Newsletter: Essential Politics: Senate debate, San Diego style

Four weeks from today, California voters will go to the polls. And yes, the presidential primary may have fizzled for excitement, but there’s still an important contest with real implications.

So is this the night that the U.S. Senate race finally makes headlines?

Good morning from the the state capital. I’m Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers. Tonight in San Diego, we’ll get one more look at the five leading candidates to replace Sen. Barbara Boxer. For four of them, this could be the last chance at earning that second golden ticket to the Nov. 8 general election.


Few political watchers dispute that the race will come down to one final challenger for Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, who has led all polls so far. But which one? Can a single Republican attract enough votes of the party faithful to end up in a one-on-one contest with Harris in the fall? Or will this race be the first since the inception of the top-two primary that ends up as an intraparty duel, featuring Harris against Rep. Loretta Sanchez?

In last week’s California Politics Podcast, we talked about the impact of the now nonexistent GOP presidential primary on Republican turnout in the Senate race.

The debate begins at 7 p.m. We’ll have live coverage on the Essential Politics news feed and a full wrap-up later in the evening.



Voters in West Virginia go the polls today as the presidential primaries continue in both the Democratic and Republican parties, while Republicans will also cast ballots in Nebraska.

In West Virginia, Sen. Bernie Sanders is expected to do well. But given the delegate count, it’s not surprising that Hillary Clinton has turned her attention to the general election.

And as Michael Finnegan reports, the coal country primary foreshadows a clash between Clinton and Donald Trump over climate change and jobs in the battleground states of Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania.



Sanders, meanwhile, is in California as votes are being cast back East. The Vermont senator held a rally at Bonney Field, home of the Sacramento Republic soccer team. And as Chris Megerian reports, the increasingly long odds for Sanders didn’t dampen the spirits of those who showed up at the state fairgrounds.

Sanders is slated to be in downtown Stockton this morning -- a rare location for a major presidential campaign to touch down.


On Monday, we got a look at the Californians who have agreed to be delegates for Trump at this summer’s Republican National Convention. And it is a fascinating list of both ultra-conservative activists and party regulars, as Melanie Mason reports.


Meantime, Thursday is a red-letter day on the GOP calendar, when Trump sits down with the party’s congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. But as Lisa Mascaro reports, there won’t be unity when the presumptive nominee walks in the door.

And for those who still want an alternative, the talk of a third-party challenge is about to become pretty meaningless. As David Lauter points out, state-by-state deadlines are on the horizon for getting on the ballot.


While national attention focuses on the showdown between the federal government and North Carolina over the state’s new law limiting the use of restrooms by birth gender, the push for greater access is on here in California.


On Monday, the state Assembly voted to ban any effort at making single-occupancy restrooms reserved for men or women. Patrick McGreevy reports that the bill, which passed on a 52-18 vote, would make these restrooms in public and government buildings “all gender,” taking down signs designating them for only men or women.


California campaign watchdog officials are proposing $80,000 in fines against former state Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Camarillo) for alleged political money laundering.

The penalty is for allegedly aiding three supporters in disguising the true source of contributions to Strickland’s unsuccessful 2010 campaign for state controller. The money, investigators say, was funneled from supporters through two GOP county committees.



-- Gov. Jerry Brown took action on Monday to enshrine conservation in the state’s water roadmap. But at the same time, state regulators eased up some of the current restrictions, an action that could allow more water to flow in a few California communities.

-- Uber and Lyft have taken a gentler approach in dealing with lawmakers and regulators than before as they’re rolling in wins at the state Capitol.

-- An effort to reduce hazing in the military is personal for Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park). Sarah Wire reports on how losing her nephew to suicide prompted the Democratic congresswoman to want to take action.


-- Hillary Clinton refused to respond on Monday to Trump’s attack on Bill Clinton’s affairs.

-- Speaking of Clinton, here’s the transcript of her conversation with the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board.

-- Lisa Mascaro reports how a freshman Republican from Nebraska became one of Trump’s most outspoken critics.

-- Dump Trump shirts are back at one Orange County high school.



Miss yesterday’s newsletter? Here you go. Did someone forward you this? Sign up here to get Essential Politics in your inbox daily. And keep an eye on our politics page throughout the day for the latest and greatest. And are you following us on Twitter at @latimespolitics? Please send thoughts, concerns and news tips to