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WECA Political Update, 6-9-22: Special Election Edition of Preliminary Results

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Special Election Edition of Preliminary Results

We’ll focus this edition exclusively on this week’s preliminary election results. I didn’t cover all 152 district races – but more interesting ones.

State election results are updated as often as county elections offices submit new data. Ballots continue to be counted after election day during the canvass period; county elections officials must report the final official results to the Secretary of State by July 8, 2022. The Secretary of State will certify the results on July 15, 2022.

As of Wednesday morning, 3.5 million votes have been counted, which equates to a turnout of 16%. With the caveat that there are still many more votes to count, it seems safe to say that turnout in yesterday's primary will not be a shining example of citizen civic engagement. Several explanations are circulating, including a lack of statewide ballot measures.

The June top-two primary is when California voters choose their two favorites for governor and other constitutional offices. Ditto for each of the 80 Assembly districts, 20 state Senate races, and 52 congressional districts where 160, 40, and 104 candidates will emerge after all the ballots are counted.

In some races, this is the election that counts. There will be overwhelmingly blue or decisively red districts where only one member of the dominant party will secure one of the two spots for November, ensuring their victory. But in others, the contests will create Democrat versus Democrat battles or, to a lesser extent, Republican versus Republican fights.

Governor Gov. Gavin Newsom is poised for reelection after crushing a crowded field of scarcely known challengers in California’s statewide primary. He will face off against Northern California Republican State Senator Brian Dahle.

Newsom’s dominance comes nine months after he prevailed in a recall attempt. The one-two punch showed just how formidable he remains in California politics even after a first term in which he was tested by the tumult of the COVID-19 pandemic, six of the largest wildfires in state history, and an ever-worsening homelessness crisis. Moreover, many believe he will be poised to engage in a presidential run in 2024 if the Biden/Harris administration continues to suffer from low approval ratings.

U.S. Senate Two primaries for United States Senate were on the California ballot on Tuesday. Sen. Alex Padilla and Republican attorney Mark Meuser both won and advanced to the November elections. Padilla, a Democrat, had to run in both a special and general election to keep the seat through January 2029. The special election is for the last two months of the current term; the general election is for a full, six-year term that starts in January 2023.

Attorney General Incumbent Rob Bonta will beat Nathan Hochman or Eric Early in November. As the Sacramento Bee’s Editorial Board explains: “It didn’t matter that [NPP Anne-Marie] Schubert had more relevant experience and greater credibility than her Republican opponents to serve as California’s attorney general. Her support from law enforcement leaders, unions, and crime victims wasn’t enough. Her office’s prosecution of the Golden State Killer case, her lawsuit against the state over the early release of inmates, her leadership on the unemployment fraud task force — the first wave of primary results made it clear that not identifying as a Republican was an obstacle she struggled to overcome.”

Controller “Lanhee Chen is either the great Republican hope to win statewide in California, or he's 'fool's gold,'” said Joe Garofoli of the San Francisco Chronicle: “State controller candidate Lanhee Chen is giving Republicans hope that he can do something the GOP hasn’t done since 2006: win statewide office in California.” He will face Malia M. Cohen, one of four Democrats in this race.

Treasurer Numerous allegations of sexual and financial impropriety didn’t keep voters from overwhelmingly picking Fiona Ma for a second term. The race for second is close.

Insurance Commissioner Accepting campaign contributions from the insurance industry he regulates didn’t seem to bother voters who gave incumbent Ricardo Lara 37% of the vote in a crowded race. Despite numerous endorsements by newspapers statewide (you remember those, right?) Democrat Marc Levine is ending up out of the mix; Lara will beat whichever Republican finishes second.

Northern California

Sacramento Supervisor The race to replace left-moderate Don Nottoli pitted two former Elk Grove Councilmen against a labor-backed local district board member. While votes are still being counted, it looks like right center Pat Hume will face far-left, PLA-loving Jacklyn Moreno in November. Hume - 8, 388, 41.9%; Moreno - 6,095, 30.8%; Steve Ly - 3,808; 19.2% and Alex Joe - 1,562, 9.9%. The big question is, where will Ly and Joe's voters go in November?

Contra Costa County BART Board member and former ABC Northern California chair Deborah Allen is in second place, but only by 389 votes, a very tight margin that could change in the coming days.

AD 10 (Open, D-Cooper) - Democrat Stephanie Nguyen, an Elk Grove city councilmember, is comfortably ahead in the top spot, with Sacramento city councilmember Eric Guerra running 50 votes ahead of Republican Eric Rigard. Supporters of Guerra had spent money boosting Rigard to block Nguyen from the top two, although that move may very well backfire once all the votes are in.

AD 27 (Open, D-Gray) - Democrat Esmeralda Soria, a Fresno city councilmember, and Republican Mark Pazin, the former Merced County Sheriff, will advance to a November runoff. Democratic candidates combine for 51.6% of the vote, portending a potentially competitive race in November.

AD 30 (Open, R-Cunningham) - Democrat Dawn Addis, a Morro Bay city councilmember who received independent expenditure support from the California Farm Bureau, charter school advocates, and the correctional officer’s union, advances to a runoff with perennial, Republican Vicki Nohrden. Addis is not expected to face a competitive challenge.

CD 03 (NEW, Placer/Sacramento) - Democrat Kermit Jones leads with 39.4%, with Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley in second with 36.5%. The Republican candidates are currently leading the Democratic candidates 53.5% to 46.5% in a race where Republicans are favored in November.

CD 09 (D-Harder) - Incumbent Josh Harder leads with 36.5%, and Republican San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti is in second with 28.9%. The Republican candidates are at 49.54%, and the Democrats are at 49.49%.

CD 13 (NEW, Central Valley) - Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray appears poised to advance to a runoff with farmer/businessman Republican John Duarte. Gray leads with 33.2% to Duarte's 30.8%. The Democratic candidates are at a combined 52.2% to the GOP candidates' 47.8% in a Biden 11% district that is certain to be a top target in November.

CD 21 (D-Costa) - Incumbent Democrat Jim Costa easily beat back a challenge from progressive Democrat Eric Garcia, receiving 50.5% of the vote and advancing to November with Republican Micahel Maher, who received 23.7%.

Old CD 22 (R-Nunes) Connie Conway, a former GOP state assemblymember, won the special election for the U.S. House of Representatives seat vacated by Devin Nunes. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, once she’s sworn into office, a record 146 women will be serving in Congress, making up a little more than 27% of the body. But she’ll only have about six months in office: in 2023, Nunes’ seat will cease to exist in its current form due to redistricting.

CD 22 (R-Valadao) - Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas leads incumbent Republican David Valadao 47.1% to 25.7% in the current returns, with two pro-Trump Republicans splitting the rest of the GOP vote. Fewer than 20,000 votes have been counted at this stage, though the GOP candidates are still combining for 52.9% in this Biden 13% district. Valadao's primary campaign faced a last-minute dose of chaos when Super PACs aligned with Speaker Nancy Pelosi pumped six-figure sums to promote former Fresno City Councilman Chris Mathys as a preferable option for GOP voters, despite being perceived as a weaker candidate against Salas in the fall.

SD 04 (Open, R-Borgeas) – In yet another example of a Republican circular firing squad, two weak Democratic candidates evenly divided the minority of the vote while the six Republicans battled it out for the other 56% of the vote – thus locking themselves out of the November ballot – that a Republican should have won! Labor leader Tim Robertson leads with 23.4%, Democrat Marie Alvarado-Gil, whose campaign spent nothing, is taking 20.1%, and Republicans George Radanovich, Steven Bailey, and Jeff McKay are evenly splitting the vote for third, receiving 17%, 14.93%, and 14.89%, respectively. One more lost Republican seat – great move, guys!

SD 06 (Open, R-Nielsen) - Former GOP Assemblyman Roger Niello took the number two spot over Republican physician Michael Huang. Paula Villescaz, the only Democrat on the ballot, received 46%. The race is expected to be competitive, albeit Republican-leaning.

SD 08 (Open, D-Pan) - Democrat Dave Jones leads Angelique Ashby 45.8%/42.1%. Both will advance to November when the torrent of I.E. spending that defined the primary is expected to flare back up with even more intensity.

SD 16 (D-Hurtado) - Republican David Shepard took the top spot with 42.1% of the vote, while incumbent Democrat Melissa Hurtado easily beat former Assemblymember Nicole Parra and progressive Bryan Osorio. The race is expected to be competitive. The two Republican candidates are currently at 50.3% of the vote, with the three Democrats at 49.7%.

Southern California

LA Mayor Rick Caruso is ahead of Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) by 5.1 points in the Los Angeles mayoral race, though barely a third of the results are in. Caruso held a narrow but widening lead over Bass in partial returns early Wednesday. With more than one-third of the expected votes counted, Caruso was ahead with 42% to Bass’ 37%. Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León was third, far behind the leaders, with progressive activist Gina Viola fourth.

Chula Vista Mayor John McCann, who has always been a friend of the merit shop, came in first in his Chula Vista mayor’s race. First, however, he will face Ammar Campa-Najar, who lost a house seat to Issa in 2020.

Orange County Supervisor D4 Surprisingly, two Democrats made it to the runoff for Orange County Supervisor District 4.

Orange County Supervisor D2 Two Democrats made it to the runoff for Orange County Supervisor District 2. Both candidates come from cities that have recently enacted PLAs.

Orange County Supervisor D5 State Senator Pat Bates will probably face Democrat-labor lawyer Katrina Foley in the November election.

San Bernardino Mayor Merit Shop supporter John Valdivia lost his reelection bid.

Riverside County Supervisor D5 Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt made the top two runoffs with PLA supporter Yxstian Gutierrez, the mayor of Moreno Valley.

AD 34 (R-Lackey / R-Smith) - Tom Lackey holds a narrow lead in the redistricted A.D. 34, currently running 41 votes ahead of Assemblyman Thurston 'Smitty' Smith. Democrat Rita Ramirez-Dean is a close third, 2% behind Smith.

AD 40 (R-Valladeres) - Despite her district shifting sharply to the left, incumbent Republican Suzette Martinez Valladares is currently logging 51% of the vote in this Biden 16% district. Labor-backed Democrat Pilar Schiavo is handily beating third-place 2020 candidate Annie Cho.

AD 47 (Open, NPP-Mayes) - There are warning signs for Republicans looking to hold onto the Riverside/San Bernardino County district being vacated by independent Chad Mayes. Democrat Christy Holstege, a Palm Springs city councilmember, leads Mayes' district director Greg Wallis 50.1% to 30.9%. A second Democrat is receiving another 8% of the vote, while the GOP vote share is currently under 42%.

AD 63 (Open, R-Seyarto) - With Fauzia Rizvi as the only Democrat on the ballot, the race between Republicans Bill Essayli and Clint Lorimore for the second spot remains tight, with Essayli leading Lorimore 29.8% to 27.6%. Whichever Republican advances is expected to prevail in November.

AD 70 (Open, R-Nguyen) - In what was expected to be a somewhat competitive race, the Republican candidates are currently at 61.5% of the vote. However, 2020 candidate and Garden Grove city councilmember Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen is in the top spot with 38.5% of the vote as the only Democrat on the ballot, with Republican Tri Ta, the mayor of Westminster, outpacing the other four GOP candidates on the ballot to take the second spot.

AD 71 (NEW, Orange County/Riverside) - It's a close race in the safely Republican AD 71 in the two-person race, with Temecula mayor Matt Rahn leading former Darrell Issa aide Kate Sanchez 52.2%/47.8%. Both will advance to a same-party GOP runoff.

AD 73 (D-Petrie-Norris / R-Choi) - While the redrawn district remains incredibly hostile territory to Republican candidates, as of this morning, Democrat Cottie Petrie-Norris is leading Republican Steven Choi by single digits in a district that voted for Biden by nearly 26%. Choi faces a tough race in November.

AD 74 (R-Davies) - Incumbent Republican Laurie Davies narrowly leads Democrat Chris Duncan, a San Clemente city councilmember, 52.9%/47.1%. The race is almost assured to be a top battleground in November.

AD 75 (R-Waldron / R-Voepel) - The edge in the incumbent-on-incumbent Republican race goes to Marie Waldron, who is crushing Voepel 62.6%/37.4%.

AD 80 (Open, D-Gonzalez) - While progressive Georgette Gomez is leading David Alvarez 35%/32% in the four-way race for the entire term, Alvarez is currently far ahead of Gomez in the two-person runoff for the remainder of Lorena Gonzalez' current term, receiving 56.1% to her 43.9%. The San Diego County Republican Party provided some modest spending in support of Alvarez during the runoff. As with the runoff, Alvarez appears to have much more room to grow in November as the comparatively moderate candidate in the democrat-on-democrat race.

CD 27 (R-Garcia) - Despite losing the conservative Simi Valley portion of his district, Mike Garcia is currently at 49.6%, with two other GOP candidates bumping the Republican vote share to 53.4%. Repeat Democratic candidate Christy Smith easily dispatched newcomer Quaye Quartey for the second spot by a 6% margin. This will be Smith’s third race against Garcia. She gave up a safe Assembly seat to run for Congress. In 2020, Garcia defeated Smith in the general election by 333 votes, making it the third-closest U.S. House race that year. Three independent election forecasters rated the general election as a toss-up.

CD 40 (R-Kim) - Incumbent Republican Young Kim fought off a challenge from her right from serial candidate Greg Raths, outpolling him 34.3% to 24.6%. Physician Asif Mahmood currently receives 39.8% as the only Democratic candidate on the ballot.

CD 41 (R-Calvert) - Incumbent Republican Ken Calvert is currently in first place, with just 43.6% of the vote. Democrat Will Rollins is a lock for the second spot with 35.6%. The two Democratic candidates are currently polling at 50.5% to the GOP candidates' 48.3%, which will no doubt set off alarms at the NRCC.

CD 42 (Open, D-Lowenthal / D-Roybal-Allard) - Democratic Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia is expected to cruise to an easy win in November, with perennial Republican candidate John Briscoe claiming the second spot with 28.7% of the vote and Democratic Assemblymember Cristina Garcia a distant third with 12.7%.

CD 45 (R-Steel) - Incumbent Republican Michelle Steel is leading Democrat Jay Chen 49.3% to 41.2%, with perennial Republican candidate Long Pham claiming another 9.5%. Steel appears to be in a strong position for November.

CD 47 (D-Porter) - Incumbent Democrat Katie Porter will need to dip into her enormous war chest if current trends hold. The second-term Democrat is currently winning a narrow majority of the vote with just under 51%. Former Assembly GOP leader Scott Baugh took the second spot with 30.8% and advances to November.

CD 49 (D-Levin) - Incumbent Democrat Mike Levin will advance to a runoff with third-time Republican candidate Brian Maryott, comfortably leading Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett 18.5% to 10.5% for the second spot.

SD 20 (Open, D-Hertzberg) - While early returns had the race as a same-party Democratic runoff between Bob Hertzberg's adult son (hotel employee Daniel) and Democrat Caroline Menjivar, a former East Valley Area Representative in Los Angeles mayor Garcetti's office, late returns pushed the sole Republican on the ballot, realtor Ely De La Cruz Ayao, into the second spot and he now leads Menjivar 29.5%/24.9%.

SD 36 (NEW, Coastal Orange County) - Republican Assemblywoman Janet Nguyen leads Democratic Huntington Beach city councilmember Kim Carr 56.9%/43.1% and is favored to win in November.

SD 38 (Open, R-Bates) - Republican businessman Matt Gunderson is currently in the top spot with 45.3%, with Democratic Encinitas mayor Catherine Blakespear crushing retired fire captain Joe Kerr 43.9%/10.8% for the second spot. The redrawn district voted for Biden by 16%, and Blakespear is favored in November.

SD 40 (R-Jones) - Incumbent Republican Brian Jones leads Democrat Joe Rocha 53.9%/46.1%. The area is trending blue and should be one of the marquee races in November.