Friday, May 30, 2014

California Primary: Statewide Ballot

This is the first three previews for Tuesday's California primary.

There are eight statewide offices up for election in 2014. The most controversial is actually the non-partisan Superintendent of Public Instruction. Despite the huge expenditures and mud-slinging Tuesday's election is irrelevant. There are only three candidates and the two who will advance almost certainly will be incumbent Tom Torlakson, and challenger Marshall Tuck. Torkalson is a long time Democratic politician and before that he was part of the state teacher’s union. The union has been running a ton of ads bashing Tuck, also a Democrat and a charter school advocate. They haven’t been elevating Lydia Gutierrez. So even if they are able to push people from Tuck to Torkalson they won’t get Gutierrez to Top Two. So I’m not exactly sure why there is so much outside spending.

If Jerry Brown were just another Democratic incumbent, he’d be a lock to be re-elected governor. He’s well liked by some Republicans and right leaning independents, so he figures to win in a blow out regardless of his opponent. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly is likely to finish second. He scares the GOP establishment and they’ve been spreading the story that Donnelly will get less than the GOP floor and that’ll hurt Republicans down ballot. I doubt both of these assertions and have written about it on my blog. The establishment has been pushing Regardless Neel Kashkari. He's done so badly in polls that I don’t even know whether he'll finish third, let alone if he has a shot at second.

Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin is one of the great hopes for the Republican party since she’s a big city mayor. If a Republican is going to win statewide again, it’ll be someone like Swearengin. And this is the perfect race for her to do that. But that’s November. She’s expected to get most of the Republican vote and that should put her in first. Former Assembly Speaker Democrat John Perez has a higher profile and better fundraising than BoE member and fellow Democrat Betty Yee. But polls put him behind her. I still pick Perez to finish second.

The pick for Secretary of State is Leland Yee! Okay, no. Yee remains on the ballot, despite being under Federal indictment, but he’s not advancing. Former Pete Wilson flack Dan Schnur is running as an NPP. If an NPP could make Top Two in a race with a Republican and Democrat it’s someone like Schnur. He’s fairly well known, has gotten newspaper endorsements, has had strong fundraising, and has outside money pushing him. And this is the sort of position that people would vote for an NPP. Schnur trails badly in polls, however. So it should be Democrat Alex Padilla and Republican Pete Peterson in Top Two.

Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, and Insurance Commissioner are also on the ballot. The GOP has put up pro forma candidates to make sure there’s someone on the fall ballot. It’s highly unlikely that those candidates won’t make Top Two, but it probably won’t change anything down ballot if they don’t.

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