When California adopted a primary system that advanced the top two vote-getters regardless of party to the November election, advocates anticipated that moderate candidates with broader appeal would benefit. Yet, news coverage leading up to and following the primary, which took place June 5, was dominated by concerns about the system’s real effect: splitting votes. In addition, same day registration and a glitch in Los Angeles County’s voter rosters added to concerns about how the voting process might impact the races.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) beat out two fellow Democratic contenders, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and California State Treasurer John Chiang, with 33.4% of the vote and will run against San Diego businessman John Cox (R), who earned 26.2% of the vote November. If elected, Newsom states he will focus on increasing investments in affordable housing, promote the use of Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts to fund infrastructure projects, and work with the private sector to create workforce housing. Cox aims to repeal the gas tax increase and reduce regulations on businesses as a path to stimulating economic growth.
Two Democrats, Eleni Kounalakis and Ed Hernandez, will advance to the general election for lieutenant governor. Kounalakis, who previously served as the U.S. ambassador in Hungary, edged out Hernandez, a former state Assemblymember and Senator, as the top vote-getter. Prior to her appointment as ambassador, Kounalakis held the position of President of her family business, AKT Development, which develops housing for middle-class families.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Controller Betty Yee, and Attorney General Xavier Becerra all advanced to the general election. Fiona Ma (D), who received 43% of the vote, will compete against Greg Conlon (R) to succeed John Chiang (who lost his bid to become Governor) as California State Treasurer.
Senate Democrats no longer hold the supermajority necessary to pass tax and fee increases following the defeat of Josh Newman, who lost the 29th District seat over a vote to raise gas taxes. Republican Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang will now hold the office representing Orange County.
U.S. Senate Races
California Senate President pro Tempore Emeritus Kevin De Leon (D) advanced to the November election despite receiving only 11.3% of the vote against incumbent Sen. Diane Feinstein (D), who received 43.8% of the vote in a crowded field of 19 candidates. Feinstein has backed legislation to expand the definition of homelessness so that more children and families who currently do not qualify would have access to federal housing assistance.
De Leon served as pro Tempore last year when Gov. Brown signed the historic housing package, and was one of the authors of SB 1206, which asks voters to approve the use of Mental Health Services Administration bond funds for the No Place Like Home program, which aims to dedicate $2 billion for permanent supportive housing for individuals with severe mental health issues who are experiencing or at risk of chronic homelessness.
U.S. House Races
In the Bay Area, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) advanced easily to the general election in San Francisco (12th District) finishing ahead of Lisa Remmer (R) and five other candidates. Pelosi has a long history of supporting Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, the redevelopment of public housing, and programs that provide housing for individuals experiencing homelessness, especially those with HIV/AIDS. Remmer is running on a platform of school choice for parents, cutting H1B visas, and securing the nation’s borders to prevent illegal immigration.
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-11th District) also easily advanced to the November election, where he will face John Fitzgerald (R) to represent Contra Costa. DeSaulnier supports permanently expanding tax credits for low-income homebuyers, as well as programs to provide housing for homeless veterans and students.
In San Mateo, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-14th District), who received 77.7% of the vote, will face Republican challenger Cristina Osmena in November. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-15th District) of Hayward-Livermore, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-17th District) of Fremont-Milpitas, and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-18th District) of Silicon Valley-Santa Cruz will all face Republican challengers in November Rep. Barbara Lee (D-13th District) ran unopposed in Berkeley-San Leandro, as did Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-19th District), who represents San Jose.
In the Los Angeles area, two Democrats are vying against each other in two races. Rep. Judy Chu is running against Bryan Witt in the San Gabriel Foothills (27th District). The closest runner-up to Rep. Nanette Barragan to represent South Los Angeles-Compton (44th District) was Compton Mayor Aja Brown who dropped out of the race in April. Barragan has supported efforts to protect seniors from losing their homes and introduced the Housing Homeless Veterans Act.
Republicans finished first in two primary races. Rep. Steve Knight (25th District) is running against Katie Hill (D) to retain his seat, and Ryan Downing is challenging Rep. Linda Sanchez (38th District) in Eastern Los Angeles. Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-32nd District) of the San Gabriel Valley ran unopposed.
Democrats finished first in six of seven races and will run against Republicans in the general election. Candidates include Rep. Adam Schiff (28th District) of Burbank-Glendale, Reps. Tony Cardenas (29th District) and Brad Sherman (30th District) of the San Fernando Valley, Rep. Ted Lieu (33rd District) of Coastal Los Angeles, Rep. Karen Bass (37th District), and Maxine Waters (43rd District).
In the San Diego region, Diane Harkey (R) will advance with 25.5% of the vote in a bid to fill Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat in the 49th District. Harkey, who has represented Southern California as a member of the State Board of Equalization since 2014, emphasized streamlining tax laws and regulations during her campaign.
Currently Democrats Mike Levin and Sara Jacobs are vying for the second spot, trailed by Democrat Doug Applegate and Republicans Kristin Gaspar and Rocky Chavez. Levin’s priorities include sustainable energy and environmental protection, providing affordable health coverage, and fighting for campaign finance reform. Jacobs’ platform include expanding access to affordable housing and protecting individuals from housing discrimination.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-50th) also advanced with nearly 50% of the vote, and will defend his seat against Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) in November. A former Labor Department official with the Obama administration, Campa-Najjar worked to expand the nation’s apprenticeship program and help small businesses secure federal contracts.
In Central and South San Diego County, Reps. Juan Vargas (D-51), Scott Peters (D-52), and Susan Davis (D-53) each won their races with more than 55% of the vote. All will likely face Republicans in the general election.
In San Francisco, the Mayor’s race was still too close to call with ballots yet to be counted as long as they arrive by Friday, June 8. As of Wednesday evening, Mark Leno led Board of Supervisors President London Breed by less than a percentage point in the bid to replace Ed Lee as Mayor through ranked choice voting. Breed briefly held the position of Acting Mayor of San Francisco following Lee’s unexpected death in late 2017.