This is Essential Politics, our daily look at California political and government news. Here's what we're watching right now:
- Former NFL player Rosey Grier has dropped out of the race for California governor
- Angered by his decision to block a bill on single-payer healthcare, a group of activists has launched an effort to recall Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon from office.
- Rohrabacher faces hostile crowd during panel about Russia and Trump at Politicon in Pasadena
- How 2018 could be the year of the rookie in California's pivotal congressional races
Out of more than a dozen closely watched congressional seats that Democrats and Republicans are trying to flip in California, the one that belongs to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) has drawn some of the most robust fundraising.
Issa, a nine-term congressman who won by fewer than 1,700 votes last year, shows all the signs of being in a competitive race, raking in nearly half a million dollars in the second quarter of the year.
But one of his newest challengers, environmental attorney Mike Levin, is quickly trying to catch up. Levin, who announced his run March 8, has amassed more money than any other challenger running against an incumbent in California. That includes Doug Applegate, a fellow Democrat and retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel who came within striking distance of Issa last November and is running again in 2018.
Between April 1 and June 30, Levin took in $333,537 and has $416,345 in the bank. Issa raised $455,207 during that period and has $671,529 in the bank.
Levin already has spent a significant chunk: about $181,413 on fundraising consultants, campaign staff, digital advertising and door-knocking services.
The reports show Levin could be a formidable challenger in what was already expected to be a tough race for Issa.
Applegate raised $281,143 in the most recent quarter and had $262,730 cash on hand as of June 30.
Other congressional challengers that brought in big sums this time included Democrats Katie Porter and Dave Min, who are both challenging Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) and raised $311,571 and $304,208, respectively.
A potential candidate, Orange County Republican Scott Baugh, has raised no money in 2017 but is sitting on a war chest of $546,915. He previously said he was raising money for a potential campaign if or when Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) decides not to seek reelection.
FOR THE RECORD
12:35 p.m.: An earlier version of this article misidentified Applegate as a retired Air Force colonel. He is a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel.