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  • California in Congress
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
  • U.S. Senate race
(Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein raised $1 million in the final months of 2017 and lent her campaign $5 million, according to a fundraising disclosure filed with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday.

The cash infusions allowed the veteran senator to kick off the year with $9.8 million in the bank.

Feinstein last faced a competitive race in 1994. But she is being challenged this year by a fellow Democrat, state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León. He has not yet disclosed his fundraising efforts to date.

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  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Republicans
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Republican gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen started the year more than $200,000 in debt, according to a fundraising report filed with the California secretary of state’s office on Wednesday.

Allen, a state assemblyman from Huntington Beach, reported raising $447,236 in 2017, with expenditures of $654,602, according to the filing. More than half of those expenses were unpaid, leaving Allen with $135,535 cash in the bank and $342,850 in unpaid bills.

Allen’s GOP rivals in the race have yet to report their fundraising totals for 2017, but he is almost certain to lag behind businessman John Cox, who has contributed $3 million to his own campaign. The other main Republican in the race, former Rep. Doug Ose, entered the race earlier this month and won’t be required to file fundraising reports until the spring.

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  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
Rep. Duncan Hunter speaks to reporters in the Capitol in January 2017.
Rep. Duncan Hunter speaks to reporters in the Capitol in January 2017. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Rep. Duncan Hunter’s reelection campaign could be headed into a tailspin. According to the latest campaign finance reports, Hunter’s campaign is bleeding money.

The Republican from Alpine raised an anemic $50,703 in the last three months of 2017, according to the reports, but spent more than three times that — $178,168 — on legal fees as he battles an FBI investigation into whether he improperly used campaign funds for personal expenses. He started 2018 with just $290,904 in the bank, less than half of what he had stored up a year earlier.

The five-term congressman appears to be losing support within his district. Only one donor listed in Hunter’s year-end report lives inside Hunter’s 50th Congressional District: Molly Sylvester, a local businesswoman who owns a chain of vape shops in San Diego and gave him $2,000. (Hunter is known for vaping during a 2016 committee as he was arguing against a ban on e-cigarettes on planes.) 

Delaine Eastin before the start of a gubernatorial debate at UCLA on Jan. 25.
Delaine Eastin before the start of a gubernatorial debate at UCLA on Jan. 25. (Genaro Molina)

Democratic candidate for governor Delaine Eastin raised just under $660,000 in campaign funds in 2017, a far cry from the sums being raised by her Democratic rivals in the race.

The other major Democrats in the race, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Treasurer John Chiang, have raised millions. Newsom leads the pack, with a haul expected to exceed $20 million. 

Given the amount she’s raised, Eastin’s campaign options are severely limited. Airing a single television ad in the Los Angeles market can run $2 million a week. 

  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo endorsed Antonio Villaraigosa for governor on Wednesday, saying he appreciated his record in elected office and his pragmatic approach.

“I look forward to working with him to narrow California’s economic divide and to build more affordable housing,” Liccardo said.

The men toured housing for homeless veterans in San Jose and held a roundtable about the affordable-housing and homeless crises.

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An array of guns at Markley's gun range in Watsonville, Calif.
An array of guns at Markley's gun range in Watsonville, Calif. (Los Angeles Times file photo)

A state lawmaker wants to mandate a lifetime ban on possessing firearms by some Californians suffering from severe mental health issues, saying it may help reduce the number of suicides.

A bill by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) would apply to some of those judged by the courts to be a risk to themselves and others who are approved for an involuntary 5150 hold for mental health treatment.

Currently, those people have their firearms taken away for five years, but psychiatric facilities often petition afterward for the guns to be returned, Low said.

The engine of a train carrying Republican members of Congress after it collided with a truck.
The engine of a train carrying Republican members of Congress after it collided with a truck. (Courtesy of Rep. Jeff Denham)

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) said passengers didn’t feel the train’s brakes engage before it struck a dumptruck on the tracks.

“We hit the truck going full speed,” Denham said in a phone interview not long after the train taking GOP members of Congress to a Republican retreat in West Virginia collided with the dumptruck.

Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) told The Times he was in his seat toward the back of the train when he felt a jolt. Debris scattered on the tracks outside, and people from nearby homes ran toward the truck and the two people in green laying on the ground.

  • Governor's race
Democratic candidates for California governor Gavin Newsom, left, and Antonio Villaraigosa take part in a NARAL Pro-Choice California event in San Francisco on Jan. 30.
Democratic candidates for California governor Gavin Newsom, left, and Antonio Villaraigosa take part in a NARAL Pro-Choice California event in San Francisco on Jan. 30. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Anyone expecting fireworks at Tuesday night’s gubernatorial debate in San Francisco must have been sorely disappointed.

On the heels of two chippy clashes between the candidates in the last two weeks, the four Democrats on stage for a debate sponsored by the abortion-rights organization NARAL Pro-Choice California agreed on almost every issue. And they played nice.

In fact, the only one who was criticized was Gov. Jerry Brown. All four candidates criticized the governor's veto of a bill last year that would have barred employers from firing workers for having an abortion, or giving birth to a child out of wedlock.

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  • California in Congress
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
Democrat Bryan Caforio, left, speaks in a debate against incumbent Rep. Steve Knight in 2016.
Democrat Bryan Caforio, left, speaks in a debate against incumbent Rep. Steve Knight in 2016. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The winnowing process began this weekend for the dozens of California Democrats vying to take control of Republican-held House seats in the midterm election.

The rank-and-file delegates who make up the state's Democratic Party met last weekend in small groups all over the state to cast early votes for their favorite candidates in House races.

These so-called "pre-endorsement conferences" are the first steps in the process to winning the party's endorsement ahead of June's primary.

  • Governor's race
State Treasurer John Chiang.
State Treasurer John Chiang. (Los Angeles Times)

State Treasurer and Democratic candidate for governor John Chiang on Tuesday announced his office will study whether California should create a state bank to serve California’s newly legalized marijuana industry.

The effort will be coordinated with the state attorney general’s office, with both agencies trying to determine the costs, legal implications and other possible barriers to creating a state-run bank.

The biggest risk may come from Washington. U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions has indicated that the federal government will begin enforcing federal laws banning marijuana in states where cannabis is legal.