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The primary election isn't until June, but the California Democratic Party is already voting on endorsements.

State Democrats are holding their pre-primary endorsement conferences this weekend in anticipation of the state party convention next month.

Just to drive home the point, Party Chairman John Burton lays out Democrats' goals this year in a letter to candidates and those eligible to vote on endorsements: re-elect Sen. Dianne Feinstein, regain the majority in the House, beef up Democratic majorities in the state Senate and the Assembly, and "compete in newly crafted districts across the state."

Some of those districts have two or more Democrats competing against each other, for instance, the 30th Congressional District, where incumbents Howard Berman and Brad Sherman are slugging it out. Who will they choose? Or will the choice be "no endorsement"?

Candidates who are registered Democrats, file as Democrats and pay the party a filing fee will be considered. An Assembly candidate pays $250, while a congressional candidate pays $350 and a Senate candidate, $500. Candidates recommended for endorsement will need final approval at the state party convention, which will be held in San Diego on Feb. 11-12.

It'll be a big month for conventions. The California Republican Party will hold its own state party convention two weeks later, Feb. 24-26 at the Hyatt San Francisco Airport.

NEW JOB: Republican strategist Rob Stutzman's firm Stutzman Public Affairs has a new vice president -- Amy Thoma. The former Assembly aide, who worked on Carly Fiorina's Senate campaign, has been an account director at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and director at Wilson-Miller Communications. She'll serve as deputy campaign manager of Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher's San Diego mayoral campaign.

LGBT CAUCUS: Assemblyman Richard Gordon, D-Menlo Park, has been elected the chair of California's seven-member LGBT Legislative Caucus. The freshman Democrat replaces Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, who is termed out this year.

SELF-DRIVING CARS: There aren't any autonomous cars on California's roads -- yet -- but Santa Clara University's law school is already looking at their legal implications at an all-day symposium today. For instance, who would be liable for an accident? Check out the agenda via this link.


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