Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (D) reports that Rep. Jackie Speier (D-14) spent “the New Year’s weekend in Palm Springs with her advisers and mulling a possible run for governor.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
Speier: “I’m not sure who Willie’s source is, but the only thing accurate about the post was that I was in Palm Springs with my family. Willie was smoking something before it became legal on January 1st. I still have a lot of work to do in Washington.” (Politico)
Actress Alyssa Milano also sent out a fundraising email on Newsom’s behalf last week, calling him someone “who we can trust to actually lead” in comparison to President Trump. (Hotline reporting)
BIG PICTURE. “In an effort to avoid infighting among California Democrats, the state party chairman is asking … the candidates running for governor not to seek an endorsement at the party’s spring convention.” State Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman “argued that time and money spent on an endorsement campaign would be better devoted to reaching out to voters. So far, the candidates aren’t agreeing.”
“A 60% vote among delegates at the state party convention in February in San Diego is required to secure an endorsement. Campaigns to court roughly 3,400 state party delegates and win the nod — or block a rival from getting it — can cost tens of thousands of dollars.” (Los Angeles Times)
“For the hopefuls in California’s race for governor, the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles County … where 1 in 4 of the state’s voters live,” will decide the race. “It’s diverse, sprawling, expensive to advertise in and voters often don’t show up, especially compared with the Bay Area.”
“For two hometown Democratic candidates especially — former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) and state Treasurer John Chiang (D) of Torrance — doing well in L.A. County is essential. Yet this overwhelmingly Democratic stronghold continually bedevils even the most adept campaigns. … Harnessing the county’s political power base is tricky, since it’s a mishmash of entrenched public employee unions, Westside wealth, Latino-led political bulwarks and grass-roots organizations, Hollywood glitterati and corporate titans.”
“More than 180 languages are spoken here, where 5.2 million voters live, outnumbering the electorate in most states. A plurality of the county is Latino — 47.5 percent — and huge ethnic enclaves abound: Armenian Americans in Glendale, Chinese Americans in Monterey Park; and Filipino Americans in West Covina. The city of Los Angeles has the largest population of Native Americans in the U.S.
“Airing an effective television ad campaign — the only realistic way to reach voters from Palos Verdes to Palmdale and Pacific Palisades to Pomona — can cost $2 million a week.” (Los Angeles Times)
THIRD-PARTY. Hospice nurse Veronika Fimbres (G) “is aiming to become the first transgender governor of California. But first, the hospice nurse and Navy veteran has to get her name on the June primary ballot by the March 9 filing deadline.” (Bay Area Reporter)
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"Saudi Arabia said Saturday that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared more than two weeks ago, had died after an argument and fistfight with unidentified men inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Eighteen men have been arrested and are being investigated in the case, Saudi state-run media reported without identifying any of them. State media also reported that Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, and other high-ranking intelligence officials had been dismissed."
"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is scrutinizing how a collection of activists and pundits intersected with WikiLeaks, the website that U.S. officials say was the primary conduit for publishing materials stolen by Russia, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Mueller’s team has recently questioned witnesses about the activities of longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, including his contacts with WikiLeaks, and has obtained telephone records, according to the people familiar with the matter."
"Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to issue findings on core aspects of his Russia probe soon after the November midterm elections ... Specifically, Mueller is close to rendering judgment on two of the most explosive aspects of his inquiry: whether there were clear incidents of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and whether the president took any actions that constitute obstruction of justice." Mueller has faced pressure to wrap up the investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, said an official, who would receive the results of the investigation and have "some discretion in deciding what is relayed to Congress and what is publicly released," if he remains at his post.
"The Justice Department on Friday charged a Russian woman for her alleged role in a conspiracy to interfere with the 2018 U.S. election, marking the first criminal case prosecutors have brought against a foreign national for interfering in the upcoming midterms. Elena Khusyaynova, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors said she managed the finances of 'Project Lakhta,' a foreign influence operation they said was designed 'to sow discord in the U.S. political system' by pushing arguments and misinformation online about a host of divisive political issues, including immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control and the National Football League national-anthem protests."