California Politics: Seeking justice for the violent attack on Paul Pelosi – Los Angeles Times

Today in a San Francisco courtroom, trial begins against David DePape, the man accused of assaulting Paul Pelosi and attempting to kidnap former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in October 2022.

Evidence against him seems overwhelming — police body-camera video showed a man hammering Paul Pelosi over the head after the attacker smashed through the windows of the couple’s San Francisco home in what he described to investigators as a plot to interrogate the Democratic lawmaker and possibly “break her kneecaps.”

And yet, Times reporter Hannah Wiley reports, the federal trial that opens today won’t be so straightforward.

U.S. District Court Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley has rejected the idea that this is a simple “open and shut” assault case, arguing that the government bears the “heavy burden” of proving that DePape intended to kidnap the former speaker when he broke into her home, and that he assaulted Paul Pelosi with the intent to interfere with the lawmaker’s official duties or retaliate against her.

DePape, a Canada native who spent years running in eclectic circles in the Bay Area before spiraling into far-right conspiracies, faces up to a combined 50 years in prison if convicted. He’s pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Read more about the case, and the potential challenges prosecutors could face in landing convictions, in this article.

I’m Laurel Rosenhall, The Times’ Sacramento bureau chief, here with your guide to the week’s biggest news in California politics.


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Newsom’s popularity sinks

California Gov. Gavin Newsom

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s standing among California voters has hit an all-time low, with 49% disapproving of his performance as governor, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.

The survey showed Newsom’s popularity has tumbled this year as he continues to amplify his national profile and campaign outside of the Golden State to support President Biden and attack Republican governors and their conservative political agendas, writes Times political reporter Taryn Luna.

Newsom’s approval rating was 44% in the late October poll, an 11-point slide from February when 55% of voters approved of his performance. His disapproval among California voters increased 10 percentage points from earlier this year.

“He’s kind of taking on a new persona,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley poll and a longtime California pollster. “He’s no longer just the governor of California. He’s a spokesperson for the national party and basically voters are being asked to react to that.”

Columnist George Skelton has some advice for Newsom: Focus on your day job. Be sure to read this spicy column from a legendary journalist who’s covered his share of California governors.

Another lawmaker slapped with DUI

Photo of Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo

Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, a Democrat who is running for a hotly contested seat on the Los Angeles City Council, was arrested Friday on suspicion of drunk driving after crashing her car and testing more than twice the legal limit for being behind the wheel.

In a cellphone video obtained by Fox11 from the owner of one of the cars she allegedly hit, Carrillo told officers who responded to the crash that she lost control of her car when she sneezed.

In a statement issued by her office, Carrillo said she accepts responsibility for her actions but did not specifically acknowledge drinking. “I sincerely apologize to my family, constituents, colleagues and staff for any actions of mine that have fallen short of that expectation,” she said. “I intend to seek the necessary help and support.”

Carrillo’s arrest comes about six months after another state legislator was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. In May, state Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine) was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and released from Sacramento County jail. He is now running for Congress in a competitive Orange County district.

Do you have information about these incidents or other politicians engaged in reckless events? Feel free to email me or DM me on X.

The most expensive new law in years

The SEIU-UHW union rallied for a $25 minimum wage for healthcare workers last year.

The SEIU-UHW union rallied for a $25 minimum wage for healthcare workers last year.

(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

When Newsom signed a law that set a first-in-the-nation minimum wage for healthcare workers, three words in a bill analysis foretold potential concerns about its cost: “Fiscal impact unknown.”

Now, three weeks after Newsom signed SB 525 into law — giving medical employees at least $25 an hour, including support staff such as cleaners and security guards — his administration has an estimated price tag: $4 billion in the 2024-25 fiscal year alone.

That makes it one of the most expensive laws California has seen in years, writes Times reporter Mackenzie Mays. It comes as the state faces a $14-billion budget deficit that could grow larger if revenue projections continue to fall short. The legislation was one of several labor-backed measures the Democrat-controlled Legislature passed this year in what amounted to an unusually successful run for organized labor.

What lawmakers didn’t fully account for, as they scrambled in the final days of the session to broker a deal between unions and hospitals to support the bill, was how much it would cost the state — or what might have to be cut to pay for it.

Read more: Healthcare minimum wage expected to cost $4 billion in first year as California budget deficit looms

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Keeping up with California politics

Column: What does Ohio’s vote on abortion mean for California? Ask the next governor
Columnist Anita Chabria makes the case why Ohio’s vote to protect abortion rights should cause you consternation, if not outright fear — and what you can do about that, starting with demanding that those vying to be California’s next governor in 2026 provide a strategy for protecting abortion access in the state. Because that access is far less certain than many like to think.

Free from L.A., Eric Garcetti is reinventing himself in India
The job in New Delhi — where a right-wing, Hindu nationalist government has stoked anti-Muslim violence and challenged India’s secular and democratic identity — offered Eric Garcetti a path to recovery, a chance to reset his narrative. As ambassador, Garcetti negotiates with leaders of superpower nations and manages one of Washington’s most critical relationships. Biden administration officials say the rookie diplomat has handled his job masterfully.

Porter and Schiff polling neck and neck in California Senate race, in lead for a runoff
Reps. Adam B. Schiff and Katie Porter are in nearly a dead heat in California’s U.S. Senate race, well-positioned to move ahead to a runoff, a new poll shows. The two well-funded House Democrats have been pacing the field since the beginning of the year. Other candidates, including fellow Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee and Republican former baseball star Steve Garvey, have so far not shown an ability to make the race more broadly competitive.

Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas endorses Rep. Adam Schiff in California’s U.S. Senate race
Speaker Rivas said he thinks Adam Schiff is best positioned to lead on addressing the high cost of living, homelessness and the climate crisis, issues that are critical to voters in his Central Coast district. The speaker praised the other top Democrats in the race, Reps. Katie Porter of Irvine and Barbara Lee of Oakland, but said he felt a special affinity for Schiff.

Column: Red flag laws stop shootings, a lesson Maine could have learned from California
The disturbed gunman who killed 18 people and wounded 13 others in Lewiston, Maine, probably could not have committed his mass shooting in California. That’s because our “red flag” law surely would have prevented the massacre, writes columnist George Skelton.

LA Times Today video: Highlights of Newsom’s China trip
I talked with Spectrum News 1 anchor Lisa McRee about Newsom’s trip to China and the new poll that found a big drop in his approval ratings.

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