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Essential California: Where state Republicans stand on impeachment

U.S. Capitol
Heightened security measures are in place around the U.S. Capitol building on Monday.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, Jan. 12, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

On Monday, House leaders set plans in motion to impeach President Trump for a second time, with a vote to come as early as Wednesday.

California Rep. Ted Lieu, who represents much of western L.A. County, was one of the three Democratic representatives who introduced the article of impeachment. It has only one charge: incitement of insurrection. Democrats say they are confident they have the votes necessary to impeach the president in the House.

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Prospects for a Senate trial, however, are far less clear, as my D.C. colleagues Jennifer Haberkorn and David Lauter report.

[Read the story: “Democrats balance impeachment with Biden’s first 100 days as clock ticks toward Trump exit” in the Los Angeles Times]

Here in California, the former Republican leader of the state Assembly introduced a resolution calling for President Trump to be removed from office. With a 51-to-6 vote, the nonbinding resolution passed overwhelmingly, albeit along party lines. (The resolution’s sponsor, Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley, traded his GOP affiliation for independent status at the end of 2019.)

All six “no” votes came from Assembly Republicans, but more of the delegation — including the current GOP Assembly leader — chose to abstain rather than take a position on the matter.

Back in Washington, California Republicans in the House of Representatives will face far bigger challenges in the coming days, as the article of impeachment is brought to a vote. For the longtime Trump allies in ruby-red pockets of the state, it will be an easy and vocal “no” vote. But the decision will be more fraught for newly elected representatives in purple districts.

They’ll face a dilemma outlined in a recent San Francisco Chronicle story: “Support impeachment and write off Trump backers, who are now all but synonymous with the Republican Party, or vote against it and risk alienating moderate voters they will need to win reelection in 2022.”

[Read the story: “California Republicans in battleground districts face no-win vote on impeachment” in the San Francisco Chronicle]

Here’s a look at what (if anything) each member of California’s 11-member Republican delegation has said about the looming impeachment, and the considerations at play for them.

We’ll start with the seven members who voted against certifying Biden’s election:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) declared his opposition to impeaching Trump on Monday in a letter to House Republicans, writing that America needs to get “back on a path toward unity and civility.”

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), another staunch Trump ally and recent Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee, will undoubtedly remain a loud voice in the president’s corner. On Sunday morning, he called for a racketeering investigation over the decision made by tech companies to drop the app Parler.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Bonsall) returned to Congress last week after a two-year hiatus and has been an ardent supporter of President Trump. Issa, who previously helped lead the Obama-era Benghazi investigations, called potential impeachment proceedings “an exercise in political vengeance” in a Monday interview with local TV station KUSI News.

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) might have a lower national profile than some of the above names, but local paper the Lassen News put it succinctly when it described the North State representative as “one of the reddest congressmen in the U.S. House of Representatives,” serving “the people of the reddest county in the state of California.” (President Trump received 74.8% of the vote in Lassen County in the November election, in stark contrast to his 34.3% share of the vote statewide.) LaMalfa spoke to the Lassen News by phone on Thursday, and the paper reports that he rejects the notion that President Trump should be removed from office.

Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia), who represents the northern half of San Bernardino County, has not spoken publicly about calls to remove President Trump from office. But he made his loyalty to the president clear last week when he voted against certifying the election results.

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) has also not spoken publicly about impeachment, but the Riverside congressman voted against certifying the election results.

Rep. Mike Garcia has also not spoken publicly about impeachment, but the congressman voted against certifying the election results. (Showing loyalty to the president on the election certification vote made clear political sense for the members of Congress who represent staunchly conservative parts of California, but it may have negative ramifications for Garcia, who represents a swing district in the suburbs north of Los Angeles that went blue in 2018 for former Rep. Katie Hill. Garcia bested his Democratic challenger in November by a razor-thin margin of 333 votes.)

The California GOP representatives who didn’t vote on election results because of COVID-19:

Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) won back his seat in November, but he was not able to vote Wednesday because he has yet to be sworn in — a positive COVID-19 test prevented him from attending the swearing-in ceremony. But the Central Valley congressman tweeted last week that he would have voted to certify the election results. He represents a swing district that went blue in 2018 before swinging back to red last November. He has not spoken publicly on impeachment, and his office did not respond to requests for comment Monday. (All of this might be moot for Valadao, depending when the vote is held and when he is sworn in.)

Michelle Steel (R-Seal Beach), the former head of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, missed the election certification vote after testing positive for the coronavirus and did not state how she would have voted. She has not spoken publicly on impeachment, and her office did not respond to requests for comment Monday. Like Valadao, she represents a district that went blue in 2018 before swinging back to red last November.

The California GOP representatives who voted to certify the election results:

Young Kim (R-Fullerton) voted to certify Biden’s election and told the New York Times a few days ago that the president “should have taken some responsibility and put down the flame before it ignited to the level that it did.” She also told the New York Times that Republicans “need to be able to stand up and use our own independent judgment” while discussing potential blowback over her vote to certify the election. She has not spoken publicly on impeachment, and her office did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

It’s worth noting that in purple Orange County, “the Republican Party lost eight times more voters than it gained after the violence in D.C., with 600 GOP voters lost from Wednesday to Friday” according to the Orange County Register. Republican Party voter registration in the county had been on the upswing in the month before the violent siege of the Capitol.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove), whose district encompasses much of the Sierra Nevada, voted to certify Biden’s election. McClintock told CBS Sacramento last week that he doesn’t support impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment, saying, “I think the best response to the president’s recent conduct is simply to wait two weeks.”

[See also: “This could be an impeachment like no other. Here’s what to expect” in the Los Angeles Times]

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

“High alert” at California Capitol as police brace for any inauguration unrest: Law enforcement officials are putting “additional security measures” in place at California’s Capitol in Sacramento amid warnings from the FBI and others that last week’s siege on the U.S. Capitol could be echoed across the country. The efforts, described as precautionary, were part of an astonishing, nationwide rush by law enforcement to gird statehouses and other government targets against white supremacists and other radicalized supporters of President Trump. Los Angeles Times

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L.A. STORIES

After weeks of rapid increase, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in L.A. County stabilized recently at just under 8,000. While the plateau is welcome, officials caution that it’s too soon to declare the worst of the surge over. The full ramifications of the recent holiday season still remain to be seen. Over the last week, an average of more than 200 Angelenos have died every day from COVID-19. Los Angeles Times

LAUSD will require coronavirus immunizations: Once COVID-19 vaccines are available to children, Los Angeles Unified School District students will have to be immunized before they can return to campus, Supt. Austin Beutner said Monday. Los Angeles Times

UCLA Library seeks narrators for a new COVID-19 oral history project: Bruins and members of the broader UCLA community, such as students’ parents and people who live in Westwood, are invited to share their pandemic perspectives. UCLA

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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Sheldon Adelson has died. The billionaire casino owner and Republican mega-donor was 87. Los Angeles Times

Acting Homeland Security chief Chad Wolf resigns: Wolf said Monday he is stepping down from the Homeland Security department with less than 10 days remaining in President Trump’s term, following a cascade of resignations of Cabinet officials and other Trump aides after a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol last week by Trump supporters and incited by the president. Los Angeles Times

Corporate America is quickly distancing itself from President Trump and his Republican allies, with many of the biggest names in business — Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Coca-Cola Co., Ford Motor Co. and Comcast Corp. — suspending political donations. Associated Press

CRIME AND COURTS

San Diego D.A. reclaims cases from Los Angeles in latest fight over George Gascón’s policies: In an unprecedented move, a judge allowed the San Diego County district attorney’s office to move to reclaim jurisdiction over several charges filed in L.A., marking one of the strongest rebukes yet of newly elected L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón’s policies. Los Angeles Times

HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Multiple gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park have contracted the coronavirus in the first known instances of natural transmission to great apes. Los Angeles Times

Gorillas
“It’s sad that Gorilla’s at our great @sandiegozoo caught COVID,” tweeted San Diego-area Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. “But, to put it in perspective... those gorillas have better health care and access to care than a majority of my district.”
(Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo Global)

Nearly 1 in 3 people incarcerated at California Men’s Colony state prison now have COVID-19, the prison reported over the weekend amid an outbreak that began last month. Sacramento Bee

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

UC students will be back on campus this fall for mainly in-person classes. Officials made the announcement in the hopes of helping the system’s 286,000 students plan for fall amid the continuing uncertainty of the pandemic. Los Angeles Times

San Bernardino County Museum returns spiritual items to San Manuel tribe. The Redlands-based museum acquired the objects from multiple nonnative donors in the 1980s, but doesn’t know how those donors got them. San Bernardino Sun

A Santa Ynez Valley split-pea landmark for sale: Pea Soup Andersen’s restaurant in Buellton is on the market for $4.7 million. Lompoc Record

Earl Sanders, the first Black San Francisco police chief, has died at 83. Sanders championed the hiring of minority officers and was known for showing up at homicide scenes in the dead of night dressed in his trademark fedora. San Francisco Chronicle

A poem to to start your Tuesday: “Bernal Hill” by Randall Mann. Poetry Foundation

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CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles: partly sunny, 72. San Diego: sunny, 70. San Francisco: cloudy, 57. San Jose: cloudy, 63. Fresno: dense fog, then cloudy, 61. Sacramento: cloudy, 57.

AND FINALLY

Today’s California memory comes from Gil Cosnett:

In June 1964, our family moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles. We settled in North Hollywood in an apartment on Lankershim Boulevard. My dad got a job at the Burbank Airport (Lockheed). As an 8-year-old boy, I was thrilled to see skateboards, Sting-Ray bicycles, palm trees, surfboards and the occasional “hot-rod” car for the first time. We had sold our NJ home for $16,000 and similar homes in the North Hollywood area were in the $25,000-to-$30,000 range. My parents were shocked, and therefore, my “California dreams” were shattered as we returned home to New Jersey two months later.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.


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