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The Los Angeles Times (West Coast Regional News)

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DEATH TOLL FROM CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES REACHES 31, TRUMP ATTACKS WEST COAST "GROSS MISMANAGEMENT" OF FORESTS

The death toll from the historic California wildfires topped 31 earlier today, as hundreds of homes have been quickly destroyed by the historically fast moving, devastating wildfires in California. The northern town of Paradise was all but completely annihilated by the flames, and the death toll continues to rise. This is a continuation of a string of historic wildfires in the past few years.

In response, President Trump took to twitter to levy blame on the West Coast Government for the fires. He cited, without specifics, "gross mismanagement" of the forests by the local government. This angered firefighters, local officials, and many residents of the area.

"This is wholly inappropriate" said Kamala Harris (D-WC). "First of all, climate change is to blame, not our government. The President should be consoling and supporting those that are affected by this, not attacking us for political gain."

There is some evidence that overgrown forests, kept from burning by local authorities to keep smoke levels down and to keep from disturbing protected animal populations, has contributed to the wildfires, along with climate change.

As of the publication of this article, none of the declared candidates for the upcoming special gubernatorial election have commented on the fires or Trump's comments on them. This is sure to be a high-profile issue going forward into campaign season.

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MAYOR WILLIAMS JOINS LEWINSKY AND GUTIERREZ IN BID FOR WEST COAST GOVERNOR

Democratic San Diego Mayor Christopher Williams has jumped into the race for West Coast Governor for the 2019 Special Election. Williams joins Democratic Congressman and West Coast Majority Whip Carmen Gutiérrez and Republican Businessman Sergey Kirov Lewinsky.

Each of the contenders is credible and fairly strong, and this early in the campaign there isn't clear favorite. Of course, this is the progressive West Coast, so whichever of the two Democrats makes it through the Democratic Primary will be an early favorite, even against a popular immigrant, tech tycoon like Lewinsky.

But, there is a long history of Democratic states electing business-friendly, centrist Republicans, so let's not count Lewinsky out just yet.

It is sure to be an exciting campaign season. We will keep you up to date here.

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TRUMP CALLS UP THE ARIZONA NATIONAL GUARD TO THE SOUTHERN BORDER, GUTIERREZ PLEDGES TO FIGHT THE CALL IF ELECTED

This morning, President Trump called up the Arizona and Texas National Guards to the Mexican boarder to assist the border patrol in fighting the flow of undocumented immigrants into the country. The Arizona National Guard falls under the jurisdiction of the West Coast, and so the next Governor will assume the role of commander-in-chief of those forces. As such, it has already become an issue on the campaign trail

Carmen Gutiérrez, Democratic Majority Whip in the West Coast Legislature and candidate for Governor, said that she would "take all possible steps" to prevent the deployment of the Arizona National Guard to the border. "Trump's actions are nothing to do with border security or immigration. They are everything to do with making himself look like a tough guy, and pandering to the racists and white nationalists amongst his supporters" said Gutiérrez.

It is unclear what route Gutiérrez would take to challenge the order. She could challenge the order as unconstitutional, arguing that the National Guard is prohibited from assisting in law enforcement, or she could use her power, if elected, as commander in chief to challenge the President's authority. Either way, it would end up in court, and the winner of that challenge would be unclear.

Mayor Williams and Mr. Lewinsky, the other candidates for Governor, have yet to comment on the order.

@Andy @Sheridan @Williams

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LEWINSKY DROPS OUT OF GUBERNATORIAL RACE; LT. GEN. MONTBATTEN JOINS LATE

Last week, Republican tech tycoon Lewinsky unexpectedly dropped out of the race for governor of the West Coast. He gave no concrete reason for his stepping aside, and there is no evidence of scandal.

This looked like it was going to leave the GOP without a viable candidate, until, just weeks before the filing deadline, Republican Lt. Gen. Theodore Montbatten joined the Race. Lt. Gen. Montbatten is a decorated veteran of the Iraq war and has served as an Assemblyman in the West Coast Legislator since 2016. He is a credible candidate, and has the profile that could make this election competitive.

This is partially because of the general lack of concentrated campaigning on the Democratic side. Both Mayor Williams and Congressman Gutierrez have campaigned rather minimally since this campaign started, leaving the door open for a Republican like Montbatten to have a shot at the governorship, even in an environment favorable to progressive Democrats.

Now, this isn't to say that the Democrat's aren't still the frontrunners, because they are, just that many believe that they need to step up to secure this race.

This is sure to be an exciting election! Stay tuned for all of the updates as the Democratic Primary grows nearer.

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WILLIAMS BARELY EDGES OUT GUTIERREZ IN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY

After days of vote counting and nail biting, San Diego Mayor Christopher Williams II beat out Democratic Majority Whip Carmen Gutierrez to be the Democratic nominee for the West Coast Gubernatorial Special Election.

It was a historically close vote, with Williams winning by just over 1% of the vote. Many believe Williams win came from running a more robust campaign--even though he joined the race later than Gutierrez. Williams' focus on local issues, giving powerful speeches on climate change and union issues, put him in the spotlight more often than his opponent. We'll see if Williams can keep this momentum going into the coming campaign against the Republican nominee, Lt. Gen. Theodore Montbatten.

RESULTS:

Grand Total 1,141,858 1,116,747
Percentage 50.56% 49.44%
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COST OF WILDFIRES TOPS $13 BILLION; PRESIDENT TRUMP SENDS EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE FOLLOWING PROMPTING OF MAYOR WILLIAMS, GOVERNOR BROWN

The Federal Emergency Management Agency now reports that the total cost of the wildfires devastating Northern California could exceed $13 billion dollars, including aid and cost to insurance companies, as the fires continue to rage on. Smoke from the fires has caused air quality warnings to be issued across much of the heavily populated Northern Californian coastline, and health concerns from breathing the smoke are rising.

Upon the prompting of San Diego Mayor Williams, the Democratic candidate for governor, Governor Brown requested that President Trump declare Northern California a disaster area and send aid, which Trump agreed to do. The aid is said to be making a difference in the resources firefighters and first responders are able to utilize.

The cause of and way to address these devastating fires remains disputed. While many, including Governor Brown and Mayor Williams, put the main responsibility on climate change, many others, such as President Trump, have criticized local forest management. This is sure to be a potent issue and debate going forward, and its ramifications are obviously far-reaching.

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MAYOR WILLIAMS UP 7 PTS IN EARLY POLLING IN WEST COAST GOVERNOR'S RACE

Surveymonkey released the first poll of the West Coast Gubernatorial Special Election since Mayor Williams cleared the Democratic Primary. The poll surveyed 1200 likely voters and had a +/- 4% margin of error. It showed Mayor Williams leading his Republican rival, Lt. Gen. Montbatten 48%-41%, with 9% remaining undecided. This race is shaping up to be an unlikely battle, with most pundits believing that this race would be a shoe-in for the Democratic nominee. Lt. Gen. Montbatten's experience and campaign fundraising, coupled with a poor national environment for Democrats following the recent scandal have bouyed the Republicans' chances in the region.

It is still early though, so anything could happen.

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MASSIVE PROTESTS BREAK OUT OVER TRUMP'S APPROVAL OF LETHAL FORCE FOR BORDER PATROL

Tens of thousands of people across the West Coast are marching in protest of President Trumps executive order approving troops, including the national guard he recently called up, to use lethal force in fighting people crossing the southern border. The largest demonstrations took place in Los Angeles and San Fransisco, where local authorities have been forced to close roads within the cities as they have been flooded with demonstrators.

"This is absolutely cruel and inhumane. No one should be killed because they want a better life for them and their children" a local protestor remarked. "This is only second to Trump separating children at the border in inhumanity."

"This is absolutely ridiculous. A 23 year old girl was killed in this city literally yesterday, and these people come out to protest for the illegals?" said a Los Angeles local that contacted us. "These people have no shame, and they do not speak for us real, hard working citizens of the West Coast."

Neither Mayor Williams nor Lt. Gen. Montbatten, candidates for Governor, have commented on the executive order.

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POLL: IMMIGRATION AND WILDFIRES TOP ISSUES TO WEST COAST VOTERS

A new LAT/Quinnipiac poll released today showed, unsurprisingly, that immigration reform and managing the California wildfires are the top priorities to voters in the West Coast.

Immigration topped the list, with 34% of respondents reporting that as their number one issue. The wildfires (with climate change and forest management also listed here) took a close second, with 31% of respondents reporting that at the top of their list. Healthcare and taxes took the next two spots, coming in at 16% and 14% respectively, and education, gun control, police accountability, and voting rights all shared the last 5%.

The priorities were split among political parties. Self-identified Republicans listed immigration and taxes as the number 1 and 2 issues by a wide margin, while managing the wildfires took a majority of self-identified Democratic voters' top priority, though many Democrats also listed immigration. Healthcare was also listed as a bipartisan concern, which is interesting, considering it has yet to be addressed by either candidate in the gubernatorial election.

@Ryan @Williams

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MAYOR WILLIAMS EDGES OUT LT. GEN. MONTBATTEN BY LESS THAN TWO POINTS TO BECOME WEST COAST GOVERNOR

In a nail-biting finish to the West Coast Special Gubernatorial Election, Mayor Williams won out by less than two percentage points, 50.8%-49.2%. The race was much closer than many pundits anticipated, with Lt. Gen. Montbatten raking in huge margins in places like Idaho and Utah and even pulling off a win in Washington. But in the end, massive underperformances in Nevada and Arizona coupled with the progressive dominance of California and Oregon proved to be too much for the Republican to overcome.

The special election campaign was characterized by a surprising lack of campaigning by both candidates. Mayor Williams made many popular speeches in the Democratic Primary, but past that, most voters report that they didn't hear much from him after that. Lt. Gen. Montbatten campaigned more, which is likely why the election was so close, but a few missteps may have been the difference maker in the race.

Many Williams voters interviewed by the LA Times cited Lt. Gen. Montbatten's far-right immigration stance and his claim that now is not the time to discuss the causes of the wildfires as the reasoning for their vote.

"Honestly, I don't really know Mayor Williams--but I do know that Montbatten supports lethal force at the border, and I know that he wouldn't commit to fight the wildfires. I can't vote for that." a Williams voter from outside of Portland, Oregon said. 

At the same time though, Montbatten's position on a a state-run renewable energy agency and his stronger campaign presence--even if it was only marginally stronger--did seem to help him over-perform overall in the region, so there is definitely a possible political future for him.

Governor-Elect Williams will take the mansion next week.

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CALIFORNIA FORESTS COULD SEE WILDFIRES AS BAD OR WORSE THAN 2018 IN THE COMING YEARS, EXPERTS SAY

Researchers form the University of California at Berkley came out with a dire report yesterday concerning the future of California forests. The paper states that due to a worsening outlook of the future of climate change, which will exacerbate California droughts and raise temperatures, along with a failure of federal, state, and local governments to take sufficient measures to combat future fires, forests could burn with equal or even more ferocity than the record-breaking fires seen in 2018.

"The fact of the matter is, climate change is creating amble conditions for extreme forest fires, and we aren't doing anything." said Dr. Trent Richards, who led the study. "If we don't see some bold measures soon, more people are sure to lose their homes or even their lives."

Many voters are hopeful that recently inaugurated Governor Williams will address this problem, as the voters that handed him a win in 2018 reported managing the wildfires and climate change as their top priorities by a wide margin.

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CATHERINE CORTEZ-MASTO DROPS SENATE REELECTION BID

Democratic freshman West Coast Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto announced today that she will be dropping out of her race for a second term as Senator, citing unspecified health issues. She was largely seen as the favorite in the race, and now she is leaving the race wide open. So far Republican regional Minority Leader James Murphy-Kennedy is the only declared candidate to succeed Senator Cortez-Masto, but more candidates are sure to declare in the coming months.

Senator Cortez-Masto, along with Senator Kamala Harris, the other Senator from the West Coast, are largely thought of as leading the Senate's progressive wing. Whether the incoming West Coast Senator will continue that legacy is up to the voters.

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GOVERNOR WILLIAMS SIGNS CLEAN ENERGY BILL

Governor Williams signed his first bill into law this morning. The Clean Energy Infrastructure Act of 2019 will create a Department of Clean Energy, with leadership appointed by the government, which will research and develop clean energy initiatives among other sustainability projects.

Many Republicans claim the bill is based off of a proposal that Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Theodore Montbatten proposed in his campaign against Governor Williams this year. Regardless, the bill was met with very little resistance in the legislator and passed with a supermajority of votes, including many from Republicans.

It is unclear whether this new agency will help prevent more of the horrific wildfires that ravaged California last year. The governor has perhaps intentionally not mentioned this as a wildfire prevention strategy, but many advocates are hopeful. Only time will tell.

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GOV WILLIAMS SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER DISBANDING THE ARIZONA NATIONAL GUARD ON THE BORDER; JUSTICE DEPT TO SUE

BREAKING NEWS: Governor Williams has signed an executive order proclaiming that as there is no immediate threat on the Southern Border with Mexico, the National Guard mobilization is immediately suspended (President Trump mobilized the Arizona National Guard to assist border patrol in curbing the flow of undocumented immigrants in an executive order earlier this year).

"I will not tolerate the President of the United States using this region's National Guard troops as pawns in his political agenda" Governor Williams told the Times. "We will be seeking to pass a bill in the Congress that will ensure our relieved guard troops are compensated until we believe it is prudent for the re-employment of the National Guard."

The Justice Department has already announced that they will challenge the order in court.

"The recent order signed by Governor Williams will be challenged in the courts by the Department of Justice in the coming days" a spokesman for the DOJ said." This unlawful affront to lawful powers of the President of the United States to federalize and deploy the National Guard will surely be stopped."

We will be following this story closely in the coming weeks.

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GOVERNOR WILLIAMS HOSPITALIZED, POSSIBLY SUFFERING FROM A STROKE

BREAKING NEWS: Governor Williams has been suddenly admitted to University of California, Davis Medical Center after collapsing suddenly at home. John Malkoy, a staffer for Governor Williams, found him today at approximately 7:00 and immediately called an ambulance. All signs seem to point to a stroke.

No foul play is suspected, but the situation is still being investigated. We will keep you informed on this situation into the night.

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GOVERNOR WILLIAMS PASSES FROM STROKE

BREAKING NEWS: Governor Williams, who was admitted to UC Davis Medical Center earlier tonight, was confirmed to have suffered from a stroke. He went unresponsive at around 7:35 PM and responders were unable to revive him.

Governor Williams was less than a year into his term. His passing will be grieved by the region and the country as a whole.

As the next election is more than a year out, regional law states that another special election will be held to fill his position. A date is not set yet, but it surely will be in the coming days.

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SPECIAL ELECTION SET FOR NEXT MONTH; MURPHY-KENNEDY AND FLOREZ DECLARE CANDIDACY

A very short gubernatorial special election schedule has been set up by the election commission to replace recently deceased Governor Williams. The candidates for this election will only have a short three and a half weeks to campaign, so it probably is for the best that candidates have already declared on both the Democratic and Republican sides.

On the Republican side, we have Minority Leader Murphy-Kennedy. Murphy-Kennedy has been the Minority Leader for the entirety of Governor Williams' short tenure as Governor. Throughout that time, the entire Assembly did very little, so we did not learn much about the Minority Leader's stances. All we know from his legislative record is that he voted for Governor Williams' popular climate change bill and proposed a bill that would grant a tax credit to homeschooling families in the region.

Murphy-Kennedy had previously declared his candidacy for the open Senate seat in the upcoming 2020 election, but had just begun his campaign. He seems to have made his campaign about education policy so far--we will see if that focus continues.

On the other side we have Ambassador Florez. Florez, a Mexican-American six term Congressman from Pasadena and Vice-chairman of the Hispanic Caucus, former Ambassador to Sweden, and former Ambassador-at-large for the Office of Criminal Justice under President Obama. Ambassador Florez has a lot of progressive cred coming into this race--having been working for The Innocence Project that works to exonerate the wrong-fully convicted since President Obama left office--but as we know, voters are finicky. Flores is going to have to prove that she is the right candidate for these voters at this time in a very short period of time to win this election.

We will be covering this race closely in the coming weeks.

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OPINION: DEMOCRATS NEED TO PROVE THEY CAN GOVERN

By Phillip O'Hare, Democratic Strategist

The race for Governor is upon us--even though we just had one. The Democrats are clearly going to want to win this one badly--the stakes are especially high since the Republicans control three of the four other Governor's mansions. As the largest and most liberal of the five regions, the Democrats really need to win this one, and it's not like it's a shoe in. Governor Williams barely beat off Lt. Gen. Montbatten less than a year ago, and, though what happened to Governor Williams was a tragedy, it's obvious that his tenure wasn't exactly a rousing success. It wasn't really a failure either. The problem is that it wasn't much of anything at all.

Governor Williams' party controlled the legislator and the Mansion, and what did he manage to do? Pass a climate change plan that was literally proposed by his Republican rival last election and sign a crazy executive order trying to disband the National Guard, which obviously didn't work because it was illegal. That was it. He could have governed as much as he pleased, and he chose not to.

Look at Governor Lewinsky of the North East. He doesn't even control the Assembly, but so far he's passed a slew of policies, including a 3D gun compromise, a sweeping infrastructure package, and freezing tuitions at NE Universities.

Now, this isn't to say anything about Ambassador Florez or Attorney General Lee--I don't even know much about them yet. But, the region want an effective Governor, regardless of politics, and if the Democrats are going to win this special election, they need to prove they can be effective.

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OPINION: GIVE US A REAL MODERATE

By Kevin Kyme, Republican Strategist

The upcoming Governor's election here in on the West Coast is a high-profile one for Republicans, who are looking to capture the mansion they so narrowly lost less than a year ago. It's also a thoroughly winnable one, as off-cycle elections tend to be better for Republicans, and no one seems too satisfied with the late Democratic Governor Williams' performance in the role.

But, much of that could have been said about the last special election for Governor, and yet the Democrats still won that election.

Governor Williams was not only a relatively inactive Governor--he also ran a really sparse campaign. His media presence was sparse, he held fewer campaign events than the national average by a long shot, and he didn't really say much that would be considered outside of what you would expect from a notebook of Democratic talking points.

And yet, he won. Why? Because the Republican candidate in that election, Lt. Gen. Montbatten, failed to appeal to enough moderates and progressives to win this election.

This is the West Coast. It is a pretty liberal region. This isn't to say that Republicans can't win, but if we even want to sniff a regional victory here, we have to run a really moderate candidate that can appeal across the aisle.

Lt. Gen. Montbatten did this with his highly-publicized clean power proposal (that the Democrats poached and made into law because it was that good), but he failed to do this on a number of other issues. He took a hard, Trumpian stance on immigration, said that we have to "restore order" by massively increasing funding to the police force, and skirted taking on Trump when he (falsely) blamed our regional policies for the wildfires.

Those kind of policies and statements would fly in the Plains, but not here.

The Republicans should win this election, but if they want to have a chance, they need to give us a real moderate that both sides can get behind.

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