Newsletter: Essential Politics: Maximum leverage on California’s minimum wage


Few things are as important in politics, or life, as knowing when a deal’s too good to pass up. And it was that realization that led Democrats and unions to agree to what’s already a nationally talked-about plan putting California on the path to a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Good morning from the the state capital. I’m Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers, where everyone is now digging into the formal language on the minimum wage deal announced by Gov. Jerry Brown and labor union leaders on Monday.


“This is a bold proposal, make no mistake about it,” Brown told reporters.


That may be, but it also represents a classic political compromise between a governor who’s often viewed as fiscally cautious and liberal labor unions that wanted higher wages sooner.

Our reporting on the deal began over the weekend. And on Monday, both legislators and the business community were waiting to see every line of bill language — as were union leaders, who insisted that they’re not yet ready to officially cancel two separate November ballot initiatives. They first want to see Brown’s signature on the legislative compromise.

The bill language is expected to be vetted in an Assembly committee on Wednesday, with formal legislative votes by week’s end. We’ll be tracking it closely on our Essential Politics news feed.

Finally, consider the politics at play: Two separate labor unions were getting geared up to campaign for competing statewide ballot initiatives in November. Neither of those measures had any mechanism that would taper future wage hikes (the $15 level won’t be reached until 2022 for most workers) to economic conditions.


Meanwhile, backers of other fall ballot measures — and it’s going to be a long ballot — no doubt are happy there will be one fewer thing to take voter attention away from their issues.


As if anyone needed reminding that the California minimum wage deal was big national news, the two Democratic presidential candidates took to Twitter to offer their congratulations.

But Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders thought Hillary Clinton was jumping on the bandwagon, as she’s only endorsed California’s effort and has not joined his call for a $15 an hour federal minimum wage.


No matter how the primary shakes out, there is a perception that the Sanders candidacy pushed Clinton further to the left over the last year. But when Evan Halper dug in, he found Clinton’s shift is less leftward-leaning than you might think.

Halper also writes that Team Sanders has moved on to a new phase in its bid for the White House: hijack Clinton’s so-called superdelegates. Here’s the math today: Clinton has 469 of them in her corner. Sanders has just 29.

Meantime, Michael Memoli reports that Clinton is adding her voice to growing calls for a vote by Senate Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.


On the Republican side, Memoli further reports that President Obama offered his own take on the question: “Did the media miss the signs on Donald Trump?”

As always, you can find the latest from the campaign trail on Trail Guide and follow @latimespolitics.


We’ve got new numbers this morning from a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll on the U.S. Senate race.

And Phil Willon reports that while Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris remains the solid front-runner, her support among voters has been stuck at about 28% for over a year. And that’s even after she spent $4 million on her campaign and received the endorsement of the California Democratic Party in February.


We also take a look at the poll results on the governor’s job approval numbers. They now stand at 60%, a pretty high mark and part of what’s become a familiar storyline: Brown gets kudos from a broad cross-section of voters.

Even 19% of the people who plan to vote for Trump in the June primary think the Democratic governor is doing a good job.



— Former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio has asked that his name be removed from the California’s June 7 presidential primary ballot. The move could possibly help Texas Sen. Ted Cruz or Ohio Gov. John Kasich, since it prevents Rubio from receiving any anti-Donald Trump votes.

— It’s a boy! Just call him Grandpa Trump.

— Drug manufacturers have mounted a vigorous lobbying campaign against a Los Angeles County proposal that would require pharmaceutical companies to finance a disposal program for unused medications and syringes, Abby Sewell reports.

— An Assembly Republican wants to allow domestic violence victims to carry concealed weapons on school campuses in California. Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Plumas Lake) has introduced a legislative exception in last year’s law that banned weapons on campus. The measure will get its first hearing in the Assembly Public Safety meeting this morning.


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