Newsletter

Essential Politics: It's now Donald Trump vs. elections officials

They are the kinds of allegations that, even though we’ve never heard them before in a modern presidential campaign, have become almost par for the course with election day now just three weeks away.

Allegations by a major party candidate that a broad, systemic rigging of the election is now underway.

Good morning from the state capital. I’m Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers, and we begin with the continuing assertions by Donald Trump that there’s not going to be an honest and fair election on Nov. 8.

“Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day,” Trump tweeted Monday.

Though his previous audacious remarks have been challenged by politicians, this time the Republican presidential nominee was under fire from election officials — many of them, members of GOP administrations in battleground states.

Even California election officials with whom I’ve spoken in previous races admit there can be problems, but say that these are due to mistakes and not malice.

Perhaps the best line refuting Trump’s tweets on election rigging came from Lynn Bartels, a spokesperson for Colorado’s secretary of state.

“I can say on Twitter I’m a supermodel, but that doesn’t make it so,” she said.

ASK AN ELECTIONS OFFICIAL ABOUT VOTING PROBLEMS

As the Trump allegations continued to make news Monday, the top election official in Los Angeles County logged on to Reddit and answered most every question about voter problems.

That included fears of voter intimidation, perhaps sparked by talk from Trump and his supporters of closely watching polling places and voters on election day.

“We, of course, encourage people to observe all elements of the process,” wrote Dean Logan, registrar of voters in Los Angeles County. “But any disruption of voters or intimidation of voters is unacceptable.”

MELANIA TRUMP SITS DOWN FOR TV INTERVIEWS

One person who has pretty much been politically invisible since the summer is Melania Trump, the GOP nominee’s wife. She broke that silence on Monday, defending her husband and calling out Democrats for planting the stories about alleged sexual wrongdoing.

Her interviews on Fox News Channel and CNN had a common theme: Clinton’s campaign and the media are working together to defeat her husband.

And she said she’s told him to lay off the tweets.

“But that’s his decision,” Trump said. “He’s an adult. He knows the consequences.”

NO OXYGEN LEFT FOR THE CLINTON E-MAIL QUESTIONS?

In most any other campaign, the drip-drip-drip of news about emails related to the official duties of Hillary Clinton as secretary of State and her campaign would be a huge problem for a presidential candidate this close to an election.

But as the messages trickle out, it’s been more of a headache than any serious wound for Clinton’s White House hopes. Evan Halper and Chris Megerian take a look at how not only the evidence doesn’t always add up to accusations, but how Trump’s own problems undermine his attempt to focus attention on the emails.

Still, the questions keep coming. On Monday, there were some that seemed beyond the normal rough and tumble of politics.

Documents released by the FBI as part of the investigation into Clinton’s email server included allegations of a quid pro quo situation — that a high-ranking State Department official allegedly sought to pressure the bureau into changing the classification of an email related to the Benghazi attack, in exchange for agreeing to help place more FBI agents in places like Iraq, where they are restricted.

L.A. ISN’T MANHATTAN: TRUMP’S TOUGH LUCK IN CALIFORNIA

No part of the Trump mystique is bigger than the idea that he has a Midas touch in making big development deals. But in Southern California, his record is peppered with bold ideas that never came to pass.

Matt Pearce takes a detailed look at the Republican nominee’s long interest in California, from ambitious dreams for the site of the former Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles to his professed admiration for the life of Hollywood movie moguls.

PUTTING POLITICS ASIDE AFTER CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS ATTACK

At least one thing that everyone seemed to agree on Monday was the need to condemn the firebombing of a North Carolina GOP campaign office over the weekend.

Democrats raised $13,000 to help rebuild the facility. “We do not resort to violence by individuals or by mobs,” said the statement on the Democrats’ GoFundMe page. “So, let’s all pitch in, no matter what your party affiliation, and get that office open again quickly.”

A STEADY STREAM OF DEMOCRATS TO ARIZONA

Only Bill Clinton’s 1996 presidential campaign succeeded in breaking the GOP lock on Arizona in modern times. But might that change next month?

Michelle Obama heads to the Grand Canyon State on Thursday to campaign for Hillary Clinton, with Sen. Bernie Sanders and Chelsea Clinton showing up on Wednesday.

As Michael A. Memoli reports, it’s only one of the big steps Democrats are taking to expand the presidential playing field in these final weeks of the campaign.

Get the latest from the campaign trail on Trail Guide and follow @latimespolitics. Check our daily USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times tracking poll at the top of the politics page.

PROPOSITION 64: POT BEHIND THE WHEEL

Polling has shown wide support for the effort to legalize marijuana use for adults, Proposition 64. Still, there are questions for which voters need answers. And one of them may be the potential effects on California’s roads and highways.

Patrick McGreevy takes a look at criticisms from some in law enforcement that the ballot measure may exacerbate a problem in the state: A lack of a legal standard for what level of the chemical THC is unacceptable in the bloodstream of a driver.

“We should get all the experts in a room before we ever enact the law and say, ‘This is what the standards should be,’” said Doug Villars, president of the California Assn. of Highway Patrolmen.

A reminder that you can read The Times’ ballot box guide to California’s 17 propositions. Learn our editorial board’s positions on each measure, and get in-depth coverage on everything from school bonds to condoms.

CALLING KAMALA HARRIS A ‘BAY AREA LIBERAL’

An Orange County super PAC backing Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez for U.S. Senate launched a radio ad on Monday attacking her rival, Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, as “another Barbara Boxer, a Bay Area liberal backed by the Democratic Party establishment.”

Phil Willon reports that the ad tries to convince Republicans to vote for Sanchez, calling her an “anti-establishment” moderate. The PAC’s financial backers include former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a Republican who has endorsed Sanchez.

Meantime, Willon also reports that the latest batch of campaign finance reports from three super PACs dabbling in the race aren’t exactly setting the world on fire. One right-leaning PAC that backs Sanchez, for instance, has raised just $26,000 in this two-year-election cycle.

WHAT’S IN YOUR MAILBOX?

Have you received a barrage of campaign mailers this election season? Are you bombarded with information about local races and propositions? We want to hear from you.

Send images of campaign mailers and door-hangers, audio recordings of robo-calls or links to web ads to politics@latimes.com. Include your name, city, state and age, and tell us about the material you’re sharing. Your submissions may be featured on our site.

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

— Harris is doing pretty well financially, according to a report about her 2015 tax return. The Senate candidate and her attorney husband earned $1.17 million in 2015. Sanchez has yet to release her tax return.

Billy Bush is officially out at NBC in the wake of the Trump tape scandal.

— The $15-million facelift of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library is complete, as the Yorba Linda museum reopened with a special tour for some of Nixon’s family and other political VIPs.

— It was my wife’s idea more than a decade ago: Throw a cocktail “proposition party” where her political journalist husband could explain the ballot propositions to friends and neighbors. See how our weekend soirée for the Nov. 8 election went this past weekend.

— It’s back, and it’s going to be spectacular! Join me, Christina Bellantoni and Seema Mehta at another Los Angeles Times Debate Watch Party, Wednesday night at the Ace Hotel. RSVP here.

— Who will win the November election? Give our Electoral College map a spin.

LOGISTICS

Miss yesterday’s newsletter? Here you go. Did someone forward you this? Sign up here to get Essential Politics in your inbox daily. And keep an eye on our politics page throughout the day for the latest and greatest. And are you following us on Twitter at @latimespolitics and @LATpoliticsCA?

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

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
65°