June 5th Primary: A Snapshot
California voters will come face-to-face with a loaded ballot in this Tuesday’s top-two “jungle primary.” There are 27 candidates for governor and 11 candidates for lieutenant governor trying to advance to the general election. All 80 seats in the Assembly, 20 of the 40 seats in the state Senate, all 53 of California’s House seats, and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s seat are also on the ballot. There are five statewide initiatives to vote on as well.
Below is a list of some of the county races we’re watching. Be sure to check out this breakdown of state ballot initiatives form SCPR, this fact sheet on Proposition 69 which has been endorsed by the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties, and a list of local cannabis measures to watch from CalMarijuanaPolicy.org.
Los Angeles County
Supervisors Hilda Solis (D1) and Sheila Kuehl (D3) are up for re-election this Tuesday, as is County Sheriff Jim McDonnell. Solis is running unopposed. Kuehl is facing a challenge from journalist Eric Preven and Daniel G. Glaser.
Sheriff’s Commander Bill Lindsey and retired sheriff’s lieutenant Alex Villanueva are both trying to unseat Sheriff Jim McDonnell. He took over in 2014, beating out embattled former undersheriff Paul Tanaka, and inherited a department beset by scandal.
Both Lindsey and Villanueva say McDonnell has failed to reform the office. They say new leadership is needed to boost morale, fix staffing problems, and increase transparency at the nation’s largest sheriff’s department.
San Diego County
Two of San Diego’s five supervisor districts are in play this year. In District 4, five candidates are vying to replace termed-out Supervisor Ron Roberts: former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, Retired Deputy Fire Chief Ken Malbrough, attorney Omar Passons, former District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, and community college teacher Lori Saldaña. In District 5, four are vying to replace Bill Horn who is also termed out: community activist Jacqueline Arsivaud, San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond, community activist Michelle Gomez, and Oceanside City Councilman Jerome Kern.
The races for San Diego’s sheriff and district attorney have both attracted significant amounts of attention and money. Incumbent Sheriff Bill Gore is facing a challenge from Commander Dave Myers. Gore has been endorsed by Gov. Brown among others. Interim DA Summer Stephan is facing a challenge from Public Defender Genevieve Jones-Wright.
Summer Stephan is one of several district attorneys in the crosshairs of a nationwide movement for social justice and criminal sentencing reform, which County News has discussed here. Groups affiliated with progressive financier George Soros have poured more than $1.5 million into the campaign to defeat Stephan.
Supervisor Districts 2 and 4 are both in contention Tuesday. In District 2, businessman Michael Mahony and business executive Brendon Perkins are challenging Michelle Steel. In District 4, six candidates are running to replace termed-out Supervisor Shawn Nelson: La Habra City Councilman Tim Shaw, Anaheim Councilwoman Lucille Kring, budget analyst Cynthia Aguirre, La Habra City Councilwoman Rose Espinoza, Fullerton Mayor Doug Chaffee, and retired fire captain Joe Kerr.
The race for district attorney has seen the most drama in Orange County by far. On the one hand is incumbent DA Tony Rackauckas who is facing his fiercest reelection challenge in two decades. On the other is former assistant district attorney and County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, former Brea Mayor Brett Murdock, and attorney Lenore Albert-Sheridan, a once suspended lawyer with her own very interesting backstory. The major feature of this campaign has been the alleged misuse of jailhouse informants by the DA’s Office and Sheriff’s Department.
Read more about the drawn out, contentious race for OCDA at Voice of OC.
Three Riverside county supervisor seats are in play this Tuesday. Five candidates are competing to replace District 2 Supervisor John Tavaglione who is retiring after more than 20 years in office. The candidates are former Assemblyman Eric Linder, Riverside City Councilman Mike Gardner, business owner Karen Spiegel, educator Will Martinez, and educator Penny Newsman. In District 4, V. Manuel Perez -- appointed to the seat by Gov. Brown after the death of John Benoit -- is facing off against Palm Desert City Councilwoman Jan Harnik. And in District 5, five candidates are vying to replace outgoing supervisor Marion Ashley: former Assemblyman Russ Bough, county worker Patricia Vargas Sanchez, Calimesa Mayor Jeff Hewitt, legislative district representative and retired Marine Altie Holcomb, and Jamie Hurtado, Ashley’s chief of staff. You can read more about the candidates here.
The race for Riverside’s sheriff and district attorney have also been attracting plenty of attention and donors, with the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association alone spending more than $1 million this cycle. Read more about those races here, here, and here.
San Bernardino County
The specter of the Colonies corruption trial is looming large this Tuesday and, at times, things have gotten downright ugly in San Bernardino.
District Attorney Mike Ramos is facing the challenge of his life after his nine-year pursuit of several county officials ended in acquittals and vindication for the defendants. Opponents of Ramos have even labeled him a sexual predator in campaign mailers.
Ramos’ challenger is Jason Anderson, a criminal defense attorney who previously worked as a county prosecutor. He has received support from well-heeled developers and the Colonies corruption trial defendants who no doubt have a score to settle.
Ramos has portrayed Anderson as a “puppet” trying to buy the DA’s office, but his opponent says the backlash is only natural.
“This is a political response to a wrongful political prosecution, and I don’t know why anybody would expect anything less,” Anderson said.
Santa Clara County
The #MeToo movement will be a major feature of the election in Santa Clara County Tuesday.
Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky faces a reckoning for his now infamous sentencing of attempted rapist Brock Turner in 2016. The recall campaign against Persky, organized by Stanford professor Michelle Dauber, has attracted international attention. As late as May 18, Judge Persky has said he has no regrets about his decision in the case.
Meanwhile, sexual harassment allegations against one of the frontrunners in Supervisor District 4 recently turned that race upside-down. Read County News’ coverage on the allegations against Dominic Caserta here, including why he could still win the race.
In Alameda County, all eyes are on the race for district attorney, which has seen unbelievable amounts of outside money and influence. Incumbent DA Nancy O’Malley has been the target of organized protests and more than $559,000 in spending by a Soros-funded PAC.
At first glance, O’Malley seems an unlikely target of progressives. She has received endorsements from organized labor and Democratic groups, as well as Democratic Senator Kamala Harris. But her opponent, civil rights activist Pamela Price, says O’Malley has been far too cozy with law enforcement. Price has promised to end stop-and-frisk policing which has been described as illegal and “racist.”
Alameda voters will also weigh in on a sales tax measure for childcare and early education Tuesday. Measure A would authorize a one-half of one percent sales tax to fund early education and other programs. Because it is a special tax, it requires a two-thirds supermajority vote.
Sacramento County is Ground Zero in the nationwide effort to influence criminal justice policies. Both Sheriff Scott Jones and District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert have been the targets of social justice groups like Black Lives Matter and Soros-funded political action committees.
The campaigns against Jones and Schubert have largely centered around the March 2018 death of Stephon Clark. The 22-year-old unarmed African-American was shot and killed by two Sacramento police officers in his grandmother’s own backyard. The city and county have been roiled by protests ever since.
Schubert, however, is also just coming off a major PR win thanks to the capture of the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer. The suspect, now identified as Joseph James DeAngelo, had remained at large for more than 40 years before his arrest in April.
Scott Jones is facing three challengers: Bret Daniels, Donna L. Cox, and Milo E. Fitch. Schubert is up against Deputy District Attorney Noah Phillips.
Contra Costa County
Contra Costa is home to another high-stakes race for district attorney. But this time, it’s the incumbent receiving support form progressives. Appointed District Attorney Diana Becton is facing a challenge from longtime prosecutor Paul Graves. He has criticized the spending from outside billionaires like Soros “who apparently think Contra Costa's public safety is for sale.”
Another issue of note in Contra Costa: a proposed parcel tax hike in P-5.
Kern County District 2 Supervisor Zack Scrivner is facing a re-election challenge from ranch manager Dalmas "Dal" Bunn, parks conservation worker Michael Biglay, and educator Whitney Weddell. District 3 Supervisor Mike Maggard is also up for re-election Tuesday. His challenger is Jeff Heinle.
Plus, will a shocking 12-year-old videotape hurt Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood’s chances of re-election? We’re about to find out.
One of the biggest local races this election cycle is happening in San Francisco, where eight candidates are vying to succeed the late mayor Ed Lee in a special election. He passed away unexpectedly in December, leaving a vacuum in the city and a battle for its heart and soul.
San Francisco has already seen two acting mayors and some tense infighting. Many were upset with the way London Breed (acting mayor 1) was abruptly voted out and replaced by Supervisor Mark Farrell (acting mayor 2) in January. Breed is an African-American female -- the first ever for a mayor in San Francisco. Farrell is a white male. Needless to say, the optics weren’t good.
Breed, who currently serves as President of the Board of Supervisors, will now get another shot at mayor. The seven other candidates are former supervisor and anti-discrimination attorney Angela Alioto; health practitioner Michelle Bravo; business consultant Richie Greenberg; 6th District Supervisor Jane Kim; former supervisor, assemblyman, and senator Mark Leno; activist Amy Farah Weiss; and social worker Ellen Lee Zhou. Because San Francisco has rank-choice voting for mayor, some of the candidates have formed strategic alliances.
The winner will fulfill the remainder of Lee’s term, which ends in 2020. Whoever the winner may be, one thing is for certain: housing and homelessness will be at the top of their list of priorities.
San Francisco also has some interesting measures on Tuesday’s ballot:
• Proposition A would authorize the public utilities commission to issue bonds for power facilities with two-thirds approval from supervisors.
• Proposition B would require members of boards and commissions outlined in the City Charter to resign when running for local or state office.
• Proposition C would place an additional tax on the lease of commercial property for landlords to fund early child care and education programs.
• Proposition D would authorize an additional tax on commercial properties for landlords to fund affordable housing and homeless services.
• Proposition E would prohibit local retailers from selling flavored tobacco products in San Francisco.
• Proposition F would provide legal representation for tenants facing eviction.
• Proposition H reaffirms a plan to equip the city’s police officers with tasers and would outline new policies governing their use.
• Proposition I would establish a new policy discouraging professional sports teams from relocating to San Francisco when they have been established and running profitably in another location for more than 20 years.
• Proposition G would authorize the San Francisco Unified School District to levy a new annual parcel tax on real property to fund teacher salaries, staffing etc.
• Regional Measure 3 would raise bridge tolls in the Bay Area (Golden Gate Bridge excluded) to fund the Bay Area Traffic Relief Plan.
Lastly, longtime San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore is facing a re-election challenge from retired sergeant Pat Withrow. Moore has been criticized by a number of individuals, including two former high-profile pathologists who resigned in protest and alleged misconduct within the sheriff’s department.
The creation of a separate medical examiner’s office, as well as California’s sanctuary laws, have been major features of the campaign. Read more about it here.