Newsom expected to claim victory in California primary
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Less than a year after easily fending off a recall effort, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom is back on the ballot in Tuesday’s primary where the focus won’t be this time around. on whether he wins, but by how much.
Republicans have failed to recruit a candidate who can come close to him in name recognition and fundraising. But in a race with 26 candidates on the ballot – and an expected low turnout at a time when California voters are reeling from high gas prices and inflation, rampant homelessness and crime growing – Newsom may struggle to reach the 62% who voted against the recall.
“I think the only loss for the governor is not winning really, really big,” said Jessica Levinson, political commentator and professor of election law at Loyola Marymount University. “It’s almost the definition of non-competitive racing.”
Democrats control the White House and Congress, and the ruling party often loses ground in midterm elections. If the Democrats lose ground in California, they are extremely unlikely to be in the race for governor and the US Senate.
Sen. Alex Padilla, who was nominated by Newsom to take over Kamala Harris’ seat when she became vice president, is on the primary ballot twice. Voters will decide whether Padilla should serve out the remainder of Harris’ term, which expires in January, and in a separate election whether he should get his own six-year term.
Similar to the gubernatorial race, the GOP-endorsed candidate is little known. Marc Meuser is a lawyer whose work with the right-wing Dhillon Law Group included 22 lawsuits against Newsom claiming he overstepped his authority by imposing coronavirus restrictions.
Criticism of Newsom’s handling of the pandemic prompted last year’s recall. Newsom, who imposed the first statewide COVID-19 shutdown order, countered that his actions had saved lives and pointed to statistics showing California’s per capita death rate was better than that of Texas, Florida and most other states.
newsom has mounted a low-key re-election effort so far this year. He took credit for a series of record budget surpluses during his first term and used some of the money to pay for health care for people living illegally in the country, to subsidize health premiums. middle-class health insurance and send cash payments to the most taxpayers.
If the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, he is committed to making California a sanctuary for women seeking abortion. He also pledged to sign legislation allowing private citizens to sue manufacturers and sellers of firearms to enforce the state’s ban on certain assault weapons.
Republican State Senator Brian Dahle, which was endorsed by the state GOP, is considered the most likely to finish second in the crowded field. A joker could be Michael Shellenberger, an author and activist who is running without political party preference and came third in a recent poll conducted by the University of California at Berkeley.
Dahle, a farmer first elected to the state legislature in 2012, blamed most of California’s problems on the Democratic Party’s dominance of state government, where they control all offices of the state and hold huge majorities in the Legislative Assembly. He says the Newsom administration hasn’t done enough to prevent and fight wildfires while criticizing Democratic leaders for failing to invest in new water storage systems to better protect the state from the drought.
“No matter what office you’re running for, it’s going to be a tough year running with a D behind your name in California,” said California Republican Party spokeswoman Ellie Hockenbury. “Our nation’s highest gas prices continue to rise, crime continues to rise, homelessness continues to be a crisis, and long-time residents continue to move to friendlier states.”
Newsom looked vulnerable a year ago after more than 1.7million voters signed a petition to recall him from office following huge criticism after attending a birthday dinner in a fancy restaurant during a coronavirus lockdown he imposed.
The recall election drew dozens of candidates, but no Republicans with the kind of broad appeal that swept Arnold Schwarzenegger into office in the last — and only — successful recall of a state governor. Leading GOP candidates included former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, conservative radio host Larry Elder and former Olympic decathlon champion turned reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner.
Newsom won by such a wide margin that none of them chose to challenge him in this year’s general election.
“Voters can get mad at a Democrat and be really upset, but to get rid of them, (candidates) have to offer something that moderate voters in the state find appealing,” said Eric Schickler, co-director of the Institute. in government studies at the University of California-Berkeley. “Given the strength of polarization (and) partisanship, that’s a tall hurdle to jump.”