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  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
GOP Reps. Darrell Issa, Mimi Walters, Ed Royce and Dana Rohrabacher represent Orange County districts Democrats are targeting.
GOP Reps. Darrell Issa, Mimi Walters, Ed Royce and Dana Rohrabacher represent Orange County districts Democrats are targeting. (Los Angeles Times, Roll Call, Associated Press, Getty Images)

Democrats have a few problems to sweat over in this year’s midterm elections: winnowing their vast fields of candidates and navigating California’s top-two primary system, to name a couple. 

But in Orange County, a key battleground as they attempt to take back the House, money doesn’t seem to be one of them.

Incumbents in all four Orange County districts held by Republicans raised less money than some of their challengers in the last quarter of 2017. The reports cover fundraising through Dec. 31, before Reps. Ed Royce of Fullerton and Darrell Issa of Vista announced they were bowing out. Their seats are two of the likeliest to flip to Democrats in November.

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Gov. Jerry Brown has earmarked $117 million in his new state budget to expand the number of treatment beds and mental health programs for more than 800 mentally ill inmates found incompetent to stand trial.

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(For The Times)

Citing limited options for raising local taxes, the association representing hundreds of California cities warned that rising public employee pension costs might mean fewer services and longer emergency response times over the next several years.

“These pressures are not only mounting, but will force cities to make very tough choices in the next seven years and beyond,” said Carolyn Coleman, executive director of the League of California Cities.

The organization Thursday released a new analysis showing that 16% of the general fund budget in an average large city will go toward pension payments in just seven years’ time — close to double the percentage paid for those retirement stipends as of mid-2007.

State Treasurer John Chiang
State Treasurer John Chiang (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

State Treasurer John Chiang criticized Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for his stance on single-payer healthcare Thursday, saying his chief rival in the governor's race has flip-flopped on the issue.

Chiang and fellow Democratic candidate Antonio Villaraigosa have expressed concerns about the cost of establishing a state-sponsored universal healthcare program, which could run from $330 billion to $400 billion a year depending on various estimates.

Newsom has been a strong advocate for the idea, saying California needs a governor who isn’t afraid to take bold action. But Chiang, speaking to the Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco on Thursday, accused Newsom of changing his tune.

Gov. Jerry Brown signs housing legislation in Sept. 2017 in San Francisco.
Gov. Jerry Brown signs housing legislation in Sept. 2017 in San Francisco. (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

Almost every city and county in California will have to streamline its rules for approving new housing following the passage of legislation last year, the state Department of Housing and Community Development said Thursday.

Every eight years, local governments receive targets from the state for new housing production in an effort to keep pace with population growth. But those targets have long been ignored with little consequence even as the state’s housing shortage has fueled record-high costs.

Senate Bill 35, passed as part of a package of housing legislation in 2017, requires cities that have fallen behind on their goals to make it easier to permit new construction. Under the bill, cities and counties must approve housing projects without delay if the proposals match a city’s underlying zoning rules. For example, the bill will fast-track 50 condominiums proposed on land now zoned for that amount of housing, but won’t if the proposal is for more than that.

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Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) agreed to extend his leave of absence up to 60 days on Thursday.
Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) agreed to extend his leave of absence up to 60 days on Thursday. (Steve Yeater / Associated Press)

Under investigation for sexual harassment allegations, state Sen. Tony Mendoza avoided a showdown with Democratic leaders Thursday by agreeing to abide by an extension of his leave of absence for up to 60 days — even though he complained the Senate Rules Committee acted prematurely.

Meanwhile, Rio Hondo College Trustee Vicky Santana of Whittier on Thursday became the second Democrat to take out candidacy  papers for a possible challenge to Mendoza’s re-election campaign in the June primary.

Mendoza had originally agreed to a leave of absence that would have ended Thursday, but he stayed away from the Senate floor session.

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
(Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

For the second period in a row, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s fundraising has lagged behind that of his Democratic challengers in the hotly contested race for his 48th Congressional District.

The 15-term Republican reported raising $271,969 in the last three months of 2017 and ended the year with $713,144 cash on hand.

That’s significantly less than opponents Hans Keirstead and Harley Rouda, both Democrats, have reported raising. But much of the money raised by Rohrabacher’s challengers has come from their personal wealth.

  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
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  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
Rep. Steve Knight (R-Lancaster) walks past protesters as he leaves a town hall meeting.
Rep. Steve Knight (R-Lancaster) walks past protesters as he leaves a town hall meeting. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Democratic challenger Katie Hill narrowly out-raised Republican Rep. Steve Knight in the last three months of 2017, with another Democrat close on her heels in fundraising for the Antelope Valley area district.

Hill reported raising $252,351 in the final months of the year, positioning her to start 2018 with $382,848 in the bank.

Second-term lawmaker Knight, of Palmdale, lagged slightly behind, raising $240,244. He has an existing war chest from previous campaigns and still holds a fairly large lead with $794,748 in cash on hand.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Gina Ferazzi)

Democratic candidate for California governor Gavin Newsom leads the field in campaign fundraising — by a wide margin.

The lieutenant governor started the year with more than $16 million socked away in his campaign war chest, compared to just under $6 million each for his top two Democratic rivals, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Treasurer John Chiang.

Those figures were made public on Wednesday when state candidates were required to file their campaign reports for the second half of 2017.