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Newsletter: Essential Politics: California Democrats certify Sanders delegates to convention

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(LAT)

I’m Christina Bellantoni, and this is Essential Politics. Here we go.

It might be two weeks after the California primary, but the Golden State is still making political news.

California Democrats gathered Sunday in Long Beach to certify delegates attending next month’s Democratic National Convention. More than 200 delegates for Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has transitioned to a new phase of his campaign that is more about defeating Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton, are headed to Philadelphia. California’s group makes up more than 10% of Sanders’ delegation, Seema Mehta reports.

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The group already showed its clout in California, pushing a resolution the party passed unanimously on Sunday urging the DNC to overhaul the presidential nominating process for the 2020 race, including reducing the number of superdelegates.

The California resolution calls for Democratic governors and members of Congress to lose their status as superdelegates and instead attend the nominating convention as nonvoting guests. Members of the Democratic National Committee would remain superdelegates, but would be required to vote for the candidate who won their constituency. The resolution also calls for replacing all state caucuses with state primaries.

The move has no official power, but is a symbolic statement from the largest state Democratic party in the nation. California Democrats also pushed — again — to change the primary election calendar and shift focus away from the tiny, homogenous states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

And there’s still news to be had from the primary itself — with the still-being-tallied results revealing surprising bright spots for Republicans in California, Cathleen Decker writes.

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BIDEN TO ENGAGE TRUMP

Vice President Joe Biden will step into the campaign fray Monday with a foreign policy address that casts Trump’s approach to the world as antithetical to American values, Mike Memoli reports.

The vice president will speak to the Center for New American Security and defend the Obama administration’s foreign policy record.

We’ll cover the speech — and everything else happening on the campaign trail — on Trail Guide. Make sure you’re following @latimespolitics for breaking news.

THE VEEPSTAKES

The shortlist is short — Newt Gingrich and Jeff Sessions — and we aren’t likely to know whom Trump has chosen as his running mate until about one month from now. As Mark Z. Barabak reports, ever the showman, Trump has said he would reveal his choice at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, adding a little zing to what is typically four days of scripted pablum.

Barabak writes, "[T]here already is no small amount of drama surrounding his selection, beyond even the usual guessing that attends a candidate’s pick for the man, or woman, who may be a proverbial heartbeat away from the presidency. It is an article of faith that the naming of a No. 2 is one of the crucial moments of a presidential campaign, cracking a window into candidates’ judgment and the decision-making style they might bring to the White House.”

VOTERS WILL CONSIDER REPEALING THE DEATH PENALTY IN NOVEMBER

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A statewide measure to repeal California’s death penalty qualified Friday for the Nov. 8 ballot, with elections officials determining its backers had gathered more than enough voter signatures. This will be the second time in recent years that voters have considered a repeal, rejecting an effort in 2012.

The initiative’s author is Mike Farrell, the actor who rose to fame as B.J. Honeycutt on the television series “MASH.”

At its meeting this weekend, the California Democratic Party voted to support the death penalty measure and a ballot initiative to legalize pot, Phil Willon reports.

The only mild surprise was the party’s decision to take no position on an initiative to bar the state from paying more for prescription drugs than the cost negotiated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Drug companies have mounted an aggressive opposition campaign to the measure.

We’ll be watching the rest of the initiatives as they qualify — or don’t — for the Nov. 8 ballot, so keep an eye on our Essential Politics news feed.

STATE BUDGET WORK GOES ON AS GRIDLOCK BECOMES A THING OF THE PAST

Lawmakers in Sacramento passed the main budget bill last week by their constitutional deadline, but there are a series of related bills that remain works in progress. Even so, some of the biggest items talked about this year won’t be in any of the bills. We’ve put together a list of the big items completed as well as those left undone.

Meantime, it’s worth noting what is different now in Sacramento: Long summer stalemates over the budget are a thing of the past. As John Myers explains, it’s voters who deserve the credit as much as politicians. Two successive ballot measures -- one on budget rules, another to impose temporary taxes -- are what changed everything.

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DREAMING BIG

Why is Gary Johnson focusing his energy on Utah? Reporting from Provo, Melanie Mason explores how the Libertarian presidential nominee hopes to capitalize on the revulsion against Trump felt by many conservative Mormons. Winning the state, or even getting a significant share of the vote, will hardly be easy for the Libertarians.

The very fact that they’re being seriously discussed — Mitt Romney, who remains a highly popular figure here, recently said he would not rule out voting for the party — has Libertarian activists dreaming big, Mason writes.

A TAXING QUESTION

In his Monday column George Skelton lists all the ways California legislators could reform the tax system — from adding a sales tax to Dodgers tickets to taxing tax the services of agents for athletes, movie stars and other entertainers. But they won’t, he writes, because most politicians are cowards on the subject.

PODCAST: OF BUDGETS AND BULLETS

This week’s California Politics Podcast takes a closer look at the new state budget deal and how liberal Democrats won some of the items they hadn’t been able to get in years past. The conversation also went over last week’s emotional debate in a committee hearing over gun control proposals.

WELCOME, JAZMINE ULLOA!

Our Sacramento bureau is expanding today, with Jazmine Ulloa getting started as a reporter covering politics and policy in state government.

Ulloa, who comes to The Times from the Austin American-Statesman, also will be contributing to coverage of the November election with a focus on ballot measures.

At the American-Statesman, Ulloa has been covering state and federal courts, criminal justice and cybersecurity. She also has written for the Boston Globe as well as the Texas Monthly and Texas Observer. She previously worked for the San Antonio Express-News and the Brownsville Herald.

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

-- California’s new motor voter law, due to be implemented next year, could add more than 2 million voters to the rolls in its first year, says a new study from the PPIC. The new law could also help diversify the state’s electorate, bringing in more Latinos, young people and lower-income voters, the study says. But it all depends on how successful the law’s rollout will be.

-- A Santa Cruz woman convinced a judge to switch her voter registration, after the June 7 primary, and count her vote for Sanders. She said she had mistakenly registered with the American Independent Party, similar to our April investigation that showed widespread AIP voter confusion.

-- The November election is still months away, but the ad wars already are heating up over Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed ballot initiative to strengthen state gun laws. Proponents released an online-only video focused on the recent mass shooting that left 49 dead at an Orlando nightclub and other deadly gun-related rampages. A coalition of gun rights groups also have produced videos warning that imposing the proposed gun law would put lives at risk.

-- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says there’s nothing to those vice presidential rumors he could be named as Clinton’s running mate.

-- Wondering what that bizarre Japanese Trump ad was all about? Dexter Thomas breaks it down.

-- Don’t miss the detailed look at how Trump has dealt with Native American tribes over the years from Joe Tanfani and Noah Bierman.

-- Clinton ad spending: $23 million. Trump ad spending: $0.

-- Chelsea Clinton had her second child over the weekend.

-- Check out our Electoral College map.

LOGISTICS

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