Speaker John Perez Still Prioritizing Incumbents Over Reaching A 2/3rds Marjority In The Assembly

Assembly Speaker John Perez

After a day of headache-induced number-crunching I hoped I’d have better news to report today, but it appears Speaker Perez and Sacramento Democrats are still prioritizing the reelection of safe incumbents over achieving a two-thirds super majority in the California Assembly

Democrats currently enjoy a majority in both the Assembly and the State Senate, but would have to pick up at least two more seats in each chamber to achieve the super-majority needed to pass revenue increases over the objections of an obstructionist Republican minority.

Yet campaign finance reports reveal that Speaker Perez, Sacramento Democratic lawmakers and state and county Democratic campaign committees have spent nearly half a million dollars more defending two safe democratic seats this election cycle than they have in defending a Los Angeles coastal district against a possible Tea Party takeover.

In the 10th Assembly District (Marin, D+35) Sacramento Democrats donated $925K to Mike Allen, an incumbent Assembly member who moved into the  open district when his existing district was carved up and  reapportioned. Mr. Allen’s opponent is Marc Levine, a fellow Democrat.

In the 50th Assembly district (Santa Monica, D+33), Sacramento Democrats donated $601K to Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, who moved north to the Democratic stronghold after redistricting meant she’d have to run in the new, more conservative 66th Assembly district (Torrance, D+3). Like Allen, Butler is running against Democratic challenger (Santa Monica Mayor, Richard Bloom).

In the South Bay, Torrance School Board member Al Muratsuchi became the Democratic candidate for AD66 after Betsy Butler left the district.  Election experts consider the race highly competitive for Republicans, giving them the best opportunity in two decades to pick up a seat in that area.

Before the June primary, few Sacramento Democrats, including both John Perez and Betsy Butler had made any financial contributions to Muratsuchi, forcing the candidate to loan his campaign $45,000 to defend the new South Bay Assembly seat against two Tea Party candidates, Nathan Mintz, who ran and lost a close race against Butler in 2010, and Craig Huey, who ran an unsuccessful $500,000 self-financed congressional campaign against Janice Hahn last year.

After the June primary however, Sacramento finally began investing in Muratsuchi’s campaign, donating $967K to help defeat opponent Craig Huey. Clearly, a huge improvement, but will it be enough? The most recent campaign finance reports show Muratsuchi and Huey are almost dead even in the amount of cash they have on hand.

Eric Bauman, Vice-Chair of the California Democratic Party, says the AD66 race is the party’s “number one” priority. And if you compare these three races in isolation, that statement is correct.

The bigger problem, however, is Perez and Sacramento Democrats aren’t making a two-thirds majority their “number one” priority at all. Not when they’re spending $500K more on two absolutely safe Democratic seats than they are to defend a competitive swing-district seat that could fall under Republican control.


Sacramento responds via Twitter. Steve Maviglio is a Democratic political consultant for John Perez,  former Deputy Chief of Staff to Speakers Karen Bass and Fabian Nunez, and former press secretary to Gov. Gray Davis.

5 thoughts on “Speaker John Perez Still Prioritizing Incumbents Over Reaching A 2/3rds Marjority In The Assembly”

  1. I don’t know if Steven Maviglio reads comments, but…

    Where I work (Silicon Valley) we set goals.  There are individual goals, group goals, etc.  Some of these we call stretch goals.  This means they are goals for which we strive, but we knpw it is not likely to reach.  But, if we don’t try, how do we know what we can do?

    Clearly, Steven isn’t willing to try for the most logical stretch goal for the California Democratic Party, a 2/3rds majority.  By not being willing try, in my opinion, he’s abdicated his right to leadership.

  2. I don’t always agree with you Marta, but on this one you raise a very good point.  Is it possible that Speaker Perez does not want a 2/3 majority; that he does not want to have 1-party rule?  

    The Legislature is a disaster; not able to get anything done.  A proposition docking their pay was needed to get them working, and even then they tried a bogus budget to avoid the hard work.  Term limits were passed due to voter frustration with the Legislature.  Brown could not get it to act on pension reform until the final days; even though the public was clearly in favor of doing something.  The Democratic leaders are bought and paid for and they are “stumped” by calls for austerity.  The leadership simply is trying to “ride it out” and protect itself.

    Gov. Brown has voiced his frustration that he can get nowhere on important issues with Assembly leadership…. maybe because they don’t want to lead?

    Complaining about “the other guy” is not a solution… but we seem to do better when there is someone or group to rail at…. look how quiet this site got once Democrats took every state-wide election… suddenly we began to look like the old Pogo cartoon; “we have met the enemy and he is us”.

    I am not insisting that leadership refuses to lead, just bringing it up as a possible explanation for why they are kicking and screaming at you for asking them to lead.

  3. So far this month Muratsuchi has received just over a million dollars in direct contributions and an additional half million in reported independent expenditures. That does not include all of the off-book, unreported support he has received.

    As the author observed, Nathan Mintz ran as a Tea Party candidate and won the South Bay in 2010.  Craig Huey ran as the Tea Party candidate and won the South Bay in 2011 in his run for Congress.

    In the June Primary, Muratsuchi ran unopposed with both Mintz and Huey fighting for a seat in the run-off election.  Between them they received 60% of the vote. Primary election results have consistently predicted General election results for the past 12 years in the South Bay.

    Muratsuchi seems to think he is running against a fellow liberal Democrat in a primary election.  There are a few pockets of liberal independents in the district but the vast majority are just like their Republican neighbors who aren’t going to support Muratsuchi if for no other reason than his negative advertising; not to mention his support of abortion and same-sex marriage.

    The South Bay of Los Angeles isn’t the South Bay of Muratsuchi’s alma mater (UC Berkeley).

    The only way Muratsuchi wins is if the 2012 election is a repeat of the 2008 election.  

    Perez has already gambled $1.5 million that it will be.  Based on today’s early vote by mail returns which shows Craig Huey in the lead, Muratsuchi shouldn’t quit his day job.  

  4. There are a lot of things that could be written on this subject, but I would sum it up with just one simple point.  The money the Speaker has is raised by all of the members together.  That means those incumbents he is protecting helped raise the money in the first place.  I have posted before that virtually no elected official in Sacramento or Washington views their duty as being the to the Democratic party or it’s beliefs before their own and I would repeat that and also point out that if a member like say Butler who is probably going to lose even with that help, were not protected by the Speaker, then every other member would be keeping the money they raise for themselves first.  It’s part of the grand tradeoff to give the impression of a group of people working towards a common goal instead of what they really are which is a group of people with individual agenda’s who cooperate with each other because they can use the alliances they build to pass the few things that are high on their priority list.

Comments are closed.