california

California governor declines to call a special election to replace Duncan Hunter
Gavin Newsom’s decision means 50th District seat will remain vacant until 2021

California Rep. Duncan Hunter is resigning Jan. 13 and his seat will remain vacant until 2021. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday he would not call a special election to replace Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, who is resigning next week after pleading guilty to misusing campaign funds.

“The governor’s office received Rep. Hunter’s resignation letter. Based on the timing of the resignation, a special election will not be called,” Newsom spokeswoman Vicky Waters said.

Reapportionment after census could shake up swing districts
Latest Census Bureau estimates hint at which states may gain or lose seats

Will the New York district represented by Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi still exist after the 2020 census? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Candidates and political parties have started multimillion-dollar struggles for control of congressional districts that, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data, may not exist in two years.

The latest Census Bureau population estimates suggest that a handful of states, including Illinois, California and New York, may lose seats in Congress after the 2020 count. That could make victories in some of the hardest-fought congressional races fleeting, a rare occurrence in an institution that favors incumbents, as newly minted representatives find themselves out of a job just two years later.

California water politics complicate House panel’s oversight
Natural Resources chairman wants to investigate Interior secretary’s role in water allocation report that benefited a committee member’s district

California Democratic Rep. Jim Costa represents part of California’s San Joaquin Valley, a drought-prone region where the politics surrounding agricultural and water interests can often trump partisanship. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona wants his committee to give him subpoena authority for multiple possible investigations, but California Democrat Jim Costa may vote against that as the panel considers whether Interior Secretary David Bernhardt improperly influenced a decision to send more water to his district.

Costa told CQ Roll Call he’s not sure he can support giving Grijalva such unlimited subpoena authority. Costa said he discussed the matter with the chairman, who plans a committee vote on the question in January, and said he’d support a “specific subpoena” in the panel’s current investigation into the Bureau of Land Management headquarters relocation. 

Powerful patrons duel over California projects in final spending package
Pelosi seeks Presidio park while McCarthy pursues Shasta Dam expansion

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are pushing for this year’s final spending bills to include projects for their home state of California. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The top Democratic and Republican leaders in the House are pushing for their own home-state projects in this year’s final spending bills — a spectacular park overlooking San Francisco Bay and a dam across the largest reservoir in California — but without agreement from each other in the negotiations’ final days.

The two items in dispute — the Presidio park project championed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Shasta Dam expansion sought by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy — are among some 200 disagreements that need to be resolved by leadership to finish up the appropriations legislation.

Duncan Hunter and the case of rabbit flights, NFL Red Zone, HBO and more
Office of Congressional Ethics details soon-to-be-former member’s use of campaign money

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., left, spent campaign money on a wide range of personal endeavors. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

An Office of Congressional Ethics report released Monday shows in detail how Duncan Hunter’s campaign committee spent money on a range of personal expenses, including flights for a pet bunny rabbit, NFL Red Zone, Jack in the Box, Starbucks and family trips to Italy and Hawaii.

The OCE report was released by the House Ethics Committee, a panel that will lose its jurisdiction over Hunter when the California Republican resigns after the holidays. Hunter, who represents the 50th Congressional District of California, pleaded guilty last week to campaign finance fraud and subsequently announced his impending resignation.

Double standards for 2020 Democratic hopefuls? You don’t say
Kamala Harris was tripped up by obstacles her white counterparts haven’t had to face

Sen. Kamala Harris’ presidential bid faced unique hurdles from the start, some of them personal, Curtis writes. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — There is a particular line that stuck with me in the just-opened film “Queen & Slim,” about a black couple on the run after an altercation with a white police officer goes awry in the depressing and terrible way you might imagine. During their perilous road trip, in a quieter moment, he (a retail worker) asks her (an attorney) if she is good at her job. “I’m an excellent lawyer,” she replies, to which he answers with a question that’s really a statement: “Why do black people always got to be excellent? Why can’t we just be ourselves?”

Since the pre-mortems were written a bit ago, it’s time for a post-mortem on the presidential campaign of California Sen. Kamala Harris, who never seemed to quite discover who she was or at least convey authenticity and excellence to enough voters or donors to make a difference.

Duncan Hunter pleads guilty to conspiracy to misuse campaign funds
Hunter faced 60 counts, most of which will be dismissed

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of conspiring to use campaign funds for personal expenses. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of conspiring with his wife, Margaret, to knowingly and willfully convert his campaign funds for personal expenditures.

He faces a maximum of five years in prison; a maximum $250,000 fine; and a maximum of three years supervised release. 

California Democrats seek EPA watchdog help amid Trump threats
Members want to know if political influence played a role in retaliation against their state

California Democratic Reps. Doris Matsui, left, and Anna G. Eshoo, seen after a caucus meeting in the Capitol, both signed on to the letter to the EPA watchdog. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of California Democrats on Monday pressed the EPA’s internal watchdog to investigate whether the agency has retaliated against their state for political reasons, including by threatening to withhold federal funds for multiple transportation projects.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler threatened in a Sept. 24 letter to the California Air Resources Board, the state’s air agency, to withhold federal funding for highway projects if local regulators did not implement plans, known as “state implementation plans,” or SIPs, to improve air quality.

California Supreme Court blocks effort to get Trump's tax returns
Law would have required disclosure to get on 2020 primary ballot

California lawmakers had attempted to require President Donald Trump to release his tax returns to qualify for the state’s primary ballot. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The California Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a state law that would have forced President Donald Trump to release his tax returns from the last five years in order to appear on the state’s presidential primary ballot. 

The California legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, passed the law in July. But justices for the state’s high court unanimously declared that the law violated a provision of California’s constitution that requires “an open presidential primary” where the contenders are “recognized candidates throughout the nation or throughout California for the office of President of the United States.”

Kamala Harris endorses Christy Smith in race to replace Katie Hill
Smith is consolidating support among California Democratic leaders

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is endorsing Assemblywoman Christy Smith in the 25th District race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris has taken sides in the race to replace former California Democratic Rep. Katie Hill, endorsing Assemblywoman Christy Smith in the special election.

“In the State Assembly, Christy has been an effective leader and a fearless voice for the people she represents,” Harris said in a statement shared first with CQ Roll Call. “I know Christy will do the same in Congress — working to enact tougher gun safety laws, combat the climate crisis, fully fund public schools, invest more in emergency response and public safety, lower the cost of prescription drug prices and build an economy that works for everyone.”