Newsletter: Essential Politics: President Obama to mingle with Hollywood A-listers


I’m Christina Bellantoni, and as most attention turns to New York, California’s political universe is watching both President Obama and Donald Trump come to town. We’re also counting delegates and evaluating Sen. Ted Cruz’s plans for the Golden State.

This is Essential Politics.

George Skelton sees a clear path for Cruz in California — at least on paper.

Evan Halper examines tech types from Silicon Valley as the X-factor in the fight as campaigns look to an entirely new frontier of politics: the technology of hunting for delegates.


This politically savvy bunch is promising they can enable candidates to find and persuade the right delegates and then arm deputies on the convention floor with thousands of data points about delegates’ ideological leanings, social media proclivities and even TV viewing habits.

But before things get to the convention or California, the path goes through New York. And, to try and put it politely, that’s not shaping up to be a genteel affair.

Michael Memoli and Chris Megerian find that Wednesday was opening day for the sort of no-holds-barred battle that New York voters have come to expect in a state that could prove decisive in the prolonged Democratic nomination battle.

On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton moved aggressively to try to block any path Sen. Bernie Sanders might see toward a nomination, questioning the senator’s readiness to be president and his Democratic bona fides, even as her allies attacked his opposition to some gun control measures and other groups went after his positions on the Middle East.


And Cathleen Decker writes that even after Wisconsin victories, the math still just doesn’t add up for Cruz or Sanders.

For the latest on the campaign, keep an eye on Trail Guide and follow @latimespolitics.


Obama is headed to California for Thursday and Friday fundraisers.

He’ll start in Bel-Air for a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reception and dinner with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján. There are plenty of big names among the guests of the event, which has tickets ranging from $15,000 to $66,800 per couple and is hosted by Cindy and Alan Horn.

They include Julia Louis Dreyfus and Brad Hall, Katie McGrath and J.J. Abrams, Lyn and Norman Lear and Barbra Streisand and James Brolin. The money will help House Democrats as they try to flip some Republican seats in what many expect to be a strong year thanks to boosted presidential turnout.

On Friday morning Obama will turn his attention to helping Senate Democrats, who have a legitimate chance of reclaiming control. He’ll appear at a $33,400-per-couple breakfast hosted by Jennifer and Tobey Maguire in Los Angeles. The event has been described by the White House as a “roundtable” and is closed to reporters.

Los Angeles, of course, is getting ready for the potential Obamajam.


As the president heads to the Bay Area to raise more money, Trump will hold a press conference here, his first California event in a long time.

We’ll be covering both visits to Los Angeles on our Essential Politics news feed. And are you following latimespolitics on Snapchat?


West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath has a message for Trump: Don’t bother trying to hold a rally in her city.

“Where other cities or other communities might roll out the carpet, we’re rolling up the carpet,” she told me for the latest edition of “Essential Politics: The Podcast.”

She explained the practical effects for how that could work.


It’s tough to imagine something more friendly to the environment than riding a bike. Tell that to California’s main environmental law.


Liam Dillon reports on the surprising history of the California Environmental Quality Act, which has blocked the installation of bike lanes up and down the state for more than a decade. But fear not bike advocates, new regulations are coming that should make bike lanes environmentally legal.

Also don’t miss our sweet animated video that explains how the environmental law stops bike lanes and what the new regulations will do.


The Central Valley’s newest Assembly member will be heading to Sacramento soon, and he has a name most voters there will be familiar with. Joaquin Arambula, 38, an emergency room doctor and son of former Assemblyman Juan Arambula, won the special election for Assembly District 31 on Tuesday with 52% of the vote, avoiding a runoff in June with Republican opponent and Fresno City Councilman Clint Olivier.

Arambula, poised to be sworn in as early as this week, is the grandson of immigrant farm workers and has spent the last nine years working at Adventist Health Medical Center in Selma.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein emerged from a meeting with President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland on Wednesday calling him “the right man for the time” and urging Senate Judiciary Committee colleagues to give him a closer look. Feinstein, who has met with six other nominees since joining the Senate, told Sarah Wire that Garland is the first who would get no complaints.


-- Assemblyman Marc Levine says the modeling industry needs far greater workplace protections, and his bill to add standards to the industry had its first committee hearing Wednesday. Liam Dillon heard from Levine and a former model who described harrowing conditions on the job at a press conference.

-- Orange County attorney Wylie Aitken is holding a fundraiser for U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Loretta Sanchez in Santa Ana tonight, and some of Orange County’s top trial lawyers will be on hand. Aitken is chairman of the Democratic congresswoman’s Senate campaign and has backed her since she first ran for Congress in 1996. The fundraiser is being held at Aitken’s law office.

-- A federal jury on Wednesday convicted former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka of deliberately impeding an FBI investigation, capping a jail abuse and obstruction scandal that reached to the top echelons of the Sheriff’s Department. Tanaka, the mayor of Gardena, could face up to 15 years in prison.

-- Pamela Anderson wants California’s prisons to be vegan.

-- For #throwbackThursday we continue to pull stories from the archives about that time Trump sued Rancho Palos Verdes for $100 million.

-- The Federal Election Commission is questioning Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) for his use of campaign funds to pay for video games on 68 separate occasions — something the congressman is attributing to a mistake by his son, followed by several unauthorized charges.

-- At Loyola Marymount University, a wall erected to show support of students who entered the country illegally became the site of vandalism, with the word “Trump” scrawled over a quote from Scripture.

-- What do you think of Trump? Readers can weigh in with our quick survey.

-- The Festival of Books is Saturday and Sunday. There’s still time to get tickets for an array of political panels. Here is a selection:


11 a.m.: “Essential Politics: The State of the Race and California’s Role,” Christina Bellantoni in conversation with Melanie Mason and Seema Mehta

12 p.m.: “Are Presidential Primaries Good for Democracy?” Nicco Mele, Robert Shrum, Jessica Yellin, moderated by Geoffrey Cowan

1 p.m.: Sen. Barbara Boxer in conversation with Patt Morrison

2:30 p.m.: “Election 2016,” Andrew Gumbel, Dee Dee Myers, Robert Shrum, Ron Christie, moderated by Christina Bellantoni

4:30 p.m.: “Political History: Shaping Democratic Process,” Ari Berman, Nancy L. Cohen, Geoffrey Cowan, Robert Scheer, moderator TBD


11 a.m.: “Essential Politics: Stories From the Trail,” with Christina Bellantoni, Michael Finnegan and Kurtis Lee


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