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The Riggs Report: Jerry Brown’s compass

First lady Anne Gust Brown’s influence tops Sacramento list

Outside the cloistered world of Capitol politics, few are familiar with Anne Gust Brown. But there is no doubt that she wields significant influence over her husband, Gov. Jerry Brown.

A political partner in every sense of the word, Gust Brown is unelected, unappointed and unpaid, but plays an unconventional role for a California first lady—a key advisory position akin to a chief of staff.

Gust Brown’s clout was recognized this week in Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 list of Sacramento’s most influential players, occupying the No. 1 spot…

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The Riggs Report: Jerry Brown’s Philadelphia stage

California governor back in national spotlight at DNC

California Gov. Jerry Brown ran for the presidency three times and lost, but he returned to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week as a winner.

Not as the winner of the White House, of course. That ship has sailed. But Brown, in the final two years of his final term as California’s governor, is back on the national stage as a senior statesman who’s enjoying relatively high polling numbers.

A Field Poll conducted in April tallied Brown with a 55 percent approval rating among all…

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The Riggs Report: Ballot blockbuster

California voters face a complicated list of choices in November

Californians have a long history of pursuing, debating and voting on initiatives.

Gov Hiram Johnson helped start the process in 1911 as a means of countering the power of the Southern Pacific Railroad, and voters maintain a strong belief in this form of direct democracy.

A 2011 poll from the Public Policy Institute of California showed that 62 percent of likely voters felt decisions made by initiative are probably better than those made by the state’s elected leaders.

It’s a good thing California voters like the…

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The Riggs Report: Diablo Canyon’s demise

Gov. Jerry Brown was a vocal opponent of the nuclear plant’s licensing

PG&E’s announcement this week that it had agreed to shut down Diablo Canyon—the last nuclear power plant left in California—reflects a steady shift toward the use of renewable energy in California. It also marks the end of an era of environmental conflict that has spanned the career of Governor Jerry Brown.

When Brown was governor the first time, in the late 1970s, he was a vocal opponent of PG&E’s efforts to license the twin reactor plant near San Luis Obispo. As a radio reporter just out…

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The Riggs Report: CA Senate scandal quietly expires

Plea bargain by former Sen. Ron Calderon means no corruption trial

Just like that, the potential for a sensational court case detailing steamy dealings at the state Capitol is over.

Former state Sen. Ron Calderon’s decision to plead guilty to mail fraud Monday means there will be no trial on the 24-count indictment handed down by a federal grand jury in 2014, which included bribery, money laundering, wire fraud and aiding in the filing of false tax returns.

Calderon’s plea bargain spares the Capitol from an extended colorful trial that would likely have included testimony from lawmakers…

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The Riggs Report: Hillary Clinton’s California challenge

June 7 primary is key measure for Hillary’s fall campaign

Hillary Clinton doesn’t need California to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination. She does, however, need California to give her valuable momentum heading into the summer party convention in Philadelphia.

That, in a nutshell, is the importance of the California primary vote on June 7.

The Clintons, Hillary and Bill, may have their political roots in Arkansas, but they know our state very well.

Dating from Bill Clinton’s days in the White House, the pair have spent a lot of time here—both public and private.…

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The Riggs Report: Crowded ballot ahead for California

Voters face long list of measures in November

California voters could be faced with doing a lot of homework this fall. Stacks of petitions turned in this week by campaign groups indicate that somewhere between 15 and 20 initiatives will end up on the November ballot, making it one of the longest in years.

What actually makes it on the ballot depends on a number of factors. County clerks have to confirm that enough valid signatures have been gathered by campaign workers. Backers of some of these measures also have the ability, under recent law, to pull their…

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The Riggs Report: Trump’s speaker smackdown

Republicans continue to differ on support for presumptive nominee

Congressman Doug LaMalfa, R-Butte County, who is a fourth-generation rice farmer and muscle car enthusiast, believes that after months of discord, it’s time for party unity.

So for him, it’s a head-scratcher—Donald Trump’s confrontational remarks challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision not to endorse him at this point.

“So (Trump) needs to just act like the winner, OK?” LaMalfa said. “Be a little magnanimous in this thing, say, ‘Speaker Ryan, we’re going to talk,’ not talk about removing him or whatever.”

LaMalfa, who is in his second…

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The Riggs Report: California’s return to irrelevance

High hopes for a pivotal GOP vote up in smoke

It was too much to hope for, really: the idea that California’s primary election would be the hinge upon which the Republican presidential nomination would turn.

As of last week, there was tremendous excitement at the prospect that the state’s June 7 vote would determine whether Donald Trump could claim his party’s nomination or would head into a bloody free-for-all and floor fight at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer.

There was every reason to believe that Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich would campaign…

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The Riggs Report: Cruz’s California gamble

His VP pick comes on the eve of state GOP convention

If Ted Cruz was looking to create some buzz heading into this weekend’s super-charged California Republican Party convention, he succeeded.

Picking Carly Fiorina as his running mate guarantees lots of attention at the gathering in Burlingame. The problem is, it’s likely to be the wrong kind of attention.

From a historical perspective, it’s a good headline. There hasn’t been a Californian elected vice president since Richard Nixon more than half a century ago.

As a woman, Fiorina would be able to aggressively go after Hillary…

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