Newsletter: Essential Politics: Ringing in the Rendon era


Today ushers in a new and potentially decisive era in political power here in California’s capital city.

Good morning, I’m Sacramento bureau chief John Myers and today’s newsletter begins with the numbers 70, 1990 and 8.

Each relate to the ascendancy of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount), who took the oath of office Monday afternoon. An all-star group of California’s most powerful politicians were on hand, including Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris.


Rendon made special note of his working class roots and those of his wife. And as Liam Dillon reports, Rendon laid out three big policy goals — most notably a focus on poverty — and later leader mused a bit on what his arrival means for the evolution of political power in Sacramento.

Now, about those three numbers.

70: Rendon is the 70th speaker of the Assembly, a line of leaders dating back to the Gold Rush. Most of them served in California’s first six decades as a state, when longevity in the job was rare.

1990: This was the year voters imposed legislative term limits with a six-year cap on service in the Assembly. One third of all Assembly speakers have served since these original term limits were imposed. Voters loosened term limits in 2012 and Rendon, as a result, has the potential to serve more than eight years leading the Legislature’s lower house.


8: This is how many speakers have ever served four years or longer, a fact that runs counter to the often heard lament of too much leadership turnover in the Legislature. In fact, only three Assembly speakers have ever served six years or longer: the late Jesse Unruh, the late Leo McCarthy and the iconic Willie Brown.

Perhaps what Speaker Rendon really can do is help recalibrate the state Capitol’s balance of power. “Every country has an executive,” Rendon recounted on Monday once telling students during his teaching career. “Only democracies have a legislature.”

By the way, you can find out what really makes Mr. Speaker tick by reading Melanie Mason’s in-depth profile of the man from January.


Speaking of numbers, here are tonight’s big ones in the race for the White House: two and four.

Two states hold Democratic presidential primaries today — Michigan and Mississippi — while Republicans tack on primaries in Idaho and Hawaii, four GOP contests in all.

The Great Lakes State is tonight’s big prize for Democrats, with 147 delegates at stake. And it will be yet another test of the differing Democratic brands of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, finds Cathleen Decker.

She also writes that Michigan may be good to Donald Trump tonight, given how well outsiders have done in the state.


As always, we’ll have full Election Night returns as polls begin to close, updates to our delegate tracker and continuing coverage from the presidential reporting team on our Trail Guide news feed.


Vegas oddsmakers can scratch Michael Bloomberg‘s name off their lists in the presidential sweepstakes. The former New York City mayor is officially taking a pass on a 2016 campaign as an independent.

As Lisa Mascaro reports, this one just didn’t pencil out for a man who made his fortune on analyzing information.

“When I look at the data, it’s clear to me that if I entered the race, I could not win,” he said on Monday.


A quick note to invite those of you in Los Angeles to join us for debate night this Thursday at the Regent Theater. I’m lucky enough to join colleagues Christina Bellantoni and Seema Mehta for some political analysis both before and after the GOP presidential debate. Prizes? Debate bingo? How could you say no? RSVP today and join us on Thursday.



— Trump seems to be accusing Florida Sen. Marco Rubio of quid pro quo corruption in new TV ads. Melanie Mason and Michael Finnegan report the ads are a clear sign of the intense focus now being placed on the battleground that is Florida.

— Rubio’s strategy to win suburban areas doesn’t add up, Lisa Mascaro finds.

— In Michigan on Monday, Clinton lamented her “dilemma” in the politically thorny debate between privacy and security highlighted by the FBI’s fight with Apple, report Brian Bennett and Evan Halper.

— Hillary Clinton on Fox News? Yes, it was true on Monday.

— In Sacramento, Assemblywoman Patty Lopez (D-San Fernando) has agreed to pay a fine for not properly filing campaign and personal finance statements, reports Patrick McGreevy.

— California pop group Echosmith will perform at the White House Easter Egg Roll March 28, along with “Let It Go” singer Idina Menzel, and “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” rapper Silentó. Made up of four Chino siblings, Echosmith’s first hit, “Cool Kids,” got to No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.


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