Capitol Alert

AM Alert: 2016 California primary election special

Mike Lee marks his ballot while voting in the California primary in Sacramento on June 3, 2014.
Mike Lee marks his ballot while voting in the California primary in Sacramento on June 3, 2014. The Associated Press

Tired of the mountain of candidate mailers arriving at your home, eager canvassers knocking on your door, friends fighting over Bernie and Hillary on Facebook? Relief has arrived. (Well, maybe not on that last one.)

Today is primary day in California, when millions of voters who haven’t already filled out a mail ballot at the comfort of their kitchen table head to the polls to make their picks for president, an open U.S. Senate seat and more than a hundred congressional and legislative races.

At the top of the ticket is the increasingly tight contest between Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and challenger Bernie Sanders, which has been dividing the party across generational and policy lines. A delegate count by the Associated Press concluded last night that Clinton had clinched the nomination before Election Day in California. She’s been frantically crossing the state in the past few days to secure victory in the most delegate-rich primary of the election. An upset by Sanders, who is set to celebrate with supporters tonight in Santa Monica while Clinton heads back to New York, could send her limping into the general election with momentum against her.

Donald Trump doesn’t need any help locking up the Republican nomination, but he’s been all over California in recent weeks as well. In a state with a dedicated #NeverTrump contingent, where major newspapers are endorsing the late Ronald Reagan instead, the results should send a message about whether or not disgruntled GOP voters will fall in line with the controversial businessman and reality TV star.

Republicans may get their first and last chance to support one of their own in the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. A large and underfunded field of GOP candidates is expected to allow two Democrats – Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange – to advance to the runoff, a historic first for a statewide election in California. Harris and Sanchez were busy this weekend working to shore up support, praying and dancing for last-minute votes.

The big question in the Legislature is what impact nearly $28 million in outside spending will have. Oil companies, charter school advocates and their allies have been particularly aggressive this primary season in working to shape general-election match-ups that will bring lawmakers to the Capitol who are friendlier to the business community and less tied to teachers unions. The two contests that have seen the most independent expenditures are both nearby: the 3rd Senate District, a Yolo-to-Napa seat that could see a Democratic faceoff continue to November, and the overlapping 4th Assembly District, where business groups have boosted a candidate lagging in direct financial support.

If you still haven’t made up your mind on who to vote for, check out The Bee’s Voter Guide for more information or use our Pick Your Candidate tool to find out who most closely matches your views. You can also track the money moving through every race on the state ballot and see who The Bee Editorial Board endorsed in the Sacramento region. Then come back to sacbee.com/election at 8 p.m. for all the results.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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