Newsletter: Essential California: Guess where the next political battleground is

Nancy Pelosi speaks between two of her grandsons and congressional Democrats as they celebrate Democratic wins in the House of Representatives at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington, D.C.
(Jacquelyn Martin / AP)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Nov. 7, and here’s what’s happening across California:

For months, the nation was fixated on several California congressional seats— some in districts that Hillary Clinton had won — which were held by Republicans and faced stout competition from Democrats. These races placed the Golden State at the center of the political world during a midterm election season for the first time in years. In Orange County, the prospect of this blue-tinged shift was nothing less than historic. (Think John Wayne strutting around railing against Communism).

Womp womp: But before any races here had even been called, the Democrats regained control of the House. The Senate will stay red with the GOP picking up several seats, and Gavin Newsom will be our next governor.

Crazy fact: There are 482 days until the California presidential primary on March 3, 2020. Our state’s primary tended to be at the back of the line, but this earlier date will bring even more attention and vitriol to the state. Basically, if you thought this midterm season was overwrought, you’d better buckle up. Los Angeles Times


California’s status as a bogeyman for President Trump and his fixation on immigration will mean the state becomes more of a battering post as he seeks to inflame the cultural wars dominating the country. We may not know who prevailed in California’s congressional races for some time, but with a Democratic majority, Trump’s familiar foils like Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff will be even more empowered.

Gearing for a battle: Pelosi will likely hold the speaker’s gavel, and members like Waters and Schiff will likely become committee chairs with subpoena power over this scandal-plagued administration. In Sacramento, newly elected Gov. Gavin Newsom looks destined to stake out an even more muscular progressive platform than his predecessor, who has already battled with Trump on climate change and immigration.

Gulp: Now imagine the tweets, memes and maddened MAGA-maniacs inflamed by the president — who will likely spend the next two years running for reelection against a Democratic House and its largest delegation. The state will continue to be the center of the Trump resistance and home to several likely Democratic presidential candidates. On the other side, Trump will almost certainly depict this state as a crime-plagued land overrun by immigrants living here illegally, as he has done at rallies across the nation.

With so many unknowns still unanswered this morning, one thing is certain: California will occupy an even more central role in the national political imagination going forward.


Click! Live results from the 2018 midterm elections. Los Angeles Times

A female wave: How many women have been elected? Los Angeles Times



The guv’s race: Newsom was elected California’s next governor in a win for the resistance against Trump. Los Angeles Times

DiFi wins: Sen. Dianne Feinstein fended off her first significant Democratic challenger in more than two decades, beating state Sen. Kevin de Leon to win a fifth full term. Los Angeles Times

More rent control shot down: Voters rejected Proposition 10, halting an effort to expand rent control across the state. Los Angeles Times

No gas tax repeal: Voters defeated Proposition 6, which would have repealed recent increases in the state gas tax and vehicle fees to provide more than $5 billion annually for road and bridge repairs and mass transit. Los Angeles Times


L.A. sheriff: Early returns showed Jim McDonnell leading in his reelection bid as Los Angeles County sheriff in an election cast as a referendum on the pace of reform efforts in the troubled department. Los Angeles Times

O.C. district attorney: With a sizable number of precincts reporting, Todd Spitzer was leading incumbent Tony Rackauckas in the race for Orange County district attorney. Los Angeles Times

In the Central Valley: GOP Rep. Devin Nunes has warded off the toughest political challenge he faced in years, claiming victory over Democrat Andrew Janz in California’s 22nd Congressional District. Los Angeles Times

Meanwhile, in Merced County: “California Democrats are raising alarms about an apparent election eve break-in and theft of campaign materials from a party outpost that overlaps with two critical districts.” Politico


CAMPAIGN DATELINES: Some scenes from across the state ...

NORWALK: Hundreds lined up outside the Los Angeles County registrar’s office in Norwalk. Los Angeles Times

BUENA PARK: One Orange County immigrant’s vote to oppose discrimination: “I belong here.” Los Angeles Times

BEL-AIR: Voting at the Luxe on Sunset Boulevard with some “Midterm Elixir” tea. Los Angeles Times


ANAHEIM: One student tries to “block out” Trump-inspired politics to focus on the democratic voting process. Los Angeles Times

WESTMINSTER: This Cambodian American loves Trump and votes Republican “all the way.” Los Angeles Times

VISALIA: For Allison Kleinsteuber, her frustration with Rep. Devin Nunes was the driving force behind her trip to the polling station. Visalia Times-Delta

SAN FRANCISCO: A word about Prop. C from a person who knows homelessness firsthand. San Francisco Chronicle


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Maude, a 2-year-old English bulldog, waits for owner Danny Carinci at a polling station in Hermosa Beach.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)


Some accountability: A federal judge on Monday said she plans to appoint an investigator to launch a probe into whether California has painted an inaccurately rosy picture of psychiatric care inside its prison system as part of a lawsuit against the state that has spanned nearly three decades. Los Angeles Times


Frightening: A man was caught with an arsenal of weapons outside an L.A. middle school. Parents want to know why it was kept secret. Los Angeles Times

Maywood news: Community members have raised more than $90,000 for a Los Angeles-area teacher captured on video punching a student who had repeatedly called him racial slurs. NBC News

In court: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will reportedly take their custody battle before a judge. They’re looking at a Dec. 4 court date to settle their differences over custody of their six children. Los Angeles Times

Records show: A UCLA basketball assistant exchanged calls with a key figure in a bribery and corruption case. Los Angeles Times


Get ready: “Shrek” and “Puss in Boots” are getting rebooted, and Chris Meledandri, the man behind “Despicable Me,” is overseeing their revival. Variety


Los Angeles area: sunny, 68, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 74, Thursday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 69, Wednesday; sunny, 71, Thursday. San Francisco area: sunny, 69, Wednesday; sunny, 72, Thursday. San Jose: sunny, 76, Wednesday and Thursday. Sacramento: sunny, 76, Wednesday; cloudy, 74, Thursday. More weather is here.



Today’s California memory comes from Patti Newton:

”Nearly 32 years ago, we made an offer to purchase property on Friday the 13th. The area off the beaten track, known as Elfin Forest, had a reputation for being home to eccentrics, legendary ghosts, insane asylums, devil worshipers, and elves. Undeterred, we took possession of our new home. Over the years, we’ve come to love a few eccentrics, have not seen the legendary ‘White Lady,’ any insane asylums or devil worshipers, but certainly have seen many elves. Then we learned a biologist coined the moniker that aptly describes coastal sage scrub. Personally, I much prefer the scary urban legends.”

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.