California elections are confusing, both for Californians and Americans at large. The Golden State has an odd formula that has pretty much guaranteed Democrat control since it was first introduced under (and with the support of) Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010. Under the “jungle primary” system, California effectively has two “general” elections. In the primaries all voters receive the same ballot – there are no Republican or Democrat ballots except for presidential primaries – and select their candidate of choice in each race. The top two vote-getters for each race, even if they’re both of the same party, then move on to general elections in November.
In some offices, such as non-partisan local offices like County Supervisor or Sheriff, a candidate can skip the generals altogether by securing over 50 percent of the vote.
RedState contributor Bob Hoge says more Americans need to understand that our primary system is the culprit for a lot of our voting issues.
It shocks me how many “knowledgeable” people don’t realize California has a top two system. Meaning that we often get two Dems running against each other in the general, and the Republicans are left off the ballot entirely come November in many elections.
California elections are convoluted and hard to understand if you live outside the state, so here is a summary of what Tuesday’s results may or may not signal. California is a huge state, so we tried to focus on races that may signal a change, and highlight races we think you should watch closely through November. We hope this will help readers find a bit more clarity on what elections actually mean in the bluest state in the union.
For up-to-the-minute results, head to California Secretary of State website.
Also worth noting…as of the time of publication, California is still only reporting about half of the statewide vote. Results in closer races could change several times before certification. It’s a special kind of torture reserved for the exhausted voters of the state.
San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin went down hard in a recall aimed at bringing some sense of order back to the city. An overwhelming 60% of voters decided to kick the “Defund the Police” prosecutor to the curb. Many people like to ask what the line is for Californians when it comes to their reflexive voting. With the recall of one of the most radical politicians in the nation, the answer seems to be that the line is unchecked crime and the complete dissolution of law and order. It’s a start.
I’d definitely avoid Walgreens tomorrow in SF, folks. Final clearance sale for looters, if you know what I mean. #ByeByeBoudin
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) June 8, 2022
Los Angeles mayoral offers moderate versus progressive and the results signal a huge change in voter enthusiasm
Moderate Democrat Rick Caruso continues to enjoy a commanding lead over the progressive “shoe-in” US Rep. Karen Bass. Caruso, a billionaire real estate developer, has been running his primary campaign on a platform of cleaning up the homeless crisis and empowering law enforcement to deal with skyrocketing crime and declining public safety. In a race that is often simply a matter of one progressive handing the office to another, the success of Caruso’s moderate platform indicates that even the extremely liberal base in Los Angeles has had enough of the status quo. Both candidates will move on to a run-off in November, with Caruso entering the generals with significant momentum. A Caruso win would mark an enormous shift in voter priorities, echoed by the Boudin recall. This race will be one to watch and will carry national significance moving into November generals.
And more bad news for Los Angeles “defund the police”
Although this is not a current election issue, a new poll suggests extreme leftist Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon could be next on the chopping block. Adding that to a Caruso victory and the Boudin recall would mark an official trend.
NEW: A new poll in Long Beach may spell trouble for LA DA @GeorgeGascon.
45.2% SUPPORT recall
27.1% OPPOSE recall
Two most common words voters describe Gascon w/ “lenient” & “progressive”
Long Beach is heavily Democratic, and is the 2nd largest city in L.A. County. @FoxNews
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) June 8, 2022
The DUI driver with no license who ran this mom and baby in a stroller over, ran from the scene and was only stopped by a hero in a pickup truck only received 5 months in a juvi camp per Gascon’s DA office. @DAGasconRecall pic.twitter.com/N4sq9YWB0m
— STREET PEOPLE OF LOS ANGELES (@streetpeopleLA) June 3, 2022
George Gascon put this 25 year old biological MALE sexual predator in a FEMALE juvenile facility after a sexual assault conviction. Now James Tubbs is charged with murder dating back to a 2019 case out of Kern County. RECALL GEORGE GASCON #RECALLGASCON https://t.co/REJA9HkUBl
— STREET PEOPLE OF LOS ANGELES (@streetpeopleLA) May 10, 2022
And even more bad news…
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has been a thorn in the side of neglectful, corrupt Democrat leaders in Los Angeles and Sacramento. Villanueva has famously defied orders from L.A. politicians in the name of taking control of spiraling public safety. The Sheriff has bucked state and local policies by forcibly cleaning up homeless encampments in Venice Beach, refusing to waste valuable resources on enforcing COVID restrictions, and generally refusing to be a team player with the worst politicians in America. Democrats surely hoped to knock Villanueva down a peg but he will advance to a November run-off with strong primary results. Law and order is definitely on California ballots this primary cycle, and it is winning.
The Governor’s Race Isn’t Quite As Cut and Dry As It Might Look
Gavin Newsom received an unsurprising lion’s share of the primary vote, capturing 56 percent of the vote so far. The race for governor, however, is a top two primary, so he’ll move on to November to face Republican challenger Brian Dahle, who is holding steady at 17 percent. Dahle’s numbers seem weak but it’s important to note that he was up against a number of Republican challengers. In addition, midterm turnout was extremely low for California. Only 18 percent of registered voters turned up to the polls. A healthy November turnout by Republican voters and a strong, careful campaign could push Dahle into the competitive zone.
RedState contributor Jennifer Oliver O’Connell is cautiously optimistic.
The way outsiders are cursing California over Newsom getting 56 percent of the vote…he’s the incumbent–what did you expect? And the fact that Dahle got 20 percent of the vote says a lot to me, especially with the low turnout… if he gets the right campaign direction, and CAGOP gets out of the way, he could have the juice to take down Newsom.
An interesting bright spot in the Lt. Governor race?
The Democrat candidate predictably sailed to the top of the results, but Republican Angela Underwood Jacobs is looking stronger as the votes are tallied. She is sitting on 20% of the vote while her Republican opponent has taken 13% of the vote. Assuming those votes matriculate to Underwood Jacobs, Jennifer Oliver O’Connell sees a potential bright spot for the executive office.
Nobody knows or cares who Eleni Koulanakis is, but if we can get people to care who Underwood Jacobs is, it could be the key to getting a Republican into the Executive Branch
As a Black Republican – and the sister of a federal law enforcement officer, David Underwood, who was killed while guarding the federal building in Oakland during the BLM riots in 2020 – she just may be able to bust the prevailing narrative enough to grab the attention of beleaguered voters.
Republican Young Kim too liberal for Orange County?
Newly redistricted incumbent Young Kim (District 40, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties) posted a lackluster performance in the conservative strongholds of southern California, coming in behind challenger Asif Mahmood’s 40% share with just a 34% haul. Her Democrat challenger’s success signals that conservative voters are not very happy with Kim’s squishy positions on COVID mandates. Kim’s Republican challenger, Greg Raths ran a strong campaign on the back of her COVID issues. Kim may have to move further to the right to decisively hang on to the seat in the November run-off. This will be an important race to watch.
Los Angeles County Republican Mike Garcia looks to be surviving redistricting
Mike Garcia (District 27, Los Angeles County) suffered a gut-punch when redistricting snatched the conservative stronghold of Simi Valley from his boundaries. California Democrats hoped it would be enough to knock the Republican who reclaimed Katie Hill’s seat off his throne but Garcia put in a strong performance and looks to be dominating his Democrat opponent so far. Garcia will face off against Christy Smith in November. This is a seat Democrats have been hoping to pick off with redistricting, so it is another important race to keep an eye on.
Education was on the ballot and it looks to be a nail-biter
The state office of Superintendent of Public Instruction was on the ballot and Democrat incumbent Tony Thurmond will advance to November. Challengers Ainye Long and George Lang are tied for second, sucking up 12% of the vote each. However, the candidate to watch is Lance Christensen, the Republican-endorsed and parent-endorsed candidate who was motivated by COVID overreach, draconian mandates and controversial curriculums that push sexual identity and critical race theory, among other divisive issues. Christensen is trailing Long and Lang by one percentage point, with less than half the votes tallied so far. If the homeschooling father and education policy expert is able to break through to a November run-off, it would be a signal to the political class that the parent empowerment movement is indeed a threat even in this true blue state. For now, Christensen and his supporters must wait patiently through California’s tedious ballot counting process.
Christensen tells RedState there is good news and bad news.
The good news is we held Thurmond to under 50% despite the teachers’ unions dropping in north of $2 million in independent expenditures for him. The bad news is I am currently among 3 candidates jockeying for 2nd place around 11% with several thousand votes standing between us out of about 3 million cast statewide. Votes sent in the mail by last night can be counted for the next 7 days. Even then, we may not know who will advance to the November General Election for weeks if the second place remains that close. The vote must be certified by July 15th. So now, we wait.
Republican Mark Meuser advances to fight for Kamala Harris’ former seat
Alex Padilla is the Democrat incumbent, but conservative lawyer Mark Meuser will advance to face off against Padilla in November. Meuser is a promising candidate with strong support and messaging. As a Republican he still faces an uphill climb, but primary turnout has been extremely low. Turnout may change his numbers for the better come November. Keep an eye on this race.
The usual suspects
No surprises as entrenched Democrats Adam Schiff, Maxine Waters and Ted Lieu win their respective races handily and advance to November with no sign of any real challenges.
California’s most conservative county hangs on to law and order
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer sailed to a decisive win on Tuesday. Spitzer’s campaign motto “Keep L.A. out of O.C.” has been resonating with middle-class voters concerned with spreading crime and chaos. Spitzer will not have to face a run-off. The take-away here is that Orange County, despite Democrat gains, will continue to hold the line on high profile issues like law and order and the homelessness crisis.
Orange County advances conservative first-timer
First-time candidate Matt Gunderson ran in the 38th District (Orange and San Diego counties) and posted an impressive performance. He is currently neck-and-neck with his Democrat challenger. Both are projected to move forward to the generals. Gunderson’s candidacy is reflective of current “citizen’s revolt” against the status quo.
And likewise in Ventura county
Republican Lori Mills is another “citizen candidate” who looks likely to advance to November in District 42. Mills is a staunch conservative. A win in her district would be a huge victory for Republicans and would flip a long-held Democrat Assembly seat. Mills points to low turnout as a key issue for conservatives come November.
We are going to win! Republicans need to stop tweeting, posting and bring their friends and families to the polls. Voter turnout was low. They also need to pull out their checkbooks. This is a WE campaign, not a ME campaign. Together we save California!
Shoutout to Republican Laurie Davies (District 74, Orange and San Diego Counties)
Davies jumped out in front early in counting. Her Democrat opponent is closing in, but Davies is currently sitting on more than 50% of the vote. Those worried about the waning influence of conservatism in Orange County should pay close attention to this race. Davies is a strong conservative voice and well-liked in her district.
What we think:
Jennifer Oliver O’Connell says she’s not keen to make predictions, but she sees possibilities.
I am not into final conclusions–I am into how do we organize to ensure California participates in this Red wave. It could happen, if voters get off their duff.
Bob Hoge says this can only happen if the state GOP can get out of their own way.
The job of a Party is to drive their voter turnout, but CAGOP never seem to try very hard if at all. It’s as if they’ve given up.
Another thing that amazes me is how many people are unhappy with the way things are deteriorating here, but they just keep voting the same way because they just “could never vote Republican.” Or, more likely, they don’t vote at all. Early voter turnout was at record lows; can’t imagine that changed much election day.
Hoge’s wife, Roxanne Hoge, ran as a citizen-candidate for L.A.’s powerful Board of Supervisors. She says conservatives in California are motivated to complain, but not to show up.
“It’s amazing how uninformed so many people are. But the purposeful exclusion of voices of candidates by public radio, mainstream tv and written word does have an effect. Also, conservatives sure love to kvetch about stolen elections, but then don’t show up to counter that.”
RedState Managing Editor Jennifer Van Laar points to voter apathy being a major challenge, and says one major take away from Tuesday’s primaries needs to be that California voters don’t like to vote against things. They need to be motivated to vote for something.
It’s not enough for people to not like the incumbent. In CA, with traffic and gas prices and everything, they need a reason to get to the polls. While anger usually motivates, at this point people in CA need to know that someone can actually CHANGE our reality before we put in any action.
RedState will keep an eye on voter tallies for the next month (MONTH!) and keep you informed as candidates begin the second leg of their journey to the November generals.