Newsletter: Watch these congressional races in November
The week’s biggest story is happening on the other side of the globe.
On the eve of a historic meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dangled new security concessions while publicly downplaying expectations that the nuclear summit will lead to anything beyond future talks. Find our full coverage of the summit here.
In California, elections officials are still counting votes. Several contests remain uncalled, and everyone is ready to move toward the general election.
THE BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE
Now that Democrats have breathed their collective sigh of relief about not getting locked out of key House districts where they’re hoping to build their majority, they’ll have to pivot to how they can oust tough GOP incumbents and capture California’s two open seats. Christine Mai-Duc and Jazmine Ulloa size up the match-ups and money in the key House districts.
Last week we updated our rankings of the toughest fights ahead. Subscribers of the Essential Politics newsletter on Friday were the first to learn what changed.
In case you missed it, a few races, including the one in retiring Rep. Darrell Issa’s coastal district, have moved up the list. See the most competitive match-ups.
CALIFORNIA’S NEXT LEADER
When Antonio Villaraigosa was elected mayor of Los Angeles, it signaled the growing clout of California’s Latino voters as well as the rise of a Democrat whose charisma and ambition could take him to loftier perches. More than a decade later, his long-stated dreams of leading the state ended Tuesday in a third-place primary finish despite $32 million spent by Villaraigosa’s campaign and outside groups. Seema Mehta and Phil Willon examine how Democratic rival Gavin Newsom badly beat the former L.A. mayor on his home turf, and Republican businessman John Cox trounced him for the second spot on the November ballot.
The match-up between Newsom and Cox in the governor’s race promises to be a broadly partisan battle over competing visions on California’s future, Melanie Mason writes. The top policy issues will likely be the push to repeal the gas tax hike and debates over the state’s high cost of living. But above all, a polarizing Trump and opposition to his policies in California are certain to seep into the race.
Newsom and Trump were quite a tag team, Skelton wrote in his Thursday column, arguing that the bizarre-but-effective, narrow coalition helped elevate Cox to the November general election.
Get to know the candidates for governor.
-- Kevin de León lost his own state Senate district in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate primary.
-- While we now know that a Democrat will take on GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in the fall, it’s still not clear which one. Just 87 votes separated Harley Rouda and Hans Keirstead as of Saturday, and that is something of a strategic failure for national Democrats who had explicitly backed Rouda.
-- The decision by voters Tuesday to remove an Orange County state senator targeted for raising the state’s gas tax could be a harbinger for the fall campaign when critics of the tax hike push their repeal effort to the statewide ballot, Patrick McGreevy writes. Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), who was midway through his four-year term, was recalled from office Tuesday by 59.5% of the voters in his district, which includes parts of Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.
-- As the fastest-growing electorate, Latinos have vastly reshaped California politics and will hold increasing sway over coming elections as sophisticated voters supporting the candidates who share their values and party affiliation, regardless of heritage. The population is not meeting its potential as a force and both parties have failed to connect with the community. Jazmine Ulloa reports from Kings County, about groups attempting to activate Latinos into voters.
Among the other headlines from last week:
-- Former Fleetwood Mac lead guitarist Lindsey Buckingham will perform at a Los Angeles fundraiser for Democratic congressional candidates.
-- Obama administration alumni rallied to help their former colleagues running in a number of races across the country. Seven such candidates were on the California ballot. Three prevailed.
-- Skelton says the top-two system is vulnerable to manipulation by the candidates, and if it still isn’t working the way it was intended two elections from now, California should get rid of it.
THE CURIOUS CASE OF TWO RACES FOR THE SAME POST IN SACRAMENTO
Voters in portions of Los Angeles and Orange counties were faced with a unique task on election day: fill the remaining months on a term in the state Senate and also choose their favorite candidate for the job’s brand new term that begins in December.
As John Myers wrote in his weekend column, different Democrats are poised to advance -- and the only obvious explanation is that the names were in a different order in each, even though the contests were listed one after the other on the ballot, featuring the exact same candidates.
BUDGET DEAL HAS HOMELESSNESS FUNDING
As California’s homeless population has swelled in recent years, lawmakers and local government officials have pushed the state to do more.
The budget agreement reached Friday between Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders includes $600 million for homelessness programs, an increase of $250 million from what Brown had proposed in May, Liam Dillon and Myers report.
NEW CHARGES FOR MANAFORT
Paul Manafort is facing yet another indictment from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. This time, Manafort and a business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, have been charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice in connection with alleged tampering with potential witnesses. If a judge decides that Manafort violated the terms of his bail, he could be sent to jail while awaiting trial.
NATIONAL POLITICS LIGHTNING ROUND
-- A sharply divided Supreme Court ruled Monday on a case from Ohio, finding that states may remove people from voting rolls who did not cast a ballot in one election and failed to respond to notices. Here’s a quick primer on what the court has left on its agenda this year, including gerrymandering, unions, gay rights, abortion and Trump’s travel ban.
-- Mark Z. Barabak writes that Obamacare used to be political poison for Democrats, and now they see it as a winning prescription — even in red states.
-- GOP immigration talks stalled, and moderates stepped up the pressure for a House vote.
-- This week, the Supreme Court is being asked to shield a deputy from Sonoma County from being sued by the parents of a slain boy on the grounds that no law “squarely governs” this situation and would have alerted the officer that shooting the teenager on the sidewalk amounted to the use of “excessive force.”
-- Trump said he likely will support a congressional effort to end the federal ban on marijuana, a major step that would reshape the pot industry and end the threat of a Justice Department crackdown, putting him sharply at odds with Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions.
Get the latest about what’s happening in the nation’s capital on Essential Washington.
-- This week’s California Politics Podcast features some key takeaways from last week’s results in the races for governor and U.S. Senate.
-- The latest California housing crisis podcast breaks down what the gubernatorial primary means for housing politics in the state.
-- Sen. Robert F. Kennedy had just won the California primary. Minutes later, he was shot. Colleen Shalby reports on 50 years after his death, the L.A. Times reporter who was there, a deputy sheriff who worked at the Hall of Justice where the killer was held and a former Kennedy staffer looked back.
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