Newsletter

Essential Politics: Democrats celebrate their wins, Trump takes on China

These are surely not the headlines President Trump wanted on the one-year anniversary of his stunning victory, an election that rocked American politics.

Instead, the past 24 hours have seen Trump’s plans thwarted. Twice.

The first time was relatively small, when his helicopter was stymied by fog from landing in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.

The second was much, much bigger: His party, from the top-of-the-ticket nominee to its legislative candidates, was rebuked by voters in Virginia and New Jersey.

A GOOD NIGHT FOR DEMOCRATS

Ralph Northam won a resounding victory in the race for governor of Virginia and Phil Murphy was elected governor of New Jersey — both Democrats, and both likely to be thorns in the side of the president.

But as Cathleen Decker notes, Virginia was the real story on election night. Northam’s victory over Republican Ed Gillespie “sketched out a path that Democratic strategists hope other candidates can follow in next year’s contest for control of Congress."

In short: Democrats turned out more of their base in the Old Dominion state than did Republicans.

Meanwhile, transgender candidate Democrat Danica Roem defeated Republican state Del. Bob Marshall, one of Virginia's longest-serving and most socially conservative lawmakers. Marshall, who sponsored a bill that would have restricted which bathrooms she could use, has held the seat since 1992. Roem will make history as the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature in the United States.

AWAY IN ASIA…

Trump quickly distanced himself from Gillespie on Tuesday night via a tweet that was strikingly different in tone from the praise he heaped on the former chairman of the Republican National Committee earlier.

The president has arrived in Beijing for meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping — a leader whose friendship he boasts about, but one with whom he must still strike difficult deals on trade and North Korea.

On Tuesday, Trump was in Seoul, where he urged North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to come to the negotiating table and "make a deal."

ONE YEAR LATER

It's been a year since Trump was elected president, and emotions are still running high. After his surprise victory, The Times received thousands of submissions responding to our simple question: How do you feel? This year, our team revisited those people who spoke out after election day. See what they had to say, then and now.

Michael Finnegan spoke to several of them, and found that even some Trump voters aren't thrilled with how he's conducted himself. And that coalition is crucial to Republicans’ fight to keep control of Congress next year — and to the president's prospects for reelection in 2020.

Mark Z. Barabak takes a more lighthearted approach and asks why people are still so obsessed with an election that was a year ago.

NATIONAL POLITICS LIGHTNING ROUND

-- Without any viable challenger, incumbent New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio won Tuesday's election by a wide margin — despite a record that has not always endeared him to New Yorkers.

-- House Republicans remain on track for a swift vote next week on their sweeping tax overhaul. But Senate Republicans are taking a second look at the plan’s deficit effects while pondering a more generous child tax credit for families.

-- Carter Page is the latest member of Trump's senior campaign team to belatedly acknowledge meeting with senior Russian officials, contradicting his previous public denials.

-- Fresh from questions about his business connections with Russia, embattled Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross faces accusations that he lied about his wealth.

-- Federal prosecutors have decided to drop a case against a woman arrested in the U.S. Capitol after she laughed during the confirmation hearing for Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions.

-- In the aftermath of the mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the second-ranking Senate Republican said Tuesday that Congress would begin working on legislation to tighten background-check compliance for gun purchases. Perhaps as notable as his rank is his home state: The support comes from Texas Sen. John Cornyn.

-- Reality check on the item above: Trump said Tuesday that even with tighter vetting of gun buyers, "there would have been no difference" for those killed in the church mass shooting.

-- The Trump administration said Monday it will end a special reprieve from deportation for thousands of Nicaraguans who have been allowed to stay in the U.S. for years, but is delaying a decision on similar protections for those from Honduras.

TAX REFORM: THE CALIFORNIA SHOCK WAVES

The spate of potentially bad news for Californians about the GOP tax overhaul continues.

New to the debate is word that the House proposal eliminates the tax deduction for losses from wildfires and other disasters, but grandfathers in the tax break for victims of the recent severe hurricanes. Residents of California’s wine country could be particularly hard hit by that change.

California’s Republican delegation has largely stayed in lock-step on the tax bill, despite those kinds of effects.

But on Tuesday, one GOP lawmaker broke from the pack. Rep. Darrell Issa said he can’t vote in favor of the current version of the bill. Issa said the bill's changes to the business tax code will stimulate the economy, but the individual tax cuts would hit some Americans unevenly.

“I think that we can do better than this," Issa said Tuesday.

And then there’s this quote from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher about those who would be affected by the tax plan’s effort to cap the deduction on mortgage interest payments.

“Those people do not represent a very high portion of the electorate," he told The Times’ Sarah Wire.

Meantime, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Ivanka Trump were pitching the GOP tax reform proposal in Orange County this week, where Democrats targeting the county’s four GOP members of Congress think the tax plan could be a potent issue in 2018.

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

-- Former Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who’s been mostly quiet since losing the U.S. Senate race last year, endorsed Gil Cisneros, a Democrat challenging Rep. Ed Royce in Orange County.

-- Billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer has pulled off a rarity in this hyper-charged partisan age: He raised the ire of both Trump and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi thanks to his nationwide TV ads calling for the president’s impeachment.

-- Impeachment is still not a popular idea among House Democratic leaders, but some congressional candidates in Orange County are starting to utter the “I-word.”

-- Former GOP Congressman Doug Ose is considering entering the 2018 governor’s race.

-- State flags in California were ordered to fly at half-staff on Monday in remembrance of the mass shooting at a Texas church over the weekend. In making the announcement, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom called for stricter federal gun laws.

-- Rep. Ted Lieu says he won't participate in moments of silence for gun violence any longer.

-- A new report from Treasurer John Chiang says California should look into the creation of a public bank to serve marijuana businesses, one of a handful of recommendations aimed at helping bring cannabis companies into the financial mainstream.

-- Americans increasingly say jobs are plentiful in their communities, but they continue to worry that their incomes are lagging, according to a new national poll.

-- Possibly coming to the statewide ballot next year: A plan to make rainwater storage systems installed in California yards exempt from property taxes.

-- California House members have paid up on their World Series bets.

LOGISTICS

Essential Politics is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

You can keep up with breaking news on our politics page throughout the day. And are you following us on Twitter at @latimespolitics?

Miss Monday’s newsletter? Here you go.

Please send thoughts, concerns and news tips to politics@latimes.com.

Did someone forward you this? Sign up here to get Essential Politics in your inbox.

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
69°