Capitol Alert

Joe Biden squeezes in one more California visit to raise money for Eric Garcetti

Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016.
Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016. The Associated Press

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It’s not uncommon to see a national political figure headlining a fundraiser in California. The Golden State is a frequent ATM for Democrats and Republicans alike, even if they rarely return to campaign for our votes.

But headlining a fundraiser that doesn’t benefit their own campaign or party? That’s a rare occurrence. So Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti snagging Vice President Joe Biden for a Sunday reception in support of his reelection bid was a big get.

Biden, in his final two weeks in the White House, is making perhaps his last official visit to California. He is also scheduled to speak at a health care conference in San Francisco today about the Cancer Moonshot, his initiative to “end cancer as we know it.”

The Garcetti fundraiser, however, could have lasting implications here – not in the March mayoral election, where Garcetti is expected to cruise to victory, but maybe in 2018, if Biden backs Garcetti in a potential gubernatorial or U.S. Senate run.

The two have been building a professional and personal relationship over the past few years. Biden joined Garcetti in 2014 to discuss raising L.A.’s minimum wage and had dinner at his house in 2015. Last September, his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, helped Garcetti launch a free community college program.

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BY THE NUMBERS: The California Latino Legislative Caucus is not the only Capitol group celebrating record membership this session. The November election boosted the number of Asian lawmakers to the highest ever: 11 Democrats and 4 Republicans. That’s 12.5 percent of the Legislature, closing in on the estimated 14 percent of the state population that the Asian community now comprises. The Asian American Education Institute, a group working to boost civic engagement and political participation among Asian and Pacific Islanders in California, will celebrate the “historic” size of the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, which only includes the Democrats, 4 p.m. at Ella on K Street.

The California Legislative LGBT Caucus, comprised of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members, also grew by one this year to eight, all Democrats. That matches the group’s size during the 2011-12 and 2013-14 sessions, and represents major growth from two decades ago, when the first-ever openly lesbian California lawmaker was elected. The caucus, along with sponsor Southern California Edison, is hosting a welcome-back reception, 5:30 p.m. at the California Museum on O Street.

By contrast, the number of black legislators fell by one this year to 11, also all Democrats. Last session, the California Black Legislative Caucus surged to its largest membership ever, with a couple of lawmakers winning in districts that the caucus noted had not historically been represented by African-Americans.

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Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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