After four years of living at the Trump resistance headquarters, many Californians are adjusting to life under the Biden administration.
This means Gov. Gavin Newsom must deal with the disagreement among Democrats over how to resolve some of the state’s thorniest and most pressing issues.
And it’s also a reckoning moment for Republicans in the state, who must walk a fine line between parts of their base still in love with former President Donald Trump, who tried to subvert the election, and parties trying to forge a way without it. .
[Read more about how California’s relationship with Washington changed on Inauguration Day.]
It’s not a perfect analogue, but a lot about this period of political transition sounded familiar to my colleague Manny Fernandez, who covered Texas for the New York Times during the Obama administration and when Mr. Trump took over. its functions. (Coincidentally, I was covering Texas at the time as well.)
Recently I met Manny to talk about politics and a trip to the central valley to reflect what voters thought of Representative Kevin McCarthy, who demonstrated continued loyalty to Mr. Trump, even though it has faced stiff criticism for doing so. Here’s our conversation, lightly edited and condensed:
So first, tell me how you see politics in California changing now that we’re no longer the center of resistance?
I’ve seen a bit of this game play out in Texas upside down.
When I started in Texas, I started in the Obama days, so I covered the chasm of resistance – the conservative world of Texas battling the Obama administration.
That changed with the Trump era, and it was interesting to see the Texans go from ‘We’re a fighter’ to a different posture, where they were trying to find their own footing, because they had defined themselves by that. what they were up against. .
[Read more from Manny in May 2016, about what makes Texas Texas.]
The Republican leaders in Texas looked for another enemy, and it ended up being the Democrat-run Blue Cities. The leadership of the Red State turned in on itself and began to fight against the cities of Austin, Houston and San Antonio.
So I wonder how this will play out in Democrat-led California, where they will shift from fighters to federally responsible. It is probably easier to define yourself by what you are against than what you are for.
Tell me a bit about why you went to Bakersfield to find out more about Mr. McCarthy.
The idea was to go there and find out what Republicans in his home neighborhood think of him.
From the outside, your sort of knee jerk reaction might be, “I’m sure a lot of Republicans in Bakersfield are outraged at him and can’t believe he’s still loyal to Trump, even after the Capitol riot.”
I found a few moderate Republicans who thought McCarthy had gone too far.
I also found a lot of Republicans who were pro-Trump, post-riot, and they weren’t giving an inch. It was telling to see the amount of support that still exists in the San Joaquin Valley.
[Read the full story about Mr. McCarthy’s constituents here.]
What do you think of the reaction of the Bakersfield Republicans to other Republicans in the state?
For example, Representative David Valadao, a kind of protégé of Mr. McCarthy, was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump. And Shannon Grove, a pro-Trump state senator from Bakersfield, was ousted from the leadership of his caucus role after repeating false statements about the Capitol crowd in a tweet. So it is clear that not all California Republicans felt the same.
It’s that question, “How pro-Trump are you?” How extreme is that? “
On the one hand, with Ms. Grove, the lesson might be that there was a line – albeit an extreme one – that she crossed with this tweet. Then there are other parts of the party that her tweet wasn’t far enough away.
All these clashes over ideological politics will erupt in the weeks and months to come.
[Read more about how to make sense of the attack on the Capitol — from California.]
I want to bring it back to this Texas comparison. Eventually what we saw there was the Lieutenant Governor who was very aligned with Mr. Trump, Dan Patrick, push a so-called bathroom bill, then business leaders who were also Republicans stepped in to crush him.
Have you seen any echoes of this particular tension in the central valley?
I saw it more in Bakersfield, among the very pro-business, Bush-style Republicans who worried about Trump. They didn’t like what they saw in Trump’s White House.
More rural conservatives seemed to be more right and a little more pro-Trump. These two forces are going to hit each other’s heads across the Biden administration, trying to get their people involved in the Legislature, trying to win their local races.
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More on the policy:
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer officially announced he is running for governor – either in 2022, or in the event of Mr. Newsom being recalled. It was a popular moderate conservative who was denounced. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]
More Democrats publicly criticize governor for the pandemic response of its administration. [The Los Angeles Times]
If you missed it, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia who has regularly rehearsed conspiracy theories, wrote a post on Facebook in which she mistakenly suggested that a secret entity caused the devastating and deadly campfire by using space lasers to make way for the bullet train. [Media Matters for America]
This is not how the campfire started. [The New York Times]
Here’s what else to know today
The Biden administration faces pressure to repair family separations. [The New York Times]
Enrollment in California’s K-12 public schools has dropped precipitously during the pandemic. The decline is five times the state’s annual rate in recent years. [CalMatters]
Corporate America set 2020 as the deadline for many of its climate targets. Here’s how much (or little) progress they’ve made. [Bloomberg]
And if you missed it, a California lawmaker introduced a bill that would require large companies doing business in the state to report their carbon emissions and set targets to reduce them. [KQED]
Jack Palladino, the polarizing private detective from San Francisco credited with the modernization of the profession, died after a “brutal attack”. [The New York Times]
New research suggests that football practices present a greater risk of concussion than games for university athletes. [The New York Times]
Want to see The famous “firefall” of Yosemite National Park? You will need reservations this year. Here’s what else to know. [The Fresno Bee]
The University of California, Los Angeles is a powerhouse of gymnastics. And the routines of her gymnasts – think of Nia Dennis last week – often go viral. This is in part because the team has a secret weapon: choreographer Bijoya Das.
Find out how she trains gymnasts to let their personalities shine on the mat.
California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. PT on weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Have you been forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read each edition online here.
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley, and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she always wants to see more. Follow us here or on Twitter.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.