about $392,700 from California Victory 2018. The other seven members who got money were Reps. Jeff Denham of Turlock, David Valadao of Hanford, Steve Knight of Palmdale, Darrell Issa of Vista, Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa, and Mimi Walters of Irvine, whose campaign accounts received $70,000 to $97,000 each.

All seven are considered some of the most vulnerable California Republican members in next year's midterm elections.

California Victory 2018 transfers to candidate committees

CommitteeKevin McCarthy for Congress (CA-23)Amount$392,700.80
CommitteeDenham for Congress (CA-10)Amount$97,278.82
CommitteeValadao for Congress (CA-21)Amount$97,278.82
CommitteeSteve Knight for Congress (CA-25)Amount$93,460.89
CommitteeIssa for Congress (CA-49)Amount$90,067.18
CommitteeRohrabacher for Congress (CA-48)Amount$89,303.60
CommitteeRoyce Campaign Committee (CA-39)Amount$81,531.99
CommitteeWalters for Congress (CA-45)Amount$70,474.13

Source: FEC reports

Democrats who have been deemed vulnerable by the National Republican Congressional Committee didn't get nearly as much help from joint fundraising committees. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) and Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert) each received $8,670 from the Bold Frontline Democrats PAC, which also benefits the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) took in $1,942 from the Bera Victory Fund.

California Democrats

Join us in person or online for our event with Nancy Pelosi and state political leaders Wednesday

 (Bill Clark / Roll Call)
(Bill Clark / Roll Call)

Wednesday night I'll sit down with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to get her view of national news, working with the Trump White House and the future of the Democratic Party. 

Following our conversation, Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers will host a panel discussion about the view from California. Joining him will be state Sen. Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), Republican strategist Luis Alvarado, UCLA political scientist Lynn Vavreck and Alma Hernandez, executive director of SEIU California

We'll livestream the event here starting at 7 p.m. Or if you're in Los Angeles, there's still time to get tickets.

2018 election

Sen. Dianne Feinstein had $4 million in the bank just before she announced another run

 (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein had nearly $4 million in the bank with just over a year to go before the 2018 election.

Campaign finance reports also show she raised just over half a million dollars in the last three months as speculation swirled about whether she would run for reelection and whether a formidable Democrat might challenge her in the June primary. The contributions overwhelmingly came from individual donors, rather than political action committees or other campaigns.

Feinstein announced last week that she would run for a sixth time, just ahead of an announcement over the weekend that state Senate leader Kevin de León would seek the seat. At least one other prominent Democrat — billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer — also is considering a bid.

Feinstein is a prodigious fundraiser. In her last three campaigns, she raised between $8 million and $13 million, and she has the wealth to personally fund a campaign if necessary.

Feinstein's campaign raised an additional $400,000 in the week since her announcement, Feinstein strategist Bill Carrick said. Some of the new cash likely came from a Los Angeles fundraiser she attended on Oct. 10.

2018 electionPolitics podcast

California Politics Podcast: The battle between Feinstein and De León

California voters will face a big choice, and an unusual one, in next year's race for the U.S. Senate: A long-time incumbent Democrat challenged by a prominent politician from her own party.

The decision by state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) to challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2018 is already dividing Democrats on issues ranging from seniority and pragmatism to battling President Trump and promoting issues favored by the party's liberal base. 

On this special episode of the California Politics Podcast, we take a closer look at the early dynamics of the race. We also assess the chances of additional prominent candidates from both major parties jumping in the contest, as well as the keys to success for Feinstein and De León.

I'm joined by Times staff writer Melanie Mason and Marisa Lagos of KQED.

California Legislature

Read the letter: Women in California politics call out ‘pervasive’ culture of sexual harassment

A screenshot from the website launched by California women in politics decrying harassment. None
A screenshot from the website launched by California women in politics decrying harassment.

A state legislator who was groped by a male lobbyist weeks after she was sworn into office. A legislative staffer-turned-lobbyist who for years would only wear pantsuits in order to project a "business-only" air. A government affairs director who faced inappropriate advances from an associate in full view of male colleagues, who seemed oblivious as it happened.

As Hollywood takes a hard look at itself in the wake of the spiraling Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal, the women of California politics are publicly declaring: Us too.

More than 140 women — including legislators, Capitol staff, political consultants and lobbyists — are signing onto a letter calling out the “pervasive” culture of sexual harassment and mistreatment that plagues their industry.


The signatories include six of 26 women in the Legislature, two retired lawmakers, a Board of Equalization member and officials from the state Democratic and Republican parties.

2018 electionCalifornia Democrats

Feinstein supporters launch super PAC to support her in reelection battle with fellow Democrat

 (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles TImes)
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles TImes)

A prominent Democratic campaign firm announced Monday that it is launching a super PAC to back California Sen. Dianne Feinstein after her reelection bid was challenged by a fellow Democrat.

“We see the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. Senate under attack by political opportunists, and we are determined to fight just as hard for her as she fights for California,” said Sean Clegg, a partner at SCN Strategies, which represents Gov. Jerry Brown, Sen. Kamala Harris, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and others.

Donors can contribute unlimited amounts to a super PAC, which cannot coordinate with a candidate’s campaign.

The San Francisco group announced the formation of the “Fight for California” super PAC one day after Democratic state Senate leader Kevin de León announced he would challenge Feinstein, and on the same day a pro-De León super PAC was launched.

De León faces many hurdles in challenging Feinstein, a decades-long fixture in California politics. Among the most pressing is money.

De León lacks the donor base of other candidates who have run for statewide office. The nearly $3 million he has in state campaign accounts can’t be used in a federal race. He does enjoy support from donors because of his leadership role, but they may be reluctant to open their wallets and anger Feinstein.

2018 electionCongressional races

Half a dozen GOP House incumbents were out-raised by Democratic challengers in California

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), shown in 2014, had lower fundraising figures than competitors. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), shown in 2014, had lower fundraising figures than competitors. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)

Half of California's 14 Republican House members were out-raised by upstart Democratic challengers, the latest campaign finance filings show.

Six of the seven are considered vulnerable in next year's midterm elections.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), who has several opponents who have put hundreds of thousands or more into their own campaigns, was the most behind. Royce raised a total of $705,069 from July 1 to Sep. 30. Democrat Andy Thorburn reported raising $2,142,477, of which about $2 million was a loan to his own campaign. Gil Cisneros, another Democratic challenger, reported raising $732,789, including a $550,000 loan to himself.

Discounting personal money, Republican Rep. Tom McClintock of Elk Grove had the biggest deficit. Democratic challenger Jessica Morse raised six figures more than him, with $268,271 in contributions.

Embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter of Alpine also posted anemic numbers compared with his challengers. Democrats Ammar Campa-Najjar and Josh Butner raised $170,304 and $175,146 respectively, nearly double the $91,446 Hunter reported raising at the end of the quarter.

Rep. Steve Knight of Palmdale was out-raised by a competitor and nearly overtaken by another. Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) also had lower fundraising figures than competitors.

And although Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) reported raising more last quarter than his seven Democratic challengers, more than $75,000 of that was a partial restitution payment from a case in which his former campaign treasurer admitted to embezzling funds from the campaign. Without the restitution check, Rohrabacher's third-quarter fundraising was actually just $272,606, less money than Democratic challengers Hans Keirstead, Omar Siddiqui, and Harley Rouda each took in.

The combined amounts Democrats running against Walters, Knight, Issa, Hunter and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) have raised so far this year are higher than the incumbents they're facing as well.


5:01 p.m.: This post was updated to clarify that Rohrabacher was out-raised by opponents when discounting the restitution payment his campaign received.

2018 electionCongressional races

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's campaign gets paid back some of the money an ex-treasurer stole

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in a 2014 file photo. (Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in a 2014 file photo. (Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)

One of the biggest checks written to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's campaign account last quarter wasn't from an individual donor or a political action committee.

It was for $75,033.36 — a part of the restitution Rohrbacher's campaign is owed by disgraced former campaign treasurer, Jack Wenppo Wu.

Wu pleaded guilty in January to embezzling more than $300,000 from Rohrabacher's reelection committee. In April, he was sentenced to a year in county jail and five years of probation, and was ordered to pay $202,351.36 in restitution to Rohrabacher's campaign.

He served as the committee's volunteer campaign treasurer for about seven years, Rohrabacher's attorney has previously said. The campaign discovered the funds were missing in 2015, when a campaign manager tried to use one of the committee's debit cards and the transaction was denied.

Without the restitution check, Rohrabacher's third quarter fundraising was actually just $272,606, less money than Democratic challengers Hans Keirstead, Omar Siddiqui, and Harley Rouda each took in.

California DemocratsCalifornia in Congress

Sen. Kamala Harris raises $440,547 this quarter

 (Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

Sen. Kamala Harris raised $440,547 in the last three months, bringing her war chest to $1.5 million with five years to go before she's up for reelection.

Most of Harris' contributions come from individual donors.

Unlike House members, who have to file reports electronically with the Federal Election Commission, senators file reports on paper with the Secretary of the Senate. The Senate then forwards those paper reports to the FEC, which pays a company to hand input them into a digital system. It's a time-consuming process that can delay for weeks or months the release of public information about how much a candidate raises or spends.

Harris is among about 20 senators who voluntarily submit campaign finance reports directly to the Federal Election Commission so they can be made public more quickly.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) does her filing the old-fashioned way, so some time could pass before a detailed picture emerges of how much she raised and spent in the third quarter.

The last report showed Feinstein with $3.6 million in the bank, a fraction of what she will need ahead of the 2018 election, especially with the announcement over the weekend that state Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) is challenging her and speculation swirling about who else will jump into the race.

2018 electionCongressional races

Former local news anchor will challenge Palm Desert Rep. Raul Ruiz

 (Courtesy of Dan Ball for Congress)
(Courtesy of Dan Ball for Congress)

Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert) has picked up a second Republican challenger in his Riverside County district.

Republican Dan Ball, a former local news anchor, announced Monday that he'll run in the 36th Congressional District against Ruiz. 

Ball, 42, most recently worked at KMIR-TV in Palm Desert but left the station in February and is now working as a real estate agent. Born and raised in Ohio, Ball is an Air Force veteran and spent more than two decades as a TV reporter and anchor, including stints in Riverside County and Las Vegas. He has lived in Palm Desert for the last three years.

"It's time this district had a strong community leader represent us in Washington who will put constituents first, work across the aisle and actually get things done for our community," Ball said in a statement announcing his run.

He also faces fellow Republican Kimberlin Brown, an actress and businesswoman who announced last week.

Ruiz, who is considered one of the least vulnerable congressional Democrats being targeted next year, reported having more than $1.7 million in cash on hand as of Sep. 30. His opponents, who entered the race after the reporting deadline for the third quarter, have not reported raising any money.

2018 electionCongressional races

This California congressional candidate has lent himself $2 million to run against Rep. Ed Royce

Democrat Andy Thorburn's campaign finance report stands out just a bit from other first-time candidates in California.

That's because the health insurance executive lent himself $2 million to kick off his bid against Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) in Orange County's 39th Congressional District.

Many first-time candidates might raise $100,000 in their first few months, if they are lucky. But a handful of aspiring California politicians have made some rather substantial contributions to kick-start their campaigns.

Thornburn's loan was the largest, but six other Democratic candidates have also lent their campaigns more than $100,000. All of them are running for one of two districts in the traditional Republican stronghold of Orange County, either against Royce or against Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) in the coastal 48th Congressional District.

DistrictCandidate nameLoan amount
District39thCandidate nameAndy ThorburnLoan amount$2,000,000.00
District39thCandidate nameGil CisnerosLoan amount$550,000.00
District48thCandidate nameOmar SiddiquiLoan amount$250,000.00
District39thCandidate nameMai-Khanh TranLoan amount$200,000.00
District48thCandidate name Stelian OnufreiLoan amount$200,000.00
District48thCandidate nameHarley RoudaLoan amount$175,000.00
District48thCandidate nameMichael KotickLoan amount$128,525.00

At $550,000, lottery winner Gil Cisneros made the second largest loan to his campaign. Rounding out the list are doctors, lawyers and real estate magnates.

It's not unusual for political party committees, presidential candidates or senate candidates to lend their campaigns large sums, but it is fairly unusual to see a House candidate make a multimillion-dollar loan.

California Legislature

California will build greener under legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown signed climate legislation from Assemblyman Rob Bonta, center. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Gov. Jerry Brown signed climate legislation from Assemblyman Rob Bonta, center. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed legislation that will require state officials to consider greenhouse gas emissions when choosing construction materials. 

The measure, AB 262, was authored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) and directs the Department of General Services to draft standards for emissions. Bidders seeking state contracts for materials including steel, glass and insulation will have to start meeting them by July 1, 2019. 

"The goal of this bill is laudable and consistent with our efforts to address climate change," Brown wrote in a letter when signing the legislation. 

The governor asked state officials to continue looking at state contracting and submit more recommendations about ways to reduce emissions.

2018 electionCongressional races

This Republican is running to the right in California: 'I will help the president make America great again'

Tim Donnelly, former California state assemblyman and current columnist for the far right outlet Breitbart, announced a bid for Congress on Monday, saying he'll have President Trump's back.

In a state that's positioned itself as the leader of the so-called resistance to Trump, it's an unusual statement of support for the president, but not that unexpected given the source.

Donnelly is known as a conservative firebrand and a tea party favorite who has run for multiple offices. In a video announcing his bid for the 8th Congressional District, Donnelly says he'll advocate for a wall along the Mexican border, a repeal of the Affordable Care Act without replacing it, an end to laws requiring people to be vaccinated, and literal interpretation of the Constitution.

It's his second try for the district, which ranges along most of the state's eastern border from Joshua Tree to near Lake Tahoe. Yucca Valley Rep. Paul Cook has represented the area for three terms.

In the video, Donnelly claims the district "overwhelmingly" supported the president in the last election, but Trump won with just 54.7% of the vote.

"We sent him to D.C. because he said he would make America great again, and we've watched as the Congress, this ‘do-nothing’ Congress has stymied him at every turn," Donnelly said in an announcement video. "So my promise to you is very simple: I will back the president’s agenda because I know you back it—and I’ll have his back because he’s got yours."

Cook won reelection in 2016 with 62.3% of the vote. His most recent campaign finance report shows he has $761,287 in cash on hand. Three Democrats have also filed to run against Cook.

Donnelly also ran for governor in 2014, finishing third in the primary behind Gov. Jerry Brown and Republican Neel Kashkari.

2018 electionCalifornia DemocratsState government

Kevin de León, fresh off U.S. Senate campaign launch, celebrates free community college law

California Senate leader Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
California Senate leader Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

The day after state Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) announced that he was challenging U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, he celebrated a new law that will waive fees for first-time full-time community college students for one year.

“Regardless of who you are and where you come from, regardless of your legal status, your country of origin, your hue of skin, everyone deserves access to higher education,” De León said Monday at a press conference in front of students at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights. “This is about real opportunity. This is an investment the state of California is making in each and every one of you.”

Tuition-free college was one of the proposals that became popular among liberal voters during the 2016 presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). De León needs to appeal to those voters in his challenge against Feinstein, a fellow Democrat who has represented California in the Senate for a quarter-century.

De León declined to comment on his campaign, which he launched Sunday in an email to supporters. He said he would discuss his candidacy at a formal kickoff event Wednesday.

Still, the race was in the backdrop of the event Monday, with attendees wishing him good luck on his campaign, and California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Oakley introduced De León as someone “I believe may be the next senator of the state of California.”

Hours earlier, a pro-De León group announced the formation of a super PAC that can accept unlimited donations to support his candidacy. Liberal voters are often critical of such groups because of their concerns about the influence of money on elections.

De León said he did not know about the political action committee.

“I’m not even aware of it,” he said.

California LegislatureState government

Gov. Brown vetoes required paid pregnancy leave for California teachers, school employees

Ruth Greene of Venice High School talks to parents and students at Crenshaw High School in 2015. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)
Ruth Greene of Venice High School talks to parents and students at Crenshaw High School in 2015. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Required paid pregnancy leave is off the table for California teachers and school employees. 

On Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed AB 568, which would have required schools to give teachers six weeks of paid time off for pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriages or other reproductive health issues.

Brown cited two bills he previously signed that allow employees to receive pay for maternity and paternity leave. 

"I believe further decisions regarding leave policies for school employees are best resolved through the collective bargaining process at the school level," Brown wrote in his veto note. 

Currently, teachers who want to take time during a pregnancy have to use vacation or sick days, or forfeit pay.

The measure would have applied to public schools, charters and community colleges. 

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) wrote the legislation.

The bill was one of the last the governor reviewed before the Legislature adjourned for the year. 

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