Everyone knows that California is a solidly blue state. Statewide elections are won by Democrats. A Republican has not won statewide office since 2006 – 16 years ago.
So what is a Republican politician to do? Switch parties or become a No Party Preference (NPP) candidate. This year, we may see if that strategy works.
That strategy almost worked in the 2018 primary. Former Republican Steve Poizner switched his party affiliation to NPP, ran for Insurance Commissioner, and received 41% of the vote. He advanced to the runoff against Democrat Ricardo Lara. In November 2018, Poizner lost to Lara 47.1% – 52.9%. Not bad for a candidate with no party affiliation – the number one influencer for voters.
This June, former Republican Sacramento District Attorney Annie Marie Schubert is running for Attorney General as an NPP. The race for AG is one to discuss around the water cooler. Rob Bonta, the current AG, was appointed to fill the seat after Xavier Becerra resigned to become U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Bonta, a former Assemblymember from Northern California, has never run for statewide office. The leading Republican in the race is Nathan Hochman, a former U.S. Attorney who has not previously run for office.
The Republican Party establishment appears to be supporting Hochman, who has a solid list of endorsers including former Governor Pete Wilson. Bonta has the overwhelming support of Democratic elected officials and the Party. Schubert has a long list of County District Attorneys supporting her along with an impressive list of police and public safety organizations.
The cash-on-hand numbers don’t reveal anything other than what is expected – Bonta will be one of the candidates heading to November. As of December 2021, Bonta’s campaign had just over $5 million in the bank. Hochman had $842,000. Schubert had $1 million.
Normally, we could look at voter registration for clues, but, again, while the data appears to show that Bonta will have no problem advancing to November, it does not indicate against whom he will be running. As of March 11, Democrats made up 46.74% of registered voters, Republicans were 23.92% and No Party Preference was 22.81%. Calpeek would like to take a moment to remind readers that, on average, Republican voters are more likely to turn out than NPPs.
If Hochman places second in June, it is unlikely he will win in November. The “R” next to his name on the ballot will probably doom his candidacy. So the question is: can NPP Schubert hold the NPP vote while taking the Rs leaving D Bonta a few votes short of staying in the AGs office. OTWT.