NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

Gavin Newsom and Dianne Feinstein secure top spots in California’s marquee contests

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 Comment

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

    # by Mike Barer :: June 7th, 2018 at 8:10 AM