California becomes heart of anti-Trump resistance

Getty Images

California’s political leaders are gearing up to lead progressive resistance to President-elect Donald Trump.

The Golden State, where Democrat Hillary Clinton beat Trump by more than 4 million votes, is a center of political power for the left.

It’s the home of Silicon Valley and Hollywood, two industries that tilt to the left. By itself, the state makes up 13 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

A powerful group of Democratic politicians call California home, including both of the state’s senators, liberal legend Gov. Jerry Brown and the nation’s first and only female Speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

California is also home to a growing Latino population, which means it will be ground zero for Trump’s immigration agenda.  About 40 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic. 

{mosads}“California can and will continue to lead on policy,” said Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state.

He said his state is ready to oppose Trump on federal policies that would hurt California, and on nominees such as Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican and immigration hard-liner nominated to lead the Department of Justice.

Outgoing Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), appointed earlier this month to succeed Sen.-elect Kamala Harris as state attorney general, will lead the local charge in California’s immigration fight.

Becerra has already vowed to fight federal immigration enforcement in his new role through legislation and litigation.

“My sense is we’re not going to stop being California,” Becerra told The Hill. “We’ve got a very progressive group of leaders from Governor Brown, to our state legislative leaders [State Assembly Speaker] Anthony Rendon, to [State Senate President] Kevin de Leon.”

California mayors have also pledged to resist aggressive immigration enforcement. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has been adamant in keeping L.A. as a “sanctuary” city — one that actively resists federal immigration policies — and he announced Monday a fund to defend immigrants from deportation.

The state’s political leaders are signaling they will be a part of the resistance to Trump’s pick for attorney general. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the 24-year California senator, will be the top Democrat next year on the Judiciary Committee, which will consider the Sessions nomination.

Becerra said all legal options are on the table when it comes to fighting to defend California’s policies, including litigation and political action.

“We’re gonna move, so long as we do things according to the U.S. and California constitutions, we’re gonna move,” he said. “I think what makes it an interesting or changing dynamic is if someone tries to stop us from doing what we’re by law allowed to do.”

Padilla, an outspoken voting rights advocate who already pushed through aggressive policies to expand California’s voter registration, vowed to defend voting rights at a national level.

Voter turnout in California was 73.5 percent, the state’s second-highest in history. That’s almost 20 points higher than the 54.4 percent national turnout rate, according to figures from the United States Elections Project.

Some believe the higher turnout reflects the interest taken in the election by Hispanics who worried that if Trump won, he’d follow through on his promises to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall and implement mass deportations.

Trump has complained about voter fraud in California, claiming this contributed to his loss in the popular vote. Some of Trump’s supporters have suggested illegal immigrants contributed to Clinton’s tally in the state.

Trump and his allies have provided no evidence to support these accusations.

Padilla slammed Trump’s comments about fraud last month, saying they were unsubstantiated, reckless and unbecoming of a president-elect. 

“It appears that Mr. Trump is troubled by the fact that a growing majority of Americans did not vote for him,” he said.

While Trump and California have been at odds, state politicians say they are willing to work with the president-elect where their interests aligned.

“If they take actions we approve of, I’ll be the first to applaud,” Padilla said.

“As Leader Pelosi has mentioned, we will work and engage with the President-elect where we can,” Jorge Vargas, a spokesman for Pelosi, wrote in an email.

“However, House Democrats will confront where we must. We won’t stand idly by as Speaker [Rep. Paul] Ryan (R-Wis.) and the Trump Administration attempt to attack Social Security and Medicare while at the same time assaulting the healthcare of 20 million Americans.”

With California as a progressive bulwark, the potential clash between the country’s largest state and the federal government could pit the country’s two largest bureaucracies against each other from opposite ends of the political spectrum on almost every issue.

But Kenneth Romero, executive director of the bipartisan National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, said the conflict is nothing new.

“It’s not the first time a state resists federal policy,” he said.

He argued that California’s local leaders are likely to turn to one of the GOP’s favorite issues in making their case against Trump’s agenda: states’ rights.

Tags California Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Immigration Jeff Sessions Xavier Becerra
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video