San Diego, CALIF.- California Democrats had supermajorities in 2014 and 2016, only to lose them the next year.
Now, with Gavin Newsom in line to take Jerry Brown's seat, and record setting campaign contributions, there is a very real possibility Democrats will once again have all the power in California.
Considering how deep blue California has gone, concerns are surfacing about appropriate checks and balances in Sacramento.
Those checks and balances are often found in moderate candidates who vote their conscience, not along establishment party lines.
Many of those moderates are now the subject of a strategic search and destroy mission by the state's Democrat party.
Partisan Democrats Target an independent Republican in 77th District Race
California's Brian Maienschein has been known to work across party lines, receiving high marks even from groups that almost always align with Democrats. But he's still a Republican.
So what do the Democrats do when they see a "blue wave" of opportunity?
They try and take him out.
The makeup of registered voters in the 77th Assembly District is 89,625 Republican, 90,693 Democrat, 90,655 NPP (independents).
Political experts say that balance makes it all the more vital to have a moderate voice representing the district's voters. Those same experts say that since 2012, Assemblyman Brian Maienschein has exemplified that role.
CALmatters' Dan Walters, who has been writing about Sacramento politics for 50 years, said on our IVN Podcast this week of Maienschein, "Brian has been a terrific moderate, has been willing and demonstrated his ability to go across the aisle and get things done for his constituents," Walters continued, "However, Brian is a Republican and the Democrats want the seat for their supermajority."
However, if you look at the votesmart website, check out the voting ratings FOR Maienschein:
100% Planned Parenthood
100% PawPAC - California's Committee For Animals. With a note, "No Legislator has done more for the protection of animals than Brian Maienschein."
100% California Police Chiefs Association
100% Equality California
75% Gun Owners of California
83% Congress of California Seniors
81% American Conservative Union
More Moderates in The Crosshairs
Maienschein isn't the only moderate Assemblymember in the Democrats' crosshairs. The last Republican legislator in Contra Costa County, Katherine Baker, is also the target of an unprecedented attack campaign.
Of Baker, Walters noted, "You see the same thing going on in Northern California with Assemblywoman Katherine Baker, the last Republican legislator in Contra Costa County has been praised by Jerry Brown, by any measure is a very moderate, centrist Republican, but Democrats are spending many hundreds of thousands of dollars to try and get rid of her."
Walters admitted that when it comes to the cutthroat nature of Sacramento politics, the term bipartisanship is a just a veneer, "The whole idea of bipartisanship and diversity sounds good, but if that person has the wrong letter (R) in front of their name, they are going to be targeted."
Moving Further To The Left
Over the past two years, Democrats have been pushing the state further and further left.
We have seen this with SB-54, the sanctuary state law authored by Democrat Kevin De Leon.
We have seen this with SB-174, the bill to allow illegal immigrants to sit on boards and commissions. Authored by Insurance Commissioner candidate Ricardo Lara, that bill was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown.
In each case, moderates Maienschein and Baker refused to support the bills, calling for a more balanced, reasoned approach to immigration policies.
A Little Perspective
This game of political hyper-partisanship is nothing new for Sacramento.
“This isn’t new," says Steve Peace, co- founder of the Independent Voter Project. “It took decades to get this bad. In the 80’s I was in a Democratic caucus that went after Jeff Marston for no reason at all other than he was a Republican. And, believe me, the Republicans did the same to me for 20 years.”
Peace, who was part of both Assembly and Senate leadership over 20 years and was also part of a high profile challenge to Democratic leadership in 1986, argues that the real fight is over whether each legislator is loyal to leaders in Sacramento or voters in their districts. “The truth is that the leaders work for their caucus. They stay in power by maintaining the majority. And, sometimes that means giving in to the most partisan elements in the Party. Brian is respected and appreciated by both the Assembly and Senate Democratic Leaders.”
Marston, a former state assemblyman and co-chair of IVP says of Maienschein. “Brian Maienshein is one of the most liked and respected members of the legislature. But, he is independent. That, and the lack of bi-partisanship in virtually any form simply makes the special interests on both the left and right really nervous.“
Polling consistently shows that voters are tired of the partisanship and want more civil discord. The question is will they recognize independence in the sea of negative hyperbole and reward it with their votes.