California Sen. Alex Padilla advances to general election

Sen. Alex Padilla, who was appointed to the post after Kamala Harris became vice president, easily won a seat in November’s election after California voters took part in the polls on Tuesday.

The Porter Ranch Democrat, a former Los Angeles official and elected state, faced underfunded and unknown competitors in the race.

“I am honored to have the support of so many California voters from across the state in my Senate campaign. Thank you to every voter who cast their ballot in this election and every poll worker who helped conduct another successful election,” Padilla said in a statement. “I am humbled and excited to continue to deliver for California and to enlist the support of California voters once again in November.”

Padilla was on the ballot twice — once to fill the remainder of Harris’ term through early 2023, and in the primary to run for a full six-year term. He advanced in both to run twice again in November’s general election.

Republican attorney Mark Meuser, whom Padilla overwhelmingly defeated in the 2018 campaign for Secretary of State, also advanced to the November general election.

Padilla was one of the first major winners Tuesday night after a low-turnout election that also included congressional races.

These November general contests could herald a slew of changes in California’s delegation to the 52-seat House of Representatives, the largest in the country. The races will reverberate across the country as Democrats look to the state as a buffer against expected congressional losses and Republicans look to pad their margins if they successfully win the House.

Under California’s primary system, the two frontrunners will move on to November’s general election regardless of party. Counting votes could take weeks in close races, with ballots sent out by Tuesday being accepted until June 14. There are several contests that political observers across the country are watching closely, in part because of the de-congressional redrawing of congressional districts every ten years following the census.

Democrats, facing headwinds from President Biden’s low approval ratings, inflation and historic voting trends, consider three GOP-held seats in the state to be one of their best intake opportunities nationwide.

Republican Rep. Mike Garcia, a former fighter pilot, and former Democratic Rep. Christy Smith will be fighting for representation for a north LA borough for the third time. Garcia beat Smith in a special election in 2020, but then prevailed later that year with a 333-vote victory in the general election.

The formerly conservative district has skewed more liberally in recent years due to changing demographics, and following the reorganization, Democrats now have a nearly 12 percentage point advantage in voter registration. Democrat John Quaye Quartey, a combat veteran and newcomer to politics who is new to the district, had been battling with Smith for second place but conceded Tuesday night.

The results of a marquee convention race in the Central Valley are pending. Democrats have a significant registration advantage in GOP Rep. David Valadao’s district, but he’s trekked on political terrain before. This year, however, the Hanford Republican faced two contenders from his right, reflecting anger in the GOP grassroots over his vote to impeach former President Trump.

Trump has not publicly opposed Valadao, which sets the congressman apart from the nine other House Republicans who voted to impeach. That made it difficult for his GOP challengers – Chris Mathys and Adam Medeiros – to consolidate support. A late attempt by a Democratic outgroup tried to elevate Mathys, which resulted in a House Republican leader’s super-PAC allied with Kevin McCarthy responding with assault displays against him. Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Rudy Salas of Bakersfield is expected to win votes from the district’s more liberal voters.

Redistribute movements

When GOP Rep. Michelle Steel’s Seal Beach home was relocated to Democratic Rep. Katie Porter’s district by redistribution, Steel chose not to face the amazing fundraiser. Steel, a Korean-American immigrant, instead ran in a new district less favorable to Republicans but containing many Asian American voters.

Democrat Jay Chen, the son of Taiwanese immigrants and a Navy Reserve intelligence officer, is her biggest rival. Although the race has not yet been declared, the two are expected to continue their heated battle leading up to the November elections.

In Porter’s newly drawn district, which includes much of the Orange County coast, Democrats now have a 1 percentage point lead in voter registration. Biden won by 11% among voters in the new district in 2020, and they also resisted the removal of Gov. Gavin Newsom last year. Porter, an Irvine attorney who has become a national Democrat darling, is far better known than her likely GOP rival.

Though the race has not yet been declared, Porter is expected to face attorney Scott Baugh, a former Orange County GOP assemblyman and chairman, in the fall. Though Porter has swamped Baugh in fundraising, his long-standing connections to the county’s wealthy donors have seen him raise seven figures.

Two-year Democratic Rep. Mike Levin is waiting to see which of several Republican challengers he will face in November. The district, which straddles Orange and San Diego counties, has a 2 percentage point Democratic advantage, making it a potential catch-up opportunity for the GOP. But that could still be a reach for Republicans; District voters backed Biden in the 2020 election by 11 percentage points over Trump. The top GOP contenders are former San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott, Orange County Superintendent Lisa Bartlett and Oceanside City Councilman Christopher Rodriguez.

Rep. Young Kim appeared to be in a solid political position in her new, redder district, which is largely inland Orange County. But she and her allies ended up spending more than $2 million to stave off a riot from fellow Republican Greg Raths, a Mission Viejo City Councilman who was campaigning on her right.

Asif Mahmood, a doctor and former candidate for insurance commissioner, is the only Democrat on the ballot. The race has not yet been called. If Kim and Mahmood advance to the general election, it would probably be easier for Republicans to hold the district. In fact, Mahmood promoted Raths in the primary to raise his profile.

Musical chairs and open seats

The leaders, driven by new elections, retirements and elected officers seeking alternative opportunities, created a number of vacant seats.

Two incumbents opted not to seek re-election after they were both drawn into a new, predominantly Democratic, Latino-majority district stretching from southeast LA towns to Long Beach.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Congressman Cristina Garcia are the leading Democrats running to represent that area. Robert Garcia had a significant advantage in raising donations and endorsements. His campaign appeared to be trying to raise the profile of Republican John Briscoe, a school district trustee and running mate.

In Los Angeles, Rep. Karen Bass decided to run for mayor rather than seek re-election in one of California’s three congressional districts represented by black politicians. State Senator Sydney Kamlager and former Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry are among several candidates vying to replace her.

The race has not yet been called, but the borough, which includes South Los Angeles, Leimert Park, Ladera Heights and part of Culver City, will almost certainly remain in Democratic hands; The party has a 59 percentage point voter registration advantage in the district.

In the Central Valley, former Republican state Legislative Chairwoman Connie Conway was the favorite ahead of Lourin Hubbard, a Democratic water resource manager, in a special election runoff to fill the remainder of former Rep. Devin Nunes’ term. (Nunes left Congress to head Trump’s new social media company.) The race had not been called as of Tuesday night. California Sen. Alex Padilla advances to general election

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