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Big Tobacco goes all in against Prop 29

If there was any uncertainty whether Big Tobacco -- the nation's leading makers of cigarettes -- would let this June's statewide campaign for a tax hike slip by without an all out war... the question was answered quite definitively late Thursday.

That's when the campaign to defeat Proposition 29 reported almost $9 million in new contributions from the parent company of Philip Morris, USA and R.J. Reynolds.  Add that to the companies' contribution earlier this year of $12 million, and the effort to kill a new $1-per pack tax on cigarettes is now sitting on a war chest of close to $21 million.

Calling all political junkies ...

"I don't make jokes," the great Will Rogers once said.  "I just watch the government and report the facts."

You won't find the brilliance or wit of Rogers here in the coming weeks, months, and beyond... but you will find a lot of nuggets about the wild and unpredictable world of California politics and government.

This marks my first posting at News10's political editor, though I started blogging about state politics in 2004 as a Capitol reporter working in radio.  And what you'll likely find here, as has been my style, is a combination of news and political analysis... from the day's events to emerging politics trends to watch.  And more.

Cultural Series Presents an Evening with Two Presidential Advisers: Ari Fleischer, Paul Begala

Cultural Series Presents an Evening with Two Presidential Advisers: Ari Fleischer, Paul Begala

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Former Presidential advisers Paul Begala and Ari Fleischer will share the same stage on Monday, April 16 in Sacramento, discussing their insights as California moves toward its June presidential primary and the 2012 presidential election.

The engaging team of Fleischer and Begala will appear at the Scottish Rite Temple in Sacramento for the 90-minute event that starts at 8 p.m.

Fleischer and Begala are the latest installment in the “Cultural Series,” organized by Temple Or Rishon in Orangevale.

VIDEO: One word reactions to State of the Union

SACRAMENTO, CA - People share their thoughts on the state of the country and the president's State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

COMPARE: What was emphasized in 2010 and 2011 in the State of the Union 

Hear and see what they had to say about the speech in a word.

By Suzanne Phan, sphan@news10.net

Twitter: @suzannephan

Facebook: SuzannePhanNews10

New strong mayor initiative could be on the June ballot

SACRAMENTO, CA - There's another push for a strong mayor form of government for Sacramento, but this time backers are taking a much different approach.

Kunal Merchant, Mayor Kevin Johnson's chief of staff, said the hope is the new initiative will be something the people of Sacramento will like.

READ: Sacramento Checks and Balances Act of 2012

"This is about making the city work better," said Merchant.

The new plan will be on the June 2012 ballot. If approved by voters, it would essentially make the city mayor the CEO of the city, instead of having a single vote on the city council.

CA watchdog delays decision on Dem fundraising

SACRAMENTO -- California's political watchdog agency is putting off a decision about whether Democratic candidates can re-collect money from donors that they may have lost in an alleged fraud scheme involving contributions.

Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, said the commission opted not to include the item on its agenda Thursday because the commission had other pressing business and a decision about the fundraising wasn't urgent.

FPPC attorneys had recommended that some candidates be allowed to go back to donors who had given their campaigns the maximum contribution allowed under California law, because the money might never have been deposited in their bank accounts and their campaigns never had access to it.

Calif. members clash over debt reduction panel's failure

by Paul C. Barton
Gannett Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - California Republicans and the state's Democratic senators disagreed sharply Monday about who is to blame for the failure of the deficit-reduction supercommittee to come up with $1.2 trillion in savings over 10 years.

Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein pinned the collapse of negotiations on the insistence of Republicans to keep the 2001-2003 tax cuts passed under former President George W. Bush while cutting programs vital to middle-and lower-income Americans.

"These talks failed for one reason: Republicans refused to ask millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share," Boxer, D-Rancho Mirage, said in a statement. "Now we must follow the example of the Clinton years, when we balanced budgets and created 23 million new jobs by cutting smartly, investing wisely and ensuring that the wealthiest did their part."