KILEY jumps in — PENTAGON nixes JEDI contract — ADAM MENDELSOHN in the spotlight — CAGOP endorsement tussle – Politico

THE BUZZ — ANOTHER REPUBLICAN JOINS THE FRAY: There are now 83 candidates running for governor of California — five of them named Kevin — in the 2021 recall election, all aming to oust Democrat Gavin Newsom. And that list now includes Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, who announced his run Tuesday.

As Jeremy reports, “Kiley, 36, has distinguished himself as one of the most vocal proponents of the recall and critics of Newsom’s pandemic management.” The Republican attorney, who hails from a solidly red district of suburban and rural areas outside Sacramento, “has accused Newsom for months of abusing or exceeding his authority with a string of executive actions during the pandemic,’’ he notes, and even secured a court ruling curtailing Newsom’s executive powers that was overturned on appeal.

DIVISIVE DILEMMA: Kiley’s entry comes precisely as the California Republican Party now faces a potentially divisive dilemma as it prepares to decide whether to bestow the party’s blessing on a single candidate.

As Carla reports: Conservative activists charge that party leaders, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and state GOP chair Jessica Millan Patterson, are maneuvering to direct party support toward former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who leads in polls and outside fundraising.

Never mind that Democrats love to circulate an Oval Office photo of Faulconer and former President Donald Trump. Conservatives say Faulconer is too moderate — and that party insiders are trying to co-opt the recall energy stemming from the base. Putting the party’s weight behind Faulconer, they argue, would dampen Republican turnout and help Newsom survive the recall.

Faulconer, speaking to POLITICO, says: “I believe that it’s important to get behind a candidate to have a process to do so.” And others, like former party chair Ron Nehring, who’s advising the Faulconer campaign, argue that an endorsement is hardly unusual: the CAGOP endorsed Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 2003 recall, and “that’s what party’s do.”

The tussle comes as members of the state party’s executive committee will meet in person on July 24 to vote on the bylaws and process that would pave the way for such an endorsement, which would be voted upon by all California Republican delegates sometime in August. DATES TO WATCH: Recall contenders have until July 16 to file paperwork and five years of tax returns to qualify for the Sept. 14 recall ballot.

WHY IT MATTERS: A coveted endorsement from the party could be a major boost, particularly for one of the four leading candidates: Faulconer, businessman John Cox, former Rep. Doug Ose and former reality star Caitlyn Jenner. But along with Kiley, also expected to announce soon, as we’ve reported: talk show host Larry Elder, who will be a guest on conservative talk show host Carl De Maio’s radio program Wednesday morning. Stay tuned.

BUENOS DÍAS, good Wednesday morning. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is the target today of an Indivisible protest at the Sherman Oaks Galleria in Los Angeles. The “Die-In for Democracy” is one of some 300 protests launching nationwide starting today to urge key U.S. senators to support the For the People Act for voting rights and calling for the elimination of the filibuster. Also planned for Wednesday: a Los Angeles City Hall protest, as well as an Oakland City Hall protest at Frank Ogawa Plaza, both starting at 6 p.m.

Got a tip or story idea for California Playbook? Hit [email protected] or [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @cmarinucci and @jeremybwhite.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “If there’s one lesson Republicans might take away from Feinstein’s experience — which left her politically much, much stronger — it’s summed up in a line from ‘The Wire,‘ HBO’s gritty crime drama. ‘You come at the king,‘ said stickup man Omar Little, ‘you best not miss.‘ LATimes’ Mark Barabak’s analysis of how the unsuccessful 1983 recall drive against then SF-Mayor Dianne Feinstein super-charged her political career.

TWEET OF THE DAY: Republican consultant: @MattRexroad: “The toughest job in California right now may be held by the person in charge of promoting tourism in San Francisco.” On the heels of yet another viral video about SF crime, this one a brazen shoplifting incident at Union Square’s Neiman Marcus.

WHERE’S GAVIN? Nothing official announced.

—“Racist graffiti, ‘plantation’ jokes and 100 potential lawsuits: Ex-workers say Tesla is still racist,” by Protocol’s Anna Kramer: “The N-word, demeaning jokes and retaliation on the basis of race are all common at Tesla, according to 100-plus sworn statements from a class-action lawsuit and public records obtained by Protocol.”

— LEANING TOWER OF SAN FRANCISCO? “Florida collapse raises concerns about San Francisco’s sinking Millennium Tower, via CNN.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: PR guru Adam Mendelsohn is well known to California political insiders and reporters as the former spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — and current media adviser to basketball superstar LeBron James. But Mendolsehn is finding himself in the center of a firestorm this week, with headlines about his role in an ESPN controversy regarding the comments of longtime network reporter Rachel Nichols, who is white, about fellow sports commentator Maria Taylor, who is black.

A New York Times story by Kevin Draper this weekend laid bare the conflict, which entailed Nichols complaining to Mendelsohn about the possible promotion of Taylor and suggesting that Taylor could be a “diversity” hire. That “hot mic” incident has put another spotlight on the California-based Mendelsohn, with this CNBC story reporting Mendolsehn was taped in a phone call with Nichols last year saying, ‘I’m exhausted … between Me Too and Black Lives Matter.’’ Mendelsohn subsequently apologized, saying, “I work to support these movements and know that the people affected by these issues never get to be exhausted or have nothing left. I have to continue to check my privilege and work to be a better ally.”

BUDGET BONANZA — States faced financial ruin. Now they’re swimming in cash, by POLITICO’s Katherine Landergan: As the coronavirus tore across America last spring, elected leaders and economists feared the worst: the pandemic and resulting financial turmoil would devastate the budgets of states across the nation. Governors pleaded with Washington for a massive bailout. States borrowed billions to close the gap. And Mitch McConnell told them all to go bankrupt. Now, cash is raining down on state capitals as the economy rebounds faster than virtually anyone expected.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — A ‘JANUARY 6’ HOUSE CANDIDATE? Calling the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol “a watershed moment for our country,’’ combat and U.S. Foreign Service veteran Max Steiner says he’s launching a bid today to challenge incumbent four term GOP Rep. Doug La Malfa in the CA-01 district.

The northernmost CA-01 district that encompasses Redding and Chico is a very safe seat for La Malfa, thanks to a robust 13-point GOP registration advantage. But Steiner says that La Malfa’s voting to challenge the electoral college results in two states and continuing to question the 2020 election outcome has set off alarms, even prompting a local paper to call for his resignation. In an interview, Steiner said he’s making his first political run as a “January 6” candidate because “American democracy is under threat. … We have a political system that has survived more than 200 years because people have respected the will of the voters.”

Steiner’s bio could make this interesting: The “pro-Second Amendment” Democrat served two years in Iraq, joined the Foreign Service in 2012 as an economic officer, and has served tours in Honduras, Mexico and Egypt, including a Sinai Peninsula stint as an observer enforcing the 1982 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Currently, he’s a sargeant in the Reserves and on leave from the Foreign Service to pursue a PhD in policy analysis at RAND.

LaMalfa raised about $1.2 million in the 2020 cycle, and Steiner’s team believes that lower GOP turnout and changing district demographics could help him close that 16-point gap. Changing district boundaries may also shift the picture. But politics watchers know this one is a longshot, given LaMalfa’s history.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — AD-36 SHOWDOWN: Further south, Democratic organizer and former CA-25 House deputy district director Andrea Rosenthal is launching a campaign to unseat Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey. Democrats have long coveted the the currently D+11 eastern Los Angeles desert district, and some party operatives were incensed last cycle when some strategic primary money moves helped push Democratic former Assemblyman Steve Fox into the general and a four-point loss.

RECALL CASH WAR —“Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer gives Newsom $200K to defeat recall,” by POLITICO’s Jeremy B. White: “The outlay from Mayer bolsters Newsom’s massive cash advantage over Republican rivals and further demonstrates the extensive support Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor, can marshal from California’s powerful tech industry.”

GOP BUSINESSMAN JOHN COX — with his 8-foot ball of trash — will be campaigning this week in Fresno, San Diego and Bakersfield. Details here.

GOLD RUSH: A run for state controller is usually a sleepy affair, but Republican Lanhee Chen’s launch of his campaign Tuesday produced a jackpot of national and state coverage — including stories from the SFChronicle, LATimes, CNN, AP, and The Hill, among other sites. All of which could be a measure of the interest in the run by the Hoover Institution policy analyst who’s a regular on national cable shows.

MASK UP —“Mask mandate back at California Capitol after outbreak of nine new COVID cases,” by SacBee’s Hannah Wiley: “Effective immediately, masks will have to be worn in the Capitol, Legislative Office Building and district offices, Secretary of the Senate Erika Contreras and Assembly Chief Administrative Officer Debra Gravert wrote in Tuesday memos. Unvaccinated members and employees will also be required to get tested for the virus twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays, beginning July 8.”

SAFE INJECTION STALL — City leaders’ support backfires on California safe injection sites bill, by POLITICO’s Victoria Colliver: San Francisco Mayor London Breed and other city leaders expressed their support for the model and urged the U.S. Department of Justice to clarify that such sites would not be targeted by federal drug enforcement operations. “That pre-emptive request of the DOJ put me in the difficult position of being obligated to wait for the DOJ to respond,” (Assemblyman Jim) Wood said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

EDUCATION —“Critical race theory stirs debate in Southern California schools,” by the OC Register’s Deepa Bharath: “Many educators say learning and talking about the concepts early is crucial in helping the younger generation envision an inclusive society and avoid the mistakes of the past. But, opponents say such concepts sow division by making White people feel guilty and others languish in a victim mindset.”

THE DROUGHT —“Drought: The end of California’s groundwater free-for-all,” by the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s Lisa Krieger: “As the state faces a growing threat from drought, an increasing number of water agencies are planning to require flow meters on agricultural wells, part of a landmark effort to measure and constrain pumping that used to be free and unlimited.”

—“Wildfires threaten all of the West — and one group more than others,” by POLITICO’s Zack Colman: “The U.S. may be facing its worst wildfire season in a century, and a new analysis of census, insurance and wildfire data show Latino residents in western states face the greatest danger.”

HOMELESSNESS —“After a year in their own beds, where will San Francisco’s most vulnerable homeless women go?” by SFChronicle’s Lauren Hepler: “Pandemic aid programs are set to begin expiring at the end of September. After that, advocates worry that San Francisco’s most vulnerable women will once again be left behind amid an unprecedented flood of funding for homeless services.”

CAL OSHA’S MOMENT? —“It took Cal/OSHA months to issue pandemic safety rules. Can it get ahead of the next pandemic?” by SFChronicle’s Chase DiFeliciantonio: “When the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on March 11, California reported one death because of the virus. By the time workplace rules took effect by December 2020, well over a hundred people were dying statewide each day.”

ANIMAL CROSSING —“California is betting $61 million that new highway crossings will keep wildlife safe,” by CalMatters’ Marissa Garcia: “The goal is two-fold: to give species at risk the space they need to find mates, and to reduce the number of car crashes that imperil both wildlife and humans.”

CHAOS AND CONTROL —“Oakland police overwhelmed with July Fourth violence: ’12 hours of nonstop chaos’,” by SFChronicle’s Mallory Moench: “Oakland police responded to seven shootings, two deaths and a huge sideshow overnight on the Fourth of July in ‘12 hours of nonstop chaos,’ Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said Monday.”

REBATES BACK —“California is restoring electric car rebates, but some environmentalists aren’t happy,” by SFChronicle’s Dustin Gardiner: “Under the budget legislators sent Newsom last week, the state will spend $525 million over three years on its main rebate program, which offers electric car buyers incentives of around $2,000 on new electric vehicles. The governor is expected to sign off on the legislation, even though the subsidies end up going mostly to buyers with annual incomes above $100,000.”

HEADS UP —“U.S. Capitol Police to open California office following Jan. 6 attack,” by LATimes’ Sarah D. Wire: “Home to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and other prominent members of Congress, California gives the law enforcement agency a Western base to investigate claims of threats made against members. The state is also home to the nation’s largest congressional delegation.”

—“Pentagon cancels massive JEDI cloud contract,” by POLITICO’s Lara Seligman: “The decision comes a year after a federal court ruled that the Pentagon stop work on the contract after siding with former bidder Amazon, which argued in a 2019 lawsuit that it lost the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, contract to Microsoft because Trump derided the company and its founder, Jeff Bezos.”

BULLETIN BLASTED— “A classic Silicon Valley tactic — losing money to crush rivals — comes in for scrutiny,” by the Washington Post’s Will Oremus: “Facebook’s latest product, a newsletter platform called Bulletin, exemplifies a strategy that some critics think should be illegal.”

BIG HIGH — “Cannabinoids Are the Next Big Thing in the Pot Industry, But Who Can Mass-Produce It?,’’ by Observers’s Emma Betuel: “In Berkeley, California, the startup Demetrix, is preparing to manufacture “metric tons” of cannabigerol, also known as CBG. CBG is also called “the mother of cannabinoids” because chemically, it’s a precursor for hundreds of other chemicals that exist in trace amounts in cannabis plants.”

—“Apple’s Decision To Allow Select Cannabis Brands On App Store Signals Incremental Acceptance Of Emerging Legal Market,” by The Fresh Toast’s Andrew Ward.

BRITNEY‘S NIGHTMARE via New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow and Jia Tolentino — “How the pop star’s father and a team of lawyers seized control of her life — and have held on to it for thirteen years”: “Since the establishment of Spears’s conservatorship, she has released four albums, headlined a global tour that grossed a hundred and thirty-one million dollars, and performed for four years in a hit Las Vegas residency. Yet her conservators, who include her father, Jamie Spears, have controlled her spending, communications, and personal decisions.”

AND THEN THERE’S THIS… “Britney Spears’ team in limbo as multiple people, including attorney, want to resign,” by LATimes’ Christie D’Zurilla.

—“Mitt Romney sells his massive California home, valued at more than $15M,” by Salt Lake Tribune’s Matt Canham.

—“California cops probing ‘horrific’ graffiti on MLK statue as hate crime,” by NYPost’s Joshua Rhett Miller.

—“Rodeos, hikes, races: Author, NYT writer John Branch on California’s endless outdoor adventures,” by SFGate’s Joseph Bien-Kahn.

—“Governor appoints first Indigenous woman to commission advocating for women and girls,” by San Diego Union-Tribune’s Lauren J. Mapp.

—“‘Cause for alarm’: COVID-19 hospitalizations worsen for Black L.A. County residents,” by LATimes’ Rong-Gong Lin II and Luke Money.

—“Sacramento lags behind state, region in vaccinating young people against COVID-19,” by SacBee’s Sawsan Morrar and Michael McGough.

—“Oakland agrees to begin negotiations with Coliseum suitors. Here’s a look at who could buy the stadium,” by SFChronicle’s Sarah Ravani.

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) … Luther Lowe of Yelp … Randy James of Sugerman Communications

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