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John Myers and Melanie Mason will be with me in this live chat over here as we watch the debate and provide real-time commentary and analysis.

And for more coverage like that, make sure to sign up for our free Essential Politics newsletter.

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  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Republicans
  • California Democrats
Top L-R: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, Treasurer John Chiang. Bottom L-R: Delaine Eastin, Assemblyman Travis Allen, John Cox.
Top L-R: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, Treasurer John Chiang. Bottom L-R: Delaine Eastin, Assemblyman Travis Allen, John Cox.

With California’s 2018 race for governor barreling toward the June 5 primary, Tuesday night’s televised debate in San Jose is primed to be the most contentious and consequential face-off of the campaign. (Watch live here.)

Here’s what to watch for:

The fight for second place

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Chuck Todd appears on ‘Meet the Press’ in Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 6, 2018.
Chuck Todd appears on ‘Meet the Press’ in Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 6, 2018. (William B. Plowman/NBC NewsWire)

If NBC’s Chuck Todd does it right, the headlines following the gubernatorial debate Tuesday night won’t be about his job as the moderator, but instead about how the candidates illustrated their differences for voters.

Not such an easy task when six people who want to be California’s next governor take the stage — especially since they are from two different parties.

But such is life thanks to California’s top-two primary, and a jump ball for who might take the second spot on June 5.

George Deukmejian, a perennially popular two-term Republican governor of California who built his career on fighting crime, hardening the state's criminal justice stance and shoring up its leaky finances, died on Tuesday. He was 89 years old.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates, from left, John Chiang, Delaine Eastin, Antonio Villaraigosa and Gavin Newsom.
Democratic gubernatorial candidates, from left, John Chiang, Delaine Eastin, Antonio Villaraigosa and Gavin Newsom. (Hayne Palmour IV)

Five men and one woman running to be the next governor of California take the stage Tuesday night to make their case just as voters start to cast ballots by mail.

The Times will have full coverage in this space, and you’ll be able to watch the debate with us here

The debate, moderated by NBC’s Chuck Todd and co-hosted by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, begins at 6:30 p.m. It is scheduled to last 90 minutes.

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  • California Legislature
Shant Damirdjian, left, assists customers at Cookies Los Angeles, which sells recreational marijuana under Proposition 64.
Shant Damirdjian, left, assists customers at Cookies Los Angeles, which sells recreational marijuana under Proposition 64. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Money collected through California’s marijuana taxes may fall short of the $175 million budgeted for the first six months of this year. The less-than-expected haul could force the Legislature to shelve a bill that would reduce the excise tax on pot from 15% to 11%, state officials warned Tuesday.

For the first three months of the year, the state collected $34 million in state excise taxes on cannabis. If the trend continues, revenue will be less than half of what was anticipated for the first six months, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

“We’re not seeing the numbers” expected, said Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), chairman of the Assembly Business and Professions Committee. Tax revenue, he added is “woefully below the projections.”

  • U.S. Senate race

A week after voting with fellow Democrats to raise California’s gas tax, state Sen. Josh Newman was vacationing with his wife on a Caribbean island when he saw a news alert on his phone that said Republicans were targeting a lawmaker for recall over the action.

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  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Republicans
  • California Democrats

Gavin Newsom’s campaign on Monday released a television ad that focuses on gun control and features former Rep. Gabby Giffords, the survivor of an assassination attempt, and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly.

It’s the first time the couple, who became notable gun-control advocates after the mass shooting in which Giffords was shot in the head, have appeared in a television ad this election cycle.

“Our country is at a crossroads,” Kelly says in the 30-second ad, which shows footage of young people protesting after the deadly shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school. “Our children are demanding we stop America’s gun violence epidemic.”

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
(Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will begin airing ads in one Orange County congressional district on Tuesday, signaling it’s ready to take a more active role in one of the most competitive open House seats in the country.

According to two media buying sources, the committee is spending nearly $300,000 on cable TV ads, its first to air in any district this midterm season.

In two separate ads, which also include radio buys, the DCCC attacks the records of Republican candidates Bob Huff, a former state senator, and Shawn Nelson, who currently serves on the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Both are vying for a chance to replace retiring GOP Rep. Ed Royce in a crowded race with 17 candidates on the ballot.