Welcome to a special Tuesday edition of Essential Politics.
As people in the political business are fond of saying, the only poll that matters is the one taken on election day, so it’s very exciting that it has formally arrived. Of course, people have been voting for nearly a month, and it might take the rest of the week — or more — to count votes, but you get the idea.
If you have election-related news tips for The Times, drop us a line and we’ll check things out.
THE LAST DASH
Gubernatorial front-runner Gavin Newsom said he felt confident about his chances, but was taking nothing for granted as he greeted voters at a diner in Inglewood on Monday.
Republican candidate for governor John Cox expressed similar confidence, and predicted he’d face Newsom in November.
"I’m energized and if the polls are right, I’m going to get the chance to make my case to the voters that Gavin Newsom is going to raise your taxes," Cox said in an interview after greeting GOP voters at a luncheon in San Diego.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa, while campaigning in San Pedro and Los Angeles, acknowledged that his fate in the election rests on high turnout among his bases of support, including Latinos and Los Angeles voters. Both groups tend to vote in low numbers in primary elections, and far below voters in the Bay Area, a major base of support for Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco.
Here’s a look at the final day on the campaign trail, from Seema Mehta and Phil Willon.
John Chiang and Delaine Eastin, making a pitch to female voters in one of the last campaign stops, framed their candidacies as having a larger symbolic meaning.
The other major statewide contest has gotten less attention, in part because Sen. Dianne Feinstein is widely expected to take first place in California’s U.S. Senate primary. That leaves the main battle to be over who will join her on the November ballot.
Christine Mai-Duc previews the critical congressional contests, and how Democrats could be shut out of the fall election in a handful of races.
CALIFORNIA’S VOTING FUTURE BEGINS NOW
In five counties, the most important change to California elections in a long time comes to a conclusion today. Those communities have implemented what’s called the California Voter’s Choice Act, which trades polling places for a smaller number of all-purpose vote centers. And it means mailed ballots to every voter.
John Myers writes that how the system fares will go a long way to determining how many more counties switch over to it in 2020.
He also detailed five important voting rules for the primary.
BIG SPENDING IN CROWDED HOUSE RACES
California’s competitive crowded House races are getting pricey — more than $108 million has been spent so far this cycle to help elect candidates to Congress, double what was spent at roughly this point in the 2016 election cycle.
Why is 2018 so much more expensive than the last election? Javier Panzar reports that more political actors — wealthy candidates, committees, parties — are spending more money earlier than they have in previous cycles. That’s largely in an effort to game the system, which advances the two highest vote-getters to the general election regardless of their party.
YOUR DIGITAL VOTING GUIDE
Here’s a quick primer on everything you need to know for Tuesday’s primary. Read it while you’re waiting to vote!
Looking for a cheat sheet of which returns to track for a sense of California politics at this moment? We’ve got you covered.
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.
Learn about the five state propositions on the primary ballot.
Watch our video explainer on how California’s top-two primary could upend Democratic attempts to win back control of the U.S. House.
The Times Editorial Board (completely separate from the newsroom) issued all of these endorsements for the primary.
AN ESSENTIAL LIGHTNING ROUND
-- Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team has accused Paul Manafort of witness tampering.
-- President Trump uninvited the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles from visiting the White House.
-- Just days after the chairwoman of California’s campaign watchdog agency abruptly quit, an internal power struggle came to a head Monday with its governing board restructuring itself to transfer powers from the chairperson to other members.
Get the latest about what’s happening in the nation’s capital on Essential Washington.
Essential Politics is normally published Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
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