POLITICO California Playbook: BROWN’s road tax sales pitch -- KOUNALAKIS exploring run for office --

03/31/2017 09:38 AM EDT
By Carla Marinucci (cmarinucci@politico.com) and David Siders (dsiders@politico.com) with Cristiano Lima (clima@politico.com) THE BUZZ: The sales pitch has begun. California Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders - Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Speaker Anthony Rendon - made clear Wednesday that the drive to grow support for their ambitious $52 billion transportation and infrastructure plan starts now, with focus on some Democratic legislators who aren't yet on board. So they held the kickoff event of a statewide road tour to promote what de Leon called "the largest investment plan in the state's history" in Concord, in the East Bay district of Sen. Steve Glazer, a moderate "business-friendly" Democrat. Glazer, wasn't there for the big press conference staged with dozens of construction and CalTrans workers as a backdrop. But the message was clear in that big sign front and center, which showed a gaping pothole in Orinda, with the caption: "Senator Glazer, Fix This! Support SB1A." His vote matters. Brown et. al. will need every vote before their self-imposed April 6 deadline - 2/3 vote in both houses of the legislature; that's because the 10-year plan to fix California's crumbling roads, bridges and transportation systems involves a new 12 cent gas tax, as well as boosted car registration fees. (Glazer's spokesman, Steve Harmon, told POLITICO that Glazer "is continuing to have conversations with the administration.") Brown was in classic political preacher mode, revved up about the desperate need to get things fixed. "This is fundamental. This is investment....this is hard business and it's real jobs, American jobs..." "I'm telling you the truth, because why would I lie? I am not running - I don't think I'm running for office. All I've got left is Lt. Governor, Treasurer and Controller ... President?" he said with a laugh. "Don't rule it out." -- "Gov. Brown betting voters won't revolt over fee hike for roads," by SFChronicle's Melody Gutierrez: Story BUENOS DÍAS, good Friday morning: Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis is exploring a run for office, possibly for lieutenant governor. Environmentalists are fuming about a provision tucked into Jerry Brown's transportation deal, and if John A. Pérez were Jimmy Gomez, he'd be worried about Alejandra Campoverdi. Where's Jerry? No public schedule POLITICO EXCLUSIVE -- PROMINENT DEM KOUNALAKIS MULLING RUN: Former U.S. Ambassador To Hungary, Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis -- a leading Democratic fundraiser, philanthropist and seasoned businesswoman who headed one of one of the state's largest development firms -- tells POLITICO California Playbook that she is exploring a run for political office, with an eye on the Lt. Governor's office. Kounalakis, the president of AKT Development Corporation, a leading state development firm founded by her father, the prominent developer Angelo Tsakopoulous, told POLITICO that "when President Obama sent me to Hungary, it was the honor and privilege of my life.'' She authored a book about her experiences, and plunged into work as a major fundraiser for the Democratic Party, advising presidential candidate and longtime friend Hillary Clinton on foreign policy matters. Now after the shocking outcome of the November election, she said she regrouped, and has sought ways to "use the energy, and the experience that I have, and really fight for the things I believe in. My view is: you can be discouraged, or courageous." Kounalakis says she is currently "talking to a lot of different people" about a run for office, but is not yet ready to make a decision. She says she's increasingly convinced as the Trump Administration unfolds that that "elected office is a very, very effective way to effect policy -- especially because California is going to be the standard bearer of what I believe to be our American values." Stay tuned. SCOOP, via POLITICO's Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman and Daniel Lippman -- ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS and Homeland Security Secretary JOHN KELLY aren't wasting any time when it comes to responding to California's Supreme Court chief justice accusing federal immigration officials of "stalking" undocumented immigrants at courthouses. The two are sending a letter today calling her characterization of federal law enforcement officials "particularly troubling." The full letter http://politi.co/2ogceIS THE PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW - JOHN A. PEREZ: Before withdrawing from the contest to attend to a newly diagnosed health condition, John A. Pérez was widely viewed as the frontrunner in the Southern California race to replace Xavier Becerra in the House. Pérez, a former California state Assembly speaker, sat down with POLITICO at Sacramento's Grange Restaurant & Bar on Thursday to talk about the race. Over rye toast and tea, the Los Angeles Democrat said that if he were Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, the challenger he'd be most concerned about facing in a runoff is Alejandra Campoverdi. More on his thoughts on the race here. POLITICO: What do you predict will happen? Pérez: "Well, I think Jimmy Gomez comes in first place, makes the runoff. And the question is with whom. And so I think he's significantly ahead of the pack, and then there's a cluster of people - Campoverdi, Carrillo, (Arturo), (Maria) Cabildo, Carmona, (Robert Lee) Ahn - that are all clustered closely enough ... that any one of them could be the other candidate in the runoff." POLITICO: In that scenario, which of those candidates gives Gomez the strongest opposition in a runoff? Pérez: "... I think realistically there's two other scenarios that would be most distressing if you're running Jimmy's campaign. One would be if a candidate like Wendy Carrillo moved forward because of an excitement, then, of a consolidated Bernie Sanders support base ...I think if Alejandra Campoverdi moves forward, it's a very different race." POLITICO: What about Sara Hernandez? Pérez: "She's another candidate that's in that top tier. I think if I'm Jimmy Gomez, she's the one I'm least concerned about because, one, she's as insider as he is, so the insider-outsider fight doesn't present itself in the same way ... I think she actually is the one candidate that makes Jimmy look like the left alternative of the options ... So she gets as cast to the right of him, Wendy gets cast as to the left of him, Alejandra gets cast as in a similar ideological space, but then, a different set of choices, right? So under a Goldilocks theory, she's kind of what Goldilocks is looking for as an alternative and, quite frankly, she'd be the one I'd be the most concerned about running against in a runoff if I was the leading candidate." -- "The money race in L.A.'s congressional election: 5 candidates have gotten 75% of the cash," by LATimes' Christine Mai-Duc, Maloy Moore, Ryan Menezes and Javier Panzar: "In the crowded field of two dozen candidates vying to replace Xavier Becerra in Congress, most of the money from donors has been flowing to a handful of hopefuls. Of the more than $2.4 million that has been raised by candidates since December, nearly 75% has gone to just five campaigns." Story QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I'm going to my ranch in two years. You want to have a screwed up state with a bunch of potholes? Go ahead. But that's insane." -- Gov. Jerry Brown TWEET OF THE DAY: Matt Rexroad @MattRexroad -- "When I retire I'm going to motorcycle all over the state and make outrageous statements at City Council meetings during public comment." VIDEO OF THE DAY: "Why can't anyone pronounce Nunes?" via POLITICO: Watch here It's Friday -- Got a tip? Feedback? News to share? Let us know. By email: cmarinucci@politico.com or dsiders@politico.com. Follow us on Twitter: @cmarinucci, @davidsiders and @POLITICOCA THE TRUMP ERA: -- "Ted Lieu is out-tweeting Trump, and it's making him a political star," by WaPo's Karen Heller: "In the packed auditorium at the Creative Artists Agency, a vortex of entertainment industry power and current progressive political woe, comedian Kathy Griffin - tiny, insistently red-tressed - erupts in full-throttle rasp at the man in the boxy gray suit as he finishes up onstage. 'I saw you on the Joy Reid show on MSNBC,' Griffin says, coming up from the audience to address Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat speaking at the CAA Foundation's Take Action Day. 'You're giving us hope!' A trio of sleek female agents surrounds Lieu, as if he's some TV heartthrob like actor Joshua Jackson, who is on the same environmental panel yet attracting far less attention. 'You're a rock star,' they gasp. 'We love your tweets.'" Story -- "Amid controversy, Devin Nunes returning to Fresno to talk water," by Fresno Bee's Tim Sheehan: "Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican congressman from Tulare who's been at the center of a political firestorm in Washington, D.C., is scheduled to address water issues at a meeting of agricultural lenders Friday in Fresno ... Nunes' appearance in Fresno likely won't be without dissent, as a grassroots demonstration is planned on Blackstone Avenue north of Shaw Avenue in front of TorNino's Banquets, where the meeting is taking place." Story -- "New amendments to 'sanctuary state' bill will allow police and sheriffs to contact ICE about violent felons," by the LATimes' Jazmine Uloa: "California Senate leader Kevin de León has amended his 'sanctuary state' bill to provide greater flexibility for law enforcement to notify and work with federal immigration officials on cases involving serious and violent felons." Story -- "A Holocaust survivor's pointed message about ICE enforcement: 'History is not on your side,'" by the WaPo's Kristine Phillips: "The audience that greeted the country's top immigration law enforcement official and the Sacramento County sheriff was not forgiving. The two men went in front of a hostile crowd to try to explain the role of federal and local officials in the enforcement of immigration laws. But in response, the attendees booed, interrupted and screamed. In the audience, however, one person was applauded: Bernard Marks, a Holocaust survivor. 'You stand up here, Mr. Jones, don't forget,' Marks told Sheriff Scott Jones, whom a pro-immigrant group has accused of helping federal officials in deporting 'families and loved ones.' 'History is not on your side.'" Story -- "LA mayor defends city's immigrant detention policy in meeting with Homeland Security chief," by the LA Daily News' Elizabeth Chou: Story -- "San Diego Area Mayors Organize Opposition To 'Sanctuary State' Bill," by KPBS's Andrew Bowen: "A group of local elected officials from around San Diego County on Wednesday announced a new group they say will organize opposition to a bill in Sacramento to limit cooperation between local police and federal immigration authorities." Story CALIFORNIA AND THE CAPITOL CORRIDOR: -- "Trucking Industry Provision In Transportation Deal Draws Fury From Environmentalists," by Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler: "The provision was tucked into the transportation deal to win the neutrality of the trucking industry, which would bear the brunt of the two diesel tax increases in the legislation." Story -- "California bill for universal health care creates higher taxes, single-payer system," by BANG's Tracy Seipel and Katy Murphy: "An ambitious proposal to create a single statewide insurance plan for every Californian - including undocumented residents, seniors on Medicare and people who now get their health coverage through work - began to take shape on Thursday when two legislators released details about what services would be covered and who would run the giant program. Still missing, however, are the details that have bedeviled universal health care advocates for decades: how much it would cost taxpayers." Story -- "Kamala Harris opens 2026 committee for governor; stays focused on U.S. Senate - maybe more," by SacBee's Christopher Cadelago: "Rather than starting a committee for lieutenant governor, like many others who need a place to hold campaign funds, the rising Democrat has chosen the only other statewide office she would conceivably consider in the future: California governor ... Harris strategist Sean Clegg said to keep the money raised under state rules, Harris had to designate a future state office. She has no plans to raise money into the 2026 gubernatorial account, he said, which has a far higher contribution limit than other statewide posts." Story -- "Anti-discrimination measure or blow to religious freedom? California bill sparks debate on employer codes of conduct," by the LATimes' Melanie Mason: "A measure that would bar employers from firing workers for having an abortion or giving birth to a child out of wedlock is getting pushback from religious groups who say such a bill would prevent them from requiring employees to act in accordance with their faith." Story -- "Gov. Jerry Brown's Double-Edged Diplomacy," by Jerry Roberts in the Santa Barbara Independent: "At a time when California's Democrat-dominated political establishment, a far-flung network of grassroots organizations and leaders of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and other major industries loudly, bitterly, and all-but-unanimously defy Trumpism, Brown portrays the senior statesman." Story -- "Maybe It's Time to Stop Underestimating Eric Garcetti," by the LA Downtown News' Jon Regardie: "Local political observers, including a lot of journalists, have been routinely critical of Garcetti. Some cite bubbling city issues such as rising crime and worsening homelessness. Others tag personality and leadership traits, like Garcetti's penchant for avoiding controversy and refusing to ruffle any feathers. However, as we learned on election day, the people adore him." Story MIXTAPE: -- "In key Sierra measure, California registers thickest snowpack in years," by the SFChronicle's Kurtis Alexander: Story -- "Will voters agree that Libby Schaaf made right call on Raiders?" by the SFChronicle's Joe Garofoli: Story -- "SF's bitter real estate war is killing off the elderly," by the SFChronicle's David Talbot: Story -- "Keith Kim: Oakland fire landlord's rollercoaster past," by the East Bay Times' Mathias Gafni, Erin Baldassari, David Debolt and Thomas Peele: Story -- "Family of immigrant dad detained by ICE says he's 'suffering,'" by the Los Angeles Daily News' Anita Bennett: Story -- "The legal stakes at play in California's case against antiabortion activists," by the Los Angeles Times' Maura Dolan: Story -- "People in Orange County healthiest in Southern California, rankings show," by the Orange County Register's Suzanne Hurt: Story CAMPAIGNS 2018 & BEYOND: POLITICO EXCLUSIVE -- Democracy For America, the progressive national grassroots PAC launched in the wake of Howard Dean's president campaign, is taking a new tack in the Trump era, committing $500,000 to municipal elections this cycle and launching endorsements of promising candidates at the local level. -- On Friday, the organization will launch its first California municipal endorsement -- backing Compton Mayor Aja Brown. Jim Dean, Democracy for America's chair, calls Brown "a rising star of the progressive movement,'' saying that "as the youngest elected Mayor of Compton, she has helped reinvigorate the city through innovative industry-specific vocational training, fought human trafficking by ending hourly motel rentals, and mandated 35% local hiring for all city projects through the First Source Hiring Agreement." HOLLYWOODLAND: -- "L.A. City Hall critic faces charge of possessing an assault weapon," by the Los Angeles Times' Emily Alpert Reyes: "An Encino attorney who was accused last year of making racist threats against Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson now faces a criminal charge for illegally possessing an assault weapon, the city attorney's office said Wednesday." Story VALLEYLAND: -- "Bay Area's high prices, traffic could spur exodus," by the SFChronicle's Bob Egelko: "An increasing number of Bay Area residents are planning to move out of the area, or at least considering it, primarily because of housing prices, the rising cost of living and traffic, according to a new poll." Story BIRTHDAYS: former Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) is 58 . FOR MORE political and policy news from California, check out: http://politi.co/2glLfIy SUBSCRIBE to the Playbook family: POLITICO Playbook: http://politi.co/1phAeAC ... New York Playbook: http://politi.co/1ON8bqW ... Florida Playbook: http://politi.co/1JDm23W ... New Jersey Playbook: http://politi.co/1HLKltF ... Massachusetts Playbook: http://politi.co/1Nhtq5v ... Illinois Playbook: http://politi.co/1N7u5sb ... California Playbook: http://politi.co/1N8zdJU and our friends at POLITICO Brussels Playbook: http://politi.co/1FZeLcw ... 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