05/19/2017 10:32 AM EDT

By David Siders (dsiders@politico.com) and Carla Marinucci (cmarinucci@politico.com) with Cristiano Lima (clima@politico.com)

THE BUZZ: More than 3,000 activists in the nation's largest Democratic Party will gather this weekend in Sacramento to forge opposition strategy and choose new party leadership. With President Donald Trump in a tailspin and the Republican House majority appearing increasingly vulnerable, what happens here at the California Democratic Party state convention this weekend will reverberate across the map.

- With as many as seven vulnerable GOP-controlled House seats, this solidly blue state is key to flipping the House in 2018. And the state party's internal squabbles will resonate far beyond California's borders. The lingering bitterness between the factions of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton from the 2016 election, observers say, is dominating the contest over who will steer the huge party apparatus in the nation's fundraising ATM heading into the next election cycle.

- The unusually close and contentious campaign to succeed longtime party icon John Burton as state Democratic chair pits a hard-scrabble Democratic operative and well-known gay activist, Los Angeles vice chair Eric Bauman, against an African-American mother of two and relative party newcomer, Kimberly Ellis. Like many Berniecrats, Ellis argues that Democrats in the nation's most populous state need "new faces and new voices" to successfully counter Republicans in the coming cycles. Story by POLITICO's Carla Marinucci

BUENOS DÍAS, good Friday morning: Remember when health care was going to be a defining issue of the mid-term elections? It might be. But the last week of non-stop news out of Washington suggests it's hard to predict what voters will be thinking about in 2018. Meanwhile, UC regents rally around Janet Napolitano and Nancy Pelosi expresses concerns about the appointment of a special counsel.

** A Message from Care By Design: Care By Design's mission is to make safe and effective cannabis-based medicines available throughout California. Care By Design is setting the highest industry standards for cultivation, extraction, product formulation and packaging to ensure patient safety and wellbeing. https://www.cbd.org/ **


Where's Jerry? No public schedule

GOP VULNERABILITY (REALITY) CHECK: No state is more critical to the battle for the House in 2018 than California, and Democrats here rushed last week to tear into vulnerable Republicans over their support for the health care repeal and replace bill. Yet in a sign of how difficult it will be for Democrats to win back a House majority - even when armed with high-caliber ammunition - doubts about the lasting political potency of the Affordable Health Care Act already are emerging.

- Within days of the bill's passage, focus in Washington spun to the ouster of FBI Director James Comey - and then to Trump's disclosure of allegedly classified information to Russian officials and the appointment of a special prosecutor - while Senate amendments to the health care bill appeared likely to recast the debate long before voters turn their attention to the 2018 campaign ... "You have to remember something," said Mike Madrid, a Republican consultant in California. "The Democrats were absolutely convinced that running against Trump down-ticket was going to create the biggest Democratic blue wave of all time, and it did not work at all." Story by POLITICO's David Siders

ON THE POLICY FRONT: "Covered California to hold three-month open enrollment period," by POLITICO's Victoria Colliver: "Word that Obamacare is failing apparently hasn't reached California. Covered California is preparing for a three-month open enrollment period this fall, and the exchange is operating solidly in the black. Covered California's open enrollment period for 2018 coverage will run from Nov. 15 to Jan. 31, 2018 - the same as last year - despite the federal government's plans to shorten HealthCare.gov's enrollment period to six weeks, Peter Lee, the exchange's executive director, said at Thursday's Covered California board meeting." Story

MORE ROHRABACHER: "F.B.I. Once Warned G.O.P. Congressman That Russian Spies Were Recruiting Him," by the NYT's Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman and Mark Mazzetti: "The F.B.I. warned a Republican congressman in 2012 that Russian spies were trying to recruit him, officials said, an example of how aggressively Russian agents have tried to influence Washington politics. The congressman, Dana Rohrabacher of California, has been known for years as one of Moscow's biggest defenders in Washington and as a vocal opponent of American economic sanctions against Russia. He claims to have lost a drunken arm-wrestling match with the current Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, in the 1990s. He is one of President Trump's staunchest allies on Capitol Hill." Story

TWEET OF THE DAY NO 1: Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - "This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!"

TWEET OF THE DAY NO 2: Seth Moulton @sethmoulton - "As the Representative of Salem, MA, I can confirm that this is false."

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We're going to have a hard-fought election ... But we have to remember that no matter who wins, that the real enemy is that asshole - Donald Trump." - California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton on the contest this weekend to select his successor.

It's Friday - Got a tip? Feedback? News to share? Let us know. By email: cmarinucci@politico.com or dsiders@politico.com. Follow us on Twitter: @cmarinucci, @davidsiders and @POLITICOCA

THE TRUMP ERA:

- "California wants to block Donald Trump's legal strategy on Obamacare," by SacBee's Angela Hart: "California led a move Thursday to block one path Republicans in Washington might take to kill critical health care subsidies that go to millions of people using Obamacare. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, joined by attorneys general from 14 other states and the District of Columbia, on Thursday filed a motion to intervene in a pending federal lawsuit filed in 2014 by the Republican-controlled House that sought to unravel a key part of Obamacare - cost sharing subsidies that reduce premiums and copays for low- and middle-income people." Story

- "Border Patrol detains a 22-year-old Cal State student activist, and her lawyer sees payback," by LATimes' Matt Hamilton and Richard Winton: "A 22-year-old immigration activist and college student was detained Thursday by federal authorities, less than a month after her mother was taken into custody by federal agents during a massive cocaine bust in Los Angeles." Story

- "Pelosi: Special Counsel Not Enough, White House Needs 'Adult Supervision,'" by KCBS: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco isn't as enthusiastic as some about the appointment of a special counsel to investigate alleged ties between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia. Pelosi is concerned that the counsel won't be independent of the White House." Story

- "What Donald Trump can learn from Richard Nixon," by the SFChronicle's Bob Egelko: "As Congress and the public ponder the latest revelations about President Trump - that he allegedly asked FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation of ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn, and fired Comey after he refused - some lessons might be drawn from recent presidential history. When the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach President Richard Nixon in 1974, the central charge was that he had obstructed justice by interfering with government investigations of the Watergate break-in - by lying to investigators, withholding evidence, paying off witnesses and enlisting the CIA to halt the FBI's probe of the scandal." Story

- "Trump Backs California Charter Schools, But the Feeling Isn't Mutual," by KQED's Kyle Stokes: "As principal of a charter high school in South Los Angeles, Joshua Hartford said families would ask him the same question over and over again: 'When are you opening a middle school?' ... He finally asked Green Dot executives if they would consider opening a middle school in one of L.A. County's poorest areas - the Florence-Firestone neighborhood. Fast-forward to this school year." Story

- "Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says she can't approve Caltrain electrification grant yet," by the Merc's Casey Tolan: Story

CALIFORNIA AND THE CAPITOL CORRIDOR:

- "UC regents defend Janet Napolitano, blame media for 'salacious' coverage of state audit," by SacBee's Alexei Koseff: "The University of California's governing board on Thursday defended President Janet Napolitano against a critical state audit of her office and media coverage that some members felt unfairly maligned her. Discussion of the audit - which slammed UC's central administration for building up a secret $175 million reserve that it used to fund presidential initiatives - quickly turned to praise for Napolitano, who has disputed the report's findings but promised to implement 33 recommendations to improve the transparency of budgeting practices." Story

- "California Capitol homes in on environmental injustice-but will focus lead to real results?" by CALmatters' Laurel Rosenhall: "As Gov. Jerry Brown seeks support to extend a key environmental policy in California, he is planning a trip to a gritty corner of the state: the blue-collar neighborhoods southeast of Los Angeles, where thousands of people live alongside rail yards that spew plumes of smoke and freeways rumbling with big rigs." Story

- "California lawmaker pulls bill on Cold War-era communist ban," by the AP's Sophia Bollag: "A bill that would have let communists legally work in California government was withdrawn Wednesday after the sponsor said he learned it caused veterans and Vietnamese-Americans 'distress and hurt.' Assemblyman Rob Bonta, a Democrat from the San Francisco Bay Area, announced he was shelving the bill and apologized to veterans and people who fled the communist regime in Vietnam." Story

- "Gov. Brown stiffed doctors, dentists and hospitals by not increasing provider fees with new tobacco tax money," by the LATimes' George Skelton: "The way Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to spend - or not spend - the hefty new tobacco tax is an example of why citizens are so cynical about government and politics. In fact, it's the sort of thing that contributed to the election of President Trump. No, Brown isn't to blame for this White House misfit. But voters who felt kissed off by the political establishment were Trump's electoral base." Story

- "For local governments, cashing in on cannabis isn't going to be easy," by CALmatters' Ben Christopher: "At the office of Monterey County's Treasurer-Tax Collector, gun-toting guards now stand sentry over the parking lot and entry door. A newly renovated front office now serves as a secure drop-off point for taxpayers carrying duffel bags full of cash (payments made by appointment only). A fleet of state-of-the-art currency counters stand ready to speedily tally unprecedented sums of paper bills. And the regularly scheduled armored truck pickups are now passing through at a quicker clip." Story

CAMPAIGNS 2018 and BEYOND:

- "De León sends candidate-style political video - but says he has no imminent political plans," by LATimes' Seema Mehta and Melanie Mason: "As rumors swirled that California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León was mulling a gubernatorial run, he said Thursday he had no imminent plans to jump in the race but demurred when asked about his political future." Story

- "CA120: Will those new 2016 voters return for the midterms?" by Paul Mitchell in Capitol Weekly: "History tells us that presidential-year new voters are likely to skip mid-term elections. Will the new voters of 2016 be any different? The answer to that question could have a profound impact on the 2018 elections. A new poll, released this week by EMC Research and Capitol Weekly, dives into these new registrants with a deep look at their interest in elections, how they receive political information, their ideological and policy leanings, how they view the current Trump administration and what they want our state's leadership to do about it." Story

- "Democrats eyeing Orange County congressional seats in 2018," by the LATimes' Sarah Wire: "Newly energized residents are giving Democrats hope they can claim at least some of the congressional seats in Orange County that have been red for a generation. More than a dozen resistance groups have formed in Orange County since the presidential election. They've demanded meetings with the four Republican members of Congress, and staged town halls in their name when the members decline." Story

- "Election 2017: With loss, outgoing LAUSD Board President Zimmer sees a 'tectonic shift,'" by the LA Daily News' Antonie Boessenkool: Story

MIXTAPE:

- "Trouble in Eden: A Divided Marin County Community Gets a New Charter School," by Bill Raden in Capital & Main: Story

- "Narcotic-affected newborns nearly double in California, but 'it's not the mom you expect,'" by the SacBee's Claudia Buck: Story

- "Did the Sacramento County assessor and her staff get lower tax bills?" by the SacBee's Brad Branan and Ellen Garrison: Story

- "Many California courthouse buildings are seismically unsafe, state study says," by the OCRegister's Sean Emery: Story

- "Some Fresno residents couldn't believe what was in their water. Now they are suing," by the Fresno Bee's Tim Sheehan: Story

- "More organizations join in opposition to L.A.'s 2024 Olympic bid," by the LATimes' David Wharton: Story

- "There goes the sun: California's electric grid prepares for a solar eclipse this summer," by UT's Rob Nikolewski: Story

VALLEYLAND:

- "Meet the Activists Organizing the Tech Sector Against Trump," by The Nation's Ben Tarnoff: Story

- "Tesla factory workers reveal pain, injury and stress: 'Everything feels like the future but us,'" by The Guardian's Julie Carrie Wong: "When Tesla bought a decommissioned car factory in Fremont, California, Elon Musk transformed the old-fashioned, unionized plant into a much-vaunted "factory of the future", where giant robots named after X-Men shape and fold sheets of metal inside a gleaming white mecca of advanced manufacturing. The appetite for Musk's electric cars, and his promise to disrupt the carbon-reliant automobile industry, has helped Tesla's value exceed that of both Ford and, briefly, General Motors (GM)." Story

HOLLYWOODLAND:

- "Johnny Depp Is Willing to Be Alec Baldwin's Trump Stand-In," by The Hollywood Reporter: "On Thursday, Ellen DeGeneres complimented Johnny Depp on his ability to 'do a great Trump' impression in his faux Funny or Die film, Art of the Deal. Depp joked that it might not be a good thing that he can impersonate Trump well, and then, in his Trump voice said, 'Nobody could be more presidential.' The actor said he loves that Trump is even worse than he is in being able to formulate a sentence with 'vocabulary that actually works together.'" Story

ENDORSEMENTS: FIRST IN PLAYBOOK - Sens. Holly Mitchell, Ben Hueso, Ricardo Lara, Tony Mendoza and Bill Dodd are endorsing Susan Rubio's campaign for state Senate.

BIRTHDAY: Emily Owen, district scheduler for Rep. Jerry McNerney

EVENTS: PANEL - "The State of the First Amendment: Business as Usual -- or Panic in the Streets?" In conjunction with the San Francisco State University Journalism Department's Annual Alumni Reception. Details: Wednesday May 24, 2017; Panel 6:45 -8:15. Parisoma 169 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103. Moderator: Carla Marinucci, Senior Writer, POLITICO California Playbook. Panelists: Aimee Allison, President, Democracy in Color; Luis Alvarado, Public Affairs, Political and Media Strategist, Luis Alvarado Public Affairs Consulting

Republican National Committee Member Harmeet K. Dhillon, Attorney, Dhillon Law Group Inc.; Robert Capps, Head of Editorial at Wired; Jim Wagstaffe, Attorney, Kerr & Wagstaffe; Aaron Williams, Graphics & Data Visualization Reporter, The Washington Post. RSVP: cazocar@sfsu.edu

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