Republicans should be optimistic about flipping a state Assembly seat representing Kings and Kern counties.

Assembly District 32 might be the Republicans’ best chance to turn a blue seat red come November.

Republican Justin Mendes, a Hanford councilman, is celebrating after garnering a primary win over Democratic incumbent Rudy Salas in District 32. Mendes won 52%, setting up a repeat confrontation in November because of the top-two format.

Candidate Kern County Kings County Total
Justin Mendes (R) 3,953 8,559 52% (12,512)
Rudy Salas (D)* 6,886 4,760 48% (11,646)

What’s clear is that each candidate won their respective home counties handily: Mendes in Kings and Salas in Kern. One question to ask: How might a higher turnout in a general election affect the results?

Mathis Holding On

 

Assemblyman Devon Mathis

It appears that incumbent Devon Mathis will make it into the District 26 run-off. But in this closely contested race, a little more than 500 votes is the difference between moving on or getting primaried.

Mathis has faced plenty of negative news in the past year: a sexual assault investigation that went nowhere, a lawsuit from a former staffer, and backlash over his cap-and-trade vote.

The district covers parts of Inyo, Kern and Tulare counties.

Candidate Votes
Devon Mathis (R)* 30% (10,659)
Jose Sigala (D) 30% (10,457)
Warren Gulber (R) 29% (10,143)
Jack Lavers (R) 12% (4,084)

Other Assembly Rematches Set

In three Valley Assembly districts, only two candidates ran, setting up automatic rematches in November. A look at the races and returns through Wednesday morning:

[Note: totals may not add up to 100% because of write-in votes; * incumbent]

District 5 

Candidate Votes
Frank Bigelow (R)* 62% (45,755)
Carla Neal (D) 38% (27,660)

District 21

Candidate Votes
Adam Gray (D)* 100% (23,558)

Note: Gray ran unopposed.

District 23

Candidate Votes
Jim Patterson (R)* 66% (37,427)
Aileen Rizo (D) 35% (19,676)

District 31

Candidate Votes
Joaquin Arambula (D)* 59% (14,457)
Lupe Espinoza (R) 41% (9,951)

Around the State

Only three of the 72 incumbents running for re-election failed to finish first: Salas (see above); and two southern California seats, Republican Chad Mayes in AD 42 and Democrat Sabrina Cervantes in AD 60. All finished in second place and will advance to the November general election. Mayes drew the ire of Republicans for joining with Democrats on cap-and-trade legislation.

Of the eight open Assembly seats, only one will flip for sure. In AD 76, Democrats finished in the top two positions in the seat vacated by Republican Rocky Chavez (who ran unsuccessfully for an open congressional seat).

The remaining seven (including two concurrent special elections held Tuesday night) will likely be retained by the occupying party.

Technically, AD 72 went to a Democrat in a seat currently occupied by a Republican. Josh Lowenthal received the most votes at 37%, yet was the only Democrat in the five-member field. Republicans, including second-place finisher Tyler Diep, gathered the remaining 63%.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia in AD 58 finished first in the primary, despite #MeToo allegations that saw her take a leave of absence. She returned once an investigation could not substantiate claims against her.

State Senate

Voters picked the top two in half of the 40 state Senate seats, including two special elections to fill vacancies.

Borgeas Cruises

Andreas Borgeas

Fresno County Supervisor Andreas Borgeas easily won his Senate District 8 primary. The Republican finished with 59% of the vote, and will face a weak Democratic challenger, Paulina Miranda of Fresno, in November.

If Borgeas wins, he would have to resign his supervisorial seat which would create a special election, likely in April 2019.

The winner replaces termed-out Republican Tom Berryhill. Berryhill is the leading vote-getter (42%) in a race for a Stanislaus County supervisor seat.

Candidate Votes
Andreas Borgeas (R) 59% (71,300)
Paulina Miranda (D) 21% (25,505)
Tom Pratt (D) 16% (18,791)
Mark Beldon (NPP) 4% (4,376)

Poythress vs. Cabellero

In SD 12, Madera Supervisor Rob Poythress and Assemblywoman Anna Caballero of Salinas survived the primary.

While Caballero won a plurality of 41%, compared to Poythress’ 27%, it will be a tight race. Poythress edged fellow Republican Johnny Tacherra, who earned 24%. Combine those two numbers, and that means Republicans won a majority.

The winner will replace termed-out Republican Anthony Cannella of Ceres.

Candidate Votes
Anna Caballero (D) 41% (25,017)
Rob Poythress (R) 27% (16,277)
Johnny Tacherra (R) 24% (14,343)
Daniel Parra (D) 8% (5,109)

Vidak Leads Primary Vote

Senator Andy Vidak gathered the most votes in the SD 14 race, attempting to win his third election for the seat (and second full-term).

He won 55% of the vote and will face Sanger councilwoman Melissa Hurtado, a Democrat, in the fall.

Candidate Votes
Andy Vidak (R)* 55% (24,404)
Melissa Hurtado (D) 23% (10,030)
Abigail Solis (D) 14% (6,190)
Ruben Macreno (D) 8% (3,418)

 

Democrat Recalled

Senator Josh Newman

One seat flipped in a special recall election in southern California. Voters overwhelmingly (60%) told Sen. Josh Newman to pack his bags.

The Democrat is out of office. In his place, former Republican Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang won the connected special election.

The Republican Party targeted Newman because of his vote on SB 1, the gas tax. Despite shenanigans by Democrats, Newman is gone. This means that the Democrats lost their two-thirds supermajority advantage.

Said Newman: “None of this shakes my faith in California or in the fundamental capacity of politics to serve as a platform for doing good and for serving people. It’s been an honor and a privilege” to serve.

The Other Districts: Status Quo

All 13 Senate incumbents won the most votes in their respective races to advance to November.

In the remaining seven open seats, it does not appear any of those seats will flip, with one notable caveat.

SD 32 had the most unusual night, two concurrent votes: one to fill the remainder of Tony Mendoza’s term, and the other for the regular four-year seat.

Republican Rita Topalian led both races with 25% in each. However, she will face different opponents in the runoff. For the temporary term, she will face Democrat Vanessa Delgado in August. In November, Topalian will face Democrat Bob Archuleta.

Mendoza, a Democrat who resigned under the #MeToo scandal, ran in both races and lost both times.

Even with Topalian’s lead, the Democratic strength in the southern California District may be too great to flip the district.

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