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California politics news feed

Welcome to Essential Politics, our in-the-moment look at California political and government news. 

You’ll find coverage of the 13 congressional races key to the midterm elections, the race to be California’s next governor and what’s happening in Sacramento. Learn what California’s members of Congress are worth

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Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) speaks during an Intelligence Committee meeting.
Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) speaks during an Intelligence Committee meeting. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) is raising money in Los Angeles next week. Donors will gather at a private home Wednesday for Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The reception for Warner, a former Virginia governor, is being hosted by local influential couples. It will be held at the Brentwood home of attorney Barry Porter and real estate agent Lea Porter. The other hosts are ICM Partners co-founder Chris Silbermann and creative consultant Julia Franz, and Universal Filmed Entertainment Chairman Jeff Shell and Laura Shell.

Contributions will go to the Friends of Mark Warner PAC, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by The Times. An attendee ticket costs $500, and prices go up to $5,400 for someone to be called a host.

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  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Republicans
  • California Democrats
  • U.S. Senate race
Top L-R: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, Treasurer John Chiang. Bottom L-R: Delaine Eastin, Assemblyman Travis Allen, John Cox.
Top L-R: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, Treasurer John Chiang. Bottom L-R: Delaine Eastin, Assemblyman Travis Allen, John Cox.

Republican John Cox and Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa continue to battle it out for second place in the June primary, according to a new poll released Wednesday night by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The findings come after a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released this week showed the two neck and neck in the race, which will send the top two finishers to the November ballot.

Democrat Gavin Newsom, long the front-runner in the race, won the support of 25% of likely voters, with Cox winning the support of 19% and Villaraigosa 15%, according to the PPIC poll. Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach won the support of 11% of likely voters, while Democrats John Chiang and Delaine Eastin were stuck in the single digits.

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  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Republicans
  • California Democrats
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Meg Whitman help third-grade math students in 2011 in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Meg Whitman help third-grade math students in 2011 in Los Angeles. (Damian Dovarganes)

Republican billionaire Meg Whitman, who spent $144 million of her own money on her unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 2010, is backing Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa’s campaign for governor this year.

Whitman is among the co-hosts of a Silicon Valley fundraiser for the former Los Angeles mayor on Thursday night.

“From her perspective, Antonio’s better on the economy and education than Gavin [Newsom],” the Democratic front-runner in the race, said a source close to Whitman who asked not to be named to speak freely about her position. “While she’s a Republican, she supports the candidate who she thinks is best qualified for the position.”

  • Governor's race

Hot takes from the USC/LA Times California poll

Posted by Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Did you miss the new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times California poll? It showed that the fight for second place in the governor’s race is neck-and-neck between Republican John Cox and Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa. 

Los Angeles Times Assistant Managing Editor/Politics Christina Bellantoni, USC pollster Jill Darling and Robert Shrum, director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics chatted about the poll on Facebook Live Wednesday, discussing what the numbers tell us about the June 5 primary.

You can watch the conversation above and learn more about how the statewide poll was conducted here.

With Democrats angling to win back control of the U.S. House, the new tax law and the failed attempt to repeal Obamacare may prove to be important campaign flashpoints against California Republicans, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein says she now opposes the death penalty, a surprising reversal from her long-standing support for capital punishment — a stance that helped catapault her to the U.S. Senate 25 years ago.

Dianne Feinstein built one of California’s most successful political brands by standing up to her party’s liberal wing.

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
Harley Rouda got the explicit backing of national Democrats in joint TV ads starting Tuesday.
Harley Rouda got the explicit backing of national Democrats in joint TV ads starting Tuesday. (Harley Rouda for Congress)

After months of hand-wringing over the possibility of being shut out of crucial House races in California, national Democrats are overtly backing two of their own in crowded primaries as a last-ditch effort to prevent that from happening.

With the June 5 primary fast approaching, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been engaged in a rigorous debate over whether it should make a more explicit play to elevate one Democrat over others in each of the races, a strategy that backfired spectacularly in one Texas race this year.

On Tuesday, the group’s independent expenditure arm began airing TV ads in support of Gil Cisneros, a navy veteran running in the 39th Congressional District to replace retiring Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton).

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  • State government

With tax revenue from legal pot sales in California falling short of projections, a financial analysis firm estimated Tuesday that total sales this year will be $1.9 billion, significantly less than the $3.8 billion the company expected.

The firm, New Frontier Data, had also estimated that total sales in California would reach $6.7 billion by 2025, but now says it is more likely the industry will generate $4.72 billion by then.

Most cities in California have refused to allow pot businesses, and there are tough rules for those who want state licenses to grow, distribute and sell marijuana. Both are to blame for the lower-than-projected sales, according to Giadha Aguirre De Carcer, chief executive of New Frontier Data.

“Dream with me,” Antonio Villaraigosa urged in his 2005 inaugural address as mayor of Los Angeles, sketching out a vision of a comprehensive public transportation system that could redefine his car-choked city.