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Politics

Newsletter: Your guide to California’s primary election in one week

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Essential Politics
(LAT)

One week from now, California voters — some of them, at least — will choose their favorite candidates for governor, seven statewide offices, five propositions, legislative races and the critical congressional seats that this fall will determine which party controls the U.S. House.

The Los Angeles Times Politics team has a whole bunch of stuff that will help you learn more about these contests, the people in them and the issues driving Californians to the polls this year.

And below, you’ll find a quick roundup of some of the major storylines in the closing days.

THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR

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An unprecedented amount of money from wealthy donors, unions and corporations is flowing into the California governor’s race, giving independent groups — unrestricted by contribution limits — a greater say in picking the state’s chief executive than ever before, report Seema Mehta and Ryan Menezes.

The groups already have spent more than $26 million through Thursday, the most ever spent by non-candidate committees in a gubernatorial primary, according to a Times analysis of campaign finance reports.

That’s in addition to the $40.8 million the candidates have spent on their own campaigns, and the millions they will spend in the next week, Mehta and Phil Willon report.

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As polls continue to show a fight for second place between Democratic former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Republican businessman John Cox, Villaraigosa received a fundraising boost from 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman. He also returned to his roots with campaign stops in Boyle Heights.

Cox, meanwhile, extended his boost from President Trump’s endorsement. Trump’s daughter-in-law appeared in a Facebook video that has been viewed more than a quarter-million times and the campaign plans to launch a television ad touting the endorsement in a bid to consolidate the Republican vote.

Villaraigosa’s campaign filed a complaint against an independent political committee supporting Democratic rival Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, alleging that the committee failed to disclose its efforts to help Cox, the top Republican in the race.

Patrick McGreevy takes a look at Assemblyman Travis Allen, and how the Republican backbencher hopes to ride a wave of taxpayer anger into the California governor’s office.

NOT LOOKING LIKE THE YEAR OF THE WOMAN IN CALIFORNIA

Primaries across the country so far have indicated there’s an enthusiasm building for female candidates. Some are calling it the new “Year of the Woman,” with the potential for historic gains akin to those seen in 1992, when record numbers of women were elected to the U.S. House and Senate.

Christine Mai-Duc reports that in California, crowded candidate fields and complications related to the state’s top-two primary system are making it harder for top female candidates to break through, especially on the Democratic side.

RUNNING FOR REELECTION AFTER ‘ME TOO’

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Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia coasted to reelection in 2016, but this year, it’s a tougher battle, thanks to complaints about her behavior and an aggressive opposition campaign by outside interest groups.

Garcia was found to have used vulgar language at work in an Assembly investigation— a complaint alleging groping was not substantiated — and made her return to the Capitol last week after a three-month leave.

Javier Panzar and Melanie Mason report on her well-funded detractors and dampened power in the Capitol.

CHASING FEINSTEIN, AIMING FOR SECOND PLACE

John Myers introduces voters to the political career and Senate campaign of Kevin de León, the man taking on Sen. Dianne Feinstein and pushing her to the left.

A reminder you can keep up with these races in the moment via our Essential Politics news feed on California politics, and make sure to sign up for breaking news alerts.

REMAINDERS FROM THE USC/LAT POLL

If you missed any of the stories from the new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times statewide poll, here’s a quick recap. The gubernatorial race is all tied up for second place.

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A majority of California voters want to repeal increases to the state’s gas tax and vehicle fees and also back a potential 2020 ballot measure that would increase property taxes on businesses.

Californians still support the concept of a bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco, but after months of troubling disclosures about the project’s cost and schedule, just 31% of voters across the state want to keep building it.

California’s free-for-all top-two primaries may have left things unsettled, but voters told pollsters they don’t want to go back to the old ways.

I hosted a Facebook Live discussion with Bob Shrum and Jill Darling about the poll. Watch that here.

THE LATEST ON THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

For more than a year, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) has been one of Trump’s most reliable defenders in Congress. As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, he’s drawn criticism for spending more energy probing the Russia investigation itself rather than questions about Trump’s involvement with Russia.

His efforts led last week to two unusual meetings with Justice Department officials as Republicans try to uncover information about the use of a confidential informant during the early days of the Russia probe during the 2016 campaign.

Even as Trump reached a critical moment in his diplomatic efforts with North Korea and celebrated the release of a prisoner from Venezuela, the president spent much of Memorial Day weekend tweeting angrily from the White House about the media and the Russia investigation, continuing his strategy of trying to delegitimize the probe that has consumed him since his election.

NATIONAL POLITICS LIGHTNING ROUND

-- A top North Korean official is heading to New York for talks on an upcoming summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

-- Trump accused the New York Times of inventing a source for a story who, in fact, was a White House official conducting a briefing for reporters under the condition that the official not be named.

-- The EPA used disavowed research to justify putting dirtier trucks on the road, and California is fighting back.

-- Moderate Republicans pushing for an immigration vote gave GOP leaders until June 7 to reach a deal.

-- Announcing he is struggling with alcoholism and amid stories that suggested he mistreated his staff, GOP Rep. Tom Garrett said Monday he will abandon his run for a second term in Congress. Democrats believe the move could help them win the sometimes-swing seat in Southside Virginia.

-- As it heads into the final month of the session, the Supreme Court will issue decisions on gerrymandering, unions, gay rights, abortion and Trump’s travel ban.

-- President George H.W. Bush was experiencing low blood pressure and was hospitalized over the weekend.

-- Trump nominated a staunch anti-immigration activist to head the State Department agency that oversees refugee and immigration issues.

Get the latest about what’s happening in the nation’s capital on Essential Washington.

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

-- A high-profile bill to impose price caps for doctor’s visits, hospital stays and other medical services died Friday in Sacramento, but backers vow they’ll be back next year.

— George Skelton argues you should vote for the five state propositions on the primary election ballot.

-- Kaiser Health News examines the race to be California’s next insurance commissioner, a job with broad authority over policies that cover homes, businesses, cars and even airplanes.

-- California lawmakers are seeking to waive taxes for medical marijuana given to indigent patients. But they shelved a proposal to reduce pot tax rates in an effort to help licensed businesses compete with the black market. The sidelining of the proposal came a week after a report found pot tax revenue is far below projections.

-- Wednesday was Stormy Daniels Day in West Hollywood, and government leaders presented her with a key to the city.

LOGISTICS

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