COVID in California

Coronavirus has proven deadlier for people living with dirty air, and the American Lung Association released their annual “State of the Air,” ranking Fresno, Bakersfied and Visalia of the Central Valley, Los Angeles and the Bay Area the worst metropolitan areas in the nation for year-round particle pollution. Capital and Main further unpacks why half of all statewide cases are concentrated in Los Angeles County. Low-income students are not receiving their free lunches, as detailed in this profile on the Coachella Valley, often because families do not have reliable phone access, transportation, and time away from their jobs to pick them up.


In response to the disproportionate impact COVID is having in communities of color, the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network and the Having Our Say Coalition and Behavioral Health Equity Collaborative — which includes Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Black Women for Wellness, Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative, and Mixteco Indígena Community Organizing Project — is calling on the Governor to meet to discuss ways to protect these communities. A coalition of 137 LGBTQ+ nonprofits also wrote a letter to Governor Newsom arguing that their community is disproportionately affected by the health and economic impacts of COVID and need additional funds for LGBTQ+ nonprofits.


The LA Times looks at how unions are responding to the moment of COVID and preparing to continue their fights for workers beyond the crisis, institutionalizing some of the protections temporarily in place. 


California Budget

Many advocates are calling for Governor Newsom to spend big to expand the social safety net, instead of planning for a more austere budget, as he’s saying he will do.  


The California Budget and Policy Center looks at the state’s budget reserves and how they could be tapped during COVID. “California is in a much better position to address a budget gap compared to previous recessions because state policymakers prudently set aside billions of dollars for a rainy day. These reserve funds will help to soften the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the state budget.”


State Legislature

The state Assembly has returned with in-person sessions on Monday with new COVID protections. The Senate will reconvene next week.


Politico published an in-depth piece on the moderate Democrat dynamic in Sacramento — specifically, the corporate influence on getting industry-allied Democratic legislators elected and how these legislators gut and block progressive bills. The piece spotlights two races in which California Donor Table aligned with other progressive groups: CDT-endorsed Assemblymember Eloise Reyes’ defeat of Chevron-backed Cheryl Brown in AD47 in the Inland Empire in 2016, and CDT-endorsed Mike Eng’s loss to oil- and charter industry-backed Senator Susan Rubio in SD22 in San Gabriel Valley in 2018. A key difference in these two races that is not mentioned in the piece, but is key to CDT’s electoral strategy >> our partner Inland Empire United was on the ground on Eloise’s behalf, mobilizing voters they are in contact with year-round, but there was no community-based coalition partner with the same depth of connection with voters in Mike’s district. 


California Voters

Secretary of State Alex Padilla has certified the primary election results: more than 9.6 million Californians voted (nearly 40% of the eligible voting age population), the most ever in a primary election and the second highest turnout in almost four decades. 


May 12 is the run-off election date in the special elections for CD25 (Democrat Katie Hill’s former seat in Los Angeles County) and SD28 (Republican Jeff Stone’s former seat in the Inland Empire). CDT-endorsed Christy Smith is running against a Republican in CD25, and Riverside County School Board member Elizabeth Romero is running against a Republican in SD28. Both races are all vote-by-mail, and Political Data Inc. is tracking ballot return rates and breakdowns by party for both: CD25, which is considered a Toss-Up with less than 2 years since it flipped from Republican to Democrat, and SD28, which is rated as Leans Republican. Christy will face off against the same Republican opponent for the regular general election run-off in November. The SD28 seat will not be up for regular election again until 2022. 


State leaders are considering making the November election all vote-by-mail. Los Angeles County Supervisors voted unanimously to send mail-in ballots to all 5.4 million voters ahead of the November election. Many of our partners, including Orange County Civic Engagement Table (OCCET), Inland Empire United, San Francisco Rising and Bay Rising, are advocating for in-person voting options. Per OCCET’s letter to Governor Newsom and Secretary of State Alex Padilla, “We believe that such discretion or waiver without strong standards for in-person and drop off location voting establishes a system where voters will have drastically different voting experiences depending upon who they are and where they live. In short, the current recommendations threaten to disenfranchise thousands of voters across Orange County, many of whom are primed to use in-person voting as their primary method of voting, which for many is still the only physically accessible, language accessible, and culturally competent option to cast a ballot this November.” Per Mike Young at the California League of Conservation Voters, “There are a lot of communities that depend on polling places and polling centers,” and “[a]n insufficient number of polling places could jeopardize public health even further.”


The delay of Census deadlines could mean that the independent California redistricting commission would have less time — as little as two weeks — to draw district lines ahead of the 2022 election.


Immigrant Rights

Alliance San Diego issued a press release condemning the federal administration’s executive order suspending lawful immigration for 60 days, under the guise of COVID. Per Chris Wilson, Associate Director, “We do not emerge from this pandemic by sacrificing one family for another. We are all in this together and we emerge by caring for all families together.”


A conservative group and law firm (the latter run by a prominent Los Angeles Republican Nation Committee member) have filed an emergency petition against Governor Newsom’s program to provide checks to unemployed undocumented immigrants. The petition was filed on behalf of two Republican Latinx Assembly candidates in Los Angeles County — one challenging CDT-endorsed Assemblymember Luz Rivas in AD39, the other running for Ian Calderon’s open seat against Democrat Lisa Calderon (Ian’s stepmother) — who claim the governor is exceeding his legal authority.


Criminal Justice Reform

Inmates in Riverside County (in the Inland Empire) jails are testing positive for COVID-19 at a higher rate than the California state correctional facilities. CDT-endorsed Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager (Los Angeles), chair of the Select Committee on Incarcerated Women, is questioning the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation with concerns about how people who are incarcerated are being protected from coronavirus. Many criminal justice advocates are arguing that the COVID-specific responses to reduce incarceration should be the beginning of ending mass incarceration, in general, as part of protecting the health of all of us. Ending mass incarceration as part of protecting health for all. However, the California Supreme Court just rejected a statewide inmate release lawsuit on Monday, instead leaving it up to the counties that run the local jails and juvenile detention centers to do so. 


Spurred by a preliminary injunction filed by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and a private law firm, a federal judge in Los Angeles has ordered that the Adelanto ICE detention center reduce the number of immigrants held there — which could be up to 75% — to ensure social distancing. 


The Los Angeles Attorney General is investigating LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s husband to determine if he committed a crime in pointing a gun at Black Lives Matter activists. 



CDT-endorsed Assemblymember Eloise Reyes (Inland Empire) is leading a group of 37 lawmakers who wrote a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, the California Environmental Protection Protection Agency and the Air Resources Board, “calling on them to resist efforts to roll back California’s air quality standards.” (per the Sacramento Bee)



The Public Policy Institute of California released their new statewide survey, this one focused on education, including voter breakdowns on Schools and Communities First ballot initiative (the majority of Californians support it). 



CDT Co-Hosted Webinar: Community Organizing in Key Battleground States and Districts: How Funders Can Tip the Scales for the 2020 Election, May 14, 11am-12:30pm PT

CDT, Northern California Grantmakers and Movement Voter Project – Bay Area are co-hosting a webinar, Community Organizing in Key Battleground States and Districts: How Funders Can Tip the Scales for the 2020 Election, on May 14, 11am-12:30pm PT. The COVID-19 pandemic and widespread voter suppression — sanctioned by a Supreme Court majority — present unprecedented obstacles to a fair election, especially in marginalized communities. Timing, tactics and funding are proving more critical than ever six months prior to a national election that is likely to be won at the margins. We’ll hear from the leading organizers from key battleground states and constituencies as well as one California swing district (CA-21): Alexis Anderson-Reed from State Voices, Héctor Sánchez Barba from Mi Familia Vota, Nicole Hensel from New Era Colorado, Tameka Ramsey from Michigan Voice, and CDT partner Pablo Rogriguez of Communities for a New California. RSVP for the webinar here.  


Committee on States Webinar Series in May and Conference in June

CDT is part of a national network of state donor tables, Committee on States (COS). COS spaces have been crucial for us to hone our state-based power building strategies with other donor tables, both donors and staff, who are doing the same in their states. They are hosting their annual conference virtually June 8-10 and a pre-conference three-part webinar series:


Wednesday, May 13th, 10-11am PT/1 – 2pm ET

The Power of Donor Tables to Build and Support Progressive Political Ecosystems in States (Florida Case Study)


Wednesday, May 20th, 10-11am PT/1 – 2pm ET

The Critical Need to Make Long-Term Investment in State Infrastructure–A Funder’s Perspective (Abortion Attacks During C-19 Case Study)


Wednesday, June 3rd, 10-11am PT/1 – 2pm ET

Political Landscape–Polling and Research Analysis


Registration for both the May Pre-Conference Webinars as well as the June Conference Webinars will open very soon. Additional information will be available in the coming days about how to register, what content will be offered, and the agenda/timing for each day. Please join us on these calls to find out what’s happening in other states, and bring ideas back to CA!