Statewide Races: Result in Controller Contest Far From Final
Update, Wednesday 8:45 a.m.: Just one of the statewide races has been left undecided: state controller. With 100 percent of the state’s precincts counted, Republican Ashley Swearingen, the mayor of Fresno, is in the No. 1 position with 24.4 percent of the vote and will move on to the November general election. And that’s where the certainty on the outcome ends.
Democrats John Pérez and Betty Yee and Republican David Evans are within a few thousand votes of each other. Pérez, an assemblyman and former speaker of the Legislature’s lower house, has 21.7 percent of the vote; Evans, a Republican CPA, has 21.6 percent; and Yee, a member of the state Board of Equalization, has 21.5 percent.
So, this is where all those uncounted votes from Tuesday — mail-in , provisional and damaged ballots —will come in. Statewide, there are likely hundreds of thousands of them still to be counted. That means it will be a matter of days before we know who will be the No. 2 finisher in the race and make it onto the November ballot.
Here are other results for statewide offices from the Secretary of State‘s Office:
Gavin Newsom: 49.9 percent
Ron Nehring: 23.3 percent
Secretary of State
Alex Padilla: 30.1 percent
Pete Peterson: 29.6 percent
John Chiang: 55.1 percent
Greg Conlon: 38.4 percent
Kamala Harris: 53.1 percent
Ronald Gold: 12.7 percent
Dave Jones: 53.1 percent
Ted Gaines: 41.6 percent
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Tom Torlakson: 46.9 percent
Marshall Tuck: 28.6 percent
Lydia Gutierrez: 24.4 percent
Update, Wednesday 12:30 a.m.: With 74 percent of precincts reporting, Tom Torlakson and Marshall Tuck lead the race for superintendent of public instruction with 48 percent and 28 percent of the vote, respectively.
The race for state controller will likely come down to a dramatic finish, as four candidates are within 80,000 votes of each other. Currently, Republicans Ashley Swearengin (24.2 percent) and David Evans (22 percent) are edging out Democrats Betty Yee (21.6 percent) and John Pérez (21.2%). Yee has been chipping away at Evans’ lead over the past several hours.
As we mentioned in an earlier update, Democrat Alex Padilla and Republican Pete Peterson will advance to the November ballot. Surprisingly, Democrat Leland Yee, who is facing a federal indictment, received more than a quarter-million votes from around the state and is currently in third place. He even edged out Dan Schnur, who is in fourth place, drawing 9 percent of the vote.
Update, Tuesday 11:30 p.m.: The race for superintendent of public instruction was a union-versus-reformers referendum, and the unions made a strong statement that their political power remains strong in California.
The incumbent, Tom Torlakson, was backed by teacher unions and had nearly 49 percent of the votes. Marshall Tuck, a former charter school operator who wants changes to how teachers are evaluated and when they can be fired, trailed with 27 percent.
The third candidate was Long Beach educator Lydia Gutierrez, a Republican who also ran four years ago. She attracted 24 percent of the votes with a campaign critical of recently enacted national learning benchmarks called Common Core State Standards.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Update, Tuesday, 10:30 p.m.: Democrat Alex Padilla and Republican Pete Peterson are headed to the November general election in the race for secretary of state. That result comes after a closely watched primary season where observers thought the race might lean toward two candidates from a single party, or an independent candidate making it to the fall. Leland Yee, the embattled San Francisco legislator who dropped out of the race after a federal indictment was filed against him for an alleged attempt to illegally trade weapons for campaign cash, is currently in third place, commanding about 11 percent of the vote. Dan Schnur, the independent who once was a GOP political consultant, remains a distant fourth.
With about 27 percent of precincts reporting in the state controller’s race, two Republicans are in the top two places, a potential shutout of both well-known Democrats. Ashley Swearingen, the mayor of Fresno, has 24 percent of the votes tallied. David Evans, a GOP accountant who has neither raised nor spent any campaign funds, has 23 percent of votes. Democrats Betty Yee and John Pérez are close behind, with Yee within striking distance of Evans.
Statewide races, other than the race for governor, rarely get much attention during a primary election, but the new top-two primary rules have changed that in 2014.
Secretary of State
Perhaps most prominent has been the race for secretary of state, California’s chief elections officer — a race featuring eight candidates, a corruption scandal and the possibility that an independent candidate could make it onto the November ballot.
But in all, the most prominent two candidates — Democrat Alex Padilla and Republican Pete Peterson — have largely been favored to emerge in the top two positions once the voters are counted.
Padilla, a veteran state senator from Los Angeles, has led the race for campaign cash. Another Democrat, former California Common Cause official Derek Cressman, also has raised significant cash.
Political money became an unexpected lightning rod in the race in March when candidate Leland Yee, a state senator from San Francisco, was charged by federal investigators with allegedly offering to aid in an illegal weapons deal in exchange for political donations.
Yee dropped out of the race, but too late for his name to be removed from the ballot.
The most prominent Republican, Pepperdine University official Pete Peterson, has been endorsed by some statewide newspapers and has increasingly looked like a candidate who could solidify GOP votes.
The most prominent candidate is also the one facing some of the longest odds: Dan Schnur, the former GOP political consultant who has recently taught at USC and is a well-known analyst on California politics. But as an independent candidate, Schnur has no natural political base from which to run.
The race for state controller, California chief’s fiscal officer, also has proved to be one of the most closely watched contests — pitting two popular Democrats against each other, both widely seen as vying for one of the top two spots alongside Republican Ashley Swearingen, the mayor of Fresno.
Democrats John Pérez, the immediate past speaker of the state Assembly, has the backing of much of organized labor. His Democratic challenger, state Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, has backing from a number of grassroots activists across California.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
The only nonpartisan statewide race has also been closely watched: the battle for superintendent of public instruction. Incumbent Tom Torlakson has found himself in an expensive and fierce battle against newcomer Marshall Tuck.
Torlakson is a former Democratic legislator and has the backing of the powerful California Teachers Association. Tuck is an education advocate who was tapped by former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and has the backing of groups that have advocated for major changes to education law and funding.
Post by KQED Senior Politics and Government Editor John Myers. KQED’s Dan Brekke and Kelly O’Mara contributed to the post.Related