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California Democratic Party special counsel, Coby King, left, with former party Chairman John Burton. Photo: Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Democrats have one goal in 2018: win the House back. But California's 39th district is a case study in what can go wrong when the national party gets involved in local races.

The Democratic divide: The DCCC backs Gil Cisneros, one of six Democratic candidates. The California Teachers Association (the state's largest teachers union with 325,000 members who've spent millions on races in the past) announced its support for Mai Khanh Tran today. And the Bernie Sanders-aligned Our Revolution PAC backs Andy Thorburn.

Why this matters: Democrats could be locked out of the general election in CA-39 altogether — and one step further from winning the House — if Democratic energy and resources are divided among three candidates in a state with a top-two primary system.

  • Yes, but: It is valid for the national party groups to try to get some candidates to drop out of crowded primaries to increase their challenges. They're just not unified.

The problem: The DCCC has already been criticized for elevating Cisneros over Tran — a California pediatrician endorsed by EMILY's List — for the perception that they "encourage all women to run and to speak up, and on the other side they prefer self-funded millionaires over any women [in the race]," Tran's campaign manager told ABC News.

What they're doing: The DCCC is running a new TV ad campaign today through May 14 in CA-39, which is considered the most competitive in the state to replace retiring Rep. Ed Royce. The ads attack two second-tier Republican candidates, instead of other Democrats, likely as a way to split the Republican votes so no two GOP candidates earn higher votes than Democratic candidates.

Go deeper

Updated 48 mins ago - Axios Twin Cities

In photos: Thousands rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Demonstrators on March 7 outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with murdering George Floyd, will begin in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of protesters marched through Minneapolis' streets Sunday, urging justice for George Floyd on the eve of the start of former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death, per AFP.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start Monday, with jury selection procedures.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
5 hours ago - Health

Pfizer CEO feels "liberated" after taking COVID vaccine

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla tells "Axios on HBO" that he recently received his first of two doses of the company's coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Bourla told CNBC in December that company polling found that one of the most effective ways to increase confidence in the vaccine was to have the CEO take it.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
5 hours ago - Economy & Business

Ripple CEO: SEC lawsuit is "bad for crypto" in the U.S.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse tells "Axios on HBO" that if his company loses a lawsuit brought by U.S. regulators, it would put the country at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

Between the lines: The SEC in December sued Ripple, and Garlinghouse personally, for allegedly selling over $1.3 billion in unregistered securities. Ripple's response is that its cryptocurrency, called XRP, didn't require registration because it's an asset rather than a security.

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