Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 4, 2014
Bill would erase Prop. 187 language from California codes

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In overturning 1994's Proposition 187, federal courts ruled that California can't cut off publicly funded education, health care and welfare benefits for people who immigrated to the country illegally.

Yet laws on the books in California still include passages that were created by the controversial ballot initiative, prohibiting public schools and universities from admitting students who are not citizens or legal residents, denying undocumented immigrants the ability to access social services and requiring teachers and professors to turn undocumented students in to federal immigration authorities.

Those passages would be deleted from the state's education and welfare codes under a bill Sen. Kevin de León introduced Wednesday. While it wouldn't make any practical difference in how laws are enforced in California, de León said the symbolism is important.

"We think that symbolically it's a very powerful gesture to all Californians that we will remove and completely erase this part of our troubled history with immigrants," the Los Angeles Democrat said during a Capitol press conference promoting Senate Bill 396.

He described Proposition 187 as one of "the most mean-spirited and un-American" measures in California history. Backed by then-Gov. Pete Wilson, voters approved it twenty years ago, though it was quickly invalidated by the courts.

Democrats who are part of the Legislature's Latino and Asian Pacific Islander caucuses joined de León Wednesday in sharing their family stories of immigration, the role Proposition 187 played in sparking their political awareness and praising de León's bill to erase its evidence in the legal books.

The lawmakers also said they are working to develop an advisory ballot measure that would ask voters if they want Congress to overhaul the nation's immigration laws and include a so-called "path to citizenship" for undocumented immigrants.

PHOTO: Sen. Kevin de Leon with Assembly members Das Williams and Lorena Gonzalez at Wednesday's press conference criticizing Proposition 187. The Sacramento Bee/Laurel Rosenhall

June 4, 2014
Tim Donnelly lauds effort in losing campaign

donnellypunjabi.jpgOne day after rival Republican Neel Kashkari dispatched him in the race for governor, Tim Donnelly said in a message to supporters Wednesday that he was proud of a low-budget campaign that "nearly matched the millions spent to defeat us."

"Our campaign may have failed to win the top spot, but we showed that grassroots and meeting people in person is a powerful way to build support," the tea party-backed candidate said in a message on his website.

Donnelly did not mention Kashkari, an establishment-backed candidate who came from behind to finish second on Tuesday and advance to a November runoff against Gov. Jerry Brown. Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, was hammered by conservatives for his vote for Barack Obama in 2008 and for his liberal social views, and is unclear how successful he will be in winning them over.

Kashkari praised Donnelly at a news conference in Corona del Mar earlier Wednesday, saying "he worked really hard, and if there's anything I respect, it's hard work."

He also made overtures to Donnelly's supporters, saying "they put themselves into this race, and I appreciate that."

"Too often we as Republicans spend time fighting with one another," Kashkari said. "If we are united, supporting each other and focusing our energy on changing Sacramento, we will be much more successful."

Donnelly said his campaign had "united a small, but hardy band of Californians who refuse to be controlled by their government, and our numbers are growing."

He said, "This part of the journey may have ended, but one thing became clear: the political establishment remains the greatest threat to California's future, and last nights result showed that without spending a penny on traditional advertising, we nearly matched the millions spent to defeat us."

PHOTO: Tim Donnelly campaigns at the Punjabi American Festival in Yuba City on May 25, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

June 4, 2014
Democratic supermajority in spotlight after California primary

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Last election cycle, the main story was Democrats claiming a decisive two-thirds supermajority in both houses of the Legislature.

Tuesday night's primary results foreshadowed how that dominance may change come the November general election, with a handful of close contests poised to reshape the makeup of the Legislature.

Democrats aren't concerned about retaining a majority in both houses. But that supermajority - which enables Democrats to raise taxes, place measures on the ballot or have laws take effect immediately without Republican votes - is more precarious.

In the Assembly, Democrats currently hold 55 seats - one more than the minimum two-thirds margin. Most of those are safe seats, nestled in districts where the Democratic skew of registered voters makes a Republican takeover unlikely.

But in some districts, Democrats have a more tenuous hold on power. That opens a route for Republicans to push Assembly Democrats below the two-thirds margin.

"The key path for the Republicans is, they need to pick up two seats and hold what they've got," said Matt Rexroad, a Republican consultant. "If Republicans are trying to pick up seats in a general election, when it's a presidential election it's extremely difficult. If they're going to do it, this is the time."

Moderate Democrat Rudy Salas, a first-term assemblyman from Bakersfield, won a plurality with 43 percent of the vote. But his two Republican challengers split the conservative vote, securing a combined 57 percent in a district where registered Democrats have an 18-point edge. Salas will face Republican Pedro Rios.

Two other vulnerable first-term Democratic incumbents placed behind Republican challengers. Assemblyman Steve Fox, D-Palmdale, trailed his November opponent Tom Lackey by just under nine points in the 36th Assembly district. In the 65th, endangered incumbent Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, finished almost ten points behind general election foe Young Kim.

Those are widely seen as the three pivotal Assembly races. In a trio of others, incumbent Democrats fared poorly despite healthy voter registration advantages: Assembly members Ian Calderon of Whittier and Al Muratsuchi of Torrance both finished behind Republican challengers, while Roger Hernández of West Covina could not muster a majority. Steven Maviglio, a prominent Democratic strategist, dismissed those results as flukes of a primary featuring historically low turnout.

"This is wildly different from how it will be in November," Mavigilio said. "We will have many more Democratic voters and independent voters who will vote Democrat. There's no match between June and November when it comes to election results."

Another opening for Assembly Democrats emerged in the 44th Assembly District, thrown open by the departure of Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo. Democrat Jacqui Irwin advanced to the general election with a 44 percent plurality of the vote, although the remainder split between her two Republican opponents. Republican Rob McCoy secured the second-highest total.

In the Senate, Democrats need to pick up two seats to regain the two-thirds majority they lost with the suspension of three senators facing criminal charges.

Republican incumbents performed well in two of the races viewed as potential Democratic pickups. Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, who won a doggedly contested special election last year, easily finished first in the 14th Senate district. It was a similar story for Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, who sailed to a first-place finish in the 12th Senate District.

The third Senate race to watch has Democrats vying to keep the 34th district seat currently held by Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana. There, former Assemblyman and Democrat Jose Solorio advanced to the general election with 34 percent of the vote. He lagged far behind Orange County Supervisor and Republican Janet Nguyen, who secured 51 percent.

PHOTO: Charles Rich, 61, of West Sacramento votes in a room at fire station #45 on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 in West Sacramento, Calif. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench.

June 4, 2014
California Senate to vote June 16 on Steinberg replacement

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The California Senate is set to vote June 16 to formally name Sen. Kevin de León the next leader of the upper house.

De León, a Los Angeles Democrat, emerged from a closed-door Democratic caucus today and said that "by acclamation" -- rather than a vote -- his colleagues chose him as the next Senate President Pro Tem. The move essentially formalizes a decision Senate leaders announced in January because no other candidates have emerged since then.

"I love the Senate and I'm honored and humbled by my colleagues," de León said.

Sen. Darrell Steinberg, the current Pro Tem, will remain in his leadership position until the end of November, said his spokesman Rhys Williams. Steinberg, the Sacramento Democrat who is forced by term limits to leave the Legislature this year, released the following statement:

"I offer my wholehearted congratulations to Kevin, and the Senate Democratic Caucus on their decision today. As we build upon the most productive years in the Legislature's recent history, California can look forward to many more under Senator De León's leadership"

PHOTO: Sen. Kevin De Leon, talks with Senate President Pro Temp Darrell Steinberg, during the first California Senate session Jan. 6, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

June 4, 2014
California's voter turnout headed to record low

voter.JPGThe turnout of voters in Tuesday's primary election appears destined to drop to a new record low, but how low depends on how many late and provisional ballots remain to be counted.

The official election night returns were that just 3.2 million or 18.3 percent of the state's 17.7 million registered voters cast ballots, but those numbers will increase when the number of still-uncounted ballots becomes clear in the next few days.

"I'm going to be surprised if it doesn't get to 20 or 23 percent," Paul Mitchell, a political number analyst for Political Data, Inc., said Wednesday.

Reaching 23 percent would mean another 800,000 or so ballots, mostly mail-in ballots delivered to election officials in the final hours of the election, remain to be counted.

However, even were turnout to reach 23 percent, that still would be five percentage points below the lowest statewide primary turnout ever recorded, 28.22 percent in June, 2008.

That was a presidential election year, when turnout usually rises, but California held its presidential primary in February that year, hoping to become more relevant in the selection of presidential candidates, while legislative, congressional and local primaries were held in June.

Four years ago, when California was last filling its statewide offices, the turnout was 33.63 percent.

Initial turnout tallies varied widely among California's 58 counties this year, ranging from a high of 69.5 percent in the state's smallest county, Alpine, to a low of 13.1 percent in its largest, Los Angeles - not counting the ballots yet to be counted.

PHOTO:Charles Rich, 61, of West Sacramento votes in a room at fire station #45 on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 in West Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench.

June 4, 2014
David Evans - who? - injects some drama into controller's race

DavidEvans.jpgHe wasn't part of public pre-election polls. He raised and spent so little money that he didn't meet the threshold requiring him to file campaign-finance reports electronically.

But David Evans had a ballot designation – chief financial officer – made to order for a state controller's candidate.

Now the Republican from remote California City has an outside chance to make the runoff in the race to succeed Controller John Chiang. As of Wednesday morning, Evans had 21.6 percent of the vote, good for third place behind Republican Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin (24.4 percent) and Assemblyman John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles (21.7 percent) and just ahead of Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, a Democrat (21.5 percent).

Evans ran strongly around the state, outpolling Swearengin in many counties outside Swearengin's San Joaquin Valley base.

"The ballot designation helped, no doubt about that," said Evans, who ran for controller in 2010, finishing second to then-state Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark. But Evans, who got almost 40 percent of the GOP primary vote for controller in 2010, said he wasn't surprised at his strong showing.

"We did well then and did well now," he said. "For 30 years, I've worked around the state. I've been campaigning for the past three or four years."

June 4, 2014
Indicted senator Leland Yee in third place for secretary of state

Leland.JPGCharges of corruption and gun-running conspiracy notwithstanding, almost a tenth of California voters Tuesday thought suspended state Sen. Leland Yee should become secretary of state.

Yee was in third place with 9.8 percent of the vote in the eight-candidate field for the state's top elections officer. Democrat state Sen. Alex Padilla and Republican Pete Peterson, who leads an education institute at Pepperdine University, secured the top spots. Thousands of ballots remain to be counted.

Yee was arrested in late March and indicted several days later as part of a sweeping investigation into organized crime. Federal authorities say Yee traded official acts for campaign donations and cash as well as tried to engineer a weapons-buying deal with an undercover federal agent.

Unofficial results show that Yee got solid support across much of the state, with some of his highest backing in and around his Northern California district. In San Francisco, where the media's coverage of the longtime elected official's arrest and indictment has been intense, Yee received 9.8 percent of the vote – mirroring his statewide share.

Maybe Yee's ballot statement helped win over voters.

"Under the Constitution, the Secretary of State's job is to empower Californians to govern California, to guarantee fair elections, expose special interests, and prevent corruption," Yee wrote. "I am the Democrat who will represent everyone. I hope to be your Secretary of State."

PHOTO: State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, speaks to members of the press in his office at the Capitol in Sacramento on February 14, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

June 4, 2014
State's most expensive legislative fight looks headed for Democrat-vs.-Republican runoff

Glazer.JPGThe primary fight in the East Bay's 16th Assembly District consumed millions of dollars, including $4 million in spending by outside groups.

Yet with all precincts reporting early Wednesday, it looks like the fall campaign will be a traditional Republican-vs-Democrat showdown: Republican Catharine Baker of Walnut Creek has the top spot, and Democrat Tim Sbranti of Dublin has more than a 4,000-vote advantage over Democrat Steve Glazer for the No. 2 spot, 17,270 to 13,137.

Glazer, an Orinda councilman and adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown, and Sbranti, a teacher and Dublin mayor, trashed each other during a months-long campaign that featured heavy spending by unions lining up behind Sbranti and business groups and charter schools backing Glazer.

A Baker-Sbranti matchup could be competitive. Democrats hold a seven-point registration edge in the district, but almost 22 percent of voters have no-party preference. Republicans viewed Sbranti as their preferred fall opponent.

Here is the latest from Sacramento-area congressional and legislative contests. Other interesting finishes in primaries around the state Tuesday...

Assembly

44th Assembly District: Democrat Jacqui Irwin will go up against Republican Rob McCoy in the fall after a primary race that saw business-backed outside groups spend heavily in a failed bid to get Mario De La Piedra into the runoff for this seat now held by Republican Jeff Gorell.

Senate

10th Senate District
Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, clinched the top spot in this strongly Democratic district, with Republican Peter Kuo leading former lawmaker Mary Hayashi, a Democrat, by more than 3,000 votes for second place. Wieckowski and Hayashi, and allied groups, spent months and hundreds of thousands of dollars bashing each other.

26th Senate District
Democrats Ben Allen and Sandra Fluke will face off in the fall following an eight-person primary race. Former lawmaker Betsy Butler was in fourth place in her bid to restart her legislative career.

28th Senate District
Four candidates – three Republicans and one Democrat – are within three percentage points of each other. Republican Jeff Stone has a slight lead, with less than 300 votes separating Republicans Glenn Miller and Bonnie Garcia and Democrat Philip Drucker.

Congress

17th Congressional District
Rep. Mike Honda and fellow Democrat Ro Khanna will continue their old-vs.-new battle into November after a bitter primary fight.

25th Congressional District
Democrats posted a strong showing against longtime Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon in this Southern California district in 2012. Now they won't even have a candidate on the fall ballot to succeed the retiring McKeon. Former lawmaker Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, and state Sen. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, clinched the top-two spots, with Democrat Lee Rodgers several percentage points behind.

31st Congressional District
Democrats are biting their nails this morning, anxious to avoid a CD-25 scenario and a repeat of their June 2012 debacle in this Democrat-leaning district. Republican Paul Chabot and Democrat Pete Aguilar held the top slots but Republican Leslie Gooch is less than 400 votes behind Aguilar.

33rd Congressional District
Republican Elan Carr and state Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, will face off in November in this strongly Democratic Santa Monica-centered district after an 18-person scrum to succeed the retiring Rep. Henry Waxman.

PHOTO: Assembly candidate Steve Glazer, right, walks with Gov. Jerry Brown, at a meeting with the League of California Cities on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011 in Sacramento.

June 4, 2014
AM Alert: Brown and Kashkari advance to November, with close races in other Tuesday contests

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The votes have been cast. Here's a rundown of the latest from California statewide, congressional and legislative races, with thousands of mail and provisional ballots still to be counted from Tuesday's election.

Neel Kashkari, Alex Padilla, and Pete Peterson will advance to November while the outcome in other statewide races Tuesday remained uncertain.

Tom Torlakson and Marshall Tuck seem headed for a November showdown in the race for state superintendent of public instruction.

The race for state controller remains tight, with Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin holding a slight lead for the top slot

Democrat vs. Democrat runoffs loom in Sacramento-area legislative contests.

A major House battle is set for November, as Bera and Ose advance in the targeted 7th Congressional District.

And in other news:

ERASING 187: It's been almost 20 years since 59 percent of California voters approved Proposition 187, which banned most public services for people in the country illegally. Courts later deemed the law unconstitutional, but it remains on the books. Members of the Legislature's Latino and Asian and Pacific Islander legislative caucuses will announce a new bill to erase Prop. 187's language from the code books, 11:30 a.m. in Room 1190 of the Capitol. Attendees at the press conference, including state Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, who began his political career organizing against Prop. 187, will also discuss two bills that would place advisory questions on the November ballot asking voters if Congress should pass an immigration overhaul with a pathway to citizenship and if the U.S. government should halt the deportations of noncriminal mothers and fathers of U.S.-born children.

CANDLES IN THE WIND: In-home caregivers funded by the state have waged a very public campaign this year to overturn a proposed cap on the number of hours they can work. As budget negotiations draw to a close, workers are making a final push to change Gov. Jerry Brown's mind. Tonight they'll hold a candlelight vigil with some of the seniors and people with disabilities that they serve, 7:30 p.m. on the south steps of the Capitol.

CRIMINAL MINDS: To address what they say is a rising criminal population in state hospitals since the implementation of California's three-strikes law, Assembly members Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, and Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, will discuss legislation that would establish enhanced treatment units for aggressive patients, 1 p.m. on the west steps of the Capitol.

DROUGHT BRIEFING: The California Department of Water Resources and the Water Education Foundation sponsor a day-long briefing on how the drought is affecting state water project operations, starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Convention Center on J Street. The event will cover how this year's drought compares to previous droughts, what actions are being implemented under Brown's drought emergency proclamation and expected operation conditions for water projects this summer.

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari speaks to reporters at the California Republican Party's biannual convention on March 15, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

June 4, 2014
California congressional races: Bera-Ose advance, incumbents win big

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Several incumbents cruised while former Congressman Doug Ose secured a chance to take on Rep. Ami Bera in Sacramento-area congressional contests Tuesday night.

Following are the results from races to represent the Sacramento region in Congress, with 100 percent of precincts reporting but thousands of provisional and mail ballots still to count:

1st Congressional District

Incumbent Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, had an easy first-place finish over runner-up and Democrat Heidi Hall, securing 53.1 percent of the vote to Hall's 30.4 percent.

3rd Congressional District

Incumbent Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, and Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Marysville, will face off in November. Garamendi ran up a nearly double-digit margin, securing 54.6 percent against Logue's 45.4 percent.

4th Congressional District

No drama over who finished first, with Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, claiming the top spot with 55.5 percent of the vote. Art Moore, a more moderate Republican, held a narrow lead for second place with 22.8 percent of the vote.

6th Congressional District

As with McClintock, no trouble for the incumbent: Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, piled up a big margin over Republican challenger Joseph McCray, winning 73.4 percent compared to McCray's 26.6 percent.

7th Congressional District

The most competitive of these races. Bera, the first-term incumbent and a top target of national Republicans, will face off against Ose in November. Falling short were Republicans Igor Berman and Elizabeth Emken. Bera got earned 47 percent of the vote while Ose's slice of the split Republican vote was 26.8 percent.

9th Congressional District

Another unambiguous first-place incumbent finish, here for Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Antioch. His November opponent will be Republican Tony Amador. McNerney won 50.4 percent of the vote, double Amador's 25.2 percent.

PHOTO: Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, is seen in his Longworth Building office in the U.S. Capitol complex on February 11, 2014. MCT/J.M. Eddins, Jr.

June 4, 2014
California legislative contests: Pan-Dickinson, McCarty-Cohn runoffs loom

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A leadership shuffle in the California State Senate rippled through Sacramento-area legislative races on Tuesday, as the departure of Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, later this year set off a cascade of competitive contests in Democrat-heavy districts.

Here are the results from Sacramento-area campaigns for seats in the state Legislature, with 100 percent of precincts reporting but with thousands of provisional and mail ballots still to count.

6th Senate District

Two Democratic Assembly members from Sacramento, Roger Dickinson and Richard Pan, emerged as the top vote-getters in the contest to succeed Steinberg. Dickinson outpaced Pan with 40.2 percent of the vote against Pan's 31.2 percent.

3rd Assembly District

With Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Marysville, leaving the seat, representatives of both major parties moved on to November. Republican James Gallagher and Democrat Jim Reed claim spots on the fall ballot. Gallagher won 43.4 of the vote, Reed 34.9 percent.

4th Assembly District

Another seat thrown open by an incumbent leaving – in this case, term limits forced out Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis. Her potential replacements remained locked in a close race with all precincts reporting: Democrat Bill Dodd, Democrat Dan Wolk and Republican Charlie Schaupp all claimed about 25 percent of the vote.

7th Assembly District

Democratic Sacramento City Council members Steve Cohn and Kevin McCarty will square off for a chance to claim the seat Dickinson is leaving for a shot at the Senate. McCarty secured 34.6 percent of the vote, while Cohn had 28.4 percent.

8th Assembly District

First-term incumbent Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, cruised to the top spot. He'll try to fend off a November campaign by second-place finisher and former legislative staffer Republican Douglas Haaland. Cooley received 52.1 percent while Haaland secured 40.9 percent.

9th Assembly District

Two Democrats advanced in an overwhelmingly Democratic district: Elk Grove City Councilman Jim Cooper and Sacramento City Councilman Darrell Fong. Pan left this seat to run for the Senate against Dickinson. Cooper earned 31.4 percent of the vote against 28.6 percent for Fong.

A handful of drama-free races featured only two candidates, guaranteeing that both moved on. Those contests:

1st Assembly District

No nails bitten here. The only two candidates advance in the heavily Republican rural district, with incumbent Assemblyman Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, to face Democratic challenger Brigham Sawyer Smith. Dahle eclipsed Smith by a 69-to-31 margin.

6th Assembly District

Incumbent Assemblywoman Beth Gaines, R-Rocklin, sailed into first place with 63 percent of the vote and will meet Democrat Brian Caples in November.

11th Assembly District

Freshman Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, and Republican challenger Alex Henthorn, will face each other again in the fall; Frazier got 60.8 percent of the vote against 39.2 percent for Henthorn.

4th Senate District

Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, and Democrat CJ Jawahar advance, with Nielsen netting a convincing 63 percent of the vote.

8th Senate District

See you in November, Assemblyman Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte, and Democrat Paulina Miranda. Incumbent Berryhill (64.4 percent) emerges as the clear favorite over Miranda (35.6 percent) in the vote totals.

PHOTO: Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, spoke to reporters in April 2014 about rail cargo safety. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

June 4, 2014
California state controller: outcome unclear in tight race

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The fall lineup in the race for state controller remained muddled early Wednesday, with none of the six candidates having a lock on the top-two spots.

Leading contenders to advance to a November runoff include former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, who is compelled by term limits to leave the Legislature; Fresno Mayor and Republican Ashley Swearengin; Democratic Board of Equalization member Betty Yee; and Republican David Evans.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Swearengin had built a lead of a few percentage points for the first slot but none of the three others could break away from the pack to clinch the second. The standings as of 5 a.m.:

Swearengin: 24.4 percent
Pérez: 21.7 percent
Evans: 21.6 percent
Yee: 21.5 percent

Those results will change in the coming days as election officials process tens of thousands of uncounted provisional and mail ballots.

PHOTO: Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin gives her State of the City address at a lunch meeting at the Fresno Convention Center Wednesday, June 1, 2011. The Fresno Bee/Craig Kohlruss

June 4, 2014
California state superintendent race: Fall runoff looks likely

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Tom Torlakson, California's top elected education official, may not have garnered enough votes in Tuesday's primary to fend off a general election showdown against challenger Marshall Tuck.

Because California state superintendent of public instruction is a nonpartisan position, a candidate who gets 50 percent-plus-one in the primary wins outright. Torlakson, an incumbent who has the strong support of the state's teachers unions, hovered near that threshold all night in the three-candidate contest.

But with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Torlakson had not established a decisive winning margin over Tuck, a former charter school administrator supported by business-backed education groups seeking to shake up the status quo of teacher tenure and evaluation rules. Torlakson registered 46.9 percent against 28.6 percent for Tuck as of earlier this morning, with tens of thousands of ballots still to count.

If those results hold, it could set up a costly campaign that pits teachers unions against deep-pocketed rivals in the education community. The race attracted millions of dollars in outside spending despite the state superintendent having limited policy-making authority.

PHOTO: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, urges legislators to support the tax extension proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown. on March 14, 2011. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench

June 4, 2014
California statewide races: Kashkari, Peterson, Padilla advance; controller's outcome uncertain

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Republican gubernatorial contender Neel Kashkari and secretary of state candidates Pete Peterson and state Sen. Alex Padilla were among the statewide candidates Tuesday to clinch a spot in the November election.

That incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown was the top gubernatorial vote-getter came as no surprise in a race where the intrigue surrounded the Republican contest for second place.

Facing Brown in November will be Kashkari, a former treasury secretary anointed by the Republican Party establishment. After lagging in the polls for much of the race, Kashkari finished ahead of conservative Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, whose stances on issues like immigration and gun control place him firmly in the party's right wing.

An unusual amount of attention surrounded the secretary of state's race, where candidates pledged to respond to a series of corruption scandals that have clouded the Legislature. Advancing to the November runoff were Padilla, a second-term state senator, and Peterson, who runs a Pepperdine University think tank.

The November lineup for controller remains unclear, with four of the six candidates in position to potentially capture one of the top two spots once all the votes are tallied.

Rival education policy perspectives clashed in the race to become California's top educational official, the state superintendent of public instruction. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, incumbent Tom Torlakson , who had strong backing from teachers unions, had not run up a large enough margin to avert a runoff against Marshall Tuck, a former charter school executive who drew significant financial support from groups that want to overhaul the school system.

Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, easily won a spot in November's election. There she will face either Republican Ronald Gold or Republican Phil Wyman, who were separated by a thin margin with all precincts reporting.

Other statewide races brought few surprises. As expected, incumbent Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, a Democrat, will face Republican state senator Ted Gaines; current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, will field a challenge from former state Republican Party head Ron Nehring; and the treasurer's race will be between outgoing State Controller John Chiang, a Democrat, and Republican Greg Conlon.

PHOTO: Republican Neel Kashkari talks to reporters at an event in San Jose on April 9, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders



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Capitol Alert Staff


Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. achance@sacbee.com. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. smith@sacbee.com. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

Jim Miller Jim Miller covers California policy and politics and edits Capitol Alert. jmiller@sacbee.com. Twitter: @jimmiller2

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. dsiders@sacbee.com. Twitter: @davidsiders

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. ccadelago@sacbee.com. Twitter: @ccadelago

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. lrosenhall@sacbee.com. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. jwhite@sacbee.com. Twitter: @capitolalert

Koseff Alexei Koseff edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. akoseff@sacbee.com. Twitter: @akoseff

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. dwalters@sacbee.com. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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