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Essential Politics: Clinton courting California's Asian voters

I’m Christina Bellantoni. Welcome to 2016 and the first edition of Essential Politics of the year.


California may not hold caucuses, but take a look at Hillary Clinton’s campaign and you can see the state’s influence on display.

The Democratic front-runner on Thursday will hold an event in San Gabriel to kick off "Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Hillary." Joining Clinton is Democratic Rep. Judy Chu, chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress. San Gabriel’s population is 48.9% Asian.

Clinton, who overwhelmingly won the Asian vote during the 2008 Democratic primary, "will discuss what’s at stake in this election for the AAPI community, and how she’ll fight for them as president," according to a release from the campaign that promises "a number of events and activities that will engage, energize and organize AAPI voters."

A Clinton press release from a similar kickoff in 2007 boasted the growing group of voters has "particular political strength in several early caucus/primary states" and cited California’s eligible voter pool of Asians more than doubled from 1990 to 2005.

She won the Asian vote in California over then-Sen. Barack Obama by 3 to 1 in 2008.

Later Thursday, Clinton will raise money in what is being billed as a "family celebration" at the Jim Henson Co. Lot in Los Angeles.

As we reported last month, the event is hosted by Lisa Henson and David Pressler. Lisa is Jim Henson’s daughter and CEO of the company that the Muppets built. Pressler, a well-known artist and illustrator, is her husband. The afternoon fundraising event costs $500 for general admission, $1,000 for one adult and one child under age 16 and $2,700 for two adults and children. Or, event hosts can raise $10,000 or contribute $5,400 in primary dollars for a family photo with Clinton for two adults and children.

Clinton also will join mega investor and the Oracle of Omaha Warren Buffett at the home of Karen and Russell Goldsmith in Los Angeles on Thursday night. Tickets are $2,700. Co-hosts must raise $10,000 to get a photo with Clinton and hosts can attend a host reception and get the photo if they raise $50,000.

Democratic National Committee member Shefali Razdan Duggal, on Clinton’s National Finance Committee, sent an email to her network urging them to buy tickets for what she dubbed two "inspiring events."

On Friday, Clinton will have another "family celebration" at the Innovation Hangar in San Francisco and an event at the home of Sarah and Greg Sands in Palo Alto.

The California stops come after Clinton pointedly lauded new laws here and in Oregon to expand voter registration.

"California and Oregon have the right idea. I hope more states follow their lead," she said in a statement on Saturday. (Clinton has called for automatic voter registration when citizens turn 18, a position also supported by her chief primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders.)

Politics played out at the Rose Parade in Pasadena Friday, as dozens of Sanders supporters followed the floats carrying a papier mache likeness of the Vermont senator and shouting, "Feel the Bern!"

The bigger story, of course, was overhead, as a small plane filled the sky with white puffs of smoke. First the skywriter spelled out "America is great." Then "Trump is disgusting."

CBS reported the man responsible for the anti-Donald Trump messaging is a donor to Sen. Marco Rubio.

Also over the weekend, Clinton and Sanders each released large fundraising totals indicating a competitive race in the weeks, and possibly months, to come. On the Republican side, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush shook up his campaign, while Sen. Ted Cruz raised nearly $20 million in the last quarter of 2015.

Washington bureau chief David Lauter has the five unknowns that could determine the winner in 2016.

WELCOME BACK, LEGISLATURE!

Lawmakers return to Sacramento on Monday for a new legislative year.

As Patrick McGreevy and Melanie Mason write in this curtain raiser, the agenda will include leftovers from 2015, including bills to snuff out smoking, raise the minimum wage and expand the state’s policies on paid family leave.

Added to the mix this year is a renewed focus on tightening California’s already tough gun laws in the wake of last month’s terrorist shooting in San Bernardino. The November elections, with every Assembly seat and half of the Senate seats on the ballot, will complicate any legislative action.

As things get started in the capital, you can track what’s happening here.

To get a sense of the importance of California’s legislative session, just take a look at the 807 measures Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in 2015. McGreevy rounded up what took effect as 2016 began. Sonali Kohli examined how new education laws are being viewed by students and teachers, and our team crafted this nifty interactive so you can see how the laws might apply to you.

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, THEY’RE JUST LIKE US

Sarah Wire asked members of California’s congressional delegation about goals for 2016.

They ranged from the professional — Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said he has ideas about reining in the National Security Agency and Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) is looking for bipartisanship — to the lighthearted — Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) wants to see more of his kids’ swim meets and Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) hopes to see Cal State Fullerton win the College World Series.

Valadao wants to boost voter turnout in his Central Valley district. Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego) wants Congress to expand background checks to cover all gun purchases.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) wants to work on implementing consumer financial protections, boost funding to help curb homelessness and work on health issues like Alzheimer’s.

With an eye toward leaving Congress in early 2017, Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Los Angeles) wants to pass legislation to honor the service of World War II Merchant Marine veterans.

Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) wants to "Lean in. Lighten up. Live values."

This is Rep. Adam Schiff’s daughter’s last year at home before college. The Burbank Democrat said he is "keenly aware of how little time Eve and I have left with both kids under our roof" and he wants to spend as much time with his family as possible.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) has simple goals: "Keep my diet and exercise program going for another year and try not to swear."

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) resolved to "be more responsive to Los Angeles reporters," but also aims to "lose weight."

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

-- Christi Parsons outlines how President Obama will be taking action on gun issues over the next week, while David S. Cloud has the less-than-enthusiastic reaction from Republican presidential candidates. Don’t miss the December Parsons-Mike Memoli story on how Obama went off script and switched gears on gun-control policy.

-- Get ready to see a lot more of Obama on the campaign trail. Parsons writes that the president "believes his legacy hangs on the 2016 election."

-- Lisa Mascaro finds Rubio "isn’t exactly a work-a-holic" on the campaign trail, and is building a strategy on a preference for made-for-TV rallies and cable news appearances rather than the endless hand-shaking and baby-kissing that tradition suggests paves the way to the White House.

-- First on Congress’ 2016 agenda? The House is set to vote Wednesday to repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood, sending the measure to Obama's desk, where a swift veto has been promised. Congress does not have the votes to override the veto, and so the bill is not expected to become law.

-- Presidential chatter on the Sunday shows focused on Bill Clinton’s transgressions, Ben Carson’s staff firings and Trump being featured in jihadist recruitment videos.

-- Memoli was on the road with Sanders over the weekend.

-- Actress Lena Dunham will campaign for Clinton in New Hampshire.

-- Dexter Thomas writes that "white people must take responsibility for Donald Trump."

-- Actor Jamie Foxx is supporting Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris for Senate.

-- Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s last-minute fundraising requests got a little intense on Facebook.

LOGISTICS

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