Director's Corner

What a Donald Trump Nomination Could Mean for the Repupblican Party - and Political Gridlock

Wall Street Journal
May 3, 2016

In a much less politically correct era, basketball coach Dick Motta cautioned that "the opera ain't over till the fat lady sings."

Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina: A Smart (But Desperate) Political Move

Wall Street Journal 
April 27, 2016

Ted Cruz's decision to announce Carly Fiorina as his running mate right now is an act of desperation. But it is a very smart act of desperation.

Bernie's fans shouldn't give up on 2016

USA Today
April 27, 2016

The best part of being young is believing that anything is possible. The worst part of being young is when you realize that's not always true. But the most important part of being young is understanding that though not everything is possible, you can still accomplish extraordinary things if you measure success as progress rather than perfection. 

New York Primaries: What Will and Won't Become Clear for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

The Wall Street Journal
April 19, 2016

The most important question of the night will be answered after the polls close in New York and we find out the margin by which Hillary Clinton has defeated Sanders in their shared almost-home state.

Legislature must close corrupting campaign money loophole

Sacramento Bee
April 17, 2016

February's sentencing of former state Sen. Leland Yee in a political corruption case closed a dark chapter in the history of the Legislature, and also presents an opportunity to close the legal loopholes that may allow such behavior again. 

Donal Trump's (Un)Charitable Contributions

Wall Street Journal
April 11, 2016

In the earliest days of Donald Trump's candidacy, the Washington Post analysis of Mr. Trump's history of charitable contributions might have been expected to have a dramatic impact on his campaign.  

How Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Complicate GOP Opposition to Obama's Supreme Court Nominee

Wall Street Journal
March 16, 2016

Two important things happened in the last 24 hours:Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump took significant strides towards wrapping up their respective parties' presidential nomination, and Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and the Republican Establishment's Last Stand

Wall Street Journal
March 10, 2016

Watching the Republican establishment trying to decide between Donald Trump andTed Cruz is like watching Barack Obama trying to choose between Bashar al-Assad andIslamic State.  

Political Guru: Partners Should Push Politicans to Middle Ground on Trade, Immigration

March 9, 2016

Solution providers should use their influence within their customer base and business community to push for immigration and trade policies that benefit the IT sector. That's the message from a renowned political expert speaking to IT professionals during a keynote address at XChange Solution Provider 2016 in Los Angeles on Wednesday. 

Mary and Edith and Marco and Ted: Column

USA Today
March 7, 2016

The crumbling of a long-dominant political order in the face of a populist assault can be a riveting spectacle. And as savvy television executives have learned, it can also make for excellent ratings, whether that class conflict occurs on cable networks covering the 2016 presidential campaign — or on public television, chronicling a fading British aristocracy on weekly episodes of the just-concluded series Downton Abbey.

On Less Crowded Debate Stage, Donald Trump's Weaknesses Stand Out

Wall Street Journal
March 4, 2016

If Donald Trump does not become the Republican nominee for president, his single biggest error will have been not paying several of the departed candidates to stay in the race. Mr. Trump had his second consecutive poor debate performance Thursday night, primarily because there has been nowhere for him to hide.  

 Super Tuesday: What Political Analysts Are Watching

Wall Street Journal
March 1, 2016

For such a big day in the primary schedule, Super Tuesday looks likely to tell us surprisingly little about where the primaries head from here. 

A Cherry-Picking Delegate System Sustains Trump and the Others 

New York Times
February 11, 2016

After a sweeping victory in New Hampshire Tuesday night, Donald Trump's path to the Republican nomination is now more plausible than ever. It is also almost entirely outside of his control. 

Takeaways From the New Hampshire Primary Results

Wall Street Journal
February 9, 2016

For the second week in a row, Bernie Sanders received more than 80% of the youth vote. If I recall correctly, he is drawing a higher percentage of 18-to-29-year-old voters than Barack Obama had African-American support in the 2008 primaries. Is there any historical precedent for a candidate dominating a demographic group like this in a contested primary?

3 Things Political Strategists Are Watching in New Hampshire Primary Results

Wall Street Journal 
February 9, 2016

There's been a lot of noise about Hillary Clinton working to close the gap with Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, but the polls don't show it and heavy turnout doesn't help her. If Mr. Sanders wins by 12 to 15 points, or more, it's a big momentum-booster that makes him competitive in Nevada. A single-digit win by him is a moral victory for Mrs. Clinton and keeps the Democratic race muddled. 

Three Takeaways From the Iowa Caucus Results

Wall Street Journal 
February 1, 2016

Sen. Ted Cruz's caucus victory shows that organization is still king in Iowa. No campaign matched his operation on the ground, and Donald Trumps's attacks on the senator over his opposition to ethanol fell flat. Those (including me) who bought the "higher turnout means new Trump voters" argument were wrong. Any aura of invincibility that Mr. Trump had is now gone. 

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders for 2015 People of the Year

Wall Street Journal
December 31, 2015

One of the lesser-noticed targets of Donald Trump's outrage this holiday season has been Time Magazine, whose editors chose German Chancellor Angela Merkel as their person of the year. Mr. Trump, who finished behind Ms. Merkel and Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has complained about not being the magazine's choice.

Lindsey Graham Put Party Before Ambition. Who's Next?

Wall Street Journal
December 22, 2015

Lindsey Graham is a smart, thoughtful, and experienced senator and national security expert. Americans are more concerned about terrorism and international geopolitics than they have been in years, which could have made Mr. Graham’s presidential campaign perfectly positioned to help voters understand the difficult choices our leaders must make to confront an increasingly dangerous and menacing threat to U.S. safety.

Donald Trump's Melodrama and Forfeiting Elections

Wall Street Journal
December 08, 2015

Political parties don’t technically forfeit presidential elections. The stakes, of course, are too high. But there is ample precedent in modern political history for the practical equivalent of surrender, times when either the Democrats or Republicans nominated a candidate who was so fundamentally unelectable that they might as well not have bothered.

John Boehner's Resignation and Kevin McCarthy's Centrist Instincts

Wall Street Journal
September 25, 2015

John Boehner‘s resignation as speaker of the House is a cause for glee on both extremes of the political spectrum: Conservative Republicans will rejoice for claiming the scalp of the leader they consider a sellout to the political establishment and a betrayer of their ideological principles. Liberal Democrats are giddy watching their opponents veer off the ideological rails, lurching even further from the political center.

With SuperPACS and Social Media, This is the Future

The New York Times 
July 21, 2015

Welcome to the new normal. We now live in a world of superPACs and social media, in which the barriers to entry for even borderline delusional presidential candidates have been all but eliminated. The financial resources and public platforms that were once available to only a small number of political insiders are now accessible to anyone with a cause, a wealthy friend and a Twitter account. The result is either democracy at its purest or anarchy at its most bewildering. Or both.

Breaking Down the GOP Silence on Trump's Immigration Rhetoric

The Wall Street Journal
July 20, 2015

John McCain is a war hero. The overwhelming majority of immigrants from Mexico are not rapists. And it’s time for Donald Trump to go home.

Why the Bernie Sanders Surge Isn't Key for 2016 But Beyond

The Wall Street Journal
July 6, 2015

It’s impossible to predict whether Bernie Sanders will be able to transform the populist fervor for his candidacy into the type of campaign that could topple Hillary Clinton. But modern political history suggests that the odds are strongly against it.

How Republican 2016 Candidates Divide Over Gay Marriage

The Wall Street Journal
June 26, 2015

There is a deepening divide in the Republican primary campaign between those running for president-- and those running for talk-show host. Friday's Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage provides stark evidence of how the candidates sort themselves out.

The Best Way to Cover Donald Trump's Presidential Campaign? Ignore It. 

The Wall Street Journal
June 17, 2015

The issue isn’t whether Donald Trump should be president. (Of course he shouldn’t. But neither should Bernie Sanders orv Rand Paul.) The issue is whether Donald Trump should be allowed to run for president. And the answer is: Of course he should. So why is his candidacy being treated like an affront to democracy?

Even George Pataki Deserves a Chance: Give Longshot Contenders a Chance to Debate the Frontrunners

Daily News
June 3, 2015

Mission impossible? For almost 70 years, candidates trailing badly in the polls have harkened back to Harry Truman’s upset victory in the 1948 presidential election.

In AG Race Sanchez Needs to Sacrifice Charisma to Catch Harris

Fox and Hounds
June 1, 2015

Kamala Harris might not be the luckiest politician in America. But it is starting to seem that way.

The GOP’s Debate Conundrum–and a Solution

The Wall Street Journal
May 28, 2015

During last year’s campaign to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, 17 candidates crammed onto a stage in a West Los Angeles synagogue to make their best case to voters. The result looked less like a debate than a spelling bee.

On Memorial Day, a Proposal to Bridge the Civilian-Military Divide

The Wall Street Journal
May 25, 2015

Many of us civilians were taught at a young age to express our appreciation by saying thank you to active-duty military personnel, veterans, and the family members who sacrifice while their spouses, siblings, parents, and other relatives are away.  

Opposing the TPP makes no sense in California

Op-Ed, The Los Angeles Times
May 25, 2015

The two leading contenders in next year's campaign to represent California in the U.S. Senate have been staunch supporters of President Obama.But both Democratic candidates, state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, have spoken out against one of Obama's top remaining priorities: his prized expansion of free trade with leading Pacific Rim nations throughout Latin America and Asia.

Senate’s ban on fundraising during budget talks is vital step

The Sacramento Bee
May 23, 2015

Those of us dedicated to political reform tend to be a very loud and critical chorus, primarily because our political leaders give us so much to complain about.

Huckabee, Fiorina and Carson Won't Be President. Here's Their Real 2016 Role. 

The Wall Street Journal
May 5, 2015

Today is Mike Huckabee’s turn. Mr. Huckabee’s strength with religious conservative voters is mitigated by his inability to reach beyond that segment of the Republican base. So it is difficult to envision a scenario in which he becomes the GOP nominee next year, let alone winning the White House. But by virtue of his performance in the early primary states in 2008–and on cable television since then–the former Arkansas governor is still a somewhat more plausible presidential candidate than, say, Carly Fiorina or Ben Carson.

On Trade and Immigration, the Wall-Builders Are Winning

The Wall Street Journal
May 1, 2015

The wall-builders are winning. Throughout modern history, Americans tend to turn inward during times of economic insecurity. It's easy to blame people from other parts of the world for our own troubles, and it's convenient for politicians of both parties to stoke those fears for their gain.

What Indiana Law Controversy Means for Gov. Mike Pence

The Wall Street Journal
March 31, 2015

After 10 years in Congress, Mike Pence became governor of Indiana in 2013. This week, the Republican has learned a key difference between being a legislator and being an executive. Legislators get to choose the issues they’ll work on. Executives deal with anything and everything that comes their way.

A Scouting Report of Emerging GOP Presidential Field

The Wall Street Journal
March 30, 2015

Two weeks ago, college basketball’s annual tournament began in its usual frenzy of chaos and unpredictability. Last week, the fight for the Republican presidential nomination began in much the same way.

With Harry Reid's Exit, Challenges for Democrats

The Wall Street Journal
March 27, 2015

Harry Reid may have inadvertently conceded his Senate seat to Republican control with his retirement announcement. But his views for the party’s future are much more interesting.

How Islamic State Threatens Rand Paul’s 2016 Campaign

The Wall Street Journal
March 17, 2015

The past few months, it has come to look like Islamic State cannot defeat U.S. airpower. It’s an open question whether the extremists can overcome the reconfigured Iraqi military. But it appears that they can, at least, defeat Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.).

How Netanyahu Can Calm the Political Storm Over His Speech 

The Wall Street Journal
February 11, 2015

On Monday, President Obama worried aloud that meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his upcoming trip to the U.S. would inject partisan politics into serious foreign policy discourse.

The 2015 State of the Union Address ... Brought to You By Elizabeth Warren

The Wall Street Journal
January 20, 2015

Sen. Warren is not the president of the United States, of course, and is unlikely to ever be. But the speech that Barack Obama delivers Tuesday night would not exist if it were not for Sen. Warren and her increasingly effective efforts to drive a more progressive and populist Democratic Party agenda.

California Democrats and Their (Impatient) Wait to Replace Barbara Boxer

The Wall Street Journal
January 8, 2015

There is a generation of Democratic politicians in California who have been waiting–not so patiently–to move up the political ladder. With Sen. Barbara Boxer‘s announcement that she will not run for re-election in 2016, and likely open seats for governor and the U.S. Senate two years later, a lot of pent-up energy and ambition is about to be unleashed on the nation’s largest state. 

The Disappearing Gov. Brown

Opinion Editorial, The Los Angeles Times
January 4, 2015

Has anyone seen the governor of California?

Four years ago, when Jerry Brown ran to succeed Hollywood-honed Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor, Brown's lower profile and septuagenarian “get off my lawn” countenance appealed to voters searching for a more traditional and less theatrical leader. After he was elected, Brown dramatically reduced the size of the governor's communications staff and cut back on the public events, press releases and interviews that most elected officials use to build support for their political and policy ambitions.

How Obama Can Support Sony’s Release of ‘The Interview’

The Wall Street Journal
December 23, 2014

When Sony Pictures announced last week that it was canceling the release of “The Interview,” the New York Post said it best: “Kim Jong Won.”

But over the past several days, Americans began to reassert their inalienable rights, even for the most banal forms of creative self-expression. First, a number of leading figures in the entertainment industry, including George Clooney and Jimmy Kimmel, criticized Sony’s decision. Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana called for a screening of the movie at the White House, and Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman suggested showing it on Capitol Hill. Several independent theaters announced Tuesday that they would show the movie on Christmas Day.

The Case for Obama Going to Ferguson

The Wall Street Journal
November 25, 2014

Barack Obama should go to Ferguson--tonight.

Why? The president has spoken about the death of Michael Brown several times. He has talked about the need for criminal justice reforms and the importance of remaining peaceful even in the face of judicial deciisons or government actions with which one disagrees. But he has remained at a noticeable distance from the controversy: His remarks from the White House on Monday night came across as oddly disconnected from the scenes of protest, anger and violence filling the nation's television screens. 

Independents Should Watch California’s Top-Two Primary

The New York Times
November 5, 2014

Like more than 20 percent of my fellow Californians, I am now classified as a No Party Preference voter, registered to vote but with no affiliation to any of the state’s political parties. I am for lower taxes and marriage equality. I am tough on crime and I am pro-choice. I believe that a pathway to citizenship is a necessary part of immigration reform and that student test scores are a critical component for teacher evaluations. I believe that shutting down the federal government over Obamacare is just as silly as ignoring our nation’s growing entitlement crisis. 

Why Jerry Brown Is Unlikely to Run in 2016

The Wall Street Journal
November 5, 2014

When a governor in one of the country’s largest states is reelected by landslide margins, questions about that governor’s presidential prospects arise even before the polls close. But California’s Jerry Brown, who on Tuesday was given an unprecedented fourth term by Golden State voters, will almost certainly not be a candidate for the White House in 2016. The reasons have less to do with actuarial tables than with the nature of the national Democratic primary electorate.

The National Stakes in California’s School Superintendent Race

The Wall Street Journal
November 4, 2014

California’s election for state school superintendent could be the curtain-raiser on the country’s next great policy and political fight.

Tuesday night’s victory by incumbent Tom Torlakson is a major win for teachers unions and their allies: They will justifiably point to the outcome as a sign of their continued political strength even in the face of emboldened opposition.

How Joni Ernst and Cory Gardner Point the GOP's Way for 2016

The Wall Street Journal
October 29, 2014

Mitch McConnell and John Boehner might disagree. But Joni Ernst and Cory Gardner are the two most important Republicans in America–even if most Americans don’t know who they are.

How the Ray Rice Scandal Could Factor Into the Midterms

The Wall Street Journal
October 8, 2014

Is it possible that the most important man in the 2014 midterm elections could turn out to be … Ray Rice?

Even a few months ago, it would have been difficult to imagine a scenario in which the former Baltimore Ravens running back/spousal abuser could have been a factor in this fall’s campaign season. But as Republican candidates look for ways to protect themselves against the “war on women” attack that Democrats have waged for most of this year, the issue of domestic violence has emerged as a critical component in the GOP defense.

Review: Henry Kissinger's 'World Order' is a timely warning

Los Angeles Times
September 5, 2014

In an age in which advances in technology, communications and transportation have dramatically shrunk the distance between cultures and countries, in a nation that became a global superpower by assuming a leadership role economically, diplomatically and militarily over most of the last century, isolationist forces at the extremes of both of our major political parties are pulling the United States away from its traditional role on the world stage.

For Better Politics, It's Time for Some Raging Moderates

Op-Ed, LA Times
July 11, 2014

Like more than 20% of my fellow Californians, I am now classified as a no-party-preference voter, registered to vote but with no affiliation to any of the state's polictical parties.

The Lesson of Indicted Politician's 341,000 Votes 

Opinion, San Francisco Chronicle 
June 10, 2014

When an accused arms dealer receives more than 300,000 votes in a campaign for statewide office, the most natural reaction for most of us is embarrassment. But here's an idea: We should build a statue to Leland Yee.

The Wrong Messenger, but the Right Message: Political Reform is Essential 

Viewpoint, Sacramento Bee
June 8, 2014

At the conclusion of the movie "The Untouchables," Eliot Ness reflects on his efforts to clean up corruption in Al Capone's Chicago: "I have become what I have beheld, and I am content that I have done right."

Keep An Eye On California's Top-Two Primary System

Room For Debate, The New York Times
October 13, 2013

The prospect of a serious independent or third-party movement at the national level remains a long shot. But keep an eye on California, whose voters recently instituted a primary system in which the top two finishers regardless of party affiliation now go on to a general election.

Reformers Ponder New Limits on Legislative Fundraising
News, ABC News 10
September 23, 2013

It was a blistering pace for the first 13 days of September -- marathon conversations, early mornings, and late nights as the annualized ritual of late summer in Sacramento reached its crescendo. No, not the intense debates over policy and bills; rather, the onslaught of political fundraisers.

New Mayor May Reshape L.A. With Help From Old One

Commentary, Los Angeles Business Journal
June 3, 2013

Over the course of the recently completed L.A. city election campaign, former Mayor Richard Riordan endorsed no fewer than three candidates for his old job – Austin Beutner, Kevin James and Wendy Greuel. The only thing they have in common is that none of them is Eric Garcetti. Yet after searching for the last several months for almost any conceivable alternative to Garcetti, Riordan might now end up being the new mayor’s most valuable asset.

Ban fundraising when Legislature is in session

Viewpoint, Sacramento Bee
May 30, 2013

When it was reported last week that state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, was taking a group of lobbyists to Las Vegas for a fundraising event, most veteran Capitol observers rolled their eyes. So what? And the fact that the trip was scheduled right before a key vote that would benefit the casino hosting the fundraiser? No big deal. Just one more politician selling access to deep-pocketed special interests right before a vote on a bill of tremendous financial interest to them.

L.A. mayor hopefuls are better than campaign has shown
Los Angeles Daily News
May 21, 2013

Who killed the Los Angeles mayor's race? The city of Los Angeles is a hotbed of creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and cultural and economic dynamism. Our tourist attractions bring visitors from around the world, eager to taste the city's excitement. For more than a century, the region has been an engine of economic growth, as the aerospace, entertainment, trade, technology and tourism sectors have combined to make Los Angeles the capital of the Pacific Rim.

Reforming Political Fundraising
Huff Post Live, Huffington Post 
May 7, 2013

Fundraising and politics will forever be intertwined, but reform is necessary. Jacob sits down with former McCain Communications Director Dan Schnur about his proposal to clean up fundraising efforts amongst legislators and statewide officeholders.

When the Legislature is in, Fundraising Should Be Banned. Period.

Opinion, Flash Report
March 24, 2013

During the almost three decades that I have been involved in politics, first as partisan advocate and in recent years as an analyst and observer, I have seen many unusual things. I watched a Democratic presidential candidate don a military helmet and climb into a tank to prove his national security credentials. I watched a movie star steal the show at a Republican National Convention by carrying on an extended conversation with an empty chair.

Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ Circles Can Fix Our Politics
Opinion, Bloomberg
March 6, 2013

Most first-time candidates for elective office learn quickly that political messaging is a lot like the old playground game of Red Rover.

Your opponents don’t bother to try to break through between the two strongest members of your team. Rather, they zero in on the smallest and weakest links in your chain and do everything they can to force the most vulnerable among you to divide.

How Gov. Brown can save Prop. 30
Opinion, Los Angeles Times
November 2, 2012

Since the day he took office, Gov. Jerry Brown has been on a crusade to convince Californians that he is not just fiscally responsible but downright stingy. During his first week as governor, he ordered thousands of state workers to give up their government-issued cellphones. Since then, he has negotiated to rein in pensions for public employees, initiated welfare reforms that were included in the last budget and bragged about his preference for flying Southwest Airlines. ("I take the damn middle seat," he told a Los Angeles television reporter last week.)

The casualties of political gridlock
Opinion, Politico
October 30, 2012

This is not to suggest that Congress should become a haven only for moderates. Principled liberals and equally principled conservatives are necessary driving forces for change and represent legitimately held ideological priorities across the political spectrum. But in order to solve problems, to take on the nation’s most difficult public policy challenges, committed conservatives and liberals alike must also find ways to cooperate with those who don’t always agree with them.

Democrats and Republicans used to be willing to build relationships across party lines. They’d meet up after hours, and their relationships would allow them to come to deals on the nation’s most pressing problems. Think of President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill finding a way to move forward on Social Security reform. That’s changed. “Today, crossing the aisle is tantamount to treason,” says Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), who himself is another casualty of gridlock.

Should redrawn Senate districts be upheld?
Viewpoints, Sacramento Bee
October 20, 2012

Allowing politicians to draw the lines that defined their legislative and congressional districts is the rough equivalent of asking teenagers to set their own curfews – a fundamental conflict of interest that only gets worse as the night wears on. But for years, that was the way California's political parties did business, running a mutual protection scheme that created safe seats for Democrats and Republicans alike.

As a result, almost no candidate of either party had to expend much energy to win votes or make much effort to satisfy their constituents. The numbers told the story: In the three elections in our state leading up to 2008, 459 legislative seats were up for grabs, but only four changed hands from one party to the other. 

Have Political Conventions Outlived Their Usefulness?
Opinions, Washington Post
September 10, 2012

Watching this year’s conventions was a little like watching a basketball team practice without an opponent on the court. You may recognize players, but there’s no way to tell how good the team is until you see it against the competition. Hearing one side of a two-way argument over the course of a week is largely unsatisfying for the media and for voters. So, except for the most fervent supporters of both parties, the country has pretty much stopped paying attention.

The conventions clearly can’t continue in their current format, but they provide a necessary opportunity for the two parties to express themselves to voters. The answer is not to hold them sequentially but, rather, simultaneously.

If the conventions were held at the same time, the two parties would be forced to adjust and readjust their presentations, to decide whether to stay on message or to respond to the opposition, and to engage in a week-long contest of beliefs, priorities and worldviews. Provide one hour for each of the nominees on Wednesday and Thursday nights to deliver their acceptance speeches to the entire country without interference, but otherwise force both sides to admit that there is another perspective to the discussion, one that needs to be acknowledged and answered — in real time.

Let the Parties, Not the Taxpayers, Foot the Carnival’s Bill
Room for Debate, New York Times
August 27, 2012

For the most part, political conventions in the 21st century are predictable, strident and anodyne pep rallies of little or no value to anyone but the most unquestioning of the party faithful. But when the party’s nominees take their respective stages in Tampa and Charlotte over the next two weeks, the American people will have the rare opportunity to assess the individuals who would presume to lead them for the next four years. That one hour of unfiltered communication alone makes the conventions a worthwhile exercise.

But it is reasonable to ask whether American taxpayers should be asked to continue to pay for these weeklong infomercials. In an election year, in which the two parties and their allies will spend more than a billion dollars on behalf of their preferred candidates, better to let the Democratic and the Republican national committees pick up the tabs for their partisan carnivals. Maybe each nominee could announce a charity to which the United States Treasury can donate the money that would have otherwise been spent on his nominating convention, and encourage his supporters to contribute to the same cause.

Forbid Raising Funds while Legislature is in Session
Viewpoints, Sacramento Bee
August 26, 2012 

In the final weeks of the legislative session, when members' attentions are torn between the hundreds of bills still to be voted on inside the Capitol and thousands of dollars to be raised just across the street, it becomes easy to understand why Californians are so dissatisfied with their state government and so suspicious of the men and women who've been elected to run it.

Caught between the competing pressures of formulating policy for the people and soliciting money for their next campaign, enterprising legislators can schedule a fundraising reception within a five-minute walk from the floor of the state Assembly or Senate, rush out to scoop up a stack of campaign contributions, and be back at their desks before the ink on the checks has dried.

Redistricting Reform and Top-Two Primary
Rebuttal, Fox and Hounds
August 16, 2012

When I was asked by the Sacramento Press Club to debate on behalf of redistricting reform and the top-two primary, it seemed like a fairly painless proposition. I knew that taking the redistricting process away from the state legislature has led to the creation of competitive congressional and legislative districts for the first time since the 1990s. I understood that the top-two primary creates an incentive for candidates in strongly liberal or conservative districts to talk to voters in both parties rather than relying solely on the most ideologically extreme members of their own party for support.  For all the plausible counter-arguments I was likely to face, I might as well be calling for a program to give puppies and ice cream to orphans.

Can Romney Break Democrats' Lock on Jewish Vote?
Op-Ed, Los Angeles Times
August 12, 2012

Have you heard the one about the Westside Jewish Republican Club? Its members take turns hosting the gatherings, and they meet each month in the host's car.

The Democrats' advantage among Jewish voters might not be quite that extreme, but there's no question that the Jewish community in this country has always leaned strongly toward the Democratic Party and its candidates. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush achieved a high-water mark for the GOP by winning more than 30% of the Jewish vote during their elections in the 1980s. But in the last 20 years, no Republican presidential nominee has won even a quarter of the Jewish vote. Four years ago, Barack Obama won among Jewish voters over John McCain by a margin of 78% to 22% (a bigger margin, by 10 points, than his advantage among Latinos). 

Should Romney Take a Risk in Picking VP?
Election Center, CNN
July 18, 2012

If you agree that a presidential nominee comes to the selection of his running mate the same way a football coach develops strategy for the last few minutes of an important game, then Rob Portman and Tim Pawlenty are the political equivalents of running your fullback off-tackle.

There's little risk associated with either choice: Both keep you moving slowly but surely in the right direction. So it's no accident that as the polls stay close, speculation surrounding Mitt Romney's vice presidential nominee has focused on these two eminently qualified but exceedingly cautious alternatives.

What Does the Supreme Court's Health-Care Decision Mean?
Opinion, Washington Post
June 28, 2012

Although the next few days will be filled with fireworks from both sides, it’s difficult to see how health care will remain a significant issue for the rest of the presidential campaign. Neither candidate has much incentive to talk about the issue: President Obama knows that, even though the law is constitutional, it’s still extremely unpopular. And Mitt Romney doesn’t have much desire to spend the fall talking about why or how his health-care plan in Massachusetts differed from this one. For most voters, the conversation will be back to the economy in a matter of days.

Although health care is unlikely to matter to most swing voters, there’s more than enough fodder in the court’s decision to inspire the true believers in both parties all the way to Election Day. Democrats can celebrate that the law is still in place. And they can continue to use the portion of the law that allows adult children to remain on their parents’ insurance plans to reach out to young people and female voters. Republicans still have a “repeal Obamacare” message to motivate their base and don’t have to worry about defending the loss of the law’s more popular provisions. Even better, now they have a new tax to attack.

The bottom line: more rhetorical ammunition and turnout motivation for the parties’ bases. Not much difference for everyone else.

The Obama-Romney Duel on Immigration
Op-Ed, CalBuzz
June 20, 2012

When Barack Obama and Mitt Romney address the largest gathering of Latino political leaders in the country over the next two days, here’s what they won’t say: “I’m sorry.”

Romney won’t apologize to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) when he speaks to their annual convention in Orlando on Thursday, certainly not for condemning his opponents during the GOP primary campaign when they spoke in opposition to deporting senior citizens and preventing unauthorized immigrants from receiving financial support to attend college.

Is Jeb Bush Right About the GOP?
The Arena, Politico
June 11, 2012

Jeb Bush is exactly half right. Both his father and Reagan would have trouble hewing to the ideological standards set by today's Republican party, just as John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Scoop Jackson and Bill Clinton would run into the same difficulty with modern-day Democrats. Bush understandably focused on his own party's drift from the center because he is more concerned about the GOP's political prospects than how the Democrats fare. But his criticism is just as applicable for both parties on today's hyper-partisan political landscape.

Democrats can rejoice over Jeb's comments, the same way that Republican cheered last week when Clinton took on Obama's tax policy. But the true believers in both parties are missing the point. They are exactly one half of the problem themselves, and pointing gleefully at the other side's intransigence does nothing to address Washington's growing inability to function.

California's Good-News Tuesday
Op-Ed, Los Angeles Times
June 7, 2012 

While most of the country was focused on the back-alley brawl of Wisconsin's recall election Tuesday, a quieter but equally important political revolution was unfolding here in California.

Two recent voting reforms — one that changed the way legislative and congressional districts are drawn and another that sends the top two finishers in a primary on to the general election regardless of party affiliation — drew little interest outside the circles of obsessed political insiders. But thanks to these two procedural modifications, California politics have been profoundly altered — for the better.

New Fight Takes Shape Over Term Limits
Los Angeles Times
May 18, 2012

Twenty-two years after California became one of the first states to limit legislators' terms in office, voters are about to decide whether the rules should be changed.

In 1990, voters limited lawmakers to three two-year terms in the Assembly and two four-year stints in the Senate, for a total of 14 years in the Legislature. Proposition 28, on the June 5 ballot, would limit lawmakers to 12 years in the Legislature but allow all of those to be served in one house. 

Prop. 28 Enhances Reform, Allows Leaders to Gain Experience
Viewpoint, Sacramento Bee
May 15, 2012

When the original ballot initiative to impose term limits was put before California voters in 1990, I enthusiastically campaigned for its passage.

When career politicians tried to dramatically weaken the state's term limits law 10 years ago, I fought to defeat them.

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