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Essential Politics: New Hampshire primary is first in the nation

Essential Politics: New Hampshire primary is first in the nation
(LAT)

Good morning from the state capital. I’m Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers with this morning’s Essential Politics.

By the time you read this, the New Hampshire primary will already be history in the tiny towns of Dixville Notch, Hart’s Location and Millsfield. All three hamlets weighed in with their presidential preferences in ballots cast at midnight.

Those votes were the very first of the Granite State’s "first in the nation" results, a moniker shortened in this social media era to the hashtag #FITN. Of course, that’s the first primary, given Iowa’s caucus beat them to the electoral punch.

Tradition aside, New Hampshire’s political realities are shifting. Cathleen Decker writes that those changes may explain what’s fueled Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ strong effort and could help smooth out the recent rocky road for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

As for Donald Trump, Michael Finnegan reports the celebrity businessman is discovering that politics is a tougher task than his years of building a personal brand.

Decker and Christina Bellantoni discussed the primary in an Essential Politics podcast.

Stay tuned for live results from New Hampshire and full coverage of tonight’s returns on Trail Guide.

CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATS DESCEND ON NEVADA

Meantime, the closely watched caucuses in Nevada are just 11 days away for Democrats (Republicans will convene to cast their votes three days later), and a high-profile group of California Democrats blitzed the Silver State over the weekend, led by state Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).

Patrick McGreevy reports that the Democrats were in both Reno and Las Vegas over the weekend, making it back to Sacramento in time for Monday’s Senate floor session.

By the way, don’t forget that you can always get a quick fix of the latest California political news on our Essential Politics news feed.

OBAMA KNOWS THE WAY TO SAN JOSE

President Barack Obama heads to San Jose tomorrow for fundraising events, and then to Los Angeles on Thursday for more of the same. He’ll be in the Golden State quite a bit over the next few days, leading up to next week’s gathering of leaders from Southeast Asia in Rancho Mirage.

ROCKY CHAVEZ QUITS U.S. SENATE RACE

Take one candidate off of your watch list in this year's race to replace Sen. Barbara Boxer next year: Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside), who surprised everyone late Monday afternoon by stepping aside during a live radio debate in San Diego.

As Phil Willon reports, Chavez had struggled for months to raise significant cash for his campaign and will instead run for reelection to the Assembly. His departure leaves two former state GOP chairs — Duf Sundheim and Tom Del Beccaro — as the most prominent candidates in a race featuring Democratic heavyweights Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana).

DON’T FORGET 2018

Willon also caught up recently with Antonio Villaraigosa, the former Los Angeles mayor and Assembly speaker who’s mulling a run for governor. In case you’re counting, there are only 847 days until California’s next gubernatorial primary. Okay, so it’s not just around the corner. And to hear him tell it, poverty could be one of the 2018 race’s biggest issues.

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

— California’s presidential primary ballot is shaping up to have 43 names on it, combined, from the recognized political parties. And many of those names were selected by Secretary of State Alex Padilla as "generally recognizable" hopefuls.

— Keep an eye on the campuses of the Cal State University system this spring, after Monday’s announcement of a strike in April if no pay raise is granted. Political watchers will note the strike, which would begin on April 13, comes just about a month before Gov. Jerry Brown revises his state budget plans.

— Remember when? See video of Clinton on sexism on the eve of the 2008 New Hampshire primary.

LOGISTICS

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

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