I'm Christina Bellantoni, the Essential Politics host today. Let's get started.
Unlike previous Republican nominees, who have a tougher Electoral College map "by a factor of five," Trump told reporters in his third straight election-night news conference, "I have a chance because of New York."
But not just the Empire State, of course. The real estate mogul claimed a stake on a Michigan win in November "because we're going to get the car industry back," and then said he'd easily capture Ohio, Florida and Virginia too.
One reason why: The vast Trump name sprawled on golf courses, wine labels and resorts in all of those battleground states. (Not to mention Trump steaks, which he displayed at his event.)
Is Trump getting ahead of himself? He banked three wins while Sen. Ted Cruz was able to add a seventh to his list of states where he has defeated Trump during last night's elections. Sen. Marco Rubio performed poorly just about everywhere, without cracking 10% of the vote in Michigan and barely passing 5% in Mississippi.
The forces aiming to stop Trump want to wait and see the results of next Tuesday's Ohio and Florida primaries, but consider this number: 446. That's the number of delegates Trump had last night, before they were allotted from Hawaii. Cruz had 347. Rubio had 151.
Trump pointedly mentioned House Speaker Paul Ryan who "could not have been nicer" on a recent phone call — a signal, perhaps, to the establishment that he's ready to pivot to November.
SPEAKING OF FLORIDA
Both parties shift to the Sunshine State, with Democrats debating there Wednesday and Republicans meeting again Thursday.
Kate Linthicum examines Puerto Ricans as an important part of Florida's electorate that could soon surpass Cubans, whose conservative leanings long dominated Latino politics here.
THE DEMOCRATS KEEP GOING
Hillary Clinton scored a huge win in Mississippi but suffered a setback in Michigan, a state both her campaign and Team Sanders thought was in the bag.
(Don't forget, of course, that Michigan's votes didn't count in 2008.)
Sanders championed his victory as proving "come-from-behind momentum" as the candidates prepare to meet in yet another debate.
RUBIO HEADED TO THE O.C.
Rubio is headed to Orange County for a fundraiser on March 17, two days after the make-or-break primary in his home state of Florida, according to an invitation obtained by Seema Mehta.
Donors are being asked to contribute and raise up to $10,800 for the photo reception and dinner at the Irvine home of Michelle and David Horowitz. Co-hosts include former Orange County GOP chairman Scott Baugh and his wife, Wendy; David Bahnsen, the founder of a wealth management firm, and his wife, Joleen; tech entrepreneur John Clarey and his wife, Christy; and mortgage lending company founder Glenn Stearns and his wife, Mindy, a former television personality.
The host committee shows signs of a reshuffling of wealthy California donors as the GOP field has winnowed. Horowitz previously backed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; the Stearns had a fundraiser for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at their Newport Beach mansion last year. Both men have dropped out of the presidential race.
CLINTON FOR FARMWORKERS
Clinton this week jumped into California politics, sending a letter of support for a bill that would increase overtime protections for farmworkers, Liam Dillon reports.
The bill would give farmworkers overtime after eight hours of work instead of the current 10.
TRUMP FANS NOT HARD TO FIND IN CALIFORNIA
A few weeks ago, Steve Lopez introduced you to the Angelenos who would rather bash Trump piñatas than vote for the GOP front-runner, but he turned up supporters who, in fact, love the Donald.
CONGRESSMAN WANTS HIS HIJACKER BROUGHT TO JUSTICE
Sarah Wire has the story of the congressman who was on a plane that was hijacked 44 years ago. The men who took Rep. Jerry McNerney's plane when he was 21 then fled to Cuba. McNerney thinks President Obama should demand Cuba extradite the surviving hijacker.
WATCH THE DEBATE WITH US
We're hosting a debate watch party Thursday night at The Regent in downtown Los Angeles. Join us! We'll start with a political panel featuring me, John Myers and Seema Mehta, and we'll be raffling off prizes and playing the best debate bingo in the business. If you have suggestions for the bingo cards, send them to email@example.com.
— The president of the California Public Utilities Commission's message in Sacramento on Tuesday: Please, take away some of our responsibilities. John Myers reports that during an overview hearing, CPUC President Michael Picker seemed to agree with those who say the agency simply has too many tasks on its to-do list.
— Lawmakers are proposing a two-cent tax on soda to fund obesity and diabetes programs.
— "Mike is a real creative talent, a great and loyal friend and a visionary," Jeb Bush told Seema Mehta for her profile of consultant Mike Murphy. "I look forward to talking to him again in depth whenever the lawyers say it is OK!" This is how Murphy spent $100 million just to see Bush lose.
— The U.S. House is off this week and several members are holding events back home. Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) is holding a roundtable at the Camarillo Public Library Thursday with female veterans. Rep. Michael Honda (D-San Jose) is holding a discussion at Santa Clara University's Benson Center about violence against women Friday evening with Yong Soo Lee, who was a Japanese "comfort woman" during World War II. Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) is holding a cybersecurity town hall at the Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center in Mission Viejo Thursday.
— The San Diego Union Tribune's Joshua Stewart reports that Republican San Diego businesswoman Denise Gitsham, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Scott Peters, is catching flak over remarks she made last week about her race. Gitsham said at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland that because she is half-Chinese she is "ambiguously ethnic enough to pass for almost anything," which got her a job on George W. Bush's 2000 campaign reaching out to Latino voters. Gitsham's campaign defended the line as a joke.
— A cross section of California leaders in business, education, law enforcement and religion joined Tuesday in urging the Supreme Court to uphold President Obama's plan to offer temporary relief and work permits to as many as 5 million immigrants who have been living in the U.S. illegally.