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  • 2018 election
  • California Republicans
  • California Democrats
  • 2018 governor's race
  • 2018 U.S. Senate race

Get ready, California. What had been a behind-the-scenes dash for cash closely watched by few other than political observers is about to burst into public view.

Voters this year will decide who will succeed Democrat Jerry Brown as the next governor and whether they will send Sen. Dianne Feinstein back to Washington.

Before the June 5 primary, candidates will ramp up their campaigns with messages on television and stuffed into mailboxes. Here’s a primer on the state’s two marquee races.

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  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
  • 2018 governor's race
  • 2018 U.S. Senate race
Clockwise from upper left: Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, John Chiang. Kevin de León, Dianne Feinstein and Delaine Eastin.
Clockwise from upper left: Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, John Chiang. Kevin de León, Dianne Feinstein and Delaine Eastin. (Los Angeles Times)

It’s up to a few thousand California Democratic Party delegates to decide whether the state party endorses candidates at its February convention in San Diego — a nod that could come with millions of dollars of support.

But this month, California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman sent a letter to statewide candidates urging them not to seek the state party endorsement in February, prompting allegations that he was trying to silence dissenting voices. Bauman said his letter was simply meant to stave off disunity at the convention.

The dispute over endorsements is the latest battle between Bauman and those who backed his rival, Kimberly Ellis, in a bitter leadership contest in the spring that was decided by a handful of votes and resulted in a recount. Party delegates split into establishment and grass-roots factions, aligning themselves with Bauman and Ellis respectively, mirroring the divide among Democrats in deciding between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary.

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  • 2018 governor's race
Treasurer John Chiang, left, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, center, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Treasurer John Chiang, left, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, center, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Los Angeles Times)

Home to a quarter of California’s 5.2 million registered voters, Los Angeles County is the biggest prize in California’s 2018 race for governor. 

For two hometown Democratic candidates especially — former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Treasurer John Chiang of Torrance — doing well in L.A. County is essential if they hope to best the front-runner, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Yet this overwhelmingly Democratic stronghold continually bedevils even the most adept campaigns.

  • 2018 governor's race
Treasurer John Chiang, left, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, center, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Treasurer John Chiang, left, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, center, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Los Angeles Times)

Home to a quarter of California’s 5.2 million registered voters, Los Angeles County is the biggest prize in California’s 2018 race for governor. 

For two hometown Democratic candidates especially — former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Treasurer John Chiang of Torrance — doing well in L.A. County is essential if they hope to best the front-runner, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Yet this overwhelmingly Democratic stronghold continually bedevils even the most adept campaigns.

  • California Legislature
Carolyn Angela Chen, a registered nurse, gives a free hepatitis A vaccination to Glenn Gardner, 52, at Joshua House Clinic
Carolyn Angela Chen, a registered nurse, gives a free hepatitis A vaccination to Glenn Gardner, 52, at Joshua House Clinic (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

California officials are bracing for healthcare battles in Washington to have a major impact on the state’s budget and programs. Activists and politicians are planning a showdown over whether or not to establish a single-payer healthcare system in the state. And prescription drug manufacturers are the target of a number of bills meant to target the rising costs of medication.

Sound familiar? Turns out the brewing healthcare battles in California in 2018 aren’t all that different from those from 2017.

Here’s a primer on the upcoming healthcare agenda in California:

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  • Congressional races
  • California in Congress
  • 2018 election
Activists with several California groups rally outside Rep. Mimi Walters' Irvine office.
Activists with several California groups rally outside Rep. Mimi Walters' Irvine office. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Now that the year of the midterm election has arrived, the battles will start to pick up speed as Democrats try to reclaim control of the House.

The path to the 24 seats Democrats need passes through California — and that means they need to win at least a handful of the Republican seats they hope to flip.

As the contests take shape, we’re watching a few things to get a sense of what the 2018 election might bring.

  • California Legislature
(Elise Amendola / Associated Press)

With federal regulation rollbacks and a rise in data breaches, California lawmakers this year are looking for ways to protect consumers and their personal information. 

Some legislation under consideration could give people more notice and control over what data is collected, without having to pay for privacy or better services. Other bills could provide free credit freezes for consumers and require new privacy features for products that connect to the internet.

  • California Legislature
The Main Street offramp from the Southbound 5 in L.A. in June 2015.
The Main Street offramp from the Southbound 5 in L.A. in June 2015. (Los Angeles Times)

The new year brings with it new vehicle fees in California ranging from $25 to $175 depending on the value of your car, but Republican lawmakers are hoping to qualify a ballot measure in November to repeal the higher charges.

The fees and a 12-cent increase in California’s gas tax last year are part of a plan by Democrats to raise more than $5.2 billion annually to deal with a backlog of road and bridge repairs.

Petitions to qualify a repeal initiative are circulating now.

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  • California Legislature
The Main Street offramp from the Southbound 5 in L.A. in June 2015.
The Main Street offramp from the Southbound 5 in L.A. in June 2015. (Los Angeles Times)

The new year brings with it new vehicle fees in California ranging from $25 to $175 depending on the value of your car, but Republican lawmakers are hoping to qualify a ballot measure in November to repeal the higher charges.

The fees and a 12-cent increase in California’s gas tax last year are part of a plan by Democrats to raise more than $5.2 billion annually to deal with a backlog of road and bridge repairs.

Petitions to qualify a repeal initiative are circulating now.

  • California Legislature
A new-home community in Anaheim in 2016
A new-home community in Anaheim in 2016 (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

California lawmakers aren’t wasting any time in tackling one of the most contentious issues in state housing politics this year.

On Jan. 11, the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee is set to hold a hearing on legislation that could lead to a dramatic expansion of rent control policies across the state. 

The debate over rent control could spill over onto the 2018 ballot, where Californians also could see proposals to expand or curtail the property tax restrictions ushered in 40 years ago by Proposition 13.