CA Primary Election Report: Same-Old, Same-Old

CONSIDER THIS--Despite the speculation of commentators, Tuesday’s California primary was less “jungle” and more “zoo.”

Democrats’ worries about being shut out of some U.S. House races appear to be groundless as they managed to get candidates on the November ballot in the contests needed to move them closer to control of the lower chamber in Washington, D.C. And the Republicans’ hopes of guaranteeing their candidates automatic wins were dashed, especially in the 39thCongressional District held by long-time incumbent Dana Rohrabacher. It’s almost certain his opponent will be a Democrat since the other Republican came in fourth. 

With perhaps another million or so mail-in and provisional ballots to count, it’s estimated that somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of registered voters participated in the primary. As expected, Gavin Newsom easily claimed a spot in the governor’s race; and he got the opponent he wanted, Republican John Cox.

Mostly, voters will have a choice between a Democrat and a Republican. Notable exceptions include the U.S. Senate race, where Dianne Feinstein will face Kevin De Leon, and the contest for state insurance commissioner, with Democrat Ricardo Lara going up against former Republican Steve Poizner. Democrats also finished first and second in the lieutenant governor category.

What the June 5 election demonstrated was that Republicans vote, even in primaries, at a greater rate than Democrats. But, that doesn’t matter much in a state like California where Republicans only make up about a quarter of registered voters.

The one bright spot for the G.O.P. was the 29thSenate District in Orange County. Voters punished Democrat incumbent Josh Newman for supporting the gasoline tax by recalling him and installing Republican Ling Ling Chang in his place. This means the Democrats lose their two-thirds majority in the State Senate. Republicans are pushing a gas tax repeal measure in November as a way to turn out large numbers of G.O.P. voters and they view the victory in this race as a hopeful sign.

If anything can be said about Tuesday’s primary, it is that it was predictable. Voters of every stripe showed up and did what they usually do. Democrats voted for Democrats, Republicans voted for Republicans. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Gavin Newsom will be elected and Dianne Feinstein will be re-elected in November. Democrats will dominate, Republicans will struggle. Don’t expect much change this year in the Golden State.

(Doug Epperhart is a publisher, a long-time neighborhood council activist and has served on the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners. He is a contributor to CityWatch and can be reached at: