Newsletter: Essential California: Who’s running against Duncan Hunter?

Ammar Campa-Najjar, a candidate for the 50th congressional district, listens as he talks to members of the East County Democratic Club while he attends their monthly meeting at Jimmy’s Restaurant & Bar in the San Diego suburb of Santee.
(Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Aug. 24, and here’s what’s happening across California:


For nearly 40 years, voters in eastern San Diego County have picked a Republican named Duncan Hunter to be their representative in Congress. Duncan Lee Hunter came first, and then his son and current congressman Duncan Duane Hunter. Could 2018 be the year they change course and go with a 29-year-old Palestinian Mexican American Democrat named Ammar Campa-Najjar? Until Tuesday, election analysts said no. But after Hunter, a five-term incumbent, and his wife were indicted by a federal grand jury this week for misusing $250,000 in campaign dollars to fund their own lavish lifestyles, Campa-Najjar’s longshot bid seems, in some eyes, to be less of a stretch. Los Angeles Times

— “Hunter is running for re-election against an opponent who is not on the ballot: the U.S. Department of Justice.” San Diego Union-Tribune


“Mr. Campa-Najjar’s campaign had been something of a stepchild in a state that had been at the forefront of the Democratic battle to win control of Congress, attracting little attention.” New York Times

— “Hunter told Speaker Paul Ryan Thursday that he will step down from his committee assignments, after initially declining to do so.” Politico

The skinny on plastic straws

California is poised to become the first state to restrict the distribution of plastic straws at restaurants under a bill approved Thursday by lawmakers, capturing the attention of environmentalists nationwide who hope the idea, like many with origins in the Golden State, will spread across the nation. The legislation, which would prohibit full-service, dine-in restaurants from offering plastic straws to customers unless they are requested, passed on a 45-20 vote by the Assembly and now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature. Stopping short of an outright ban, environmentalists say they expect the bill will again make the state — which represents the world’s fifth largest economy — a trendsetter. Los Angeles Times


A setback for Locol

Locol, the groundbreaking fast-food chain started in Watts by celebrity chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson with the aim of bringing affordable and healthful food to underserved areas, has closed its restaurant locations. Instead, the company said it would move to full-time catering. Locol’s two remaining restaurants were in Watts and San Jose; two Oakland locations had previously been shuttered. Los Angeles Times

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A scene from Cartoon Network's "Adventure Time." Pictured are Finn the Human, voiced by Jeremy Shada, and Jake the Dog, voiced by John DiMaggio.
(Cartoon Network)


More on Argento accusations: The troubling case of Asia Argento, Jimmy Bennett and the #MeToo movement. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Argento “blows up the myth of the ‘perfect victim.’ ” Daily Beast

That husk of a building: A California appeals court on Thursday sided with the city of Los Angeles in a long-running legal fight over a half-finished Target shopping center in Hollywood, reversing a lower court’s ruling that halted construction of the project. Los Angeles Times


Click! Check out this surfer riding an air mattress. Orange County Register

An oral history: As “Adventure Time” wraps up, a look back at how the cartoon series broke barriers and changed the genre. Los Angeles Times


Coming soon: “A policy change to strip spouses of H-1B visa holders of their right to work has entered its final review, with senior leaders in the Department of Homeland Security moving toward approval, according to a new court filing.” Mercury News


Hmmmmm: When California lawmakers removed write-in candidates from state and congressional ballots, it wasn’t by accident. Los Angeles Times

Hoping to solve the problem: After a string of suicides within the first two weeks of classes, Rancho Cucamonga school districts are refocusing their attention on mental health services and suicide-prevention projects. Los Angeles Times

Big: “The nation’s second-largest school district is voting to strike, according to sources within United Teachers Los Angeles.” L.A. Taco


Plus: “I’m a Los Angeles teacher, and I am going to vote to strike.” Los Angeles Times


Suspected DUI: A 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after a series of crashes that killed a Chula Vista woman and injured nine people on the 5 Freeway in Irvine early Thursday, authorities said. Los Angeles Times

A gun’s origin: A federal grand jury has indicted a Nevada man as an unlicensed firearms dealer after he allegedly sold guns to out-of-state residents, including one that was used in the fatal shooting of a Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy. Los Angeles Times


The enemy: Meet the new Aedes mosquito spreading misery around a wide swath of Southern California. Daily Breeze


RIP: Mike Trout remembers brother-in-law Aaron Cox as “an amazing person inside & out.” Los Angeles Times

Déjà blue: With the playoffs slipping out of their grasp, the Dodgers must break the cycle of blowing leads, columnist Bill Plaschke writes. Los Angeles Times

Flashback Friday: How Christopher Nolan used architecture to alienating effect in “The Dark Knight.” Los Angeles Times

On shelves now: “In ‘Small Fry,’ Steve Jobs comes across as a jerk. His daughter forgives him. Should we?” New York Times

Fun: Here’s the story behind the knitted animals that are all over the place at the Civic Center in San Francisco. KQED

A wow story: “A California cult unwittingly created one of the country’s great wineries and then lost it. The haunting story of a vineyard’s rise, collapse and refusal to die.” San Francisco Chronicle


Los Angeles area: partly cloudy, 81, Friday and Saturday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 78, Friday; sunny, 78, Saturday. San Francisco area: partly cloudy, 63, Friday; partly cloudy, 64, Saturday. San Jose: partly cloudy, 78, Friday; sunny, 79, Saturday. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 85, Friday; sunny, 88, Saturday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from David Mills:

“Growing up on a farm in rainy, cloudy Washington state, I thought California was a far-away dream place — beckoning with sunny skies, sandy beaches, bikini-clad girls, Disneyland, the curvaceous Mouseketeer named Annette Funicello, who was the first girl who really attracted my 12-year-old boy’s attention. When I became college age, I had to go to the University of Washington; I could not afford a California school. But when I graduated, I found myself going to Stanford University for graduate school on a full scholarship. I can still remember my first days in California with my new wife, in a brand-new apartment in a former orange grove, the fresh smell of the warm air, going to the ocean for a day, or to Big Sur for camping, or up to San Francisco for Chinese food in its wonderful Chinatown.”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.