Under the new top two Open Primary held last June, the top two vote getters, regardless of political party, enter the November runoff. This resulted in twenty-eight races that the top two candidates were of the same political party. In most of the races neither candidate can win on base vote alone, meaning they need to reach out to both independent voters and voters of the opposition party.
Supporters of the top two Open Primary hope that this will lead to the election of candidates who are more representative of their district as a whole, and not just to voters within their own political party.
Time will tell.
DEMOCRATS vs. DEMOCRAT
Eight incumbents are running against a fellow Democrat. In two districts, two incumbents are running against each other: Howard Berman vs. Brad Sherman (CD30) and Janice Hahn vs. Laura Richardson (CD44).
CD30 (San Fernando Valley): Brad Sherman outpolled Howard Berman in the Primary, 42% – 32%, with five lesser-known candidates receiving a combined 26%. Sherman has the endorsement of former President Bill Clinton. In the battle to get Republican cross over votes, Berman appears to be doing the best with getting well known Republicans to endorse him, which includes U.S. Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, along with more local figures such as former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan. L.A. County D.A. Steve Cooley and L.A. County Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe. The Sherman campaign is touting a list of local Valley Republicans, including L.A. Councilman Mitch Englander and his predecessor, Greig Smith, GOP Assembly Member Cameron Smyth and Burbank City Councilman Gary Bric.
CD44 (Compton/L.A. Harbor): Janice Hahn outpolled Laura Richardson in the Primary 60% – 40% and most insiders believe the outcome will be near the same in November. Earlier this year, Richardson was reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee and fined $10,000 for forcing her staff to engage in political and personal activities during work hours. However, Richardson has been endorsed by the Congressional Black Caucus and has strong support from several unions, including SEIU and the Int’l Brotherhood of Teamsters.
CD15 (East Bay): In 1972, a young banker named Pete Stark, an opponent of the Vietnam War, was able to use the issue to defeat 81-year-old incumbent George Miller (no relation to the current George Miller) in that year’s Democratic Primary. Proving that was goes around comes around, the now 80-year Stark is facing a serious challenge from 31-year-old Dublin City Councilmember Eric Swalwell, an Alameda County deputy district attorney. Swalwell has received endorsements from former state Sen. Pro Tem Don Perata, former Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, along with most of the local newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News.
CD35 (San Bernardino County): incumbent Joe Baca is being challenged by state Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod. The two have long been bitter political enemies. In 2006, when then Assembly Member McLeod ran for the state Senate, her opponent was Baca’s son, Joe Baca, Jr.
Two Democratic incumbents are running against a Democratic opponent who will be able to do no more than run token races: CD40 (East L.A. County) - Lucille Roybal-Allard vs. David Sanchez, a college professor; CD43 (South L.A. County) – Maxine Waters vs. Bob Flores, who is self-employed in the communication business.
REPUBLICAN vs. REPUBLICAN
CD8 (San Bernardino County): An open seat, thirteen candidates ran in the June 5 Open Primary. The top two vote getters were Assembly Member Paul Cook, who received 15% of the votes cast, and Gregg Imus, who received 16% of the vote. Imus is a co-founder of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corp of California, an anti-illegal immigration group. He has also served as a top aide to GOP Assembly Member Tim Donnelly. Most of the state’s GOP establishment is rallying behind Cook, while Imus has been endorsed by Herman Cain, America Tea Party, Patriot Forum and ABATE, a motorcyclist rights organization
CD31 (San Bernardino County): Incumbent Gary Miller is being challenged by state Senator Bob Dutton. This is not a safe Republican district and National Democrats had this seat on their target list. But their anointed candidate, Redlands City Councilman Pete Aguilar, failed to finish in the top two, setting up this same party runoff. Miller, finding himself in the same district as GOP incumbent Ed Royce when the new lines were approved, made the decision – with help from Congressional leadership – to move into this CD rather than run against Royce, though he has never represented any portion of this CD. Dutton, the former Senate Republican Leader, has represented much of this area in both the Senate and Assembly and before that, served on the Rancho Cucamonga City Council.
DEMOCRAT VS. DEMOCRAT
There are two open senate districts that have two Democrats running against each other; none among Republicans.
SD13 (North Coast): Assembly Member Jerry Hill vs. former Assemblymember Sally Lieber. Three Democrats and a Libertarian entered the June 5 Open Primary, the top vote getter with 51%, being Hill. Lieber came in second with 22.5%. Hill has the most impressive endorsement list, which includes Gov. Brown, Rep. Anna Eshoo, CA Labor Federation, and most local newspapers. Lieber touts the California Teachers Association and EMILY’s List. Both liberal, the main difference between the two is their gender.
SD15 (Santa Clara County): Another race between a current Assemblymember, Jim Beall, and former Assemblymember, Joe Coto, a Latino endorsed the Latino Legislative Caucus. Pro-business independent expenditure committees, including JobsPAC, heavily supported Coto in the June Primary, and can be expected to do so again in the runoff, while Labor and liberal interests will support Beall.
There are eighteen same party races for Assembly, 11 between Democrats, 7 between Republicans. This list includes five incumbents, four Democrats and one Republican. Among the incumbents, two are expected to receive no more than token opposition. They are Democrats Wes Chesbro (AD2-North Coast) vs. Thomas Lynch, a county planning commissioner; and Steven Bradford (AD62-Inglewood/Marina del Rey) vs. Mervin Evans, a perennial candidate making his nineteenth attempt since 1984 to seek public office.
DEMOCRAT vs. DEMOCRAT
AD10 (Marin/Sonoma counties): When the new district lines were approved, incumbent Michael Allen was drawn into the same district as Wes Chesbro, but rather than running in the Primary against Chesbro, he decided to move into this district where 86% of the voters are new to him. Seven candidates entered the Primary, Allen coming in first with 31% of the vote and San Rafael City Councilman Marc Levine coming in second with 24%. Levine is an executive with a health care information technology startup.
AD50 (Santa Monica/West L.A./West Hollywood): Incumbent Betsy Butler decided to seek reelection in this very safe, liberal west side district where 99% of the voters are new to her. She faced tough opposition from two other Democrats who are longtime residents of the district. She came in first 25.8% of the vote, 127 votes ahead of Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom.
Not surprisingly, Assembly Speaker John Pérez strongly supports the two incumbents, and the questions arises will the challengers be able to raise the funds necessary to run a strong race.
AD18 (Alameda County): Bob Bonta, a Filipino American, member of the Alameda City Council and deputy city attorney for San Francisco vs. Abel Guillen, a community college trustee and VP of an East Bay school finance firm. Both have strong endorsements, with Bonta being endorsed by the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus and the California Labor Federation, and Guillen being endorsed by the Latino Legislative Caucus and the California Teachers Association.
AD20 (Alameda County): Bill Quirk is a member of the Hayward City Council and a nuclear weapons expert at the Lawrence Livermore Lab vs. Jennifer Ong, a Filipino American and doctor of optometry. Quirk was endorsed in the Primary by the California Democratic Party and has strong Labor support. Ong was endorsed by the Legislature’s Asian Pacific Islander Caucus and received strong support from insurance companies and health care professional.
AD30 (North San Fernando Valley): Richard Alarcon, L.A. City Councilman, former Senator/Assembly Member vs. Raul Bocanegra, chair of the San Fernando Valley Financial Development Corp and former chief of staff to Asm. Filipe Fuentes. During the Primary, Alarcon was strong supported by Labor, while Bocanegra received strong support from business groups. Alarcon is currently on trial for allegations that he lied about his residence when he filed his papers to ran for city council.
AD47 (San Bernardino County): Joe Baca, Jr., former Assembly Member and Rialto City Councilman vs. Cheryl Brown, an African American and aide to Assembly Member Wilma Carter and former aide to Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod. This is battle between two feuding factions within the local Democratic Party (see CD35 above).
AD51 (East Los Angeles): Jimmy Gomez, political director of United Nurses Assoc. of California AFL CIO and a teacher at Los Angeles Trade Tech vs. Luis Lopez, president of the East Area Planning Commission and a gay political activist. Gomez is receiving strong support from Labor. Lopez is receiving support from several gay elected officials and organizations, along with a long list of local community leaders.
AD59 (South Los Angeles/USC campus): Reggie Jones-Sawyer, secretary of the California Democratic Party, is making his second run for the Assembly, and with strong support from the state Democratic Party, Black Legislative Caucus and Labor, should be able to easily defeat Rodney Robinson, a community organizer and registered American Independent until this year.
REPUBLICAN vs. REPUBLICAN
AD6 (Suburban area east of Sacramento County): Incumbent Beth Gaines vs. Andy Pugno, an attorney and chief counsel for the group behind the 2008 Proposition 8 campaign to ban gay marriage. Pugno ran for the Assembly in 2010, losing to Richard Pan in old AD5. This is a battle between feuding factions within the local Republican Party as to who is and who is not a true conservative.
AD1 (Northeastern California): Brian Dahle, a member of the Lassen County Board of Supervisors and wheat farmer vs. Rick Bosetti, a member of the Redding City Council and former Major League Baseball player. During the Primary, an independent expenditure committee (IE) funded by the California Real Estate Association, spent over $165,000 is support of Bosetti.
AD5 (Sierra Nevada Mountains/South Lake Tahoe): Rico Oller, former Assemblyman/Senator and owner of a distribution company vs. Frank Bigelow, a member of the Madera County Board of Supervisors and VP of the Ponderosa Telephone Company. In the Primary, an IE funded by the California Real Estate Association spent over $180,000 in support of Bigelow.
AD23 (Fresno County): Incumbent Republican Linda Halderman resides in this new safely GOP district, but on the last day of filing, she announced that she would not seek reelection. Five candidates entered the June 5 Open Primary and the two top vote getters were Jim Patterson, a former mayor of Fresno and Bob Whalen, a member of the Clovis City Council. Patterson has twice run for Congress, losing to Devin Nunes in 2002 and Jeff Denham in 2010. Halderman and former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry have endorsed Whalen.
AD67 (Southeastern Riverside County): Phil Paule, district director for Rep. Darrell Issa vs. Melissa Melendez, a businesswoman, former Russian translator for the U.S. Navy, and a member of the Lake Elsinore City Council. Paule has received the endorsement of Issa, Senate GOP Leader Bob Huff and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Melendez has been endorsed by Assembly Member Shannon Grove, the Family Action PAC and the California Republican Assembly (CRA).
AD72 (Coastal Orange County): Troy Edgar, a Navy veteran, business owner and member of the Los Alamitos City Council vs. Travis Allen, a CPA, president of a wealth management firm and active with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Edgar, a prolific fundraiser, has the support of most of the O.C. Republican elected officials.
AD76 (North Coastal San Diego County/Camp Pendleton): Latino Rocky Chavez, a retired Marine Corps colonel and member of the Oceanside City Council vs. Sherry Hodges, chief of staff to Assembly Member Diane Harkey and second vice chair of the San Diego Republican Party. Both have solid endorsements, making this a very competitive race.