California Politico Playbook

THE BUZZ: Want a portrait of California’s most competitive state legislative races? Let’s paint by the numbers.

The California Secretary of State’s office released voter registration data last week for newly drawn districts. The data delineates which seats now fall in the flippable zone or in the overlapping defensive priority belt. Don’t count on the Democratic supermajority dissipating this year, thanks to the party’s structural advantages and money edge. But a conservative wave year could help Republicans make inroads, and there are plenty of contested districts to track.

We’re not getting into the same-party standoffs, though that’s where plenty of the money and action will be, or enumerating every candidate in these races; the full list is here. Let’s dive in:

— SENATEThere are a few open or Republican-controlled seats where relatively narrow margins have created openings for Democrats. That includes the vacant SD-4 (R+3), where contenders include former Rep. George Radanovich; the open SD-6 (R+0.6), where GOP former Assemblymember Roger Niello could match up with Democratic school board member Paula Villescaz; SD-36 (R+2), where GOP Assemblymember Janet Nguyen is hoping to return to the state Senate; SD-38 (D+6.5), which encompasses some of outgoing GOP state Sen. Pat Bates’ current district but is significantly bluer; and the evenly split SD-40, where Democrat Joseph Rocha is looking to unseat GOP Sen. Brian Jones.

Don’t sleep on the Central Valley, where outcomes often skew more conservative than the raw registration numbers would suggest. After moving so she could run in the newly drawn SD-16 (D+13) rather than collide with Sen. Anna Caballero in SD-14, Sen. Melissa Hurtado faces competition from fellow Democrats Bryan Osorio and Nicole Parra and Republican farmer David Shepard.

— ASSEMBLY: Incumbents of both parties could see stiff competition. In the D+5 new AD-7, Democratic Assemblymember Ken Cooley seeks to fend off Republican chief of staff Josh Hoover; on the other end of the state, Democrat Brian Maienschein will seek to defend his D+6 district (AD-76) from Republicans June Cutter and Kristie Bruce-Lane. GOP Assemblymembers Devon Mathis (AD-33) and Laurie Davies (AD-74) have seen their seats tighten from majority Republican to even registration. It could be an uphill fight for GOP Assemblymember Susan Valladares who flipped a D+4 seat last cycle but is now defending a D+13 district.

Open seats also beckon. The new Riverside-anchored AD-63’s four-point Republican edge could be slim enough to put it in play for Democrats. The D+8 new AD-22 looks promising for Democrats — with Chad Condit looking to continue the family dynasty — but we’ll reiterate that Central Valley margins can be tighter than they appear. In battleground Orange County, Democrat Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen will vie with five Republicans for the D+4 AD-70 after falling short in 2020 despite a $1.5 million investment from the California Democratic Party.

Speaking of party priorities, some formerly top-tier members now find themselves in much safer seats. Democratic Assemblymembers Cottie Petrie-Norris, Sabrina Cervantes and Tasha Boerner Horvath, who were all top party beneficiaries last cycle, saw their margins improve significantly. And Republican Assemblymember Phillip Chen is running unopposed in an R+7 seat after the parties poured more than $1.5 million into his district in 2020.

BUENOS DÍAS, good Monday morning. It’s quiet out there: The governor is on vacation and state lawmakers are back in their districts for recess — or possibly in Iceland (more on that below).

Got a tip or story idea for California Playbook? Hit us up and or follow us on Twitter @JeremyBWhite and @Lara_Korte

QUOTE OF THE DAY:“My point to the progressives has been if we don’t get climate now, who knows what happens in the midterms, right? It’s an unknown. When are we going to get climate? This is our shot. So if you have to have some increase in something you don’t want on fossil fuel production, just in a little basis, but we get $500 billion of renewable energy that’s going to have an impact on the whole world and it’s going to help us rebuild America, do it. Take the deal.” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) on cutting a climate deal, via POLITICO Deep Dive.

TWEET OF THE DAY: SF Supervisor @HillaryRonen lashes out at colleague @MattHaneySF for opposing the removal of redistricting commissioners: “Disgusted. You used to stand with us before you decided to abandon your District in your first term. Thought that wasn’t a betrayal because @honeymahogany was going to win. Not with these gerrymandered districts your standing up for. Truly disgusting.” (Followed by: “Matt, are you really starting to believe your own bull shit or is this just more bull shit?”)

WHERE’S GAVIN? On vacation with his family in Central and South America until April 12.

RALLY AGAINST MADATES — “Opponents of vaccine requirements gather for ‘Defeat the Mandates’ rally in L.A.” by the LATimes’ Benjamin Oreskes: “More than a thousand people opposed to vaccine mandates rallied in Grand Park in front of Los Angeles City Hall on Sunday, waving American flags and holding signs with such messages as “Defeat the Mandates” and “Reclaim Your Divinity.” One musical act drew cheers while performing a song with the chorus “this is a war on religion.””

‘SQUITOS — “In California, an army of genetically engineered mosquitoes awaits release. Will it backfire?” by the LA Times’ Melody Petersen: “Even scientists who see the potential of genetic engineering are uneasy about releasing the transgenic insects into neighborhoods because of how hard such trials are to control.”

SEE YOU NEXT DECADE — “Film Academy Bans Will Smith From Oscars Ceremony for 10 Years,” by The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg: “He was expected to face suspension or expulsion, having violated the standards of conduct that the Academy implemented following the #MeToo movement.”

IMMIGRATION — “A Ukrainian teen’s flight to safety takes detour to U.S. immigrant detention center,” by the San Diego Union Tribune’s Kate Morrissey via the LA Times: “Though family separation in 2018 became a buzzword for the Trump administration’s practices of separating parents from children and prosecuting the parents for having crossed the border, separations of relatives including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins from minors have gone on much longer and continue today.”

— “Chula Vista church becomes a way station for Ukrainians seeking refuge in the U.S.,” by the LATimes’ John Wilkens: “Calvary Chapel in Chula Vista offers food and shelter for Ukrainian refugees arriving in the U.S. from Mexico.”

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