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With a little over three weeks left before the candidate filing deadline, Democratic candidates are starting to turn on each other in California’s crowded House races. 

In the 48th Congressional District, where Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is facing several well-funded challengers, Democrat Harley Rouda has just unleashed a pair of attack ads against one of his primary opponents, Hans Keirstead.

In one of the ads, called “Preposterous,” Rouda accuses Keirstead of lying about his credentials and making up a “phony story” about House Democratic leaders promising him plum chairmanship appointments if he’s elected. 

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Amanda Renteria, a top aide to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, is stepping down from her post at the California attorney general’s office to run for governor, according to Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra.

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  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

For the second time in as many years, state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) filed papers Wednesday to establish a legal defense fund, this time to raise money from political supporters to cover his legal expenses as he faces an investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed three female aides.

“The senator is required to defend himself in administrative, Senate and civil proceedings that are related to his conduct in office,” Mendoza’s filing says. “In or around December 2017, a former employee of the Senate filed a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. In her DFEH complaint the former employee alleges she was terminated after reporting allegations that the senator had made a Senate fellow feel uncomfortable.”

The filing notes that the fair employment department issued the woman a right-to-sue notice and she has since filed a claim for damages to the Senate, a prerequisite to filing a civil action. It had not report any fundraising as of Wednesday.

Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia).
Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia). (Steve Yeater / Associated Press)

Christine Pelosi, the chair of the state Democratic Party’s Women’s Caucus, is criticizing Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) for introducing 15 bills this week even though he is on a leave of absence pending an investigation of sexual harassment allegations.

Pelosi blasted the action on Twitter: #WeSaidEnough to the FARCE of #CASenate's Tony Mendoza being "on leave" for sexual harassment allegations but STILL being allowed by the Senate to introduce legislation.”

Mendoza spokesman Saeed Ali said the staff’s submittal of the bills was cleared with the Secretary of the Senate. The deadline for introducing bills for the year is Friday. Ali said that was done “in order to protect Senator Mendoza's ability to introduce legislation and meet legislative deadlines.”

  • California in Congress
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield said Wednesday he hasn’t spoken with President Trump about a job as his chief of staff.

“I have not spoken with the president about anything about a job, and I never have and there is no job opening,” McCarthy said when asked about rumors he may be among the picks to take the job during House Republicans’ weekly press conference.

“Oh, geez,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said in response to the question. 

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State. Sen Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa)
State. Sen Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa) (Francine Orr)

As states led by Republicans prepare to impose tough new conditions for Medicaid recipients with the Trump administration’s blessing, a California legislator wants to ensure no such requirements would be enacted here.

State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa) has introduced a bill that would bar the state from asking the federal government’s permission to impose work or volunteer requirements in order for low-income residents to be eligible for Medicaid, known in California as Medi-Cal.

Last month, the Trump administration issued guidance that, for the first time in the program’s history, it would consider allowing states to enact work or community service requirements to qualify for Medicaid. 

Sen. Tony Mendoza has continued to introduce bills even while he is on a leave of absence
Sen. Tony Mendoza has continued to introduce bills even while he is on a leave of absence (Steve Yeater / Associated Press)

Despite being on a leave of absence pending a sexual harassment investigation, state Sen. Tony Mendoza has introduced 15 pieces of legislation this week, including a measure that would remove the Legislature’s exemption from state audits.

A representative of the Senate said the action does not violate the terms of Mendoza’s leave because his office is allowed to continue operating in his absence.

Friday is the last day for bills to be introduced for this session and most of the bills introduced by Mendoza are measures known as “spot bills,” which state a general topic but are meant to be amended later to include specific law changes.

Delaine Eastin, left, Antonio Villaraigosa, center, and John Chiang spoke at a governor's candidate forum in Sacramento on Tuesday.
Delaine Eastin, left, Antonio Villaraigosa, center, and John Chiang spoke at a governor's candidate forum in Sacramento on Tuesday. (Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times)

Three of the top Democrats in California’s race for governor vowed to help enrich the lives of women of color in California, both economically and in political influence, at a congenial candidate forum in Sacramento on Tuesday evening.

The event centered on issues affecting African American women in California, with the conversation focused on how the three would improve access to healthcare and education.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, state Treasure John Chiang and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin aligned on nearly every issue. Each spoke of their records hiring diverse staff and fighting for equal rights.

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  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
Democratic strategist Joe Trippi in a 2010 file photo.
Democratic strategist Joe Trippi in a 2010 file photo. (Neilson Barnard / Getty Images)

There’s yet another new PAC in town ahead of California’s midterm elections and this one is hoping to back Democratic candidates in already-crowded primaries for GOP-held seats.

Veteran Democratic strategist Joe Trippi and pollster Paul Maslin are calling their committee CA-BAM (get it?) and aim to raise about $5 million to spend on at least five House races here. The goal, according to a press release, is to “identify the strongest Democrats with the best path to victory” and spend money to help them win.

Trippi, who served as a media strategist for Democrat Doug Jones’ special Senate election victory in Alabama, now says he wants to help flip seats in California.

  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
  • U.S. Senate race
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

California Senate leader Kevin de León received a significant boost in his insurgent bid to defeat U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday, winning the endorsement of one of the state’s most politically powerful labor unions.

The Service Employees International Union announced it was endorsing California’s Senate president pro tem because of his efforts on a $15 minimum wage, immigration and environmental justice.

 “Kevin de León is a leader who speaks up for California values. His leadership on the most pressing challenges facing California stands in stark contrast with the dysfunctional political establishment in Washington, D.C.,” said David Huerta, an executive board member with the union’s California group. “… He’s stood up for us and our California values again and again, and now we are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder and endorse Kevin de León to be our next U.S. senator.”