California Today: California Today: Diagnosing California’s G.O.P.

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President Trump handing a pen to Representative Devin Nunes at a ceremony in October. Standing behind the president from left, Representative David Valadao, the House majority leader Kevin McCarthy and Representative Jeff Denham.CreditCarolyn Kaster/Associated Press

On Monday, I asked Adam Nagourney, our Los Angeles bureau chief, to talk about why — in spite of its dominant position in the state — California’s Democratic Party feels as if it’s in turmoil. Well, today, we checked in on the Republican Party. And, as Adam wrote in this story, things aren’t looking good.

Orange County is gone. But what about other traditional Republican strongholds, like the Central Valley, where a moderate incumbent, Representative David Valadao, just conceded to a Democratic challenger. Is Kevin McCarthy safe?

The Republican Party is on a long, not-so-slow slide in California, and President Trump has pushed it a little further down the ladder. That said, I don’t think any Democrat thinks Mr. McCarthy is vulnerable — at least any time soon. He is a real fixture in Bakersfield; well-liked with a broad base of support.

Throughout your piece, experts described the state of the G.O.P. in California as slouching toward irrelevance. Is there anything coming up that might hint at which direction it will now take?

I would take a look at the race for a new party chair. Moderate Republicans are arguing the party needs to move away from Mr. Trump, particularly on issues like immigration and global warming. But one of the most well-known candidates for state chair, Travis Allen, told me he thought the party was moving in the right direction and needed to continue its embrace of Mr. Trump. It’s not easy: While it might make sense for the party to distance itself from the president, that is not going to play well with many in the base who like Mr. Trump.

How realistic is the formation of a new, more moderate third party in California?

The easier path for Republicans wanting to make California a two-party state again — because, frankly, it really is not right now — is to figure out a way to rebuild the existing party. But there are Republicans I spoke to, like Kristin Olsen, the former Assembly minority leader, who says it might be time to just head out and create a third party. It’s worth keeping an eye on over the next year.

(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on news sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)

A vehicle moves on Eucalyptus Street in Hesperia, after a winter storm covered the area.CreditJames Quigg/The Daily Press, via Associated Press

• A fierce winter storm pummeled Southern California on Thursday, prompting evacuation orders in burned areas and unleashing mudslides that closed the 5 freeway and caused a Southwest Airlines plane to skid off the runway at Hollywood Burbank Airport. [The Los Angeles Times]

• A federal judge asked California’s attorney general to weigh in on whether Pacific Gas and Electric, the utility that’s facing scrutiny and outrage over its potential liability in devastating wildfires, may have committed a state-level crime if it maintained its equipment poorly, sparking blazes. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

• Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to protect a minor political miracle he pulled off six years ago: Rebalancing the state’s massive public employee pension system. Now, workers are fighting to restore some of the benefits Mr. Brown tightened. His successor, Gavin Newsom, will have to contend with the outcome of the case, which is before the California Supreme Court. [CALmatters]

• Here’s why a U.C. Davis gun violence researcher and emergency room physician said a National Rifle Association tweet telling “self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane,” actually helped his cause. [The Sacramento Bee]

• The head of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority said rush hour tolls could fund public transit. “We think that with congestion pricing done right, we can be the only city in the world to offer free transit service in time for the 2028 Olympics,” he said. [Curbed Los Angeles]

• Do wildfires affect a community’s demographics? After parts of Napa burned, many lower income people couldn’t afford to come back. [The Los Angeles Times]

• A minute-by-minute look at the tornado of flame that was July’s Carr Fire — and what it tells us about future conflagrations in the state. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

The police subdued a participant in New York’s SantaCon last year.CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

• Surprise! SantaCon — an annual event that has become infamous as a drunken messactually started in San Francisco as a commentary on “middle-class hypocrisy” by one of the founders of Burning Man. [KQED]

• Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff is having a “dream season.” The team faces the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Here are N.F.L. picks for this weekend, including info from the Upshot’s Playoff Simulator. [The New York Times]

• Here’s the full list of Golden Globe nominations. [The New York Times]

• And here’s what all the nominations say about the entertainment business. [The New York Times]

The stump of the White House Christmas tree at Mountain Top Fraser Fir.CreditJacob Biba for The New York Times

The first full week of December is about over, which means it’s really time to start getting ready for Christmas, if that’s your thing.

Which means you may be looking for a tree this weekend if it’s not raining in your part of the state. But do you want a real tree or a fake tree? And is your tree good for the planet?

Fortunately, we figured out your greenest Christmas tree options. Actually, the most environmentally friendly tree is a real one that is bought locally (to minimize driving) and then recycled — i.e. turned into mulch — after the season is over, they found.

If that’s too much commitment, you can always get a Christmas cactus.

California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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