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News & Press: News Express

It's a Jungle Out There: A State-Level Recap of Ca Primary Results

Wednesday, June 6, 2018  
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A CLTA News Express
Bulletin 2017/18-98
June 6, 2018

The dust has started to settle after California’s top-two or “jungle” primary.  The winning candidates can now begin to size up the general election opponents they’ll face in the fall.

Statewide Races

At the statewide level, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom is set to square off in the general election against Republican John Cox in the race for Governor. Cox, whom likely benefited from an endorsement from Donald Trump, was able to consolidate the GOP vote in recent weeks and cruised into the second spot behind Newsom, well ahead of third-place finisher and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The securing of a spot on the ballot for Governor was viewed as critical for Republicans in the state, who were concerned that a lack of a presence on the top of the ticket could lead to suppressed turnout for November’s general election.

Republicans were not so fortunate in the race for Lt. Governor, however, in which two Democrats – former Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis and state Senator Ed Hernandez – will face one another in the fall runoff. The election for Secretary of State will pit current officeholder Democrat Alex Padilla against Republican challenger Mark Meuser.

In his quest for Attorney General, Xavier Becerra was able to consolidate the majority of the Democratic vote and will face Republican Steven Bailey in November. Current Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones’ appeal to the Democratic base seems to have gone unheard, as he finished fourth in the race for the State’s top law enforcement position behind Republican Eric Early.

Of particular interest to the title industry, former Republican Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, now running as a No Party Preference candidate, will face Democratic State Senator Ricardo Lara in his bid to serve a second term in his former job. Poizner, who stepped down in 2010 after a single term to run unsuccessfully for governor, lead Lara by approximately 23,000 votes. Democrat Asif Mahmood was a distant third.

State Legislature: Recalls, Special Elections, and Supermajorities

In the State Legislature, the biggest news of the night came with the successful ouster of Democratic state Senator Josh Newman in a recall election focused on Newman’s vote for the controversial gas tax, SB 1. GOP Assemblymember Ling Ling Chang, whom Newman narrowly defeated in 2016, was the top vote getter among the candidates vying to secure the seat and will serve out the remainder of Newman’s term. Coming on the heels of Senator Tony Mendoza’s resignation, the loss of Newman’s seat leaves Democrats two seats short of a supermajority in the upper chamber for the time being.

In addition, the overwhelming success of the recall election ensures that the gas tax—enacted by legislation passed almost exclusively with Democratic votes— will be front and center in many Republican campaigns from the Governor’s race all the way down the ticket.

In Assembly Districts 39 and 45, special elections for the seats vacated by legislators who resigned in the wake of sexual harassment allegations concluded, bringing Democrats in the Assembly back to their 55-seat supermajority. Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, a leader of the #METOO movement who herself became entangled in a sexual harassment scandal, survived a crowded field of six Democratic challengers and is expected to cruise to victory in the fall against her Republican opponent. State Senator Tony Mendoza fell short in his attempt to reclaim the seat from which he resigned after he faced down a looming expulsion vote in the state Senate over sexual harassment allegations.

With a number of polls showing the gas tax to be unpopular, and a repeal initiative likely for the November ballot, the tenor of the fall races will almost certainly coalesce around the issues of taxes and the federal government, with Republican candidates reminding voters that a state legislature with Democratic supermajorities in both chambers raised taxes on gas via SB 1 and recorded documents via SB 2, and Democrats looking to make the election a referendum on the policies and supporters of the Trump administration.


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