Newsletter: The California primary is tomorrow. Get ready for a long night (or week!)


Readers of this newsletter will know we’ve been covering election campaigning closely for a long time. But if you’re just tuning in, there are some quick ways to catch up, and learn everything you need to know for Tuesday’s primary.

Start here with our special election page.

Peruse all of our coverage of the race to replace Gov. Jerry Brown.


We have been tracking the money spent in the contest for governor, and found outside groups hoping to help or hurt candidates’ chances have spent $32 million, by far the most ever before a gubernatorial primary. Find out who they are and what they’ve done with their money.

The five state propositions on the primary election ballot are snoozers, but they do make enough sense to deserve passage, George Skelton wrote last week.

Watch our video explainer on how California’s top-two primary could upend Democratic attempts to win back control of the U.S. House.

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The Times Editorial Board (completely separate from the newsroom) issued all of these endorsements for the primary. And in a rare peek behind the curtain, the Editorial Board explained why members weren’t keen on Treasurer John Chiang.



The battle for governor for most of the election has been the tale of two municipal officials. Seema Mehta and Phil Willon examined Antonio Villaraigosa’s and Gavin Newsom’s work as mayors, writing that those periods provide voters with the best glimpse of how they could govern California if elected in November. Their tenure reveals how each responded when faced with the worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression, violent crime, homelessness and calls to improve public education.

Seen by statewide politicians for years as a desert satellite in the outer orbit of Los Angeles, the Inland Empire has become one of most contested electoral prizes, Willon writes.

In the lead-up to Tuesday’s primary, the candidates skittered around the state trying to prod their voters to the polls, persuade the undecided and avoid making a self-inflicted error. Among their stops were African American churches in the Los Angeles area. See the photos.

Front-runner Newsom has seen more than $4 million spent to oppose his campaign in less than a week, Mehta reports. The spending by Villaraigosa allies is part of an effort to make sure the former Los Angeles mayor wins the second spot in the June primary, which is looking questionable based on recent polls suggesting businessman John Cox is in second place.

Before Cox was President Trump’s pick to be California’s next governor, he was a wealthy businessman making his first major foray into Golden State politics by pushing a plan to add thousands of more lawmakers to the Legislature. Melanie Mason explains that Cox pitched the proposal as a way to dampen the influence of money in politics. And while Cox doesn’t talk much now about the initiative--which he has failed to qualify for the ballot five times--the proposal offers insight into how the Republican approaches politics.

Cox brought his campaign for governor to Stockton on Wednesday, attacking Newsom as an “elitist” and highlighting his opposition to the Delta water tunnels project.

As Cox and GOP Assemblyman Travis Allen scramble for votes, there’s one Republican they haven’t won over: former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who announced on Friday that he won’t vote for either of his party’s top candidates.

In some of their last appearances before California’s primary Tuesday, two candidates trailing in the polls stopped in Los Angeles.

Long shot Democratic hopeful Delaine Eastin criticized Brown over children’s education.

And Chiang spoke to parishioners about his faith and why he believes that has prepared him to lead the state.

We’ll have a special election day newsletter Tuesday, but in the meantime you can check our Essential Politics news feed on California politics for the latest. Make sure to sign up for breaking news alerts.


Talk of a wave election that would sweep Democrats back into control of the U.S. House isn’t exclusive to the Orange County battleground districts everyone is watching so closely. With national Democrats playing up their chances, Christine Mai-Duc and Jazmine Ulloa dive in to report on the more than a dozen California Democrats who are attempting to unseat GOP incumbents in districts long considered unwinnable.

Among those with a slim-to-nothing chance is congressional candidate Tatiana Matta, who got some heavy-hitting fundraising help last week for her race against House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

On the other side are the contenders for U.S. Senate who are unlikely to make it past Tuesday. Watch these dark horse candidates.


Expect the unexpected Tuesday, thanks to the oddity of California’s top-two primary system.

Sarah D. Wire has a look at six things that could happen from an incumbent not getting into the top two to a state legislator who resigned amid sexual harassment allegations getting another chance to serve in Sacramento.

A reminder that you can keep up with the final dash on the campaign trail in the moment via our Essential Politics news feed on California politics.


By Wednesday afternoon, we’ll get our first glimpse of how many ballots were uncounted as of election night. Some will see the delay as a sign of government inefficiency. And that would be incorrect.

In his Sunday column, John Myers takes a quick look at the myriad of election laws that make the tabulation of votes stretch out a week or more. In short: It’s all about giving Californians ample chances to have their ballot counted so voting isn’t limited to a 13-hour window on a Tuesday.


The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy — which happened 50 years ago this week — altered California politics and American history, Skelton writes in his Monday column. Today’s grievances are largely abstract, Skelton writes. But in 1968, many more millions were directly feeling the tumult, he says.


-- On Sunday, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani asserted the president probably has authority under the Constitution to pardon himself. He added that Trump will not do so as he fights a special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump obstructed justice. Monday morning, Trump weighed in himself, saying he the “absolute right” to pardon himself.

-- The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. By a 7-2 vote, the majority said he was a victim of religious discrimination.

-- The court also wiped away a lower court ruling that granted abortion access to a teen in the country illegally.

-- Former President Bill Clinton said he would not handle the Monica Lewinsky scandal any differently today, even with #MeToo.

-- Trump’s jobs report tweet broke a protocol designed to prevent giving early hints to investors.

-- Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti tested legal boundaries as his firm maneuvered into bankruptcy.

-- In a sharp rebuke from one of America’s closest allies, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized the White House rationale for imposing punitive trade tariffs on Canada as “insulting and unacceptable,” the latest leader to warn of a looming trade war with the U.S.

-- McCarthy still hasn’t locked down the support he needs to be speaker.

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


-- This week’s California Politics Podcast takes one final look at the races for governor and U.S. Senate.

— Looking ahead, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is planning to attend a high-dollar Beverly Hills fundraiser with Brown to benefit the California Democrats who make it through Tuesday’s House primaries.

-- A former legislative staffer who claimed Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia groped him is appealing the findings of a legislative sexual harassment investigation into her conduct.

-- A campaign to recall a judge for a lenient sentence in a high-profile sexual assault case has fractured long-term friendships, divided the liberal Democratic community of Santa Clara County and pitted feminists against feminists. Voters in Northern California will decide Tuesday whether to recall Judge Aaron Persky, who two years ago sentenced Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail for assaulting a woman who lost consciousness after heavy drinking.

-- Obama administration aides are activating their network to help their former colleagues running for office, including eight candidates in California.

-- California landlords say they’ll support price caps on rent hikes if a big ballot measure that would expand rent control goes away.

-- The Los Angeles Police Department and other law enforcement agencies have failed to properly identify and respond to some hate crimes and need better policies and training so officers can recognize the specific characteristics of those offenses, the state auditor said in a report last week.


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