Ro’s a no – POLITICO

Ro’s a no

THE BUZZ: Rep. Ro Khanna just clarified the contours of California’s Senate race — and possibly of a future national campaign.

The Silicon Valley Democrat officially pulled himself from contention on Sunday for the seat Sen. Dianne Feinstein is vacating. It was hardly a surprise. The three formidable Democrats in the race had a monthslong head start. With every week they touted endorsements, raised funds and met voters, the odds of Khanna’s entrance receded further.

You don’t need an economics degree like Khanna has to understand his calculus. Reps Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee are all trying to map a course to a top-two primary finish, knowing they’re vying for the same pool of Democratic and independent votes. Even without Khanna, there’s a real chance the Democrats will fracture the vote enough that only one of them makes it to the general election along with a (likely doomed) Republican.

Khanna would have faced a narrow path through that melee — and he could have imperiled fellow progressives. Lee and Porter can both credibly claim the mantle of the party’s left wing. A Khanna candidacy would have further divided progressive voters and donors and created an opening for the more-centrist Schiff, who could already benefit if Lee and Porter split the left.

Lee looks like the main beneficiary of Khanna’s exit. Khanna endorsed Lee and signed on as a co-chair of her campaign. That could help Lee make up a fundraising shortfall by tapping into the deep cash reservoirs among Khanna’s Silicon Valley constituents. It could also bolster her standing among California’s Berniecrat bloc, which has ample affection for former Sanders campaign co-chair Khanna (He noted “enthusiasm from Bernie folks” for a potential run.).

Speaking of presidential campaigns: Khanna said he wouldn’t seek a Senate seat because “the most exciting place to advance bold and progressive policy right now is in the House.” But it’s widely believed Khanna is looking ahead to that other, white-hued house. Berniecrats tried to draft Khanna as a 2024 contender. He has been steadfastly loyal to President Joe Biden, but the Senate speculation has helped keep Khanna in the news while telegraphing his viability as a candidate for higher office.

And back to that Senate race: we’re still waiting to see if a prominent Republican or independent gets in, possibly an affluent self-funder. Contrary to the latest round of rumors, people in former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s orbit said they have no indication he’ll be back.

BUENOS DÍAS, good Monday morning. This could be a climactic day in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s quest to cap oil profits. An Assembly committee is set to hear the measure this morning and send it to the full Assembly, which could in turn advance it to Newsom’s desk this afternoon — less than two weeks after the administration unveiled its new framework.

Got a tip or story idea for California Playbook? Hit us up at [email protected] and [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @JeremyBWhite and @Lara_Korte.

WHERE’S GAVIN? Nothing official announced.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It would be nice to have a governor saying ‘The drought is over’ … mostly, but not completely.” Gov. Gavin Newsom as he increased water deliveries and lifted restrictions.

BONUS QOTD: “The question goes something like this: If we were to promote you, and the L.A. Times finds out that we promoted you, what story are they going to talk about? What’s going to come out about you?” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna on deputies having problematic tattoos, via the Los Angeles Times.

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California lifts some drought restrictions as rivers surge and reservoirs near capacity, by POLITICO’s Camille von Kaenel: The state will no longer urge people to voluntarily conserve 15 percent of water use, a measure in place since July of 2021 after the three driest years on record, nor will it require large urban water agencies to limit consumption.

DODD UNLOADS: Sen. Bill Dodd caught some attention for sending colleagues a video in which Dodd lambastes lobbyist Kevin Sloat over mailers and a billboard — visible behind Dodd in the video and funded by Sloat client Yocha Dehe Wintun — accusing Dodd of carrying water for cardrooms after taking their money. “Cache Creek Casino and their lobbyist Kevin Sloat don’t respect legislators,” Dodd says.

The background: last year, Dodd was instrumental in killing a bill, supported by Yocha Dehe Wintun and other tribes, to extend an expiring moratorium on cardroom expansion. Now, often-antagonistic tribes and cardrooms are backing a compromise measure to reinstate the moratorium for 20 years while allowing for some cardroom growth — but Yocha Dehe Wintun is opposed, arguing it would open the door to illegal games at cardrooms. The only “no” votes so far have come from Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, whose district happens to include Cache Creek.


— “School community rejoices as LAUSD, union leaders reach historic deal,” by Los Angeles Daily News’ Clara Harter: “The deal was brokered between the district and SEIU Local 99 — the union representing 30,000 bus drivers, custodians, instructional aides, cafeteria workers and special education assistants — with help from Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass.”

PRICE PAYING THE PRICE — Alameda County prosecutor Jill Nerone quits D.A. Pamela Price’s office, by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Rachel Swan: “‘I am hopeful that your policies will soften, and that crime victims will once again be the priority of the office,’ prosecutor Jill Nerone wrote, adding that April 7 will be her last day on the job.”

— “In Pajaro, children and teens grapple with displacement after flooding,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Melissa Gomez: “The Pajaro Valley Unified School District, which serves students in Pajaro and Watsonville, saw a drop in attendance rates as students were displaced. While some have been living out of family cars or have moved out of the area to stay with relatives, several ended up at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, where bus service began pickups and drop-offs after the district resumed classes March 15.”

— “California dioceses consider bankruptcy amid sex abuse claims,” by Bloomberg’s James Nani: “The Roman Catholic Bishop of Santa Rosa in Northern California filed Chapter 11 on March 13, becoming the only one in the state to take the leap so far. But the Oakland, San Diego and Sacramento dioceses also have said recently they’re considering bankruptcy due to hundreds of lawsuits. Others within the state, which has 12 regional dioceses, have said they are evaluating their financial options.”

— “Worry and suspicion reign as once-dry Tulare Lake drowns California farmland,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Ian James and Susanne Rust: “For the first time in decades, Tulare Lake is reappearing in the valley, reclaiming the lowlands at its historic heart. Once the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River, Tulare Lake was largely drained in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as the rivers that fed it were dammed and diverted for agriculture.”


GRINS FROM GARCETTI — “Garcetti sworn in as ambassador to India after two-year battle,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Courtney Subramanian: “The former mayor of Los Angeles was sworn in on Friday by Vice President Kamala Harris, a fellow Californian. The ceremony capped Garcetti’s dramatic, nearly two-year fight to fill one of Washington’s most crucial diplomatic posts.”

— “Vice President Kamala Harris hires Stephanie Young to be new senior adviser,” by CNN’s Jasmine Wright: “Young’s role is a new position for the vice president’s office, meant to take a birds-eye approach to manage Harris’ overall communications platform and political engagement but not fill the role of a day-to-day communications director. Her second communications director in two years, Jamal Simmons, departed the office around New Year’s for family reasons.”


FAMILY TIES — “The younger brother caught in the middle of the FTX investigation,” by The New York Times’ Matthew Goldstein, David Yaffe-Bellany and Lora Kelley: “The group, Guarding Against Pandemics, raised more than $22 million in its first full year in 2021, turning it into an overnight lobbying force in Washington. The group’s founder, Gabe Bankman-Fried, a former legislative assistant, started getting the rock star treatment: two White House meetings with senior staff and invitations to speak on panels with government officials.”

— “The secret history of Elon Musk, Sam Altman, and OpenAI,” by Semafor’s Reed Albergotti: “The nonprofit had launched in 2015 to great fanfare with backing from billionaire tech luminaries like Musk and Reid Hoffman, who had as a group pledged $1 billion. It had lured some of the top minds in the field to leave big tech companies and academia.”


— “Jury deliberations begin in Ridley-Thomas case that could land him in prison,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Matt Hamilton.

— “Lack of Cantonese services creates health care obstacles in S.F.,” by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Katherine Li.

— “Stanislaus deputy found primarily at fault for fatal crash,” by The Modesto Bee’s Erin Tracy.

— “Ann Philbin has transformed L.A.’s Hammer Museum, inside and out,” by The New York Times’ Adam Nagourney.

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SUNDAY: Rep. Nancy Pelosi Daniella Sanchez, staffer to Rep. Norma Torres Larry Page … Shahid Naeem of the American Economic Liberties Project … Juan Londoño of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation … Matt Lira … Michael Waxman of Waxman Strategies … Carlos Mark Vera of Pay Our Interns … Lexi Neaman

SATURDAY: Meta’s Stina Skewes-Cox Trainor … Danielle Craig

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