February 7, 2023 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

GOP Starts to Wise Up; Will Dems Follow?

By Tom Elias

Thomas B. Elias, Columnist

California’s top two primary system is living up to its “jungle primary” nickname more than this spring than ever, with dozens of candidates vying in both statewide and district races across the state for rare, elusive spots on the November general election ballot.

Before Proposition 14 passed in 2010, every political party recognized by the state got one slot and no more in the fall runoff. But now only the two leading primary election vote-getters make the final, regardless of their party.

Over three election cycles since voters adopted the system, this has created dozens of one-party races for legislative and congressional seats and once put a congressional district with a significant Democratic registration margin into a runoff involving two Republicans.

So far, there’s been only one statewide, top-of-ticket single-party race: Two years ago, Democrat Kamala Harris easily defeated fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez for the U.S. Senate seat long held by a third Democrat, Barbara Boxer.

Barring a major upset, there will be another one-party Senate race this fall, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein facing off against longtime state Senate President Kevin de Leon.

There also could be a one-party run for governor, as Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and ex-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have paced the field since polling began early last year.

But Republicans now show signs of smartening up to one basic law of the jungle primary – when too many candidates from one party run, they can splinter their supporters’ vote so much that none of them makes the runoff.

Barely a week before the filing deadline for the June primary, one of the three significant GOP candidates for governor dropped out for the sake of party survival. That was former Sacramento-area Congressman Doug Ose, who entered the race late and never drew many campaign donations or decent poll numbers.

Ose, like San Diego County businessman John Cox and Orange County Assemblyman Travis Allen, hoped to capture the bulk of the votes of California’s Republicans, who now total just one-fourth of those registered to vote. But he never got above 3 percent in the polls.

If Allen and Cox split Ose’s meager support, both would still be running far behind Newsom and Villaraigosa, unlikely to advance to November. To field a fall candidate, the GOP probably needs one more of its hopefuls to drop out, the survivor presumably netting virtually all Republican votes and possibly pulling more currently undecided voters than any Democrat. An unlikely scenario.

But at least the Republicans recognize the danger of having too many candidates for one office.

So far, Democrats hoping to flip some of California’s Republican seats in Congress don’t seem to have gotten this message. It won’t matter in districts with an incumbent running, as that single Republican will make the November ballot along with whoever tops the Democrats in June.

But in the 39th and 49th districts, where longtime incumbents Ed Royce and Darrell Issa are retiring, Democrats risk not making the ballot despite Hillary Clinton’s carrying both districts in 2016.

When he announced his impending departure, the 13-termer Royce endorsed longtime aide and former Orange County state Assemblywoman Young Kim. But several other strong GOP candidates also entered that race, along with four significant Democrats. It’s likely that Kim will advance to November, and there’s a possibility one of the other Republicans might pull a few more votes than any Democrat. Which would leave a one-party Republican race in a district Clinton won by almost 10 percent.

In Issa’s longtime district, Oceanside Assemblyman Rocky Chavez and state Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey are strong Republican candidates, running 2-3 in a February poll behind Democrat Doug Allen, who came within less than 1 percent of beating Issa in 2016.

But if any of the four other Democrats in the running becomes even a bit stronger, Allen could drop to third in the splintered primary vote, leaving a two-Republican runoff in another district Clinton won.

The bottom line: Just as Ose dropped out for the sake of his party, some Democrats running for Congress must leave the field or risk failure for their party’s efforts to take over control of the House of Representatives.

Tags: , , , , , , in Opinion
Related Posts

SMa.r.t. Column: To a Better Housing Element

February 3, 2023

February 3, 2023

Your City is busy rewriting much of its zoning code to implement our new Housing Element as demanded by the...

Santa Monica Police Chief’s Message to the Community

January 30, 2023

January 30, 2023

January 27, 2023  Dear Santa Monica Community,  The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) would like to extend our heartfelt condolences...

Column: State Usurping Key Powers From Cities

January 28, 2023

January 28, 2023

By Tom Elias All over California last fall, hundreds of the civic minded spent thousands of hours and millions of...

Column – A California Positive: Kids Swarm Extra Classes

January 24, 2023

January 24, 2023

By Tom Elias It’s become a cliché, the shibboleth that California has lousy public schools and most of the kids...

SMa.r.t. Column: Let’s Get Real and Apply Practical Common Sense

January 20, 2023

January 20, 2023

This week’s column is a letter to the City Council, written by Arthur Jeon and sent in this past week....

SMa.r.t. Column: Water Water Everywhere

January 13, 2023

January 13, 2023

The new year has started with water, lots of WATER. The west coast and particularly central and northern California have...

S.M.a.r.t. Looks Ahead

December 31, 2022

December 31, 2022

It’s that time of the year again, when people and organizations look ahead and make resolutions to try to do...

SMa.r.t. Column: Refugees in our Midst

December 22, 2022

December 22, 2022

We published this article exactly five years ago. We leave it to the reader to consider whether this article is...

Column – Superintendent’s Message: Farewell SMMUSD

December 21, 2022

December 21, 2022

Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff, Students and Community Members, I write this last message to the community with both a heavy...

Pacific Ocean Park– A Positive & Optimistic Place in Santa Monica’s History

December 16, 2022

December 16, 2022

It’s the Holidays again, and we hope your spirits of joy and happiness are being well celebrated! In continuation of...

The Street Seen: Crescent Bay Park

December 12, 2022

December 12, 2022

Our guest columnist this week is Ocean Park local, Mark Gorman. Mark writes a semi-monthly local blog he calls “Street...

​​Column: No One Very Pleased as New Rooftop Solar Rules Improve

December 9, 2022

December 9, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist Only rarely does the California Public Utilities Commission, long known as the least responsive agency in...

A SMa.r.t. Thanksgiving

November 23, 2022

November 23, 2022

SMart has much to be thankful for this year: We are thankful for the courage of all who face death...

SMa.r.t. Column: Renting and Owning. The Santa Monica Long View

November 18, 2022

November 18, 2022

In May, 2020, SMa.r.t. urged the city to consider establishing community land trusts, in which community-owned land is leased at...

SMa.r.t. Column: Santa Monica Housing Development – Poison Pills, Bad Data and the Blame Game

November 11, 2022

November 11, 2022

Prior councils have made long term decisions that have locked the city into an extraordinarily fixed path, the consequences of...