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2018 electionCongressional races

Campaign manager for Orange County congressional candidate resigns following sexual harassment allegations

The campaign manager for Orange County congressional challenger Phil Janowicz resigned last week following allegations he had sexually harassed women while working as a top official with the Democratic Party of Orange County.

Erik Taylor, who had worked for Janowicz's campaign for less than five months, resigned Thursday, according to Janowicz, a Democrat who is running to unseat GOP Rep. Ed Royce in the 39th Congressional District.

In a Facebook statement Friday, Janowicz identified Taylor as a "senior member" of his campaign staff who "vehemently denies the allegations."

"I await the results of the formal investigation," Janowicz continued, adding that "sexual harassment and sexual assault have absolutely no place in our society and absolutely no place on a political campaign."

Janowicz said he first heard about the allegations Tuesday afternoon and called Taylor to ask for an explanation. Janowicz said after that conversation, he immediately asked for Taylor's resignation, which was finalized Thursday afternoon.

Taylor's name, along with the name of a prominent Orange County labor leader, was first publicly mentioned in a report from OC Weekly that detailed the allegations by unnamed accusers.

Efforts to reach Taylor were unsuccessful.

The alleged incidents came to light in part through social media posts inspired by the #metoo campaign that has prompted women to share their experiences with sexual harassment. They caught the attention of many Orange County politicos after a post from Danielle Serbin, chairwoman of the Orange County Young Democrats, demanded that party leaders "call out the harassers, name them and shame them, and remove them from positions of power in our community."

In a statement, the Democratic Party of Orange County said it takes the accusations seriously and promised a raft of changes to its operation, including training for members and volunteers, a code of conduct that applies to all members, staff and volunteers of the party and taking "immediate action" to investigate accusations as they arise.

Elsewhere in California politics, state Senate leader Kevin de León announced Monday that he will hire two outside firms to look into allegations of a widespread culture of sexual harassment in the state Capitol.

Want the Sierra Club's endorsement? Here are its standards

 (Los Angeles Times)
(Los Angeles Times)

The Sierra Club is setting some ground rules for California gubernatorial candidates that may want its endorsement.

No. 1 on the list is independence from the oil industry, which has been a fault line in the Capitol during debates over climate change policies. 

"This year, given how important California's role has become to the nation for leadership on the environment, it made sense to lay out in advance what some of the overall characteristics that the endorsement committee will be looking for in candidates," said Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California.

Other requirements include independence from the tobacco and e-cigarette industry and a commitment to public health, environmental equity and transparency.

Gavin Newsom calls for California to nearly quadruple its annual housing production

Gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom (Jenna Schoenefeld / For The Times)
Gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom (Jenna Schoenefeld / For The Times)

Gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom says California officials should set a goal to help 3.5 million new homes get built by 2025 to stem the state’s housing problems.

“Simply put, we’re experiencing a housing affordability crisis, driven by a simple economic argument,” the lieutenant governor said in a post on Medium outlining his housing plan. “California is leading the national recovery, but it’s producing far more jobs than homes. Providing adequate housing is fundamental to growing the state’s economy.”

To reach that number, which comes from a 2016 analysis by consulting firm McKinsey Global Institute, the state would need to nearly quadruple its annual production of roughly 100,000 new homes a year to 378,000. That amount of new homes in one year hasn't been built since at least 1954, according to permit data from the construction industry

Newsom outlined a number of policy changes he’d make including:

  • Expand by $500 million the low-income housing income tax credit program to build more affordable homes.
  • Allow cities to sequester local tax dollars to help finance new development in certain neighborhoods.
  • Link state transportation funding to local governments’ housing growth targets, which cities and cities currently have little incentive to meet.
  • Revamp local tax incentives so it makes more financial sense for cities to approve new homes.
  • Appoint a homelessness czar.

“There is significant work ahead of us to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis gripping our state,” Newsom wrote in the post. “But I’m committed to turning the tide, because each new unit built and each individual with a place to call their own is one more person who can feel at home in California.”

2018 election

Rent control in California could expand dramatically under a possible 2018 initiative

The Wilshire Valencia apartment complex at 1515 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles. (Gary Leonard / Astani Enterprises)
The Wilshire Valencia apartment complex at 1515 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles. (Gary Leonard / Astani Enterprises)

California’s cities and counties would be able to dramatically expand rent control under a potential 2018 statewide ballot initiative filed Monday.

The initiative would repeal the landmark Costa-Hawkins Act, a 1995 law that barred rent caps on single-family homes and apartments built after that year. If it passes, local governments would be able to implement rent control on newer properties.

“Rent in California is out of control,” Ismail Marcus Allgood, a South Los Angeles resident and a leader with faith-based community organization LA Voice, said in a press release announcing the measure. “I moved here in 2013, and have already moved four times due to my rent being raised. That is just ridiculous. The homeless problem in L.A. is only going to get worse if we don't repeal Costa-Hawkins right now.”

The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a nonprofit community organizing group, is the primary backer of the initiative. In a release, the organization said it had the support of major tenant groups up and down the state and Michael Weinstein, the leader of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. That organization has funded numerous state and local ballot measures, including an unsuccessful effort earlier this year to limit growth in the city of Los Angeles.

Apartment developers and landlords are strongly supportive of the Costa-Hawkins Act, which tenant groups have long fought. Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) introduced a bill last year to repeal the law, but he pulled it before a committee hearing, citing stiff opposition. Bloom has vowed to bring back his bill in 2018.

After the proposed initiative receives an official title and summary from the Attorney General’s Office and a financial analysis, organizers will have to decide whether to collect signatures to place it on the November 2018 ballot.

California Legislature

California Senate hires investigators to look into sexual harassment allegations

California Senate leader Kevin de León will hire two outside firms to look into allegations of a widespread culture of sexual harassment in the state Capitol.

De León announced Monday he has hired the law office of Amy Oppenheimer to conduct an external investigation into harassment and assault allegations, and the consulting firm CPS HR Consulting to review Senate policies on harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

De León also sent letters to lobbyists in the Capitol community detailing how existing rules protect non-employees.

"There's always more employers can do to protect their employees," De León said in a statement. "Everyone deserves a workplace free of fear, harassment and sexual misbehavior and I applaud the courage of women working in and around the Capitol who are coming forward and making their voices heard.

The women behind an open letter sent last week calling out a “pervasive” culture of mistreatment in the political industry said that De León's actions were insufficient.

More than 140 women, including legislators, Capitol staff, political consultants and lobbyists, signed the letter. 

"To find the truth and rebuild trust, we need a truly independent investigation, not a secretly hand-picked self-investigation," said Adama Iwu, a government affairs director for Visa who spearheaded the campaign. "We need full transparency. How was this firm selected? Who will they report their findings to? What exactly are they investigating? Is the Assembly involved?"

Meanwhile, the women who have signed the letter, who have coalesced into a group called "We Said Enough," announced they were formalizing their advocacy efforts on Monday by launching a nonprofit organization. 

The group plans to hold forums to "outline a plan of action for improving how harassment and abuse complaints are reported, investigated and addressed."

2018 election

Kevin de León has millions in state campaign accounts that can't be rolled over to his Senate race

Kevin de León (Los Angeles Times)
Kevin de León (Los Angeles Times)

State Senate leader Kevin De León has millions of dollars socked away in state campaign accounts, but federal law prohibits him from rolling over the money into his federal campaign for the U.S. Senate.

So what options does the Los Angeles legislator have as he puts together a campaign to unseat Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a fellow Democrat, in next year's election?

California Democrats

Candidates for California governor debate whether single-payer healthcare is right for the state

The top four Democrats running for California governor took part in a candidate forum Sunday at the Sheraton Park Hotel in Anaheim. (Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times)
The top four Democrats running for California governor took part in a candidate forum Sunday at the Sheraton Park Hotel in Anaheim. (Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times)

The top four Democrats running for California governor stood onstage Sunday for the first major candidate forum, splintering over single-payer healthcare but little else.

The divide on healthcare mirrored the conflict within the Democratic Party both nationally and in California, with progressives — including those who backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for president — aggressively pushing for universal healthcare while moderates and establishment party members want to plot a more deliberative, cautious course.

On almost every other issue, from immigration to making housing more affordable in California, the four gubernatorial candidates aligned on Sunday. They remained cordial throughout the 90-minute exchange, taking only a few subtle digs at one another that would probably go unnoticed by voters paying only casual attention to the race.

The candidates each called for an increase in coverage for mental health and for holding healthcare companies more accountable. They threw sharp jabs at the Trump administration, vowing to take legal action to shield immigrants in California.

State government

Gov. Jerry Brown heads to Washington to talk about the threat of nuclear war

California Democrats

Watch: California's Democratic candidates for governor discuss healthcare issues in Anaheim

California Democratic gubernatorial candidates John Chiang, Delaine Eastin, Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa are in Anaheim to discuss healthcare issues at a forum hosted by the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

The candidates will be asked questions by Times reporter Melanie Mason along with Bob Butler of KCBS radio, Maria Paula Ochoa of Telemundo and and Jeff Horseman of Southern California News Group. The event will be moderated by ABC News correspondent John Donvan.

California LegislaturePolitics podcast

California Politics Podcast: What happens next in Sacramento's discussion of sexual harassment is important

There's a big, challenging question beyond the initial shock of sexual harassment stories told by women working in California politics: What happens next?

On this week's California Politics Podcast, we discuss the allegations that have emerged from an open letter first reported by The Times on Tuesday. And a key part of the next chapter is how legislative leaders and the state's major political parties respond to the concerns raised in the letter signed by more than 140 women.

We also take a closer look at the new effort by wealthy activist Tom Steyer to demand impeachment proceedings against President Trump, and whether the San Francisco Democrat is thinking seriously about jumping into the U.S. Senate race.

And with Gov. Jerry Brown's action on hundreds of bills complete, we offer up a few notable decisions in those final signings and vetoes.

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

California Republicans

Sen. Tom Cotton chides Californians: 'Your sanctuary cities weren’t enough, you had to have a sanctuary state instead'

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton addresses the California Republican Party at its fall convention in Anaheim. (Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times)
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton addresses the California Republican Party at its fall convention in Anaheim. (Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times)

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton told California Republicans they should expect better days ahead, in part, because of liberal overreach by California Democrats on taxes, immigration and other issues affecting the daily lives of working-class Americans.

Cotton invoked the memory of former president and California governor Ronald Reagan as a guiding light, and ridiculed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) as a harbinger of doom.

“All it takes is a little new thinking applied with old principles. The principles of Ronald Reagan,” Cotton told a packed ballroom at the California Republican Party’s fall convention in Anaheim on Saturday.

Cotton’s keynote address hewed toward traditional conservative themes and was peppered with light moments and witty jabs about the Democrats' grip on California politics.

“When Jerry Brown has to veto your legislation because it’s too liberal, you might have to take a look in the mirror,” Cotton told the crowd.

It was a big departure from the speech the night before by GOP firebrand Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former political strategist.

Bannon unleased attacks on former President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He told Republicans they needed to rise up in California or else the progressive left and “lords of the Silicon Valley” would try to secede from the union in 10 to 15 years.

Cotton, who at 40 is the youngest member of the U.S. Senate, is widely believed to be eyeing a run for higher office. During the 2016 Republican National Convention, he was the most active politician on the breakfast circuit, visiting the South Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire and California delegations.

California, of course, is home to more than 5 million Republican voters and has been a wellspring of political cash for GOP presidential candidates.

Cotton’s message of hope has been a running theme throughout the three-day GOP gathering as the state party tries once again to turn things around in left-leaning California. The party’s share of the state electorate has fallen to 26% and no Republican has been elected to statewide office since 2006.

Cotton, however, told the party faithful to remain upbeat. California’s Republican members of Congress play a pivotal role in Washington, and there are ample opportunities to rekindle the party’s presence in Sacramento and throughout the state.

Cotton zeroed in on the new gas tax and vehicle fee hike in the state, which would raise $5.2 billion annually for transportation and mass transit improvements, saying it would hurt ordinary Californians.

“If you live in West L.A. or San Francisco and you have the money to afford a Tesla, maybe you’ll be OK,” Cotton said. “What about the farmer in the Central Valley who has a pickup truck and needs to fill it up three times a week?”

He also took shots at the so-called sanctuary state law signed this month by Gov. Jerry Brown, which will limit law enforcement agencies from questioning and detaining people for immigration violations.

“Your sanctuary cities weren’t enough, you had to have a sanctuary state instead,” Cotton said. “So all your citizens will face greater danger no matter where they live.”

Before he took the stage, the state GOP played a short video introduction of the Arkansas senator, focused on his experiences serving as an Army officer in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Washington, Cotton was a harsh critic of President Obama and is considered a hawk on national defense. During a hearing in June, Cotton also openly mocked the idea of the Trump administration colluding with Russia.

California Republicans

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy criticizes Gov. Brown, lauds Trump at California GOP convention

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) on Saturday blasted Gov. Jerry Brown over Democrats positioning the state as the liberal resistance to President Trump and for legislative efforts to circumvent the president’s policies.

Brown, he warned, could be viewed similarly to southern governors who sought to “pick and choose” which federal laws to uphold during the civil rights era. He focused on Brown's recent signing of a bill to make California a so-called sanctuary state, which will limit law enforcement agencies from questioning and detaining people for immigration violations. 

“I don’t think history will be very kind to Gov. Brown,” McCarthy told a few hundred delegates and guests at a luncheon at the California Republican Party convention in Anaheim.

California is a critical part of Democrats’ efforts to retake the House of Representatives, with a focus on seven Republican-held districts that Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election. Only one of the Republican representatives of those targeted districts had appeared at the convention as of Saturday afternoon, Rep. Mimi Walters of Irvine.

McCarthy said Vice President Mike Pence raised $5 million for the efforts to protect the seats during a recent three-day fundraising trip through California, but he did not otherwise go into detail about the congressional battle expected in 2018.

He instead lashed out at Republican members of the state Legislature who voted for Democratic policies.

“My advice to those Assembly members in Sacramento: You will not win a majority by thinking you’ll be Democrat-light. You will win the majority by showing the differences in the party,” McCarthy said. “You will not win the majority by voting against your own principles on a Democratic policy, and let Democratic targets vote no. You will not win the majority if you’re concerned about being able to stand behind a podium with a Democratic governor instead of giving the freedom to Californians across this entire state.”

McCarthy did not name the members he was speaking about, but it was clear he was referring to Assemblyman Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) and other Republicans who voted for an extension of the state's cap-and-trade program this year. Mayes stepped down as Assembly Republican leader under pressure from others in his party who were upset over his vote for the climate change program, which requires companies to purchase permits to release greenhouse gases.

McCarthy spoke a day after former Trump White House advisor Stephen K. Bannon addressed the group. Bannon has declared "war" on the GOP establishment, of which McCarthy is a member. McCarthy did not push back at Bannon’s remarks, which included criticism of former President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Rather, McCarthy lauded Trump’s vision, compared him to former President Reagan and pointed to economic gains and regulatory reform since Trump took office.

“What a difference nine months and one election makes,” McCarthy said. “What a difference: A man who ran for president on issues and keeps his word and actually enacts the things he promised to do.”

Trump has tried to enact many of his campaign promises but has been unsuccessful on several priorities, including a travel ban on citizens from Muslim-majority countries and a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Tax reform is the latest priority on the Republicans' agenda, and McCarthy promised that Congress would push a package by Thanksgiving that includes lowering rates for small businesses and corporations, and simplifying the tax code from seven income tax brackets to three. He also spoke out in support of one of the more controversial parts of the proposal: eliminating the deduction of state and local taxes.

“I don’t think it’s fair for somebody else to subsidize poor management in California,” McCarthy said. “Look at the entire [tax reform] bill when it comes out, you will pay less. But no longer can Sacramento say, ‘I’m going to raise the rates just because I’ll have the federal government subsidize it.’ They will have to be held accountable for when they want to raise taxes.”

John Chiang endorsed for governor by San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher

Gold Star father Khizr Khan, who clashed with Trump during the election, goes after him again in California

Khizr Khan at the National Union of Healthcare Workers conference in Anaheim on Saturday. (Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times)
Khizr Khan at the National Union of Healthcare Workers conference in Anaheim on Saturday. (Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times)

Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq who feuded with Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, on Saturday criticized the Trump White House for its clash with a widow of a fallen soldier this week.

Khan, speaking to reporters after addressing a National Union of Healthcare Workers conference in Anaheim, said the families of all military members killed in combat deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, especially in the days and weeks immediately following the death of their loved one.

“It was disappointing to see the behavior of [the White House],” Khan said, before criticizing Trump administration officials for standing “in front of the cameras and providing a defense for the indefensible behavior.”

Khan’s comments came just days after the uproar over Trump’s call to the widow of Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Florida, one of four U.S. soldiers who died in an Oct. 4 ambush in Niger.

Rep. Frederica S. Wilson of Florida was with Johnson’s wife, Myeshia Johnson, in a car when the widow took Trump's call on speakerphone. Wilson publicly described Trump's comments as insensitive, saying he suggested that the sergeant knew what he was getting into when he joined the Army.

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, whose son was killed in combat, defended the president’s comments, saying that he advised Trump on what to say and that the president was trying to praise Johnson’s unselfish military service as well as offer words of comfort to his widow.

Khan avoided attacking Trump directly or expanding on his remarks, saying he will address the controversy in more detail after Johnson’s memorial services.

The clash between Khan and Trump ignited after Khan’s speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. There, Khan ripped into Trump, then the Republican nominee for president.

“Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son 'the best of America.' If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America,” Khan said at the convention. “Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities — women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.”

Trump responded by questioning whether Khan’s wife, who stood by her husband’s side during the couple's high-profile appearance, was silent because of her Muslim faith. The controversy ignited by Trump’s jabs at a Gold Star family dragged on for days, and he drew rebukes from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

During his speech to the healthcare union Saturday, Khan lamented the loss of “civility” in national political discourse and pointed squarely at the president. He said the current White House has “sown division” by attacking immigrants and belittling political rivals. 

2018 election

California Teachers Assn. votes to endorse Gavin Newsom for governor

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks with participants of a march in Pan Pacific Park in Los Angeles commemorating the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian genocide in April. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks with participants of a march in Pan Pacific Park in Los Angeles commemorating the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian genocide in April. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The politically influential California Teachers Assn. on Saturday endorsed Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for governor, praising his support for public schools and his promise to hold charter schools more accountable.

“Gavin has long supported increased funding for education and is committed to making investing in students a top priority as governor,” CTA President Eric Heins said in a written statement Saturday. “He supports a public education system that attracts, not attacks, teachers, universal preschool and affordable college for all.”

The move is not entirely surprising given the antagonism between one of Newsom’s top Democratic rivals, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and teachers unions in California.

Villaraigosa launched his career as a union organizer, including for United Teachers Los Angeles, and labor played a critical role in getting him elected to office. But after he tried to gain control of Los Angeles schools, he questioned policies fiercely guarded by teachers unions, such as seniority protections that resulted in regular layoff notices to younger teachers who tend to staff the most challenging schools. He grew to support using student test scores to evaluate teachers and other overhauls opposed by union leaders.

Villaraigosa, who eventually gained control of more than a dozen struggling city schools through a nonprofit, ultimately blasted the city’s teachers union where he once worked as “the largest obstacle to creating quality schools.”

The teachers association also passed over Democrat Delaine Eastin, a long-shot candidate who jumped into the 2018 governor’s race last year. Eastin, who served as California's state superintendent of public instruction, has vowed to put education at the forefront of her campaign.

The key question going forward is how much CTA plans to invest in the governor’s race and how it plans to spend it. In 2014, the union spent $12 million to defeat Marshall Tuck, a huge sum in an obscure race to be state superintendent of public instruction. A Democrat and former charter school leader, Tuck was hired by Villaraigosa to run the nonprofit that oversaw his schools.

Tuck, who narrowly lost his race in 2014 against an incumbent, is running for state superintendent again in 2018. CTA on Saturday also endorsed his opponent, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond).

2018 electionCongressional races

Republican Justin Fareed jumps into race (again) to oppose Rep. Salud Carbajal

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

Republican Justin Fareed announced Saturday that he will make a third run for Congress.

Fareed, 29, lost by nearly 7 percentage points last year to Democrat Salud Carbajal in the 24th Congressional District. It was one of the most expensive House races in the state. He also ran in 2014, but did not make it past the primary.

Speaking to supporters at a restaurant in Santa Barbara, Fareed called Carbajal "at best ... an ineffective politician."

"He gave us lip service last cycle. He said that he will work across the aisle, that he will work in a bipartisan way," Fareed said, noting that Carbajal had voted with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi "more than 97% of the time."

Fareed's announcement came days after he reported raising more than $215,000 for his campaign.

During his campaign last year, Fareed described himself as a "third-generation cattle rancher" and vice president of his family's company, ProBand Sports Industries, which makes medical devices to treat repetitive stress injuries.

In a statement, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Drew Godinich said Fareed's previous failed runs show he doesn't have the "values that families of California’s 24th District are looking for."

"The people of this community know Salud Carbajal’s record of defending our healthcare and fighting for good paying jobs," Godinich said.

California Republicans

Bannon rallies college Republicans at California GOP convention: 'You guys are the cutting edge'

Former Trump advisor Stephen K. Bannon stopped by a gathering of college Republicans in Anaheim on Friday night, telling them it was up to their generation to right the nation’s course.

“You guys are the cutting edge. You’re the vanguard,” he told a crowd of students gathered at a cigar reception at the California Republican Party’s fall convention. “The millennial generation, you guys are the next greatest generation.”

Bannon spoke to the students shortly after addressing about 500 delegates and guests as the keynote dinner speaker at the state GOP gathering. He told them they must continue the movement started by President Trump and others.

“I couldn’t be prouder to be a small part of this revolution. But on your shoulders, it’s going to happen or not. It’s not Trump, it’s not me, it’s not Laura Ingraham, it’s not Sean Hannity. It’s going to be you guys,” he said. “If you ever need any help … track me down. I’ve got your back the entire time.”

Bannon was mobbed by students seeking pictures and autographs on his way out.

California Republicans

Bannon's mention of Sen. John McCain, George W. Bush draws boos at California GOP convention

Mere mentions of former President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) drew loud boos and catcalls as former Trump advisor Stephen K. Bannon derided the GOP leaders in his address to California Republicans on Friday night at their fall convention in Anaheim.

Bannon, who runs the far-right website Breitbart News, blasted Bush for his harsh assessment of Trump and his policies, which the former president delivered at a policy seminar in New York on Thursday. Bush suggested that Trump has promoted bigotry and falsehoods, violating this country’s values.

“President Bush to me embarrassed himself. Speech writers wrote a highfalutin speech,” Bannon said. “It’s clear he didn’t understand anything he was talking about. … Just like it was when he was president of the United States.”

Bannon, who was ousted from the White House in August but said he considers himself Trump’s “wingman,” didn’t stop there. He ripped into Bush, saying he allowed China to grow as a world power under the premise that global engagement might shepherd the county toward democracy.

“There’s not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush’s,” Bannon said.

Bannon also had no love for McCain, who has openly clashed with Trump and helped torpedo Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

He praised McCain’s military service, but said as a politician, “He’s just another senator from Arizona.”

The boos from the crowd of Republican donors and activists show how much the state party has changed as its influence has waned and its numbers have dwindled in California. The brand of conservatism belonging to Bush and McCain resonated with California’s GOP voters during their presidential campaigns. Both men forged deep ties with the state’s Republican elected leaders and donors, raising tens of millions of dollars here for their political campaigns. 

In California, Bush received 1.1 million more votes in the November 2004 presidential election than Trump did last November. McCain received almost 600,000 more votes in the November 2008 presidential election than Trump received in the state in 2016.

College journalists say covering Bannon at GOP convention prepares them for Yiannopoulos on campus

Student journalists Amy Wells and Brandon Pho from Cal State Fullerton teamed up outside Anaheim's Marriott Hotel as night descended, assigned to cover Stephen K. Bannon's speech and protesters targeting him.

"We don't underestimate how movements can pull in more youth, especially if they hear other youth pushing it on social media," said Pho, a sophomore majoring in journalism. 

"We're always on the lookout for more policy to dig into because we have a lot of undocumented students on our campus and they're way aware of national issues," added Wells, a senior pursuing a journalism degree.

Pho and Wells said reporting on the small crowd of protesters will prepare them for much larger turnouts when provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos visits their campus at the end of this month.

"While Bannon is more provocative, he doesn't have the reach of someone like Milo who knows how to engage an online audience," said Pho, 19. "We learn from watching how different public figures do outreach."

Wells, 22, described the night's gathering as having "the feel of a college campus protest. And of course, that feels familiar, with people here maybe figuring out what to do next. Small steps."

California Republicans

Indivisible members rally ahead of Stephen K. Bannon's speech to California Republicans

Growing up as a Republican in Southern California, Michelle Fowle said she automatically registered to join the party because her parents were also members.

"I didn't know the right civics," recalled the Northridge activist, 50. "I didn't really know women died for the right to vote. I just voted for whoever I saw on signs, or whose names I remembered."

Now Fowle is the founder of The Resistance - Northridge, Indivisible, which united supporters outside the California GOP convention in Anaheim on Friday to protest an appearance by Stephen K. Bannon.

She joined a crowd of about 50 people across the street from the Anaheim Marriott on Friday night as they denounced President Trump's former advisor. They were separated from conventiongoers by metal barriers and a cordon of private security guards while police officers observed from nearby. 

"Information and exposure and understanding show us that he is dangerous. He's a very, very good manipulator," Fowle said of Bannon. "His goal is to try and get rid of established Republicans and bring in more extreme people. Bannon is using whatever base Trump has left to recruit."

Carolyn Criss, a retired film industry researcher, drove from Sherman Oaks to protest. 

“Bannon is a clear danger to our democracy,” she said.

Criss said Trump’s election awoke her dormant activist tendencies, and she now regularly attends protests against the president. 

She said she thought Bannon's visit was an effort to “amplify his voice” while also helping the GOP raise money. 

“I really hope the GOP just wants to make some money off him and doesn’t believe what he says,” she said.

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