Local and statewide primary elections on Tuesday yielded some surprises while narrowing the fields of candidates amid nearly record-low voter turnout.
Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown and Republican Neel Kashkari, a former investment banker and Treasury official, received 55 percent and 19 percent of the vote, respectively, and will face each other in California’s gubernatorial election on Nov. 4.
“I’m going to campaign hard. I take nothing for granted,” Brown said. “I just have to say that California’s come a long way in the last few years. We’ve closed a massive budget deficit. We have good relations between the two parties, working on significant issues.”
Kashkari bested tea party favorite Tim Donnelly, a Republican member of the state Assembly who received 15 percent.
In remarks delivered Wednesday morning, Kashkari began by thanking Donnelly, who he said “worked really hard” during the campaign.
“I’ve said from the beginning that I’m running for governor for two reasons,” Kashkari said. “First is, I want to rebuild the middle class of California. Second, I want to re-energize the Republican Party. Both are important goals.”
Tuesday’s election introduced California’s new “top two” system, or “jungle primary,” in which statewide candidates who finish first and second advance to a runoff — regardless of their political party.
It was also characterized by dismal turnout on the state and local level.
According to the secretary of state’s website, the following percentage of eligible voters went to the polls in Southern California:
Los Angeles County: 13.1 percent
Orange County: 16.9 percent
Riverside County: 17.9 percent
San Bernardino County: 14.8 percent
Ventura County: 18.5 percent
Turnout was 18.3 percent statewide, according to the site, marking an almost historic low of voter participation.
No less than 18 candidates had hoped to fill the seat of Rep. Henry Waxman, who on Jan. 30 announced his retirement after more than 35 years in the House of Representatives.
L.A. County Deputy District Attorney Elan Carr, a Republican, surprised pundits by emerging with 22 percent of the vote. In November he will face state Sen. Ted Lieu, a Democrat who got 19 percent. Lieu is vying for the 33rd Congressional District seat after deciding not to run for re-election to the state legislature.
Democrat Wendy Greuel, L.A.’s city controller from 2009 to 2013, garnered 17 percent on Tuesday. The loss follows Greuel’s unsuccessful bid for mayor of Los Angeles last year.
Two-term Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a Republican, is assured a spot in the runoff for state controller after getting 24.4 percent of the vote. It was unclear, however, who her opponent will be.
Only about 2,400 votes separated dark horse candidate David Yee, a certified public accountant and GOP member from California City, and Assemblyman John Perez, a Los Angeles Democrat who formerly served as speaker. Their respective tallies represented 21.7 percent and 21.6 percent of ballots cast, making the race too close to call.
In the race for sheriff of Los Angeles County, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell took 49 percent of the vote, missing an outright victory by only 1 percent. In the runoff he will go up against erstwhile undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who received 15 percent.
McDonnell, who joined the Long Beach Police Department in 2010 after serving as the LAPD’s chief of staff, is the only major candidate in that race without deep ties to the troubled Sheriff’s Department.
“There’s an opportunity here for me to bring an outsider’s perspective and a fresh set of eyes to the organization, to see opportunities that those inside the organization, who have come up through the ranks, may not see,” he said at his victory party, whose attendees included bagpipe-playing members of the Los Angeles Police Emerald Society.
Tanaka often touts his decades of experience within the department, where he rose to become second in command in 2011.
“We have a proven track record of 33 years of dedicated service of fighting crime to make our community safer,” he told reporters on Tuesday, as his wife Valerie stood at his side. “Voters are a lot smarter than people give them credit for. They’ll sift through all the rubble, they’ll sift through all of the nonsense and they’ll get to the meat of the facts.”
Get election return data directly from county registrars of voters here:
- Los Angeles County results
- Orange County results
- Riverside County results
- San Bernardino County results
- Ventura County results
With longtime L.A. County Supervisors Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky being termed out of office, their coveted board seats were up for grabs. Yet only one of those elections was heavily contested.
In perhaps Tuesday’s most lopsided victory, former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis avoided a runoff by receiving 70 percent of ballots cast in supervisorial District 1. Solis will succeed Molina after beating April Saucedo Hood, a Long Beach Unified School District police officer, and Juventino Gomez, who previously served as an El Monte city councilman. Hood and Gomez pulled in 18 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, in the eight-candidate race to replace Yaroslavsky in supervisorial District 3, former state legislator Sheila Kuehl topped the field with 36 percent of the vote. Onetime Santa Monica City Councilman Bobby Shriver garnered 29 percent, edging out West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran, who received 16 percent.