Newton on Villanueva’s Uncertain Future

Jim Newton, editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s decline in favorability since his shift to the political right. In 2018, Villanueva campaigned for sheriff as a relatively unknown Democratic candidate and promised police reform and transparency. However, since being elected, Villanueva has resisted calls for greater transparency, pursued controversial hires and resisted multiple subpoenas. The sheriff responded to the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement and widespread demands for police reform by publicly rebuking local elected Democrats and working to increase the number of people permitted to carry concealed guns in Los Angeles County. The story cited UCLA’s 2021 Quality of Life Index, which found that Villanueva’s favorability has decreased since he was elected; he will be on the ballot for reelection in 2022. “Whether Villanueva is vulnerable depends in huge measure on who runs against him,” Newton said. “Without a credible opponent, none of this really matters.”


Newton on Jenner’s Race for Governor

Jim Newton, editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine, spoke to Vox about Caitlyn Jenner’s decision to run as a Republican candidate in the race to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. Jenner, a former Olympian and reality TV star, helped increase transgender visibility through her own transition. However, her support for former President Donald Trump and other conservative colleagues who have attacked the trans community have alienated her from the liberal trans community. “If her base is trans-sympathetic Republicans, well, that’s not 51%,” Newton said. “But in this race, if there are enough candidates, and they divide up the vote enough ways, she could win with a lot less than that.” Still, more than half of voters would need to vote to recall Newsom for that to happen. “If California continues to battle COVID successfully in the fall, then I think it’s very hard for me to imagine that [Newsom] gets recalled,” Newton said. “Then it doesn’t matter where Jenner gets her support.”

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Newton Weighs In on Efforts to Recall Newsom

Lecturer Jim Newton spoke to the Washington Post about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s approach to handling the COVID-19 pandemic. After winning the 2018 election with 62% of the vote, Newsom is now facing a recall effort caused by frustrations about his approach to the pandemic. In March 2020, Newsom announced a statewide stay-at-home order, which would be followed by a year of closing and reopening. “As it wore on, he seemed more vacillating, that there seemed to be a sort of uncertainty about how quickly to move to reopen,” Newton said. “It felt like the voices pressing for opening were starting to get to him.” However, Newton acknowledged that the circumstances were unprecedented. “I don’t know that he could have done it perfectly and I don’t know that there was a perfect way to do it,” he said. “He’s managed to be a little bit between the extremes and a little bit disappointing to people in both camps.”

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Newton on San Diego’s Unexpected Shift to Blue

Lecturer Jim Newton spoke to Voice of San Diego about the city’s shift in support of the Democratic Party. After years of being a Republican stronghold, San Diego County has voted blue in the last four presidential elections. When asked in 1989 if deeply conservative Orange County would ever turn blue, Newton imagined it might happen sometime in his grandchildren’s lifetime. However, Barack Obama won San Diego County in the 2008 presidential election, and Orange County joined the movement in 2016 and 2020 by voting for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. Newton pointed to the rise of the environmental movement and the increase in Latino voters for the shift. He explained that since the GOP drifted toward big business, “it’s hard to take the environment seriously and associate with the Republican Party.” He also noted that the GOP has become associated with deportation and intolerance in California. “It may take time, but political worlds shift,” he said.

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Yaroslavsky and Newton Weigh In on Garcetti’s Record

Los Angeles Initiative Director Zev Yaroslavsky and lecturer Jim Newton were featured in a Forward article highlighting the successes and shortcomings of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is reportedly being considered for a Cabinet appointment in the Joe Biden administration. Garcetti established his reputation as a mayor who could get things done after he signed a $15 minimum wage into law in 2015 and with the 2016 passage of Measure M, which expanded public transit and bike networks. “Today, no county in America has so much local money invested in building transportation infrastructure as L.A. County has,” Yaroslavsky said. “He has a considerable record under his belt in that regard.” However, critics point out Garcetti’s failures to address homelessness and traffic congestion. “I’m one of the people who wanted to see him be more ambitious and swing higher,” Newton said. “I don’t think homelessness is his fault, … but I also don’t believe he can point to much evidence that he’s succeeded.”

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Newton Speculates on Candidates to Fill Harris’ Senate Seat

Lecturer Jim Newton spoke to Courthouse News about the array of candidates Gov. Gavin Newsom will consider before selecting Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ successor in the U.S. Senate. Newsom will be the first California governor with the opportunity to appoint a senator in nearly 30 years. Newton explained that the governor will have to decide whether he wants a placeholder to fill out the last two years of Harris’ term or someone better suited to defend the seat going forward. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is a front-runner, Newton said, noting, “It’s a big, coveted, popular job. I think it would be attractive for him to put a Latino in that seat.” Possibilities from the Los Angeles area include Mayor Eric Garcetti and Congressman Adam Schiff, he said. Newton added that former Gov. Jerry Brown would be a good choice if Newsom desires experience and prefers someone who probably would not seek re-election in 2022.

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Newton on What Harris Brings to the Democratic Ticket

Jim Newton, lecturer and editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine,  spoke with Nine News Australia about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s selection of Sen. Kamala Harris as a running mate. Biden and Harris “come from different backgrounds and different parts of the country,” Newton said. “I think her presence on the ticket makes the ticket feel much bigger and much more appealing to a bigger section of the country.” Newton, who has tracked Harris’ career for two decades and interviewed her for the first edition of Blueprint in 2015, called her a tough political figure who has sparred with critics from both the left and right. He added that the selection of the first Black woman on the presidential ticket of a major party shows that Biden is open to “a new idea of America, rather than this country fighting to retain a white-majority establishment political culture.” 

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Newton on Spirituality and Intellect of Jerry Brown

Jim Newton, lecturer and editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine, spoke to KPCC’s AirTalk about the life of former Gov. Jerry Brown, which he chronicled in his book, “Man of Tomorrow.” Brown led California at two very different stages of his life — from 1975 until 1983, on the heels of the Vietnam War and Watergate, and again from 2011 until 2019. “He left California in far better shape than he found it,” with a rainy day fund of about $20 billion that steeled the state as it took on the COVID-19 pandemic, Newton said. “I have never met a person who thinks more deeply or attempts to draw bigger lessons out of spirituality and intellect and infuse them into politics than Jerry Brown,” he said. “He’s not always done that in ways that people would agree were successful, but I don’t know anyone who aspires to higher things.”

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Newton on Police Misconduct and Cultural Racism

Public policy lecturer Jim Newton authored opinion articles in the Los Angeles Times and Politico dissecting the current debate on police brutality and misconduct. Newton recalled the L.A. riots in 1992, where “more than a dozen officers watched as other officers beat [Rodney] King into submission — a brutal attack that was overseen and directed by a police sergeant.” Newton argued that King was “the victim of police misconduct, yes, but also of a debased and racist police culture.” Similarly, he wrote that “when a Minneapolis police officer jams his knee into the neck of a Black man suspected of passing a phony $20 bill, that suggests misconduct; when three of his fellow officers stand by for more than eight minutes while the suspect pleads for help, that points to a cultural problem.” While some acts of police misconduct may be the work of a stray, misguided officer, Newton concluded that “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.”

Read the L.A. Times op-ed
Read the Politico op-ed