Is it time yet to pick winners and losers in the June elections in California? They’re still counting votes, and we won’t have final results until July.

Let’s take a risk and give it a try. Here are six winners and six losers from the results, we have now.


Winner: High-speed rail. Voters turned down a ballot measure, Prop 70, placed there by the legislature, that would have provided Republicans with leverage over a key funding source for high-speed rail in 2024. The measure was part of a deal for Republican votes on climate change legislation. It would have required the legislature to approve with a two-thirds margin a spending plan for revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program, which helps fund high-speed rail.

Winner: Trump. He has enough clout in the California GOP to make mischief and push forward a gubernatorial candidate. He also showed an ability to block out news of the statewide races in California.

Winner: San Francisco. Despite the official lie that June elections are “primaries,” San Francisco, like many local jurisdictions, had a general election. And they managed to get through two rounds of voting in one election, using ranked choice voting. In addition, former Mayor Gavin Newsom positioned himself to be the next governor, while former Mayor Dianne Feinstein set herself up for a very likely re-election. Why don’t we stop pretending and just move the state Capitol there?

Winner: Gavin Newsom won among Democrats, and got the Republican opponent he sought in November’s election.

Winner: Orange County. The county was politically relevant, and results showed good news both for Republicans and Democrats there. It will stay relevant in the fall.

Winner Quiet billionaires. Those players who made donations without getting much attention did well, advancing Democrats in Congressional races.


Loser: Los Angeles. No L.A. Mayor has won statewide. And Antonio Villaraigosa, a good mayor who would have made a good governor, didn’t come close. Why does the state keep chanting “Beat L.A.” when it’s so easy to do?

Loser: Dianne Feinstein. She has to contend with a Democrat in the fall, which means she has more work to do. In these volatile political times, she looks like a winner—but she can’t rest easy.

Loser: John Cox. Yes, he won the second spot. Now he’ll have to wear the mantle of Donald Trump, which should destroy his reputation for all times.

Loser: Charter schools and the loud billionaires who love them. Charters shouldn’t be a big issue – a tiny fraction of children attend them – but they took a drubbing from well-financed unions in these elections. And charter school billionaires spent big on Villaraigosa to little effect.

Loser: Infrastructure. Voters approved Prop 69, which purported to protection gas tax funding for transportation. But actually, such provisions weaken infrastructure. Because when you lock in certain tax spending, legislators go out of their way to avoid those lock boxes.

Loser: State Democrats. They lost their supermajority with the recall of State Senator Josh Newman in Orange County. National Democrats had a better night, avoiding top two lockouts.

Loser: The top two system took a real drubbing, and it was significantly weakened by more attention to its defects. But it’s not dead yet. Until it’s gone, we will all be losers.