Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra. ( Photo by Laurel Rosenhall for CALmatters)

By Dan Morain | March 7, 2018 |

Most out-of-state politicians come to California to raise money. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions flew into Sacramento bearing a gift, in the form a lawsuit targeting this so-called sanctuary state.

Recipients include Democrats who convened press conferences to denounce Trump and the lawsuit Sessions filed in federal court in Sacramento to compel California to help the feds deport undocumented immigrants.

President Donald Trump’s base of supporters got some of what they like, too: more to hate about the crazy California progressives. And the president could again divert attention from the latest scandals and developments in Robert Mueller’s investigation related to Trump’ s 2016 campaign.

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Sessions, speaking to the California Peace Officers Association at a downtown Sacramento hotel, detailed aspects of Trump’s suit to invalidate three state laws intended to thwart efforts to deport undocumented immigrants, and singled out Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Schaaf last month defiantly restated that her city would be a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants and issued a warning when she got advance word that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were preparing to make arrests.

“How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of law enforcement just to promote your radical open-borders agenda,” Session said, as if speaking to Schaaf.

His words were like manna from on high as Schaaf seeks re-election in one of the nation’s most anti-Trump cities. Certainly, Sessions’ comments allow her to avoid discussion of, say, the city’s terrible homelessness problem.

In the next breath, Sessions denounced California’s lieutenant governor, who had praised Schaaf’s stand. No matter that Sessions didn’t actually utter Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s name. Newsom, who is running for governor, was quick to tweet:

“Jeff Sessions just called me an embarrassment. A man whose legacy is targeting immigrants, re-waging the failed War on Drugs, sucking up to private-prison profiteers, and apologizing for white supremacists.… I take that as a HUGE compliment.”

Later, Newsom held a Facebook Live event, beamed to his 609,000 Facebook followers, featuring people he said would be targets of immigration raids. By 3:30, Newsom had sent a fundraising email crowing: “If I’m on Jeff Sessions’ bad side, I must be doing some things right.”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra appeared at a press conference with Gov. Jerry Brown. That made sense; Becerra is responsible for defending the state laws in court. But it also didn’t harm his election effort.

Los Angeles Democrat and state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Bell Gardens Democrat, held a joint press conference with Assemblyman David Chiu, a Democrat from San Francisco. That, too, made sense. They carried the three bills that are the focus of Sessions’ suit. But it helps their campaigns, too. De León is running against U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Lara aspires to be California insurance commissioner.

To read expanded column, click here.