California Voters Set November Matchups in June 5 Primary
Race for Governor and Targeted Congressional Races Draw Most Attention 

June 7, 2018 (results updated June 25) - California is seen as critical to Democrats' efforts to reclaim control of the U.S. House in the 2018 midterm elections—they hope to pick up from three to seven seats here in November.  First, however, was the June 5 primary election which featured a full slate of contests including statewide, congressional, local races, judicial contests, and ballot measures. 

California uses a top-two system for its primary, where all the candidates for a particular office appear on the ballot irrespective of party.  (Voters approved the top-two system eight years ago, voting for Proposition 14 by a margin of in the June 8, 2010 primary).

In the race to succeed term-limited Gov. Jerry Brown (D), 27 candidates were on the ballot (12 Democrats, 5 Republicans, 2 Greens, 2 Libertarians, 1 P&F and 5 no party).  The real race was for second place since Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who has the support of many in the Democratic establishment, was seen as certain to finish first.  Among the strongest candidates besides Newsom were three Democrats (Treasurer John Chiang, former State Superintendent of Education Delaine Eastin, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa) and two Republicans (businessman John Cox, whom President Trump endorsed on May 18, and Assemblyman Travis Allen).  bios  |  campaign lit.  |  sample ads

June 25, 2017 - Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) participates in the gay pride parade in San Francisco. more | May 30 | June 3
Feb. 23, 2018 - Businessman John Cox (R) at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, MD. more
June 4, 2018 - Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) greets voters at Dulan's Soul Food on Crenshaw. more
June 5, 2018 - Assemblyman Travis Allen (R) speaks at L.A. City Hall on his "Take Back California" tour. more
June 5, 2018 - Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin (D) joins volunteers for GOTV texting at Bernie's Diner in L.A.. May 19 | June 5
not pictured above: Treasurer John Chiang.

As the most populous state, with an estimated 39.8 million people (+), California faces many challenges.  The state has a very diverse population, including 37% Hispanic or Latino, 13% Asian and 6% Black or African American, and boasts the fifth largest economy in the world.  Top issues include homelessness and housing affordability, poverty (California has "the country’s worst poverty rate, after factoring in cost-of-living expenses"(+)), transportation (including recent gas and vehicle registration tax increases and high speed rail), education, water policy, and taxes generally (+).

The Los Angeles Times reports that candidates and outside groups raised more than $90 million in the race for governor.  The Newsom campaign led in fundraising; Newsom announced his candidacy way back in Feb. 2015 and had a big start over Villaraigosa, who announced in Nov. 2016.  However, the outside group Families and Teachers for Antonio Villaraigosa for Governor 2018, backed by a few wealthy charter school supporters (California Charter Schools Association Advocates), spent a reported $22.7 million boosting Villaraigosa.  Other candidates trailed far behind. 
Contributions and Expenditures-Partial*

Total Contribs. 1/1/18-5/19/18
Total Expend. 1/1/18-5/19/18
Travis Allen
John Chiang
$5,008,478.33 $6,441,522.94
John Cox
$2,104,503.13 $4,206,305.99
Delaine Eastin
$432,586.77 $399,250.33
Gavin Newsom
$6,146,948.31 $13,426,785.81
Antonio Villaraigosa
$3,383,798.62 $7,150,259.85
Familes and ...[V]
$2,500,000.00 $2,609,391.19
Citizens sup...[N]
*Does not include late filings.  See SOS: Cal Access: Candidates  |  Villaraigosa comm. recipient  |  Newsom comm. recipient  |  late filings

See also
Ryan Menezies and Maloy Moore.  "Track the money that fueled the California primary for governor."  Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2018.

Seema Mehta and Phil Willon.  "How Villaraigosa lost the governor's race despite tens of millions of dollars spent to boost his bid."  Los Angeles Times, June 6, 2018.
Running elections in such a big state as California is a major challenge.  In Los Angeles County a printing error met that over 100,000 voters were left off the rosters, and while they were able to vote by provisional ballots it was an embarassment for the registrar-recorder/county clerk office (+).  Counting the ballots is a drawn out process; well over half of votes in primaries since 2008 have been cast by mail (+), and, as the Secretary of State notes, "Vote-by-mail ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day and received by county offices no later than 6/8/2018 will be processed and counted."  By late afternoon of June 7, an estimated 2.6 million ballots remained to be counted (2,163,493 mail, and 379,301 provisional).  By late afternoon of June 11 more than 2.0 million ballots still remained to be counted (1,610,912 mail and 364,572 provisional) (+).

Semi-Official Results of Statewide Races: 
updated as of June 23 @ 5:04 p.m. there were still an estimated 666.494 ballots to be counted

Governor [open]: Fomer San Francisco Mayor and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) 33.6% will face
businessman John Cox (R) 25.5%.  Other strong finishers: former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) 13.3%, Assemblyman Travis Allen (R) 9.5%, Treasurer John Chiang (D) 9.5% and former Superindentent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin (D) 3.3%

Lieutenant Governor [open]: Land developer and former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Kounalakis (D) 24.2% will face optomistrist and state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D) 20.6%. 
Other strong finishers: Cole Harris (R) 17.6%, Jeff Bleich (D) 9.3%, David Fennell (R) 7.9%.

Secretary of State: *SOS Alex Padilla (D) 52.5% will face attorney Mark P. Meuser (R) 31.2%.
Other strong finishers: Ruben Major (D) 5.3%, Raul Rodriguez Jr. (R) 5.0%.

Controller: *Controller Betty Yee (D) 62.0% will face president/CEO of American Ground Transportation Konstantinos Roditis (R) 34.1%.  Other finisher: Mary Lou Finley (P&F) 4.0%.

Treasurer [open]: State Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma (D) 44.4% will face businessman and former president of the California Public Utilities Commission Greg Conlon (R) 21.0%.  Other strong finishers: Jack Guerrero (R) 19.4%, Vivak Viswanathan (D) 13.0%.

Attorney General: *appointed AG Xavier Becerra (D) 45.7% will face retired El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Steven C. Bailey (R) 24.6%.  Other strong finishers: Dave Jones (D) 15.4%, Eric Early (R) 14.4%.

Insurance Commissioner [open]: Businessman/entrepreneur and former Insurance Commissioner (2006-10) Steve Poizner (NPP) 41.3% will face state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D) (represents district that runs from Huntington Park south to Long Beach) 40.4%.
Other strong finisher: Asif Mahmood (D) 13.4%.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction [open]: founding CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for Los Angeles Schools and previously president of the nonprofit Green Dot Public Schools Marshall Tuck 37.2% will face former Richmond City Councilman, school board member and Assemblyman Tony Thurmond 35.6%.  Other strong finishers: Lily (Espinoza) Ploski 16.3%, Steven Ireland 10.9%.



U.S. Senate
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), first elected in a 1992 special election and 85 years old this June, is seeking re-election.  A total of 32 candidates were on the ballot (11 Republicans, 10 Democrats, 1 Libertarian, 1 P&F and 9 no party).  As expected Feinstein finished well ahead in the primary, garnering 44.2% of the vote.  Running as a progressive, state Sen. Kevin De León (D), who represents a Los Angeles area district north of downtown, finished second with 12.0%.  Republicans were shut out of the general election race; their strongest candidate, James P. Bradley (R), finished third with 8.4%.

U.S. House

California is seen as key to Democrats' efforts to gain control of the U.S. House.  The current balance of the California delegation in the U.S. House is 39 Democrats and 14 Republicans.  Clinton carried seven districts held by Republican members.

Two of these seven Republicans are retiring.  Interestingly, countering the national storyline of Democratic women candidates, both these races will feature Republican women running against Democratic men:
updated as of June 7
CA-49 ...northern coastal area of San Diego Co. and a bit of Orange Co. (1, 2) held by Rep. Darrel Issa (R).  [In 2016 Doug Applegate (D) came very close to ousting Issa].  2016: Clinton 50.7%/Trump 43.2%.  Results: State Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey (R) 25.5% will face attorney Mike Levin (D) 17.5%.  Other top finishers included Sara Jacobs (D) 15.8%, Doug Applegate (D) 13.1%, Kristen Gaspar (R) 8.5%, and Rocky J. Chávez (R) 7.5%.

CA-39 of L.A., Orange and San Bernardino Cos. (1, 2) held by Rep. Ed Royce (R).  [There was a large field of candidates; the DCCC threw its support behind Gil Cisneros].  2016: Clinton 51.5%/Trump 42.9%.   Results: Former Assemblywoman and congressional aide Young Kim (R) 21.3% will face philanthropist and lottery winner Gil Cisneros (D) 19.4%.  Other top finishers included Phil Liberatore (R) 14.3%, and Andy Thorburn (D) 9.2%.

Democrats are targeting other seats which lean Democratic or are evenly split:

CA-10 ...Stanislaus Co., Modesto, northern San Joaquin Valley (1) held by Rep. Jeff Denham (R)2016: Clinton 48.5%/Trump 45.5%.  Results: Jeff Denham (R), first elected in 2010, 37.8%, will face venture capitalist Josh Harder (D) 17.1%.  Other top finishers included Ted Howze (R) 14.5%, Michael Eggman (D) 10.2%, and Virginia Madueño (D) 9.0%.

CA-21 ...San Joaquin Valley (1) held by Rep. David Valadao (R).  There was only one challenger in the June primary, engineer and businessman TJ Cox (D).  2016: Clinton 55.2%/Trump 39.7%. Results: This is is a head to head match between David Valadao (R), first elected in 2012, 63.2% and TJ Cox (D) 36.8%.

CA-25 ..."northern Los Angeles County and part of Ventura County. It includes the cities of Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, Palmdale, Lancaster, and the northern part of the San Fernando Valley (1) held by Rep. Steve Knight (R)2016: Clinton 50.3%/Trump 43.6%Results: Steve Knight (R) 51.9% faces former executive director of People Assisting the Homeless, 30 years old and openly bisexual Katie Hill (D) 20.7%.  Other top finishers included attorney Bryan Caforio (D) 18.4%.

CA-48 ...Orange County district centered on Huntington Beach (1) held by Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R).  [This contest drew the most attention of all the California congressional races. Rohrbacher, first elected in 1988, faced a challenge from Republican and former ally Scott Baugh.  Democrats were concerned that the crowded field could eliminate their candidates and lead to a Rohrbacher-Baugh race.  The California Democratic Party endorsed neuroscientist Hans Keirstead, but the DCCC threw its support behind businessman and attorney Harley Rouda.  Several candidates withdrew, but their names remained on the ballot].  2016: Clinton 47.9%/Trump 46.2%.  Results: Dana Rohrbacher (R) 30.3%, Harley Rouda (D) 17.3%, Hans Keirstead (D) 17.2%, and Scott Baugh (R) 15.8%.  Rouda finished ahead of Keirstead by just 126 votes. >

CA-45 ...Orange County district (1) held by Rep. Mimi Waters (R) 2016: Clinton 49.8%/Trump 44.4%Results: Mimi Walters (R) 51.7%, consumer protection attorney and UCI law professor Katie Porter (D) 20.3%.  Other top finishers: David Min (D) 17.8%.

Note that in the primaries, three of the Republicans that Democrats are targeting—Valadao (CA-21), Walters (CA-45) and Knight (CA-25)—finished above 50-percent.  Further, in the two open seats, CA-49 and CA-39, Republicans are running very credible women candidates.  Democrats clearly have their work cut out for them.

State Legislature
All 80 Assembly seats were up; Democrats held 52 seats to 25 for Republicans.  20 of 40 Senate seats were up; Democrats held 26 seats to 13 for Republicans.  Much attention focused on a Republican effort to recall Sen. Josh Newman (D-29, parts of L.A., Orange and San Bernardino Cos.) over his April 2017 vote for the gas tax increase.  The recall succeeded and former Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang (R) was elected.  This cost Democrats their supermajority in the State Senate.

Ballot Measures

There were only five statewide measures on the ballot, and only one had significant opposition: Prop. 70 (Greenhouse Gas Reduction Reserve Fund), which would have affected the state's cap and trade program.  Voters defeated the measure by 64.6% to 35.4%:  |

California Secretary of State: Semi-Official Election Results

California Democratic Party
California Republican Party
Green Party of California
Libertarian Party of California
Peace and Freedom Party