Any Interesting Statewide Campaigns Heading to November? – Yes!

November’s ballot will include nine races for statewide office and at least one will be interesting.  If you feel there are other interesting races, please join us around the water cooler or with information.  Next week, we will update information from Peekers, so until then, let’s focus on the Controller and Insurance Commissioner races.

For State Controller, Republican Lanhee Chen exits the primary with 37% of the vote, which is far ahead of the other candidate heading to November – Democrat Malia Cohen who received 23% of the vote.  The rest of the vote was split between four candidates: three Democrats and one Green party member.  Although Cohen’s support does not appear strong, Republicans have not won a statewide office since 2006 when Arnold Schwarzenegger took the Governor’s mansion and Steve Poizner won the Insurance Commissioner’s race.  As CalMatters reminds us, in the last two U.S. Senate races, Republican candidates did not even advance to the November election.

Based on past voter turnout numbers and given the voters’ strong partisanship, Cohen should be guaranteed a win, as long as her team remembers the first rule of campaigning – secure your base.  If Democrat voters unite behind Cohen, she will have a festive election night.  But she should not count any chickens yet.  As Calpeek has previously discussed, Chen is an interesting candidate, has name ID, and the funds to run a strong campaign.  

Although Chen’s endorsement list does not shy away from listing well-known Republican endorsements, he has also been able to secure endorsements from many newspapers’ editorial boards, including the Los Angeles Times.

Moving over to the Insurance Commissioner’s race, incumbent Ricardo Lara has a safe lead.  The fun is watching the battle for second place (note: Calpeek knows this is not fun for anyone closely involved in the campaigns).  The vote difference between Republican Robert Howell and Democrat Marc Levine continues to be so close, the word “recount” keeps popping up.  As of yesterday, Howell was leading Levine 1,207,513 votes to 1,202,592.  If you would like to follow the vote tally ping-pong numbers, visit: the Secretary of State’s Unofficial Election Update page.  

Unlike the Controller’s race, everyone expects Democrat Lara to easily defeat Republican Howell, if he moves to the runoff.  Howell does not appear to have raised enough funds to even trigger the minimum amount to require electronic reporting and his website lacks depth.  On the other hand, if Democrat Levine prevails and moves to November, the race for IC will be hotly contested.  It will be the only statewide race that includes two Democrats battling for the big job.

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