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  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election

This morning Californians will see the first clash between six of California’s top candidates for governor, with front-runner Gavin Newsom expected to take the brunt of the attacks on the debate stage at USC.
 
Newsom leads in the polls and, by a wide margin, in fundraising, which could mean that the rest of the field will be battling for second place in the June primary.
 
But in California, second place is good enough. Under the state’s top-two primary system, only the two candidates who receive the most votes in June will win a ticket to the November general election.
 
Until now, voters have had only a few small tastes of the candidates going after one another on stage.
 
During a candidate forum in October between the top four Democrats in the race, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa accused Newsom of “selling snake oil” when he promised to support a state-sponsored single-payer healthcare system, but didn’t say how he would pay for it.
 
Newsom brushed off the charge, saying he proved it could be done while he was mayor of San Francisco, when the city enacted the nation’s first municipal universal healthcare system.
 
Republican candidates John Cox and Travis Allen also went after each other during the first GOP debate, in the Inland Empire earlier this month, with the sharpest and most frequent barbs traded over their support — or lack of it — for President Trump.
 
The newest Republican to join the race, former Sacramento Republican Doug Ose, was not invited to the USC town hall — and he wasn’t not too happy about it
 
With six candidates on stage and only 90 minutes to carve out their political positions, the town hall is expected to serve as a display of each candidate’s style, demeanor and political reflexes rather than a showing off the depth of their knowledge of the issues facing California.
 
The candidate town hall is being hosted by USC, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Empowerment Congress, a nonprofit civil organization in Los Angeles.
 
KABC-TV news anchor Marc Brown will moderate the debate along with KPCC-FM public radio political reporter Mary Plummer.

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  • Governor's race
  • California Democrats
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An East County congressional candidate is calling for a lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis after a Tel Aviv newspaper published a story about his grandfather's ties to a terrorist group.

Ammar Campa-Najjar, 28, of Jamul, says he never met his grandfather, Muhammad Yusuf al-Najjar, who died in 1973.

  • Congressional races
  • California in Congress
  • 2018 election
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa)
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former Trump campaign aide Richard W. Gates III is expected to plead guilty today to conspiracy and lying about a 2013 Ukraine-related meeting between his former business partner Paul Manafort, a lobbyist and California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa).

The meeting became public in the summer when Manafort belatedly filed a disclosure form for his work as a foreign agent on behalf of Ukraine. Rohrabacher at the time called it a “nice little dinner” and said that Russia and the Baltic states probably came up, but it wasn't the focus of their conversation.

Three days after the dinner, Manafort contributed $1,000 to Rohrabacher's reelection campaign. Gates was Manafort's deputy on the campaign and continued to serve as a senior advisor through Trump's inauguration. He is expected to testify against Manafort if his case goes to trial.

Top from left, Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa and John Chiang. Lower from left, Delaine Eastin, Dianne Feinstein and Kevin de León.
Top from left, Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa and John Chiang. Lower from left, Delaine Eastin, Dianne Feinstein and Kevin de León. (Los Angeles Times)

Thousands of California Democrats are gathering in San Diego today for their annual convention, where potential presidential contenders will make appearances and state candidates will battle for endorsements from the party faithful in advance of the June primary.

Here’s what you need to know:

How many endorsements are up for grabs?

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  • Governor's race

The Asian American Small Business PAC launched a broadside attack against Gavin Newsom’s campaign for governor with a website and digital ad accusing him of having inappropriate relationships and a history of violating the “public trust.”

The ad tries to draw a parallel between Newsom’s past and the “epidemic of sexual misconduct” in the White House and Sacramento.

Titled “You Don’t Know Gavin,” the ad and website focus on the 2005 relationship Newsom had with his then-appointments secretary and the wife of a top aide, Ruby Rippey Gibney, while he was serving as mayor of San Francisco and going through a divorce.

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