Analysis: California Primary Election Moving Closer to Completion

The California Primary Election months (yes, months) are finally nearing completion. All that remains is the final certification of the vote on April 12 by California Secretary of State Shirley Weber.

This is a process that began in February when the vote-by-mail ballots were sent to all of California’s 21 million registered voters. Ultimately, 7.7 million ballots were returned, representing 35% voter turnout.

At stake in March were the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations, the open U.S. Senate seat of the late Dianne Feinstein, 80 Assembly and 20 Senate seats, 52 contests for the U.S. House of Representatives and a single ballot measure, Proposition 1.

Proposition 1, the mental health services bond, was placed on the ballot by the Legislature at the request of Governor Gavin Newsom and endorsed by the California Chamber of Commerce. Proposition 1 did pass, albeit by a narrow 26,000-vote margin. The close margin is largely attributable to a higher Republican turnout where the GOP outperformed its registration by 15%.

Congressional Race: Counting Continues

Next time a friend or relative tells you, “My vote doesn’t count,” you can disabuse them of that notion and point to the March 2024 results to prove the point. There were many close races decided by hundreds of votes with one outcome, the 16th Congressional District, that ended in a tie for second place.

Recall, that in California, the top-two primary finishers advance from the Primary to the General Election.

But what happens when two candidates finish the primary tied for second? According to the California Election Code, all three then advance to the General Election.

Incumbent Anna Eshoo announced she was not going to run for reelection and opened the flood gates to a field of 11 candidates. And when all 181,000 votes were tallied, three Democrats led by former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo will make the runoff. Liccardo topped the field with 38,489 votes and was trailed by San Mateo County Supervisor Joe Simitian and Assemblymember Evan Low, who each received 30,249 votes.

Late Tuesday, county election officials in San Mateo and Santa Clara indicated that allies of Liccardo have filed for a recount, which is a 10-day process that will commence on April 15.

Legislative Races

Regarding legislative contests, the CalChamber and our business allies enjoyed several successful election outcomes in March.

Open Seats

Following is a snapshot of the key races where ChamberPAC (a bipartisan political action committee) and JobsPAC (an independent expenditure committee) engaged that were essentially finished in the primary.

Assembly District 6: Deputy Attorney General Maggy Krell (D) will succeed Kevin McCarty in this safe Democratic seat. McCarty is in the runoff to succeed Darrell Steinberg as Sacramento Mayor.

Assembly District 41: Attorney John Harabedian (D) will follow Chris Holden in this safe Democratic seat.

Assembly District 62: Local chamber executive Jose Solache (D) is set to succeed Anthony Rendon in this safe Democratic seat.

Senate District 3: Former West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (D) will succeed Bill Dodd in this safe Democratic district.

Unfinished Business

Several races will feature two Democrats squaring off in November. Here are some of those races:

Assembly District 50: ChamberPAC-backed Adam Perez will face fellow Democrat Robert Garcia, who was the top vote getter in March. They are running to replace Eloise Reyes, who will move up to Senate District 29.

Assembly District 57: Local chamber executive and top vote getter Efren Martinez will run against fellow Democrat Sade Elhawary to replace termed-out Reggie Jones-Sawyer.

Assembly District 79: La Mesa City Councilmember Colin Parent will face fellow Democrat LaShae Sharp-Collins. They are running to succeed Akilah Weber, who is moving to Senate District 39 as a successor to former Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins.

Senate District 7: Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin will be in a Democrat-on-Democrat runoff against Jovanka Beckles to replace termed-out Nancy Skinner in a safe Democratic seat. Arreguin received heavy backing from JobsPAC and other business groups and finished first in March.

Senate District 9: Assemblymember Tim Grayson faces fellow Democrat Marisol Rubio to succeed termed-out Steve Glazer. Grayson received heavy backing from ChamberPAC as well as other business organizations.

We can finally say the Primary Election is done, the results are known (with one recount pending), and now it is on to November.

Staff Contact: Martin R. Wilson

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Martin R. Wilson joined the CalChamber in October 2011. He oversees all the CalChamber’s public affairs activities and campaign, including the Public Affairs Council, a political advisory committee made up of the CalChamber’s major members; its candidate recruitment and support program; and its political action committees: ChamberPAC, which supports pro-jobs candidates and legislators, and CalBusPAC, which qualifies, supports and/or opposes ballot initiatives. He also serves as the CalChamber liaison to JobsPAC, an employer-based independent expenditure committee that supports pro-jobs candidates. Wilson has more than 40 years of experience in California politics, playing leadership roles in the election and re-election of two governors and a U.S. senator. He also has orchestrated numerous successful ballot measure campaigns, and has served in government as a senior staff member at the local, state and federal levels. He graduated from San Diego State University with a B.A. in history.