Recall, sexual misconduct issues shape legislative ballot
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — All 80 California state Assembly seats and half the 40 Senate seats are up for election this year, but voters also are deciding June 5 whether to recall an Orange County-area senator and picking successors to three lawmakers who resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.
The top two vote-getters in primary races, no matter their political party affiliation, head to the November general election.
Here are some of the key races:
RECALL AND SPECIAL ELECTIONS:
— SENATE DISTRICT 29: Democratic Sen. Josh Newman of Fullerton faces a recall election ostensibly over his vote to increase gasoline and other transportation taxes, though replacing him with a Republican would keep Democrats below a two-thirds supermajority. Voters in the Orange County-based district will choose whether to recall Newman and on the same ballot pick from among three Democrats and three Republicans vying to replace him, including Newman’s 2016 opponent, former Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang.
— SENATE DISTRICT 32: Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza of Artesia resigned in February rather than face an extremely rare expulsion vote over sexual harassment allegations, but he is seeking his old Los Angeles-area seat both in a special primary election to the fill the vacancy and in the regular primary election. Voters will pick from crowded but slightly different fields as they select the top two candidates for an Aug. 7 special runoff election to fill the vacancy, and for the November general election. Former Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez is also running, and Republican leaders are backing former Senate aide Rita Topalian.
— ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 39: Democrat Luz Rivas, a science educator, and Republican business owner Ricardo Benitez face off to replace Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra in the northeast San Fernando Valley district. Bocanegra resigned in November in the safe Democratic district amid sexual harassment allegations. Both are simultaneously on the primary ballot, along with four other Democrats.
— ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 45: Democrat Jesse Gabriel, an attorney, faces Republican Justin Clark, a college student, in the runoff to replace Assemblymen Matt Dababneh in the 45th Assembly District in the southwest San Fernando Valley. Dababneh resigned his safe Democratic seat in December. Both are also on the primary ballot, along with five other Democrats.
— SENATE DISTRICT 34: GOP Sen. Janet Nguyen hopes to hold her mostly Orange County district despite a 10 percent lag in Republican voters. Former Assemblyman Tom Umberg is jousting with fellow Democrats Akash Hawkins and Jestin Samson to take Nguyen on in what’s expected to be a hard-fought fall campaign.
— ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 26: Republican Assemblyman Devon Mathis of Visalia faces two intraparty challengers in the Central Valley district after supporting a cap-and-trade bill and after the Tulare County Republican Central Committee sought his resignation over alleged inappropriate behavior including sexual misconduct. Sacramento police found no evidence to support a criminal charge and Mathis denies the accusation. Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler and rancher Jack Lavers, both Republicans, are running along with Democratic Tulare city councilman Jose Sigala.
— ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 42: Former Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes faces a pair of GOP challengers after he worked with Democrats on climate change legislation. Mayes gave up his leadership position under pressure and has since started an organization backing conservatives who feel rejected by the GOP. He’s being challenged in the Riverside and San Bernardino county district by San Jacinto Councilman Andrew Kotyuk and former Palm Springs police chief Gary Jeandron. A Democrat and a Green Party candidate are also running.
— ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 58: Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia took a voluntary unpaid leave over harassment allegations, which she denies. She’s being challenged by six fellow Democrats and one Republican in the Los Angeles County district.
— ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 63: Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon faces an intraparty challenge after he blocked a Senate-approved single-payer health care bill last year. The bill’s advocates failed in a recall bid but are backing single-payer supporter Maria Estrada over Republican Adam Joshua Miller in the Los Angeles County district.
— ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 76: With Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chavez running for Congress, six Republicans and two Democrats are seeking his San Diego County swing district seat. That sets up the chance that the two Democrats could face each other in the fall.