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The Democratic governor has an unexpected balancing act in his third year in office. Doubling down on progressive priorities could energize his party’s base, but he has to avoid alienating centrists and giving fodder to opponents eager to portray him as an overreaching liberal.

Newsom has already moved to quell progressive unrest by securing endorsements from Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Still, some liberal Democrats see this as a ripe opportunity to push Newsom further, especially with California’s budget coffers reaching record heights.

“I always tell progressives our support isn’t free. We should hold accountable our elected officials who say they support health care for all,” said freshman Assemblymember Alex Lee (D-Milpitas), who’s sponsoring both a universal health care bill and the wealth tax proposal. “I think [Newsom] has a duty to energize his progressive base.”

The threat of a recall is likely to overshadow Sacramento policymaking all year, and a fall recall election would come shortly after Newsom signs or vetoes a flurry of bills. His choices could reverberate at the ballot box.

Progressives are renewing their pushes to create a single-payer health care system, extend Medicaid coverage to undocumented immigrants and rein in oil and gas drilling. They also argue the pandemic has strengthened the case for more worker protections and a wealth tax. And some aren’t pulling punches for fear of giving recall proponents more ammunition to use against Newsom.

“We can’t step back from this important agenda item just because it might be politically inconvenient,” said Joe Sanberg, an investor and activist campaigning for the wealth tax. “If the governor delivers for those people living on the knife edge, the chances he’ll be rehired go up.”

Newsom has called the recall a distraction and said he remains single-mindedly focused on defeating the coronavirus and reinvigorating California’s economy. But state Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose) said he expects the governor’s advisers to carefully weigh what policy achievements to tout as they make a case to voters.

“A lot of that has to be decided in the context of surviving another day as governor,” he said. “You’re going to look at polling and see if Republican votes really matter.”

But there is some disagreement among progressives who are weighing how to wield the recall. While some on the left dream of an opportunity to replace Newsom with a more liberal alternative, elected Democrats have warned such a gamble could backfire drastically.

“I would say to those that see this as some kind of opportunity to sneak in a progressive in the governor’s mansion, that’s part of the trap Republicans are hoping we’ll fall into, quite frankly,” said Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), co-author of the health care bill.

Environmentalists are already fuming this year after a priority bill that would have banned fracking in California died this week in the Legislature. Moderate Democrats joined with Republicans in blocking the measure in a Senate committee, and some environmentalists have already begun blaming Newsom.

The governor last fall asked state lawmakers to send him a fracking ban, but that was well before the recall became a real possibility. Newsom said this year he still supported the idea; environmentalists, however, say he did nothing to muscle it through the Capitol, and some suspect he preferred to avoid having to deal with a matter opposed by major business interests — and by his allies in labor.

“Governor Newsom got exactly what he wanted with the outcome of this vote,” Food & Water Watch California director Alexandra Nagy said in a statement. “He sent a fracking ban to the legislature knowing that the oil lobby would easily kill it. He was counting on it. If Newsom wants to be a real climate leader, he needs to take the mantle up himself and enact 2,500 foot setbacks and ban fracking immediately.”

Environmentalists and labor unions represent key bastions of support for Newsom, but they have increasingly been at odds over California’s climate agenda, forcing the governor to balance his commitment to phasing out fossil fuels with preserving unionized jobs in the energy industry.

“I expect that my labor clients will be all in to defeat the recall,” said Scott Wetch, a lobbyist representing pipefitters and plumbers that opposed the oil drilling bill. “We’re going to talk to our members, we’re going to knock on hundreds and thousands of doors, we’re going to be there reminding people what’s at stake.”

Green groups are still hoping to resurrect the fracking ban and keeping pressure on the governor to put limits on how close drilling can occur to schools, homes and other sensitive sites.

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“This is where his values and ethics are going to be shown,” said Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment community organizer Juan Flores. If Newsom distances himself from policies to limit fossil fuels, “then he is automatically recalling himself, because the remainder of his term, we already know what he’s going to do, which is trying to save his political career.”

During the state’s only gubernatorial recall election year in 2003, liberal Democrats succeeded in winning Gov. Gray Davis’ support for policies the centrist state executive previously rejected. That included driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, financial privacy requirements and additional rights for gay and lesbian partners.

Those moves, however, did not save Davis in the end. He was toppled by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the action movie star who went on to serve two terms as governor — the last Republican to hold that office in California.

Democratic allies are hoping they can defend Newsom while still advancing their priorities. Last year, the governor vetoed a labor priority bill that would have compelled hospitality businesses to prioritize rehiring workers who lost work due to the coronavirus. A Southern California hospitality workers union excoriated Newsom at the time, saying “the most powerful elected Democrat in the state sided with the wealthy hotel owners” over “hardworking hotel workers.”

The Newsom administration has negotiated a narrower version of that measure that’s speeding through the legislative process.

“We’re not for [the] recall because it’s a terrible distraction,” said UNITE HERE Local 11 co-president Susan Minato said that “we’re going to do our part with making sure California stays with a Democratic governor.”

Single-payer health care will pose another test. Newsom entered office in 2019 on a pledge to pursue the health system overhaul, but settled for setting up a task force that year to examine the issue. During the 2020 pandemic, the Capitol went into a holding pattern and the budget looked gloomy, giving further reason to avoid discussing major changes.

This year, the first official committee opposing the recall was formed by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, a group that has focused on achieving single-payer. NUHW president Sal Rosselli said the effort served to both protect Newsom and to prod him on an unfulfilled campaign promise. “That’s the whole point, organizing progressive voters and donors in California in opposition to the recall and in support of our number one focus: Medicare for All,” Rosselli said.

While the left has been deliberate about telegraphing unity behind Newsom, lingering frustrations among some legislators have fueled questions about how vigorously allies will campaign for Newsom with efforts like union-driven voter turnout drives. Sen. María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), a stalwart union ally, argued labor would rally behind the governor while continuing to push for policies in Sacramento.

“Some people said the enthusiasm wasn’t going to be there for Biden. Some people said the enthusiasm wasn’t there for Jerry Brown,” Durazo said. “I’m not ignoring it, and when we get down into the campaign of course we have to think about enthusiasm, but I don’t think that’s the primary issue. The primary issue is what has the governor done in his two years with the pandemic.”

The recall’s effect might be felt long before bills get to Newsom’s desk, though, as lawmakers could save Newsom from having to make a tough choice.

Moderate Democrats have publicly opposed the wealth tax proposals, just as they did against the fracking ban. Skilled governors are able to stop bills from reaching their desk through legislative negotiations — and with support from Democratic legislative leaders playing the long game.

“I think it would be hard to be a Democratic politician in this state and not feel conscious of the recall in everything you’re doing,” said Kathryn Phillips, former director of Sierra Club California. “Not because you’re worried about yourself, but because you don’t want to put the governor in a position that will make him make somebody mad.”


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Pierre ‘Pete’ du Pont IV dies; ran for president in 1988

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“I was born with a well-known name and genuine opportunity. I hope I have lived up to both,” du Pont said in announcing his longshot presidential bid in September 1986.

As a presidential candidate, du Pont attracted attention for staking out controversial positions on what he hoped would reverberate with voters as “damn right” issues. They included random drug testing for high school students, school vouchers, replacing welfare with work, ending farm subsidies, and allowing workers to invest in individual retirement accounts as an alternative to Social Security.

Some of those ideas have since become more mainstream.

He won the endorsement of New Hampshire’s largest newspaper but failed to gain traction among voters. He ended his campaign after finishing next-to-last in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

Afterward, du Pont remained engaged in politics. He frequently wrote opinion pieces for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and co-founded the online public policy journal IntellectualCapital.com. He also served as chairman of Hudson Institute, the National Review Institute and the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonpartisan public policy research organization.

Pierre du Pont IV was born Jan. 22, 1935, in Delaware. After attending Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, he graduated from Princeton University in 1956 with an engineering degree. Following a four-year stint in the Navy, he obtained a law degree from Harvard University in 1963.

He joined the Du Pont Company, where he held several positions, resigning as a quality control supervisor in 1968 to begin his political career.

After running unopposed for a state House seat in 1968, he immediately set his sights on Congress, running as a fiscal conservative and winning the first of three terms in 1970.

Elected governor in 1976, du Pont fought successfully to restore financial integrity to a state he had declared “bankrupt” shortly after his inauguration. He presided over two income tax cuts; constitutional amendments restricting state spending and requiring three-fifths votes in the legislature to raise taxes; and establishment of an independent revenue forecasting panel.

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After a rocky start with Democratic legislators, including an embarrassing override of a 1977 budget veto, du Pont forged successful relationships with lawmakers from both parties to tackle thorny issues including prison overcrowding and corruption and school desegregation. He was re-elected in a landslide in 1980, winning a record 71 percent of the vote and becoming the first two-term governor in Delaware in 20 years.

In his second term, du Pont signed landmark legislation that loosened Delaware’s banking laws, including removing the cap on interest rates that banks could charge customers. The Financial Center Development Act made Delaware a haven for some of the country’s largest credit card issuers.

Under du Pont’s leadership, Delaware also established a nonprofit employment counseling and job placement program for Delaware high school seniors not bound for college. It served as the model for a national program adopted by several other states.

Prohibited by law from seeking a third term, du Pont briefly withdrew to the private sector, joining a Wilmington law firm in 1985. A year and a half later, he announced his bid for the GOP presidential nomination, becoming the first declared candidate in the 1988 campaign.

During an appearance at the Hotel du Pont in downtown Wilmington, where du Pont announced he was abandoning his presidential campaign, he praised an electoral process that gave a shot at the White House to a former small-state governor with unorthodox ideas.

“You’ve given me the opportunity of a lifetime. You listened, you considered and you chose. I could not have asked for any more,” du Pont said. “For in America, we do not promise that everyone wins, only that everyone gets a chance to try.”

Du Pont is survived by his wife of over 60 years, the former Elise R. Wood; a daughter and three sons; and 10 grandchildren.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a memorial service will be held at a later date, Perkins said.


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Larry Hogan decries ‘circular firing squad’ within GOP

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday the Republican Party experienced its “worst four years we’ve had, ever” under President Donald Trump, noting the party’s losses in both chambers of Congress and the White House.

“We’ve got to get back to winning elections again. And we have to be able to have a Republican Party that appeals to a broader group of people,” said Hogan, a Republican, on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” “Successful politics is about addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division.”

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Hogan’s comments comes as Republicans deliberate on the future of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) in the party’s House leadership, particularly over her repeated criticisms of Trump, which many Republicans view as breaking ranks and distracting from the party’s opposition to President Joe Biden. House Republicans are expected to strip Cheney of her role as conference chair and replace her with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).


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Gov. Hogan pardoning 34 victims of racial lynching in Maryland

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Earlier this year, the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project and students at Loch Raven Technical Academy petitioned Hogan to issue the pardon for Cooper. After receiving the request, the Republican governor directed his chief legal counsel to review all of the available documentation of racial lynching in Maryland.

“Justice has not been done with respect to any of these extrajudicial killings, which violated fundamental rights to due process and equal protection of law,” according to a draft clemency document that Hogan is scheduled to sign.

Hogan and other state officials are scheduled to attend a ceremony in Towson, Maryland, next to the former jailhouse where Cooper was held. A historic marker will be unveiled at the site in a partnership with the Baltimore County Coalition of the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project, the Equal Justice Initiative and Baltimore County.

The sign says Cooper’s body was left hanging “so angry white residents and local train passengers could see his corpse.”

“Later, pieces of the rope were given away as souvenirs,” the sign s ays. “Howard’s mother, Henrietta, collected her child’s remains and buried him in an unmarked grave in Ruxton. No one was ever held accountable for her son’s lynching.”

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The ceremony is part of a continuing effort by the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project, a group of 13 county chapters that is working to document the history of lynching in the state.

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In 2019, a marker in Annapolis, the state capital, commemorated the five known Black men who were hanged or fatally shot without trial in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County.

The Equal Justice Initiative has documented more than 6,500 racial lynchings in the country.

Will Schwarz, who is president of the memorial project, described the posthumous pardons as a powerful moment in acknowledging the truth — a critical step toward reconciliation. He said the history of racial terror lynching in the United States has been ignored for so long that most people don’t know the scale of the problem.

“We have a responsibility to try and dismantle that machine of white supremacy and this is a big piece of it, acknowledging the violation of civil rights and of due process that were a part of these awful lynchings,” Schwarz said.

There have been 40 documented lynching cases in Maryland, Schwarz said. In some of those cases, the victims were not yet arrested, so they were not part of the legal system and not eligible for the posthumous clemency approved Saturday by Hogan.

Two years ago, state lawmakers created the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is the first of its kind in the nation. The commission was formed to research lynchings and include its findings in a report.


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