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Essential Politics: It's going to be a long two weeks

Essential Politics: It's going to be a long two weeks
(LAT)

Even in this era of early voting, where millions of ballots are being cast in the days leading up to Nov. 8, campaigns and candidates know they've got to run through to the finish line.

Good morning from the state capital. I'm Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers, and the homestretch of this historic election season seems especially long for political insiders and voters.

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If there's a final burst of energy, though, this is the time to bring it on.

TRUMP TARGETS NEWS ON VETS AND VIRGINIA

The challenge for Donald Trump is to find something that's big enough to change the dynamics of the race in the final fortnight.

On a campaign swing through Florida, he lashed out at "incompetent" government officials after a Times investigation of California veterans being told to repay their post-Sept. 11 recruitment bonuses.

"This can only happen with these incompetent people we have," Trump said on Monday. And later that afternoon, our team reported that some members of Congress were notified of the issue as long as two years ago.

Meantime, the Trump campaign used social media to widely share a story first reported by the Wall Street journal making the connection between a top FBI official assigned to the Hillary Clinton email case and the same official's wife who received donations as a legislative candidate from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. While the donations happened before the FBI agent was ever assigned to the case, it's the kind of story that Trump backers hope will have some legs for the final campaign dash.

TRUMP'S RESPONSE TO A NEW ALLEGATION LIGHTS ANOTHER FIRE

What Team Trump didn't need was another day of stories about an allegation of sexual misconduct. And yet, the candidate went on a New Hampshire radio show on Monday and said this about the accusation made over the weekend by an adult film actress: "Now you know, this one that came out recently, 'He grabbed me and he grabbed me on the arm.' Oh, I'm sure she's never been grabbed before."

That pretty much assured the story would continue to get oxygen into this next-to-last week of the campaign.

ELIZABETH WARREN RALLIES 'NASTY WOMEN'

One of Trump's insults of Clinton from last week's debate is slowly becoming a political rallying cry, as evidenced by the Democratic candidate's rally with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in New Hampshire on Monday.

"We nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever," she said.

THE 'AVOID TRUMP' STRATEGY IN PENNSYLVANIA

Cathleen Decker is in Pennsylvania, where the Trump candidacy is presenting big challenges for incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

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"It means the presidential machinery and momentum that are expected to kick in to help Senate candidates like him is utterly absent this year," writes Decker, "even as his challenger has the entire array of her party behind her."

Our balance of power chart shows just how big of a deal the Pennsylvania race and a handful of others are in determining who controls the Senate.

OBAMA'S SOCAL SWING

Southern California knows all too well what an "Obamajam" is all about: big-time traffic delays whenever a presidential visit rolls around. Which brings us to the past couple of days.

President Obama began his SoCal tour in San Diego, talking up the need to "win big" in a speech in La Jolla and then making his way to Los Angeles for fundraising and an appearance on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

On the show, the president responded to some "mean tweets" about him. Kimmel also asked whether the president's staff ever wakes him up in the middle of the night.

"For the most part they let me sleep," said Obama. "What I don't do is at 3 a.m. I don't tweet about people who insulted me. I try to sleep so that in the morning I'm actually ready for a crisis."

Now who might he be thinking of there? Hmmm.

The visit began in San Diego on Sunday night for fundraisers in San Diego, including an event where Obama called Vista Republican Rep. Darrell Issa "shameless" for using the president's picture in a mailer for his reelection campaign. The fact that Issa once called Obama "one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times" may have had something to do with it. On Monday, Issa released a statement saying he was not surprised by the president's remarks, since Obama continues "to deny accountability for the serious scandals that happened under his watch…" Issa is running in his toughest campaign for reelection to date, so stay tuned.

MEANTIME, THERE'S THAT LEGACY THING…

Obama's last political campaign as president has become about more than just his successor. As Christi Parsons reports, it's also become a national referendum on his legacy — a legacy that depends on blocking the person whose campaign is premised on taking it all apart.

THE 72-HOUR RULE COULD BE COMING TO SACRAMENTO

Any of us who have watched the work of the California Legislature for some time know well how last-minute wheeling and dealing can end up producing laws that have barely seen the light of day before being sent to the governor's desk.

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That's what supporters of Proposition 54 say will change if voters pass the constitutional amendment on election day, by creating a new 72-hour period for all bills to be made public before a final vote in either house. My story looks at examples that are being invoked either as why the ballot measure is, or isn't, a good idea.

PROP. 63 AND EXISTING GUN CONTROL LAW

Californians may find themselves experiencing déjà vu when they weigh Proposition 63, the gun control initiative from Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Some key issues addressed in the ballot measure — including background checks for those buying bullets and a ban on high-capacity magazines — were tackled in bills approved this summer by the Legislature. The result could be confusion among voters and opposition from some in law enforcement who prefer the laws that originated in the statehouse.

THE GREAT VAPE DEBATE

Turn on any TV in California and you know that all the talk surrounding the Proposition 56 tobacco tax has been about cigarettes.

But if the initiative passes next month, e-cigarettes will also be taxed like traditional cigarettes for the first time — a huge tax increase that could boost the price of a typical 30-milliliter bottle of e-liquid by $10, Liam Dillon reports.

Don't forget that that you can find more of our coverage of the propositions and other daily politics happenings on the Essential Politics news feed.

And while you're there, check out the 17 ballot measures all explained in — wait for it — emojis. Yes, it's true.

TODAY'S ESSENTIALS

— Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez met with the Redlands Tea Party Patriots and other Inland Empire conservatives on Sunday in hopes of courting their support in her bid for U.S. Senate. Redlands Tea Party member John Berry said the organization is not endorsing Sanchez or her rival, fellow Democrat state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, but that he plans to vote for Sanchez and will encourage other Republicans to do so as well.

— The presidential campaign season has been dominated by allegations of sexual misconduct by both Trump and former President Bill Clinton. We've put together a list for you to compare and contrast.

— President Obama is said to be ready to endorse in as many as 150 down-ticket races nationwide. But there are a few California Democrats he's left off the list, including Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) and Emilio Huerta, who's challenging Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) in the Central Valley.

— California lawmakers and others speak out on their memories of Tom Hayden, the liberal activist-turned-lawmaker who died Sunday night at the age of 76.

— Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger confirms the worst secret in the world: He would've run for president if the U.S. Constitution would have allowed.

— Did you register to vote by last night's deadline? California state elections officials held a voter registration drive outside the Capitol yesterday, the last day to do so before the Nov. 8 election.

— In new television ads released by the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., law enforcement officials urge voters not to repeal the death penalty, what they call the "last defense" against killers.

— Learn more about the state ballot propositions later this month at the SeePolitical BallotCon event in Los Angeles. It's free; sign up here.

LOGISTICS

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