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  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

Notebook: Gail Out as SB Dem Chair, Padilla's DC "Debut" Plus -- Post-Insurrection Trump Poll

Gail Teton-Landis, the low-key but decidedly effective chair of the Democratic Party of Santa Barbara County, is stepping down from the post next month, Newsmakers has learned.

Teton-Landis, who served three-and-a-half years as the local party's leader and chief operating officer during the teeth of the Trump Administration, was just re-elected to a new two-year term last summer.

In an interview, however, she said there is nothing urgent or unusual about the abrupt move; although she was committed to managing party affairs through last November's critical presidential election, she said, she now wants to scale back her time commitment in order to attend to some family and personal matters. She will remain as a member of the Democratic country central committee, she added.

"I wanted to stay through the presidential," Teton-Landis said. "It's not crazy busy right now so it seemed like a good time to step back."

Under her leadership, SB Democrats tightened their grip on city and county government elected offices, which ostensibly are non-partisan, in line with a decade-long strategy, summed up in the call by Daraka Larimore-Hall, her predecessor, at a 2010 Labor Day party picnic, to "take back City Hall."

Currently, a majority of the Board of Supervisors is Democratic-endorsed and backed and the SB City Council is all but a wholly-owned subsidiary of the party, while both local members of the state Legislature and Rep. Salud Carbajal all are long-time loyal Dem soliders, among other local officials.

"We've elected a lot of good Democrats," Teton-Landis said, when asked to name what she was proudest of in her tenure.

In contrast to the combative and caustic Larimore-Hall, who remains an influential figure in local party politics and who is seeking re-election as vice-chair of the California Democratic Party, Teton-Landis employed a more low-profile personal, and more politically transparent, style.

Among other changes, she sought to open up and communicate more widely about the party's process for seeking and winning the Democratic endorsement, which has grown into an increasingly important campaign asset for local candidates. Contenders for local offices outside the circle of party insiders and apparatchiks, not to mention political reporters, had long complained that the party was too insular and secretive about the endorsement.

State of play. This year, the key endorsements for the party will be for SB Mayor and three city council seats, and it would be a surprise if they do not back Mayor Cathy Murillo and council incumbents Eric Friedman and Meagan Harmon, both of whom have previously been endorsed.

The third incumbent, Kristen Sneddon, ran and won as an outsider four years ago, defying party functionaries who warned her against challenging Democratic-backed attorney Jim Scafide after she filed after the Dems had already made their selection in District 4. As an incumbent, Sneddon may have better prospects this time, however, particularly if she draws a more business-friendly opponent.

Among the names most prominently mentioned to succeed Teton-Landis, which will be decided at the party's monthly meeting in February, is Darcel Elliott, the longtime operative and aide to Supervisor Das Williams.

"I've been talking with folks on the DCC about doing it," Darcel told us by text, "but I don't know if anyone else is interested. The election is on Feb. 4th, so a lot can happen between now and then."

Padilla does D.C. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, just appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to succeed Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the U.S. Senate, said Monday that he will "vote to convict" Donald Trump in a trial if the House impeaches the soon-to-be ex-President a second time.

"Yes, I would be a vote to convict," Padilla said in a 30-minute "Washington Post Live" one-on-one session with opinion writer Jonathan Capehart. "There's no doubt Trump should be removed. He is a clear and present danger to this country and to our security."

In his first extended interview since being named, which also served as a kind of soft opening for Padilla's entrance in Washington politics, he made clear he intends to follow the same progressive playbook that gave Harris top ranking as "the most liberal" member of the Senate.

Besides vowing to vote to convict Trump, Padilla also:

  • Described the effort to recall Newsom as sponsored by "a lot of the same forces behind Trump, a lot of the forces behind last Wednesday's" insurrectionary riot at the Capitol.

  • Said that Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri should be removed from the Senate, because of their aggressive roles in spreading misinformation and disinformation about Joe Biden's election, the issue that helped ignite last week's incident.

  • Blamed "other states," insufficient travel restrictions and "the lack of a cohesive national strategy" for California's massive wave of Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths, while fulsomely praising Newsom's handling of the pandemic: "If every state had been as aggressive as California" under Newsom's leadership, he said, the state would not have become inundated with coronavirus disease.

  • Pledged to support $2,000 federal "basic survival checks" to individuals under any new pandemic relief legislation that comes before Congress.

  • Stated that he supports expanding the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court, which he claimed was "balancing, not packing" the court: "It's time to re-balance, absolutely."

  • Expressed support for "Medicare for All: health care reform, calling it "a good ideal solution," while adding that he also will back Biden's proposal to expand Obamacare in order to "cover more people as soon as possible."

  • Called the "Green New Deal" a "good ideal solution" for combatting climate change, adding that he will work in the Senate to craft "specific plans to achieve it."

  • Professed optimism that Congress with Biden as president can pass bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform, including a "pathway to citizenship" for millions of immigrants already in the country who came here illegally.

"What drives my public service is issues of equity," Padilla said.

You can find the entire interview on the Post website.

Pro-Trump GOPers unmoved by coup. In one of the first authoritative public opinion surveys taken and released since last week's insurrection, over half of registered voters said Trump is responsible for the storming of the Capitol (56 percent); is undermining democracy (60 percent); and should resign (53 percent) or be removed from office (52 percent).

The Quinnipiac University Poll of 1,239 voters, however, found huge partisan differences in voters' views of the attack on the Capitol.

While overwhelming majorities of Democrats joined solid majorities of Independents in blaming Trump for the eve nt, among Republicans only 17 percent said he bears responsibility for it, while just 20 percent said he is undermining democracy, 17 percent that he should resign and a mere 10 percent that he should be removed from office.

Amazing but true: While the nation narrowly divides on whether or not Trump is "mentally stable" -- 48 percent said no, while 45 percent said yes -- 85 percent of Republicans believe he is mentally stable, compared to just 9 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of Independents who believe so.

Heaven help the Republic.


Images: Teton-Landis at the 2018 California Democratic Party convention (Newsmakers); Padilla being interviewed by Jonathan Capehart on Washington Post Live.

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