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Essential Politics: Here's what 3,000 California Democrats did this weekend

Essential Politics: Here's what 3,000 California Democrats did this weekend
(LAT)

I'm Christina Bellantoni, the Essential Politics host today. Let's get started.

The California Democratic Party convention over the weekend showcased the party's leaders, both seasoned and up-and-coming, as delegates questioned how relevant the June 7 primary might be in the presidential race.

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There's a lot more to that ballot, with the Senate contest between Rep. Loretta Sanchez and Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris getting the most attention atop several hot congressional races.

At the convention, Harris shattered all expectations the party might stay neutral and overwhelmingly captured the official Democratic nod. Team Sanchez was insistent that it was always an uphill climb for her to win the endorsement, and pledged to fight it out and make it to the general election.

For all the excitement in the room, Cathleen Decker writes, the event also exposed a difficult truth for the party in power: the passage of time. The reality is that, as those who built the party into supremacy in the 1990s age out, Democrats are having a hard time attracting newer voters, who are allying themselves with no party at all.

There was plenty of red meat as Democrats consider their strong position in California this fall, with Vice President Joe Biden spending nearly an hour outlining party principles and saying Republicans are "meaner" now than they've ever been.

HUERTA FAMILY GETS RESULTS

Emilio Huerta, one of two Democrats running for Congress against GOP Rep. David Valadao in the Central Valley, devoted his weekend at the convention to drawing enough support to block Daniel Parra from the state party endorsement. Javier Panzar explains how he did it and why it matters in a race Democrats believe they have a chance to win.

Our team was all over the convention, using our latimespolitics Snapchat account and liveblogging. Catch up quick here.

FROM PALMETTO STATE BLOWOUT TO INSULTS ON THE TRAIL

It was quite a weekend in presidential politics, with Hillary Clinton earning 73.5% of the vote in South Carolina thanks to overwhelming support from black voters and both candidates looking to the 11 Democratic contests tomorrow. Decker evaluates what's next for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the contests ahead.

The weekend's action — and low blows — happened mostly on the GOP side. Lisa Mascaro rounded up the jibes and jabs between Sen. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump, before anyone was talking about the size of their rival's hands or the color of their spray tan.

Mark Z. Barabak outlines why Super Tuesday is so important to both parties, and our political team spent some time envisioning both a Trump nomination and a Trump presidency.

Decker detailed the possible Trump down-ticket effect in California. David Lauter, Noah Bierman and Michael Finnegan deliver a detailed look at how Trump might govern should he make it to the White House.

You can keep up with what's happening on the campaign trail all day long on Trail Guide, and don't miss our handy delegate tracker.

WHITMAN UNLOADS ON CHRISTIE

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"An astonishing display of political opportunism." That was Meg Whitman expressing white-hot anger at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — whom she supported and helped raise money for — for backing Trump.

CONGRESSWOMAN VOWS TO STAY IN RACE AFTER STROKE

Rep. Grace Napolitano suffered a mild stroke in February, she disclosed Friday. Panzar talked with her as she pledged to continue with her re-election bid despite facing a challenge from a Democratic Assemblymember.

COURT GIVES BROWN A BOOST AFTER SETBACK

The California Supreme Court on Friday evening allowed Gov. Jerry Brown and his political allies to begin gathering voter signatures for a November ballot measure to revamp prison parole policy, a temporary victory until the justices determine whether state officials properly followed election laws.

The signature-collection work was already getting going at the convention over the weekend.

REFLECTIONS FROM ATKINS

Melanie Mason sat down with outgoing Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins to find out her lessons learned, proudest moments, and what it's really like to work with Brown.

PODCAST: DETACHED CALIFORNIA VOTERS

In addition to an analysis of the governor's new challenges in pushing forward his ballot measure on prison parole, this week's California Politics Podcast takes a closer look at new voter registration data. Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers leads a discussion on what the trend toward voters detached from political parties -- independent voters -- might mean for the state.

Sign up for the weekly podcast here.

TODAY'S ESSENTIALS

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-- Sarah Wire reports that Rep. Mimi Walters is using the ongoing fight over replacing Justice Antonin Scalia in the U.S. Supreme Court in a fundraising pitch Thursday.

"My efforts on Capitol Hill will only continue if I successfully defend my seat in Congress, and with time running out in February, I've just learned from my campaign team that we're more than $3,500 short of our crucial February fundraising goal," she writes.

-- President Obama nominated Judge Lucy Haeran Koh to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. If confirmed, she will be first Korean American woman on an appeals court.

-- Female lawmakers are pressuring Anthony Rendon, the incoming speaker of the Assembly, to put more women in leadership positions.

-- Elections officials traded notes on the best way to boost voter turnout at an event in Los Angeles.

-- Matt Pearce has the back story of political calls to build up a U.S.-Mexico wall.

-- Steve Lopez states the obvious, with a lot of flair: Trump is not popular in the Eastside of Los Angeles.

-- Will Trump release his tax returns?

-- Trump was questioned about Mussolini and the KKK following a Gawker prank and a violent outbreak at a KKK rally in Anaheim over the weekend.

-- We've got the details of the Trump University lawsuit.

LOGISTICS

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