Elections

Here’s what happened in California’s election while you were sleeping

There were no surprises in the race for California governor, where heavily favored Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom sealed up his victory over Republican John Cox early in the evening. He is prevailing with 59 percent of the vote. Here’s what faces Newsom now.

Down ballot, Democrats appeared poised to flip at least two California congressional seats held by Republicans and were on track to win every statewide office and regain a supermajority in the state Senate.

Meanwhile, a full ballot of 11 initiatives had Californians making decisions about a gas tax, rent control and minimum living space for cage-free hens.

Likely more than a million late-arriving ballots remain to be counted across the state, which will determine the outcome in some races in the coming days and weeks. Counties will offer their first report on estimated outstanding ballots by the close of business Thursday.

Here’s where things stand now.

U.S. Senate

Sen. Dianne Feinstein easily won her election to keep the seat she’s held since 1992. She defeated fellow Democrat state Sen. Kevin de León, who challenged Feinstein from the left. Feinstein won with 54 percent of the vote.

House of Representatives

It turned out Democrats didn’t need to flip congressional seats in California to gain control of the House of Representatives. Democrats won the House hours before any of the contested California districts could be called.

California Democrats appeared poised to flip three of the Republican districts – Rep. Steve Knight’s 25th District, outgoing Rep. Darrell Issa’s 49th District, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s 48th – and a couple others were too close to call.

The seven hottest Republican-held seats in the state were:

  • Republican incumbent Knight lost to Democratic challenger Katie Hill in the 25th District in northern Los Angeles County.
  • Democrat Mike Levin beat Republican Board of Equalization member Diana Harkey to take Issa’s seat in Orange and San Diego counties.

  • Democrat Harley Rouda was on course to unseat 15-term incumbent Republican Rohrabacher in another Orange County district, the 48th. Rouda is leading with 51 percent of the vote.

  • Republican incumbent Jeff Denham holds a 1,300-vote edge over well-funded Democratic challenger Josh Harder in the 10th District centered in Modesto.

  • Republican Young Kim was on course to beat Democrat Gil Cisneros in their contest for the seat held by outgoing Republican Ed Royce.

  • Rep. Mimi Waters, R-Irvine, is in the lead to defeat challenger Katie Porter in the 45th District. Waters has 51.7 percent of the vote.
  • In the 21st District in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, defeated challenger T.J. Cox.

Elsewhere, Democratic Rep. Ami Bera of Elk Grove defeated Republican challenger Andrew Grant to hold on to the 7th District; Rep. Tom McClintock of Elk Grove beat back Democrat Jessica Morse to keep his 4th District; and Sacramento area Democratic Reps. Doris Matsui, Jerry McNerney and John Garamendi easily won re-election.

Now we’ll have to see whether Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco regains the House speaker’s gavel.

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Statewide offices

Insurance Commissioner: State Sen. Ricardo Lara has a narrow lead over independent Steve Poizner in their race to succeed Dave Jones as state insurance commissioner. Poizner was a Republican when he held the job from 2007 to 2011. He ran without a party preference this time. Lara holds 50.8 percent of the vote.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: The $50 million race to lead California schools is too close to call, with charter school-supported former education executive Marshall Tuck leading union-backed Assemblyman Tony Thurmond in their contest for state superintendent.Tuck and his allies raised more than $35 million, far exceeding the roughly $15 million school unions and Democratic donors spent to support Thurmond. Tuck is ahead with 50.6 percent.

Lieutenant Governor: Sacramento housing developer and former Obama administration diplomat Eleni Kounalakis defeated state Sen. Ed Hernandez to claim a statewide office with few real duties. Kounalakis put $8.5 million of her own money into the race and won almost 56 percent of the votes in their contest.

Attorney General: Get ready for two more years of Becerra vs. Trump. Attorney General Xavier Becerra cruised to victory over Republican retired Judge Steven Bailey. Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Becerra to the office following Kamala Harris’ election to the U.S. Senate two years ago. Becerra’s office has filed 44 lawsuits against the Trump administration.

Controller: Betty Yee won re-election, defeating Republican Konstantinos Roditis. Roditis ran a shoestring campaign and put $252,000 of his money in the race. Yee, a former Board of Equalization member, raised $1.3 million and will keep her position overseeing state finances.

Treasurer: Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma won her contest to succeed John Chiang as state treasurer. Ma, a former assemblywoman and San Francisco supervisor, defeated Republican Greg Conlon, an accountant and former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission.

Secretary of State: Incumbent Alex Padilla cruised to re-election, defeating Republican attorney Mark Meuser.

Democrats gaining in Legislature

Democrats are pursuing two-thirds supermajorities in both the Assembly and Senate. Though it’s not yet official, it appears they are in good position to do so, given their existing stronghold in the Assembly and need for just one more seat in the Senate. The Associated Press has yet to call six races for the California Senate and 16 seats in the Assembly. These are a few of the most contested races:

  • Senate District 12: Democratic Assemblywoman Anna Caballero is winning by just over 1,000 votes. Her 1 percent lead makes this the closest race in the state Senate. If she can beat Republican Rob Poythress, her party would pick up a seat and effectively capture a two-thirds supermajority.
  • Senate District 14: Another vulnerable Republican is State Sen. Andy Vidak. Vidak trails Democratic challenger Melissa Hurtado by 4.2 percentage points, or 3,374 votes. This is the best pickup opportunity in the senate for Democrats and likeliest pathway to a supermajority.
  • Assembly District 16: The only GOP seat in the Bay Area is now in play. Sen. Catharine Baker is looking to fend off her Democratic challenger, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan. Baker holds a 2.4 percent lead, up by nearly 3,000 votes.
  • Assembly District 32: A rare pickup opportunity for Republicans appears to be staying in Democratic hands. Democrat Rudy Salas is leading by 5 percentage points against Republican challenger Justin Mendes.
  • Assembly District 38: In Santa Clarita, Republican incumbent Dante Acosta is looking to hold off Democratic challenger Christy Smith. Acosta leads by just 1 percent of the vote, or 1,222 people.
  • Assembly District 60: There’s always those races where the phrase “every vote county” rings true. This race between Democratic Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes and Republican challenger Bill Essayli is neck-and-neck, with Cervantes ahead by just 3 votes. It’s literally a 50/50 race with 53,459 people voting. This is the best shot for Republicans to gain an Assembly seat.
  • Assembly District 74: Republican Assemblyman Matthew Harper is also in a close fight, leading in his Irvine-based district by just 0.6 percentage points. Democrat Cottie Petrie-Norris trails by 672 votes.
  • Democrat James Ramos has a 15 percentage point lead in San Bernardino County’s 40th Assembly District over Republican Henry Nickel in their race to succeed outgoing Republican Assemblyman Marc Steinorth. Ramos is a San Bernardino County supervisor; Nickel is a San Bernardino city councilman.

Ballot measures

Voters weighed in on 11 ballot measures — approving six and rejecting five. They ranged from an initiative to repeal a gas tax to one that would regulate profits at kidney dialysis centers and another that offered a tax break for downsizing baby boomers.

Proposition 1: The $4 billion housing bond backed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, passed with 54 percent of voters favoring it.

Proposition 2: Voters approved the proposal to spend about $2 billion on housing and services for the homeless. It was passing with 60.4 percent of the vote. Funding for the measure would come from the “millionaires tax” that voters approved in 2004 for mental health services.

Proposition 3: The $8.9 billion bond for water projects went down to defeat, with 52.4 percent of voters opposing it. Voters approved a $4.1 billion water bond in June. They’ve also approved bonds for water projects in 2014, 2006 and 2002.

Proposition 4: Thirteen California children’s hospitals stand to gain $1.5 billion for construction projects because almost 60 percent of voters approved this measure. The hospitals and Sales Force Chief Executive Marc Benioff raised $11.5 million to support the proposition.

Proposition 5: Voters rejected this proposal to give a property tax break to residents who are older than 55. The measure, supported by the state’s real estate industry, would have lowered property taxes for older homeowners if they downsize to smaller houses.

Proposition 6: You’ll keep paying the 12-cent per gallon gas tax and increased vehicle license fees that took effect a year ago because Californians rejected this initiative to repeal the charges. The taxes and fees fund a 10-year, $52 billion package of transportation projects that Gov. Brown and the Legislature approved in 2017. Construction companies, unions and local governments vastly outspent the Republican activists who tried to repeal the tax.

Proposition 7: Californians are ready to liberate themselves from daylight savings time. Voters overwhelmingly approved this measure to give state lawmakers the authority to change daylight savings time if federal law allows them to do so.

Proposition 8: The companies that run California’s dominant kidney dialysis clinics, Davita and Fresenius, poured $110 million into their campaign against this union-backed measure that would restrict their profits. SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West supported the initiative, aiming to spur more hiring at the clinics. The clinic money paid off. Voters rejected the initiative.

Proposition 10: Voters declined to give local governments new powers to enact rent control. Almost 63 percent of voters rejected the proposal.

Proposition 11: Emergency medical technicians will be expected to remain on-call during their breaks because voters approved this initiative. American Medical Response, a Colorado-based ambulance company, bankrolled most of the $30 million campaign for the measure.

Proposition 12: Californians resoundingly voted to give hens, calves and pigs more living space. This measure requires ranchers to raise only cage-free hens by 2022.

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