Essential Politics: The Georgia special election Rorschach test

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In Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, it was an election result that both major parties proclaimed was good for them and bad for the other guy.

So perhaps we should call Tuesday night’s result a political Rorschach test.

Good morning from the state capital, where it’s income taxes and not election results that were the big focus of the last few hours. I’m Sacramento Bureau Chief , and we’ll get to the state’s fiscal health in a moment.

But first, the entire country seems to have had Georgia on its mind. (Cue the legendary Ray Charles.)


Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old filmmaker and former congressional aide, came out on top in the race to succeed the Republican that plucked out of the House, Health and Human Services Secretary .

But — the threshold to avoid a June runoff — and will now face Republican Karen Handel.

Still, the district in the Atlanta suburbs has a strong registration and believed Ossoff heads into Round 2 in good shape. The president, on the other hand, took to Twitter to call it a “BIG ‘R’ win.”

Millions of dollars in outside money was poured into the battle and with good reason, as Cathleen Decker pointed out on Tuesday: It was what everyone thought would be .

As she noted, “partisan politics and Democratic rage define today’s political environment.” The question this morning is whether that holds true for another two months.


Closer to home, these last two weeks are full of drama inside the offices of California’s Franchise Tax Board. It began with last night’s deadline for 2016 personal income taxes, and the expected take — for a single day — .

No month is more consequential for the fate of this spring’s state budget negotiations between Gov. and legislative leaders than April. The spending plan proposed by Brown in January assumed $14 billion in income taxes collected this month alone.


California’s signature program to provide in-home care for the elderly and disabled often finds itself at the heart of budget battles. This year is no exception, as Brown tussles with counties over funding.

Melanie Mason walks through the history of the In-Home Supportive Services program and .


Keep an eye on the lawsuit filed Tuesday by a 23-year-old man who may be the first person with protected status under former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) to be deported under the Trump administration.

The lawsuit by Juan Manuel Montes, a Mexican national who has lived in the U.S. since he was 9, .

Montes has learning disabilities after suffering a traumatic brain injury when he was young. He worked in California’s agricultural fields to help support his family and studied welding at a community college before being deported on Feb. 17.


Meanwhile, the president ordered a review on Tuesday of a visa program that he said has undercut American workers, declaring his move a “powerful signal” of his administration’s commitment to “finally put America first.”

Administration officials said toward a revamped immigration system. The announcement came as the president made a campaign-style stop in Wisconsin, a trip he said was to thank voters who supported him last November.


A planned speech to an organized crime task force on Tuesday gave U.S. Atty. Gen. a chance to again criticize “sanctuary cities” and their approach toward illegal immigration.

The impetus was .

“Because of an open border and years of lax immigration enforcement, MS-13 has been sending both recruiters and members to regenerate gangs that previously had been decimated, and smuggling members across the border as unaccompanied minors,” Sessions said.


It’s been a fascinating few days watching California’s members of Congress head home and sort out these tumultuous times with their constituents.

On Monday morning, Sen. Dianne Feinstein . Booed over her stance on single-payer healthcare, the state’s senior senator also suggested more efforts were coming on Capitol Hill in sorting out the president’s entangled business dealings. Feinstein heads to Los Angeles on Thursday.

Healthcare was also a big topic in the Central Valley district of Rep. (R-Turlock) on Monday night. Denham, who represents a district that’s frequently targeted by Democrats, also said he Republican healthcare legislation unless significant parts of the Affordable Care Act were left intact. He also slogged through hours of questions from restless voters who challenged him to acknowledge that climate change is real (he did) and urge President Trump to release his taxes (he didn’t).

And on Tuesday night, Rep. (R-Palmdale) was grilled on healthcare, among other things. In , Knight was put through his paces. One of his more interesting comments came on the president’s possible conflicts of interest and violations of the U.S. Constitution.

“There has to be either an investigation or some sort of a committee looking into this,” he said.


It certainly isn’t what the national political conversation wanted to hear: The much talked about effort to make California an independent country is over. For now, at least.

On Monday, the official author of the “Calexit” proposed ballot measure . The decision followed months of squabbling among the various factions of pro-secessionists, and thus adds another chapter to more than a century and a half of efforts to carve up California or carve it out of the United States.

The proponent, Marcus Ruiz Evans, said that he hopes to try again with a new group of activists later this year.


Anyone who needed a reminder that politics can be a rough-and-tumble world only had to look as far as the demotion given to Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield).

Salas was one of only two Democrats in the Legislature to vote against last week’s historic $52-billion transportation tax and fee plan in Sacramento. On Monday, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) .

By the way, we’re still waiting for the governor to sign the transportation plan into law. One of the big side deals that helped pull in the final legislative support was approved on Monday by the state Senate.


Backers of a bill to make it harder for police departments to discipline officers for making false statements say the current process ensnares officers who make simple mistakes.

But opponents of the legislation argue that building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve requires greater accountability. The bill .


— Trump said last week that Navy ships were headed toward North Korea. Instead, .

— A new state audit concludes that California’s DMV are the same people that actually should have them.

— The White House is doing its best to deflect criticism on .

— Assembly Democrats re-committed this week, but many hurdles still remain for any major deal to pass this year.

— The star of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” a legislative effort at bail reform in California.

— A confident Justice Neil M. Gorsuch took his seat on the Supreme Court on Monday and in three highly procedural disputes.

— State Treasurer John Chiang, a contender for governor in 2018, is stepping into the college affordability fray with a proposal to .

— Should pet shops be required to only sell rescue animals? Some furry visitors to the state Capitol .


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