Looking ahead to the November election
Heated contests are brewing in the State Superintendent of Public Instruction race and elsewhere as Senate Democrats evaluate their chance to recapture a legislative supermajority in November.

The Gavin Newsom vs. John Cox race for governor is not expected to be a headline-grabbing affair since Democrat gubernatorial candidates snagged 61 percent of the June 5 primary vote to Republican candidates’ 37 percent. Visit www.csba.org/elections for results of the June 5 election and information on the Gubernatorial and SPI candidates.

Tuck and Thurmond face off
While Marshall Tuck pulled in just over 37 percent of the vote in the SPI race, Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) came in tight on Tuck’s heels at 35 percent, sending the two into a November runoff. The two “also-rans” in the SPI race — Lily Ploski and Steven Ireland — unexpectedly cobbled together the remaining 27 percent.

As Tuck remains the more recognizable candidate after narrowly losing the 2014 SPI race to Tom Torlakson, Thurmond faces a sizable lift to sway voters his direction despite only a two-point vote differential and his backing from the California Teachers Association and other labor groups. It remains possible that Tuck could receive a sizable boost in support from charter school advocates who will have resources to spend as their preferred gubernatorial candidate, former L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, is out of the governor’s race.

School Board Caucus
Coming into the primary, nine current or former school or county board members emerged as candidates for Senate and Assembly districts, with three advancing to November. Democrat Christy Smith of Newhall Unified School District, who unsuccessfully campaigned for same seat in 2016, garnered 46 percent of the vote against incumbent Asm. Dante Acosta (R-Santa Clarita) in a Republican-leaning District 38, while former Anaheim Union High School District and Orange County Office of Education board member Alexandria Coronado, a Republican, collected 47 percent in her bid to unseat Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) in District 65. In a safely Republican District 5, Democrat Carla Neal, formerly of Golden Valley Unified School District in Madera County, advanced to November after running unopposed against incumbent Frank Bigelow (R-O’Neals).
The more things change…
Democrats will not hold a supermajority in the Legislature for the remainder of the current legislative session, which ends on August 31.

The supermajority in the Assembly remains intact with the special election victories of Democrats Luz Maria Rivas and Jesse Gabriel, replacing Raul Bocanegra in District 39 and Matt Dababneh in District 45, respectively, following their resignations. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles) was elected to the District 54 seat in April to replace Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, who also resigned this year.

Democrats are guaranteed at least one additional seat in District 76, as Democrats Tasha Boerner Horvath and Elizabeth Warren (not to be confused with the U.S. Senator by the same name) claimed the top two spots in the race to succeed Rocky Chávez (R-Oceanside), who vacated his seat to run for retiring Rep. Darrell Issa’s Congressional seat.

However, the supermajority in the Senate will not be recaptured before the end of the 2018 legislative session, as the effort to recall Sen. Josh Newman in District 29 was successful with 59 percent voting to oust him. Having won the vote contingent on the recall, Republican and former Asm. Ling Ling Chang, whom Newman narrowly defeated in the 2016 general election, was sworn into the Senate on June 25.

Senate Democrats may have a shot to recapture a Senate seat in District 12, where Asm. Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) is running for the seat currently held by Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres); both members term out of their seats this year. The vote tally in the Republican-leaning district is a virtual deadlock at 49.8 Republican to 50.1 Democrat as of this writing.

In Senate District 32, Tony Mendoza failed to crack the top two in his bid to recapture the seat from which he resigned in February. Republican Rita Topalian was the top vote-getter in that race with 26 percent, with nine Democrats splitting 65 percent.

…the more they stay the same

Caballero is the only member of the Assembly who terms out this year. Only four Assemblymembers — Chávez, Thurmond, Marc Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga) and Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) — vacated their seats to pursue other elected offices. Most incumbents look safe in their reelection bids — including embattled Asm. Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), who narrowly eclipsed a Republican challenger (29 percent to 27 percent) to advance to the top two in a safely Democratic district — although Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside) and Quirk-Silva all could face tight challenges from Republican candidates in Districts 32, 60 and 65.

In the Senate, only six members term out: Cannella, Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto), Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) and Joel Anderson (R-Alpine), as well as Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa), who will battle fellow Democrat Eleni Kounalakis in November in the Lieutenant Governor race, and former Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), who won a top-two spot to challenge long-serving Dianne Feinstein for her U.S. Senate seat.

Note: CSBA does not endorse individual candidates for elected office; this report is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement for any candidate.