At the start of election night, a talking point in the national media was whether California voters would blame the left and move a little more to the center.
Central to this conversation was a vote to remove progressive prosecutor Chesa Boudin, who became a lightning rod for controversies over crime and homelessness in San Francisco. If the famously liberal city ousted Boudin and billionaire businessman Rick Caruso put in a strong showing in the Los Angeles mayoral race, would that mean a shift in blue California?
Boudin was recalled by a wide margin, and Caruso advanced to a runoff, finishing ahead of Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles).
Both findings underscore how much the issues of crime and homelessness — as well as housing affordability — have become major concerns in both deep blue cities, with voters demanding change. A poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, co-hosted by the Los Angeles Times, asked what two factors mattered most when deciding who to support for mayor of LA. Among likely voters, the results were: homelessness 49%; crime and public safety 40%; Housing affordability 25%.
But the election results were far from a sweeping center shift. Leading Democrats like Governor Gavin Newsom, US Senator Alex Padilla and Atty. General Rob Bonta had strong performances. And LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, whose politics has shifted sharply to the right, has struggled.
Here is an excerpt of the election results:
Boudin’s recall decision was not even close, supported by more than 60% of the electorate.
Critics portrayed the prosecutor’s office as a mild-mannered prosecutor who didn’t care about public safety. And they coupled his criminal reform policies with a spate of high-profile crimes, including a fatal hit-and-run involving a probationer, a series of robberies at high-end Union Square stores, and a spate of attacks on elderly Asian-American residents .
“This election does not mean that San Francisco has drifted to the right in our approach to criminal justice,” said Mary Jung, chair of the recall campaign. “Indeed, San Francisco has been a national beacon for progressive criminal justice reform for decades and will continue to do so with new leadership.”
With voters in low spirits after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, a seemingly intractable homelessness crisis and rising gun violence, the mayoral race was viewed as a referendum on whether Los Angeles would stick with the liberal Democratic leadership that called the shots most of the last half century.
Caruso spent massively on Bass, using his own fortune and hammering out a message about solving the homeless crisis and fighting crime. While a Sunday poll showed Bass just ahead of Caruso, the primary election results were mixed. Caruso leads the way with 42% to 37% as of Wednesday morning. You will face a run-off election in November.
Four Los Angeles City Council members were leading in their contests for re-election, while a fifth were considering a Nov. 8 runoff, according to partial results. In the closely watched controller’s race, progressive activist Kenneth Mejia was the top voter and will face Paul Koretz in November’s runoff.
Progressives fared better in the California Attorney General race. Democratic incumbent Atty. General Rob Bonta sailed to an easy win in the Nov. 8 election and will likely run against one of two Republicans in place of a high-profile independent prosecutor, Sacramento Dist. atty Annemarie Schubert.
Opponents attacked Bonta for his left-leaning legislation and support for criminal justice reform legislation. Schubert had hoped that her relatively centrist politics and experience in prosecuting the Golden State Killer and other notorious serial killers and rapists would convince voters that she could effectively run the Justice Department.
Bonta’s strong performance provided a counterpoint to criticism of the criminal justice reform movement in California, concerns that helped oust Boudin.
LA County Sheriff
Villanueva won the post four years ago as a reformer with a promise to limit the department’s cooperation with federal immigration officials in county jails.
But he has increasingly veered to the right to reshape himself as a conservative law-and-order sheriff. On the campaign trail and in his frequent appearances on Fox News, he has railed against the policies of the “awakened left,” which he blames for the homeless crisis and the surge in homicides and other crimes in the county. A major initiative was to dramatically increase the number of permits issued allowing people to carry concealed weapons. His department was also embroiled in a series of scandals and faced criticism from its own supervisors and board of directors.
As of Wednesday morning, Villanueva had received just 34% of the vote in a crowded field. He is likely to face former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna in a November runoff.
Newsom has defeated a crowded field of little-known contenders in California’s state primary and will be up against conservative Republican from Northern California, Senator Brian Dahle.
Padilla, who was appointed by Newsom just over two years ago, is expected to survive November’s election.
Lanhee Chen, a candidate for state controller, was the GOP’s best shot at winning statewide office. As the only Republican in the race, the accountant and educator was favored to prevail against four Democrats and one independent.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-06-08/did-california-voters-really-rebuke-the-left-on-election-day Did fed-up California voters really rebuke the left on election day? Not exactly