I got my sample ballot for the June 3 primary, so I guess it's time to make some decisions! I imagine I'm not the only one who has Literally No Idea who almost anyone on the ballot is, so let's see what we can find out about these people, together. Orange County and Irvine races will follow in another post.
If you're not from here, note that California primaries are, ah, different. (This is the only time Orange County has been right about anything.)
Let me be clear up front that, my biases being what they are, I am only considering Democrats and others who act like them.
I mean, clearly Jerry Brown, despite everything. His only Democratic challenger is a very serious looking grad student with a terrible website. (This is not the worst website we will see today.) Cindy Sheehan is probably your default protest vote.
There's a "Psychologist/Farmer" named Robert Newman running, but remember that the Cool Hand Luke/salad dressing guy is Paul Newman. This Robert Newman is not the soap opera actor, either. I guess this ain't 2003.
Tea party favorite, Minuteman, and literal criminal Tim Donnelly is probably going to land the second spot on the ballot, which is a shame. You might consider lending a pity vote to Orange County Republican and social libertarian Neel Kashkari. With any luck, he's what the future of the Republican Party looks like.
Gavin Newsom continues to wait out Jerry Brown's retirement, and will win. Your alleged alternatives include, in steeply descending order of credibility:
Secretary of State
What a shitshow this is going to be. You should probably just write in "Shrimp Boy." The good news is that the surviving candidates are particularly strong; Leland Yee might have done us all a favor by removing himself from politics so spectacularly.
People I'm considering are:
There is no state party endorsement. Outgoing term-limited Democrat Debra Bowen has apparently had a rocky tenure. Peterson and Padilla are the frontrunners. According to George Skelton, the CW is Padilla will make the ballot, along with either Republican Pete Peterson or unaffiliated Dan Schnur. Peterson is polling very well relative to the rest of the field but I have no idea how the 40% of undecideds are likely to break in this kind of race in California.
Peterson actually doesn't sound that toxic; he opposes new voter ID laws and seems agreeably distant from the national party. Is this the only time I'll ever vote for a Republican? No, probably not. There's a decent chance I'll vote for Padilla in the general election but right now I think I'm learning towards Schnur, mostly based on the strength of the endorsements in his favor. We'll see if I have time to form an independent opinion before the primary.
The Sacramento Press Club hosted a debate which you can stream. Audio quality is regrettable.
Democratic candidates are:
- John A. Pérez, Speaker of the Assembly. From LA. Endorsements from Feinstein, Newsom, labor.
- Betty T. Yee, Board of Equalization member. From SF. Endorsements from Ed Lee, Dolores Huerta, teachers, Bay Area newspapers, progressive groups, marijuana dispensary owners (!).
- Tammy D. Blair, a minor candidate who supports teaching creationism, school-sponsored prayer, abortion rights, and single-payer healthcare while opposing marijuana legalization. Weird. Not clear what that would mean for someone as Controller, either.
There is no state party endorsement. Yee and Perez are polling closely. I'm leaning towards Yee because I'd prefer a technocrat to an entrenched career pol in this kind of position. Either Yee or Pérez will battle comfortably-leading Fresno mayor and Republican Ashley Swearengin in the general.
John Chiang is the outgoing Controller and has Democratic Party support. Nothing to see here; move along.
Kamala Harris is the incumbent Democrat and will win, despite infamous birther Orly Taitz's best efforts.
Incumbent Democrat Dave Jones is running for reëlection. This office is obviously important to the burgeoning rideshare sector; Jones has sane ideas.
Good luck to Nathalie Hrizi and the Peace and Freedom Party on their burn-it-all-down platform, I guess.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
This is an elected office in California! Technically it's nonpartisan. Incumbent Tom Torlakson was a teacher and Democratic legislator; challenger Marshall Tuck votes Democratic and used to run charter school systems. Tuck won the LA Times, Sacramento Bee, and San Francisco Chronicle endorsements. The LAT paints Torlakson as a competent insider unwilling to ruffle feathers, Tuck as an energetic reformer, and Republican also-runner Lydia Gutierrez as an unserious lightweight. This race is different from all of the partisan races because if a candidate secures a majority in the primary, they win; the race is not re-contested in the general election.
I'm conflicted about charter schools but it's hard to support the status quo in California education. Maybe I'm leaning towards Tuck?
What do you think? Let me know if you agree or if you think I'm missing something in the comments.