Outline of California with Bear Flag
Outline of California with Bear Flag

Cal­i­for­nia was one of eight states that held elec­tions yes­ter­day in what was the largest day of vot­ing so far this midterm elec­tion cycle.

Like Wash­ing­ton, Cal­i­for­nia oper­ates under a chaot­ic, high­ly prob­lem­at­ic Top Two sys­tem, where only the top two can­di­dates, regard­less of par­ty affil­i­a­tion, advance to the gen­er­al elec­tion in November.

In the race to replace Jer­ry Brown as Gov­er­nor of Cal­i­for­nia, Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Gavin New­som cruised to a first place vic­to­ry, secur­ing 33.4% of the vote in a field lit­tered with a whop­ping twen­ty-sev­en can­di­dates. (Brown, who remains pop­u­lar, can­not seek reelec­tion to a third term due to term limits.)

New­som, also the for­mer may­or of San Fran­cis­co, was heav­i­ly favored to claim the top spot. The more inter­est­ing race, how­ev­er, was not who would place first, but who would pre­vail for sec­ond place to com­pete against Newsom.

Pri­or to the elec­tion, the pri­ma­ry con­tenders for that sec­ond spot were thought to be Demo­c­rat Anto­nio Vil­laraigosa, a for­mer may­or of Los Ange­les, and Repub­li­can busi­ness­man John Cox, whom Don­ald Trump endorsed last month.

Due to California’s Top Two sys­tem, there was a pos­si­bil­i­ty that Repub­li­cans could be com­plete­ly shut out of the governor’s race altogether.

How­ev­er, much to the Repub­li­can Party’s and Newsom’s relief, Anto­nio Vil­laraigosa did not secure enough votes Tues­day to make it to the gen­er­al elec­tion. Instead, John Cox won the sec­ond spot with 26.2% of the statewide vote.

It is now very like­ly that New­som will win the gov­er­nor’s race with ease because Cal­i­for­nia is over­whelm­ing­ly Democratic.

In the state’s oth­er mar­quee race, how­ev­er, Democ­rats are assured of vic­to­ry. That’s because two Democ­rats are cur­rent­ly in the lead for the office of Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor, a posi­tion cur­rent­ly held by Dianne Feinstein.

Fein­stein, who is serv­ing her fifth term, had no trou­ble scor­ing a deci­sive first place fin­ish on Tues­day, as most observers expect­ed she would.

Fein­stein will face fel­low Demo­c­rat Kevin de León, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader in the Cal­i­for­nia State Sen­ate, who secured the num­ber two spot.

At the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­c­ra­t­ic annu­al con­ven­tion in Feb­ru­ary, the state Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty failed to endorse either de León or Feinstein.

They did, how­ev­er, come close to back­ing de León. He received fifty-four per­cent of the del­e­gate vote com­pared to Feinstein’s thir­ty-sev­en percent.

Activists in Cal­i­for­nia may be fired up about de Leon, but he’s still fac­ing an uphill bat­tle. With high name recog­ni­tion, a loy­al Cal­i­for­nia Demo­c­ra­t­ic fol­low­ing, and with Barack Obama’s endorse­ment, it will be hard for any Demo­c­rat — even one as pro­gres­sive and well-liked as de León — to unseat Fein­stein in November.

That said, Fein­stein is run­ning well under fifty per­cent in this pre­lim­i­nary round, which is a wor­ry­ing sign for any incum­bent. (Fein­stein cur­rent­ly has 43.8% of the vote statewide, while De León has 11.3%.) De Leon will def­i­nite­ly ben­e­fit in Novem­ber from being Fein­stein’s only opponent.

“I’m run­ning for the Unit­ed States Sen­ate to pro­tect Cal­i­for­nia in what are dif­fi­cult and con­tentious times,” Fein­stein said in a video mes­sage released fol­low­ing the clos­ing of the polls.“This means stand­ing up for our val­ues as your Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor as well as work­ing to pass leg­is­la­tion impor­tant to us in California.”

“This include a com­mit­ment to uni­ver­sal health care, to eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ty for all, to the pro­tec­tion and preser­va­tion of our envi­ron­ment, to rais­ing the fed­er­al min­i­mum wage to $15, to solv­ing the water prob­lem which is tough, to civ­il rights, vot­ing rights, LGBT rights and to a woman’s right to choose.”

“It also means pro­tect­ing our Dream­ers from Don­ald Trump’s immi­gra­tion poli­cies, end­ing the forced sep­a­ra­tion of immi­grant chil­dren from their fam­i­lies. The enact­ment of com­mon-sense gun law is also long overdue.”

“Togeth­er, in this elec­tion, we must ded­i­cate our­selves to those val­ues, because they have made Cal­i­for­nia a great state, end­ing the one-par­ty con­trol of our fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and mov­ing our nation away from divi­sion and polarization.”

“Again, thanks so much for your sup­port and for your faith in me. I’m not going to let you down. Now it’s on to November!”

De León, mean­while, sent out an email thank­ing his sup­port­ers for help­ing pro­pel him to a sec­ond place fin­ish, allow­ing him to advance to the sec­ond round.

“I’m hum­bled, proud, and so thank­ful to let you know that because of your efforts, I’ll be advanc­ing to the gen­er­al elec­tion to chal­lenge Sen­a­tor Dianne Fein­stein,” his cam­paign wrote. “In yes­ter­day’s [Top Two] elec­tions, the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of vot­ers called for a ref­er­en­dum on a bro­ken estab­lish­ment in Wash­ing­ton D.C. that has stopped work­ing for the peo­ple of California.”

“It’s time for a new approach. This nation was built on the promise that any­one will­ing to risk it all to come here – regard­less of who they are or where they came from – could have a fair shot at a hard day’s work, afford a roof over their head, afford­able health­care, and an equal oppor­tu­ni­ty to succeed.”

“It’s time Cal­i­for­ni­ans had a Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor com­mit­ted to mak­ing good on that promise. Vot­ers deserve a spir­it­ed debate in the com­ing months on the issues they care about most and the chal­lenges fac­ing our state. I look for­ward to engag­ing my oppo­nent on the debate stage as we face-off in November.”

“And most impor­tant­ly, I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing this fight with you. It’s this team that made our win last night pos­si­ble. And it’s this team that will advance our pro­gres­sive vision for­ward in Novem­ber. Today, we cel­e­brate. Tomor­row, we get back to work on bring­ing our Cal­i­for­nia val­ues to Wash­ing­ton, D.C.”

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One reply on “Gavin Newsom and Dianne Feinstein secure top spots in California’s marquee contests”

  1. My guess is that New­som will be con­sid­ered a pres­i­den­tial con­tender. Both New­som and Fein­stein are for­mer may­ors of San Francisco.

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