Under the top two primary, for the first time a major statewide contest will have two members of the same party squaring off in the General Election. This circumstance could be repeated a number of times in coming statewide elections.
Attorney General Kamala Harris romped to victory in the 34-candidate senate primary field with 40.4% of the vote. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez grabbed the second spot and the right to face Harris in November taking 18.5% of the vote.
The next four finishers in the field were all Republicans.
In California, which is becoming more Democratic in voter registration every year, the senate result of two Democrats facing off in the General Election could be the first of many similar finishers in future elections. As Republicans try to rebuild their party, one important step is to have a party representative battle in the General Election, keeping the Republican moniker before the voters, challenging Democratic ideas, even if the odds of pulling off a final victory are daunting.
To achieve the goal of reaching the General Election, Republicans might learn a lesson from the results of the senate primary.
Duf Sundheim led the Republicans yesterday with 8% of the vote followed by Phil Wyman, Tom Del Beccaro and Greg Conlon. While the other 28 contestants each got 2% of the vote or less, the four Republicans finishing behind Sanchez compiled enough votes combined to top her total.
Looking ahead to statewide contests in 2018, expect Republicans to try and reduce the number of contestants to increase the chances of a GOP candidate reaching the General Election.
In the 2018 gubernatorial race that will soon become the center of attention in the California political world, it is expected that up to four major Democratic candidates will vie for votes during the June 2018 primary. Splitting the vote among so many candidates will give a single leading Republican candidate a chance to reach the General Election. However, if a number of Republicans of relatively equal stature run in the primary, a result similar to the senate election return is likely.
This is all good in theory, of course, but there is no holding political ambition in check. GOP chairman Jim Brulte doesn’t have the power to clear a potential gubernatorial field –unless he decides to run for the job himself.