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Civil rights lawyer Valerie McGinty founded a political action committee late last year to help boost the low numbers of women serving in the California Legislature. As it launches in Los Angeles, it will have an additional objective: backing women pursuing the seats left empty by men whose careers were ended by sexual harassment accusations.

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Republican businessman John Cox has nudged ahead of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for second place in California’s race for governor, while Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has shored up his front-runner status among voters, according to a new poll from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

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  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
Congressional candidate Harley Rouda, who was endorsed by opponent Laura Oatman after she dropped out of the race.
Congressional candidate Harley Rouda, who was endorsed by opponent Laura Oatman after she dropped out of the race. (Harley Rouda for Congress)

Calling for party unity, Democrat Laura Oatman on Wednesday dropped out of the race against GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and endorsed her opponent Harley Rouda.

Democrats across California have been worried about getting shut out of key congressional races this year because of the massive field of candidates challenging GOP incumbents.

It’s too late for Oatman to remove her name from the ballot, but she said in a statement that she hopes “all local activists … can now unite into one mighty force” behind Rouda, a fellow Democrat. She called on the other Democrats left in the Orange County race to drop out, too.

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
(Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) was the only House member who reported using Cambridge Analytica for voter data during the 2016 election cycle.

The firm, which has been facing a storm of scrutiny for using allegedly ill-gotten Facebook data on millions of the site’s users, also provided data for the campaigns of two Republican senators. 

Walters’ campaign consultant, Dave Gilliard, said a $20,000 payment was made to Connell Donatelli Inc., an online advertising firm, which in turn paid the money to Cambridge Analytica. The payment was for “voter data for media ads,” according to Federal Election Commission records.

  • California Legislature
A Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student surveys a makeshift memorial to the Parkland, Fla., shooting victims.
A Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student surveys a makeshift memorial to the Parkland, Fla., shooting victims. (Getty Images)

Armed law enforcement officers would be assigned to all school campuses in California at state expense under a measure that advanced Wednesday in response to a series of recent mass shootings across the country.

The measure by Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) was recommended Wednesday by the Assembly Education Committee, which eliminated a proposal that would have allowed private security guards to be used on campuses.

“Why not have these individuals at every school in the state to ensure that there will be someone there [to stop shooting incidents]?” Gallagher asked the panel. “We need to have a first line of defense.”

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  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
California Senate leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) is shown in her district office earlier this month.
California Senate leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) is shown in her district office earlier this month. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

As she became the new leader of the California Senate, Toni Atkins used her remarks after taking the oath of office as Senate president pro tem to make a direct promise to change the culture of the statehouse when it comes to workplace behavior.

“True culture change — holding ourselves to a higher standard — requires the active, everyday enlightened participation of every person who works in and around this Capitol,” Atkins (D-San Diego) said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “And I pledge to you, that will be our mission and our mandate.”

Atkins, 55, was elected on a unanimous vote of the Senate to succeed the former leader, Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), who is termed out this fall. She becomes the first person since 1871 to have served both as leader of the Senate and as speaker of the state Assembly.

Attorney general candidates, from left, Steven Bailey, Eric Early and Dave Jones appear at a debate Wednesday.
Attorney general candidates, from left, Steven Bailey, Eric Early and Dave Jones appear at a debate Wednesday. (Patrick McGreevy / Los Angeles Times)

Three candidates challenging California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra in this year’s election criticized the incumbent for skipping a debate Wednesday and also accused him of neglecting other duties they said are needed to protect public safety.

Becerra was appointed to the post more than a year ago by Gov. Jerry Brown to fill a vacancy created when Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate. In running for election in the June primary, Becerra faces challenges from Democratic Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and two Republican attorneys, Steven Bailey and Eric Early.

“The appointed attorney general is absent today,” Jones said. “That’s disappointing, but this is not the first time he has been missing in action.”

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg speaks at an Oculus developers conference in San Jose.
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg speaks at an Oculus developers conference in San Jose. (Glenn Chapman / AFP/Getty Images)

The lead proponent behind a proposed voter measure that would expand online privacy protections for California consumers has a message for Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg: “Put your money where your mouth is.”

In a letter to Zuckerberg, emailed to the social media company and posted on Zuckerberg’s Facebook page, Alastair Mactaggart, chairman of Californians for Consumer Privacy, says he was disappointed to learn Facebook has chosen not to support the privacy ballot campaign — and is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into an attempt to sink privacy advocates’ efforts.

The letter comes as the Federal Trade Commission has opened an investigation into how a data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, accessed the personal data of 50 million Facebook users, without their knowledge, to help elect President Trump.

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A few months before the state Senate confirmed Lucy Dunn’s reappointment to the California Transportation Commission in 2013, she made a political contribution to the president pro tem of the state Senate, whose support was crucial to her staying on the panel.

California Gov. Jerry Brown gave a forceful defense of one of his signature projects Monday night, responding to critics of the escalating costs of the state's high-speed rail program.

"That's bullshit," Brown said, at the outset of a 15-minute speech to California labor leaders at a Sacramento hotel.

Brown said the high-speed rail effort, with a newly escalated cost estimate of $77.3 billion to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco, was a small investment when compared with the scale of the California economy. Other countries such as Spain with much smaller economies, Brown said, have already built major high-speed rail lines.