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WECA Political Update January 5, 2023

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Arizona Senate 2024 According to Politico, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) is ramping up his political operation ahead of an expected entry into the Arizona Senate race against newly independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Gallego has recently hired a pollster, interviewed paid media firms, and started hiring veterans from the successful campaigns of Sens. John Fetterman, Mark Kelly, and Raphael Warnock. Since Sinema announced her party switch, Gallego has reportedly received more than 25,000 individual financial contributions.

And, Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs is at the forefront of efforts to keep California Republican Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from being Speaker of the House. Biggs, the former head of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, was the first Republican to challenge McCarthy's bid. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) formally nominated Biggs. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), a freshman, was among about 20 House Republicans who consistently sided with someone other than McCarthy. Story

And, California Republicans fear McCarthy's loss would be theirs as well. Politico reports, "For many GOP lawmakers in California, McCarthy is not only a friend and former colleague. He's a source of campaign cash and proof that their party could still be relevant — at least outside the state. Now, that seems to be slipping away along with his grip on the speakership. 'He has been the most important Republican in California for the past decade,' said Rob Stutzman, a Republican consultant who worked under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger when McCarthy was in the state Legislature.

But, the would-be speaker's ascent has also divided him from some conservative former allies who believe he has put ambition — and loyalty to Trump — over principle. Bill Thomas, the former Republican Congress member and onetime mentor, denounced his former aide in 2021 for enabling Trump's 'lies' about the election. 'I'm very troubled by what appears to be an active preference of a minority of elected officials that believe throwing bombs is their key to success,' said former Republican State Sen. Roger Niello, who served in the Assembly with McCarthy. 'Kevin McCarthy is not a bomb-thrower."

New Boss at California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA). The Sacramento Bee reported Gov. Gavin Newsom's top adviser on California labor issues abruptly left her post in December under uncertain circumstances. Natalie Palugyai, who Newsom appointed as secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency in July 2021, is no longer with the department, the governor's office and the agency confirmed. Before arriving in Sacramento, Palugyai was Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Palugyai replaced Julie Su after the U.S. Senate approved her as the next Deputy Secretary of the Department of Labor. Lest any of you readers be concerned for Palugyai's financial condition, Newsom appointed her to the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board. Salary: $170,464. Her replacement at LWDA is Stewart Knox, undersecretary since 2021. His new salary: $232,858.