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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 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. Follow our coverage of the midterm elections here.

Visit Essential Washington for coverage of the White House and goings on in the nation’s capital.

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Gov. Jerry Brown, left, and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom talk with reporters after their meeting at the state Capitol on Tuesday.
Gov. Jerry Brown, left, and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom talk with reporters after their meeting at the state Capitol on Tuesday. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

With all eyes on California’s next leader, Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom took a moment Tuesday to remind everyone that Gov. Jerry Brown is still calling the shots.

“There’s only one governor at a time and I think that’s important to reinforce particularly at this moment with so much anxiety around these fires,” Newsom said, standing next to Brown outside the governor’s office. “I want to reinforce that and I want to be respectful of the governor.” 

The two men spoke to reporters about wildfires ravaging the state and the transition to a new administration after meeting privately at the state Capitol.

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California Democrats cemented supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature on Monday, giving Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom more partisan allies in the state Senate and Assembly when he takes office in January.

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  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
Antonio Villaraigosa attends service at Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City in June.
Antonio Villaraigosa attends service at Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City in June. (Kent Nishimura)

Former Los Angeles mayor and California gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa is joining the firm Mercury, an influential national public affairs firm.

Villaraigosa said he will be based in the firm’s Los Angeles office but will be traveling the country and the globe advising companies and other Mercury clients. He will not work as a lobbyist, he said.

“It’s an opportunity to stay involved in public policy but also an opportunity for me to grow,” Villaraigosa told The Times on Monday.

  • California in Congress
  • 2018 election
Harley Rouda
Harley Rouda (Mario Tama / Getty Images)

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has lost the congressional seat he held for 30 years, a stunning defeat for Republicans in what had long been the deepest red parts of the county.

Real estate entrepreneur Harley Rouda's win comes after two decades of erosion in the Republican base and at a time when Rohrabacher’s friendliness to people with links to Russia has become more controversial.

Rohrabacher, 71, has represented the region since 1988, when he left a job in the Reagan White House to run for Congress. Rouda, 56, a former Republican, said he left the party as it became stridently partisan in the mid-1990s.

An eager nation waits breathlessly as California counts its election ballots.

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Journalists wait outside the home of shooter Ian David Long in Thousand Oaks.
Journalists wait outside the home of shooter Ian David Long in Thousand Oaks. (APU GOMES / AFP/Getty Images)

Alarmed by the troubled history of a gunman who killed 12 people in Thousand Oaks this week, state Assemblyman Phil Ting said Friday he will reintroduce a bill that would make it easier to confiscate firearms from people deemed a public danger.

Ian David Long, who police say is behind the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill on Wednesday night, had been evaluated in April by mental health specialists who were called out by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department after a disturbance call.

Law enforcement officials determined Long did not qualify for an involuntary psychiatric hold and did not pursue a court order allowed by state law that would temporarily remove guns from a person considered dangerous.

  • California Legislature
  • California Republicans
Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, right, talks to Assemblywoman Laura Friedman.
Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, right, talks to Assemblywoman Laura Friedman. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California Assembly Republicans on Thursday elected a new leader, Assemblywoman Marie Waldron of Escondido, who said the minority party needs to take action to end its decline.

Waldron takes over as Assembly Republican leader from Assemblyman Brian Dahle of Bieber, who is stepping down from the role to run for a state Senate seat being vacated by incumbent Ted Gaines, who was elected to the state Board of Equalization on Tuesday.

The share of registered Republican voters in California has declined steadily from 35.5% in 1998 to 24% this year, and the party appears to have lost seats in the Legislature after Tuesday’s election, although votes are still being counted.

(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Thursday hailed a federal court’s decision to block the ending of a program that provides temporary protections to immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children.

Becerra said the ruling would provide relief to thousands of young so-called Dreamers across the country, calling it an unexpected and “tremendous victory” for believers in the American dream and the rule of law. But he said the legal battle would continue should the case go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This fight is personal to so many communities in California,” he said. “As the son of immigrants, this fight is personal to me too.”

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  • Politics podcast

California voters have a lot of choices in front of them come election day — perhaps none larger than whether they see the state’s political choices as part of a national referendum on President Trump.

On this week’s podcast, we take a close look at the candidates in the races for governor and U.S. Senate. We also dive deep into the congressional battleground of Orange County — home to four closely watched contests. And we examine the potential impact if the polls are right and two major California ballot measures are rejected.