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Happy Birthday, Jerry

Once one of California's youngest governors, Edmund Gerald Brown, Jr. is now the oldest to ever serve in state history.

Saturday, he gets a little bit older.

Jerry Brown turns 74 this weekend and, to hear his staff tell it, there's nothing planned for the big day.  Spokesman Gil Duran says the governor will be quietly spending time with his family in the Bay Area.  One would surmise that includes his wife, First Lady Anne Gust Brown, and his beloved-by-all Corgi, Sutter.

Last year, he spent the big day at the state Capitol, where his staff threw him a surprise party... which they then promptly uploaded to YouTube.

Guten Tag, here's your California ballot

The first votes in California's June primary election will soon be cast by state residents living overseas.  Local elections officials today begin mailing ballot to overseas voters and those serving in the Armed Forces.  State election law says those folks get their ballots first, and that overseas ballots must be mailed out by April 21.

The rest of the state's vote-by-mail users will start getting their ballots a few weeks later, and registration for the June 5 election will remain open until May 21.

Note that voting by the mail is growing by leaps and bounds in the Golden State -- so much so, elections officials have pretty much dropped the "absentee ballot" term, as more and more people now simply prefer to fill out the ballot on their own time.

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.