Why all 7 freshmen Democrats from the state’s ‘purple’ districts back impeachment


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Sept. 25, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

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California is always an indicator, if you know where to look.

Over the frenzied past few days — as Democratic support for an impeachment inquiry hurdled from the liberal edges to mainstream to the mouth of the speaker of the House, who had long opposed taking such a formal step — California’s seven freshman congressional Democrats from “purple” districts acted as a mood ring of sorts, reflecting the shifting zeitgeist of the party at large.

All of the California Seven defeated Republican incumbents in 2018. They hail from historically red districts, primarily in Orange County and the Central Valley, and face competitive races in 2020.


Three of their brethren (Reps. Katie Porter, D-Irvine; Harley Rouda, D-Newport Beach; and Mike Levin, D-Vista) had already called for impeachment earlier in the summer in regard to the Russia inquiry. (When Porter became the first freshman House member from California to do so in June, this paper wrote that her decision “could mark a subtle shift in the lineup of Democratic lawmakers who support trying to remove Trump from office.” Rouda and Levin had both followed suit by the end of July, reflecting the growing support for an inquiry still cleaving the party.)

On Monday night, the publication of a much-talked about pro-impeachment op-ed in the Washington Post marked a rapid shift in the political winds. It was jointly written by seven freshman Democrats (this group from competitive districts across the country) with a background in the military or national security.

One of them, Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda), was among the California Seven. That op-ed, as congressional reporter Sarah D. Wire wrote Tuesday, “helped set off a cascade of calls for impeachment from previously reluctant representatives, setting the stage for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to announce the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry.”

[Read the story: “Why now? How House Democrats shifted to favor starting impeachment proceedings” by Sarah D. Wire]

Both Rep. Katie Hill (D-Santa Clarita) and Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) announced that they now supported impeachment inquiries early Tuesday, before Pelosi’s announcement.

[See also: “Trump impeachment: Freshman California Democrats say they’re ready for an inquiry” in the Sacramento Bee]


Rep. T.J. Cox (D-Fresno), who ousted former GOP Rep. David Valadao by a margin of less than a thousand votes and will face off against Valadao in a highly competitive 2020 race, remained quiet on the matter during the early part of the day. But after Pelosi’s announcement, the tide had unequivocally turned, and he too voiced his support. By Tuesday night, all but 16 of the 235 House Democrats had publicly voiced support for the inquiry.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:


As you may have heard, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday the House would open an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, setting the stage for a monumental clash between Congress and the president a year away from the 2020 election. Los Angeles Times

Plus, impeachment 101: Here’s how the process actually works. Los Angeles Times

PG&E planned to shut off power to 48,200 customers in Northern California — including in Sonoma and Napa counties — early Wednesday morning because of “elevated weather conditions, including potential fire risk.” The outage will last until at least noon. San Francisco Chronicle



Will L.A. impose new rules on sidewalk sleeping? Protests and debate erupt at City Hall. Los Angeles Times

Meet Caren Spruch, Planned Parenthood’s woman in Hollywood: In her role as the organization’s director of arts and entertainment, she encourages screenwriters to tell stories about abortion and offers script expertise. Washington Post

The man credited with aiding the arrest of Democratic donor Ed Buck says he’s homeless and trying to rebuild his life. Identified as “Joe Doe,” he played a key role in authorities being able to arrest Buck last week. Los Angeles Times

“A Very Brady Renovation” could have interrogated ‘60s modernism, or examined suburban sprawl, or explained the dawn of the split-level. Instead, HGTV’s latest reality show time-travels to a place of bright nostalgia that never existed. Los Angeles Times


Lenny Kravitz would really like his sunglasses back, no questions asked. Someone walked off with a pair of the rocker’s shades with sentimental value after his show at the Shrine. Los Angeles Magazine

Can tiramisu and a daughter’s love get a former caterer to the stars through tough times? Los Angeles Times

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Californians would have more control over the collection of their health and financial data, and there would be stiff penalties for companies that wrongly share and sell data about children, under a November 2020 statewide ballot measure that will be submitted on Wednesday. Los Angeles Times

The Trump administration’s threat to pull billions of dollars in highway funding from California over pollution issues may be unprecedented. Sacramento Bee


A longtime spokesman for the San Francisco district attorney’s office is launching his own communications firm. He joins “a growing list of people” who’ve jumped ship from the district attorney’s office amid uncertainty over who will be running the office next year. (Some background: Current San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascón opted not to run for reelection, citing family obligations, including his ailing mother in Southern California. In June, Gascón announced that he was considering challenging incumbent Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey for her post, and this week supporters of his launched a campaign urging him to jump in.) San Francisco Chronicle


A Los Angeles businessman whose son was admitted to USC as a bogus water polo star was sentenced to four months in prison. Devin Sloane is the second parent to be sentenced in the college admissions scandal. Los Angeles Times


These fish-killing gas plants were set to close. California may throw them a lifeline. Los Angeles Times

People should stop vaping immediately, according to a warning issued by California health officials. Los Angeles Times



Teamsters at one of Southern California’s largest trash collection companies voted to authorize a potential strike. If the strike does happen, it could affect trash pickup at thousands of businesses and residences in Orange and Los Angeles counties. Los Angeles Daily News

Mickey goes meatless: Disneyland will have plant-based offerings at all table and quick-service restaurants by spring 2020. Orange County Register

Attendance was slightly down at the L.A. County Fair this year, and the heat probably had something to do with it. Riverside Press-Enterprise

Fresno’s airport is adding flights and bracing for a record passenger flow. Fresno Bee

A Fremont police Tesla started running low on juice during a high-speed chase. “I’ve got to try to find a charging station for the Tesla so I can make it back to the city,” the officer said over the radio after the chase was called off. East Bay Times


An upscale “glamping” resort is planned for the site of a defunct amusement park in Guerneville. Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Robert Hunter, celebrated lyricist for the Grateful Dead, has died at 78. Hunter’s lyrics were central to many of the Dead’s best-known songs, including “Dark Star,” “Box of Rain,” “Touch of Grey” and “Uncle John’s Band.” Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles: sunny, 86. San Diego: partly sunny, 75. San Francisco: partly sunny, 88. San Jose: partly sunny, 95. Sacramento: sunny, 99. More weather is here.


“I have never been a hindrance, I have never kept the company waiting, neither have my children, and every step I take will be toward California.”

— -Juliette Brier on crossing Death Valley, 1849


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Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.