Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s time in office.
California Republicans and their quest to secure their first statewide office in more than a decade could prove to be unsuccessful, according to early returns from the California Secretary of State’s Office.
Democrat Malia Cohen, chair of the California State Board of Equalization, appears poised to succeed fellow Democrat Betty Yee, who has termed out after being elected to the position in 2015.
Cohen holds a significant edge over Republican Lanhee Chen, a fiscal advisor who worked on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012.
The California Controller is like the state’s head accountant, responsible for paying vendors, doling out funds to local governments and auditing for misappropriation of said funds.
Despite running in a deep blue state like California, Chen had secured critical endorsements, including from the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Cohen picked up key endorsements from Democrat mainstays, including Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein.
Both Cohen and Chen had pointed at the EDD (California Employment Development Department) as sources of possible fraud and mismanagement that would need to be audited as part of their tenures.
Chen had previously said he did not support a wealth tax or any new taxes on California’s highest earners. Cohen, meanwhile, said she would leave any new taxes to the will of the voters.
It seems likely that Republicans will have to continue to wait to finally see one of their own filling the seat of one of California’s highest offices, which have remained wholly blue since for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s time in office ended in 2011.