Capitol Alert

Many same-party runoffs set for California fall ballot

Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, attends a session in the Assembly chambers in 2013. Brown faces fellow Democrat Eloise Gomez Reyes in November.
Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, attends a session in the Assembly chambers in 2013. Brown faces fellow Democrat Eloise Gomez Reyes in November. hamezcua@sacbee.com

California’s November election will include 28 same-party runoffs for legislative and congressional seats, according to final results from the state’s June 7 presidential primary released Friday.

Turnout last month exceeded 47.7 percent, with 8.5 million people going to the polls, the results show. It marked the third-highest turnout for a presidential primary ballot in the past 25 years, the secretary of state’s office said.

Of the voters, almost 60 percent cast mail ballots. By comparison, turnout was 31 percent in the 2012 presidential primary, with mail ballots making up about 65 percent of the total.

Turnout in the fall is expected to be significantly higher, when the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the runoff to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, and at least 17 measures will be on the ballot, as well as dozens of House and legislative contests.

“Whether or not you cast a ballot in June, make sure your voter registration is up to date for November,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement.

The fall ballot will feature the first statewide same-party runoff, with Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, both Democrats, seeking to succeed Boxer.

In addition, there are 15 same-party runoffs in the Assembly, five in the state Senate, and seven in Congress, with most involving Democrats. Some of the fall campaigns will pick up where primary fights left off, with heavy outside spending by charter schools, oil companies, real estate interests and others.

Voters approved California’s top-two primary system in 2010 and the first statewide election under the new rules was in 2012.

The November 2012 ballot featured 29 contests pitting Democrats against Democrats and Republicans against Republicans, the most ever. The high number, though, stemmed in part from the redrawing of political boundaries a year earlier. Some incumbents of the same party found themselves in the same district and ran against each other, while other candidates challenged geographically weakened incumbents of the same party.

There were 24 same-party runoffs in the Assembly, state Senate and Congress in November 2014.

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