Independent Candidate for Statewide Office

Can an Independent capture a statewide office in California? Seems like impossible odds in a state so large in which voters pay little attention to candidates until Election Day. Being associated with a major political party gives a candidate a foundation for his or her campaign. However, in the case of Steve Poizner’s decision to run as an independent for Insurance Commissioner he could upset conventional thinking.

Specific to Poizner’s run is that he has a familiar name and money to support his candidacy. He also has the credentials having served as the state’s insurance commissioner in the past. The top two primary system may also be a plus for Poizner.

Democratic state senator Ricardo Lara seemed to have the field to himself for a long time until wealthy Los Angeles County physician Asif Mahmood decided to change course pulling out of a run for Lt. Governor to enter the Insurance Commissioner race. Now Poizner with his bio and money joins the battle.

As an ex-Republican with name ID, Poizner could claim a large portion of the Republican base. One other Republican, Peter Kuo, has announced for the office but he lacks Poizner’s money and name ID. If Lara and Mahmood battle over the Democratic votes and Poizner appeals to Independents and many Republicans he can certainly make the run-off as an Independent, although Kuo’s identification on the ballot as a Republican is a challenge he will have to overcome.

Can he then top a Democrat in the General Election? His experience in the office will help. Long time Republican political consultant Rob Stutzman tweeted that Poizner is showing a way to beat Democrats in California. “I’d bet on him to win and blaze a new trail for the future of CA politics. This could be a very important candidacy.”

Maine’s Angus King won both the governorship and a U.S. Senate seat as an independent. Will such a strategy fly in the much larger, diverse state as California?

New Gubernatorial Candidate

The late entry yesterday of former Hillary Clinton aide and California Attorney General executive staff member Amanda Renteria raised some eyebrows in the political world. As a Democrat Latina from the Central Valley she could have impact on the race, now led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Check out Scott Lay’s analysis below on what her candidacy may mean.

Renteria agreed to voluntary spending limits for her campaign. But that doesn’t prevent independent expenditures to be funded on behalf of her candidacy. Might those IE’s come from allies of Gavin Newsom who think her candidacy would damage Villaraigosa’s campaign?

Union Endorsements

The influential Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced support for Gavin Newsom for governor and Kevin de Leon for the Senate. No surprise that the union would back the more liberal candidates in each race.

The union endorsement, as many news outlets reports noted, comes with the backing of a 700,000 membership who can supply foot-soldiers and money for the candidate gaining the endorsement.

But how many members and how much money is not clear. Especially, if the Janus v. AFSCME case before the United States Supreme Court is decided in favor of Janus, meaning union members do not have to pay mandatory dues. In situations when union members have been released from similar mandates in other states union membership and treasuries have sunk considerably.