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Southern California races to watch in the Super Tuesday primary election

What to Know

  • California is one of 16 states and one U.S. territory that will be part of Super Tuesday.
  • A U.S. Senate race and several key House contests are among the items on ballots in Southern California.
  • Vote centers will be open for the final day of voting in the election Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Voters in Southern California will be part of the primary season’s biggest day when they cast ballots Tuesday to narrow down the field of candidates who will face off later this year in the November General Election.

Vote centers will be open for Californians who have not already returned their mail-in ballots from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Super Tuesday, the last day to vote in the California Primary to decide races for president, U.S. Senate, Los Angeles’ top prosecutor, a handful of Congressional contests and other contests. In most races on the ballot, the top two candidates will advance to a run-off in the November General Election, regardless of political party preference.

Sixteen states and one territory have a caucus or primary election on Tuesday, including California — the nation’s most populous state and the biggest electoral prize in November. Many races won’t be decided Tuesday night, with vote counting continuing for hours and even days.

As of Sunday, roughly 3 million of the 22 million vote-by-mail ballots sent to California voters had been returned to county elections offices, according to Secretary of State figures. In Los Angeles County, the state’s most populous, more than 519,700 of the 5.7 million vote-by-mail ballots issued had been returned by the end of February.

Below, some of the key races to watch in Southern California.

U.S. Senate

One of the most closely watched races will be the battle for the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Dianne Feinstein. The Democrat held the position since 1992, leaving voters to decide an open seat for the first time in decades.

The primary race appeared to be a contest between two prominent U.S. House Democrats, Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff, with Rep. Barbara Lee also in the fray, until Republican and former Dodger Steve Garvey threw his cap in the ring.

Schiff, a favorite target of former President Trump, has aired ads identifying the 75-year-old Garvey as the most likely to support a Trump agenda in an effort to unify California’s vastly outnumbered conservative voters behind the Republican candidate and send the two to a November run-off in which the Democrat would hold an advantage.

Laphonza Butler, appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to serve out the remainder of Feinstein’s term, is not running for a full term.

The ballot includes two U.S. Senate contests. One asks voters to select a candidate to complete Feinstein’s unexpired term ending Jan. 3. The other will decide the full six-year term, ending Jan. 3, 2031.

Before Feinstein’s death, Democrats held a 51-49 majority in the Senate. They had control of 48 seats, plus three independent members who generally vote with Democrats.

Los Angeles County District Attorney

A field of 11 lined up to challenge incumbent Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón for the top prosecutor’s office.

Gascón, elected in 2020 during a summer of unrest that followed the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, weathered recall efforts and criticism over his progressive approach, including no cash bail for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, not seeking the death penalty and not prosecuting juveniles as adults. He’s faced criticism from his opponents over crimes that include high-profile smash-and-grab heists at luxury stores around Los Angeles.

His challengers include local prosecutors Jonathan Hatami and Eric Siddall and former federal prosecutors Jeff Chemerinsky and Nathan Hochman, a one-time attorney general candidate, who all have notable endorsements. They are largely campaigning on promises to reverse Gascón’s policies.

The other candidates are David S. Milton, Debra Archuleta, Maria Ramirez, Dan Kapelovitz, Lloyd “Bobcat” Masson, John McKinney and Craig J. Mitchell.

This is one of the few races Tuesday that can be won outright. A candidate must receive a 50%-plus-one vote, which is unlikely in the largest-ever field to seek the office.

Key U.S. House races in Southern California

There are several Southern California races that could tip control of the U.S. House in November. But who will be the two candidates facing off in the fall in each district?

Republicans hold a 219-213 edge in the House of Representatives with three vacancies.

U.S. House District 27

Rep. Mike Garcia won this district north of Los Angeles in 2022 by 6 percentage points over Democrat Christy Smith. George Whitesides, the former CEO of Virgin Galactic, and Steve Hill, no stranger to California congressional races, will take on Garcia.

U.S. House District 40

 GOP Rep. Young Kim is serving a second term after winning the district two years ago by 14 percentage points. The district includes parts of Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Kim will face Tustin Unified School District Board of Education President Allyson Muñiz Damikolas and former fire captain and union president Joe Kerr.

U.S. House District 41

This sprawling Congressional district in Riverside County could be headed for a rematch. Long-time Republican Rep. Ken Calvert is running against Democrat Will Rollins. The two were separated by less than 5 percentage points in the 2022 election.

Palm Springs has been added to this district since the last election

U.S. House District 45

Rep. Michelle Steel faces four Democrats in what looks like a close re-election fight Her opponents include Garden Grove city council member Kim Nguyen-Penaloza and Derek Tran, a veteran and consumer rights attorney,

District 45, which re-elected Steel with 52.4% of the vote in 2022, includes parts of Orange and Los Angeles counties.

U.S. House District 47

This district that stretches from Huntington and Newport beaches on the Orange County coast inland to Irvine is the only open House seat among California’s most competitive races. The seat was vacated by Katie Porter, who is running for Senate.

Scott Baugh, who lost to Porter by less than 4 percentage points in 2022, will give it another try. He will face Democrats David Min, a state senator, and Joanna Weiss, an attorney and activist.

Los Angeles City Council

Candidates are vying to represent a district that has been through a lot in recent years.

The race for District 14 includes incumbent Kevin de León and two former political allies — state Assembly members Wendy Carrillo and Miguel Santiago. De León resisted calls for his resignation after the public release in 2022 of a recording of a conversation that included racist comments, including de León comparing a council colleague’s young Black adopted son to a luxury handbag.

Carrillo, endorsed by Antonio Villaraigosa, a former LA mayor and former CD14 councilmember, was arrested for driving under the influence in November 2023. She pleaded no contest and was ordered to enter a driving-under-the-influence program for three months.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Congresswoman Judy Chu announced their endorsement for Miguel Santiago.

Districts 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 also are on the ballot. If no one wins more than 50% of the vote, the top two candidates will meet in the November general election.

Prop 1

Backed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Prop 1 seeks to address the mental health and homeless crisis in California. The only statewide proposition on the March ballot, a Yes vote on Prop 1 would authorize the state government to borrow and spend $6.4 billion in bonds to expand the state’s homeless housing and mental health infrastructure.

Supporters argue the spending is vital to addressing a crisis of homelessness, mental health and addiction in California. The money would be used to expand mental health and addiction services, building permanent supportive housing and help homeless veterans.

Opponents note the price tag and its cost for California taxpayers. The final bill would end up costing Californians more than $12 billion, according to some critic’s estimates, and take decades for the state to pay back. Opponents also claim Prop 1 would take funding that’s supposed to support Prop 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) passed by voters in 2004.

Measure HLA

Measure HLA, aka Healthy Streets LA, would require the city of Los Angeles tom implement Mobility Plan 2035. The initiative was adopted a decade ago to push more bike lanes and wider sidewalks, but hasn’t offered many results.

Supporters say the city measure would force public official to make sure streets are paved for buses, pedestrians and bicyclists. The city would be required to include a Mobility Plan street modification whenever there is an improvement to at least a one-eighth mile stretch of road or sidewalk.

Opponents, led by  the Los Angeles City Firefighters union, argues that reconfigured streets with fewer lanes for vehicles will burden 911 responses.

President of the United States

The California Primary setup passed by voters in 2010 does not apply to the race for president, so this race will be different from almost everything else on the ballot. Qualified political parties in California can hold presidential primaries in two ways.

  • Closed presidential primary: Only voters who indicated a party preference when they registered may vote for that party’s presidential candidate. The Green, Peace and Freedom, and Republican parties are hodling closed presidential primaries in 2024.
  • Modified-closed presidential primary: The party also allows voters who did not state a party preference when they registered to vote for that party’s presidential nominee. The American Independent, Democratic and Libertarian parties are holding modified-closed presidential primaries.

Voters who registered to vote without stating a political party preference are known as No Party Preference (NPP) voters.

California will offer the largest haul of delegates in both parties. The state’s 424 Democratic delegates make up almost one-third of the total at stake on Super Tuesday.

The state’s 169 GOP delegates amount to about one-fifth of those available that day. The party’s delegate rules award all delegates to the candidate who wins a statewide vote majority, which favors frontrunners and means Donald Trump could claim every delegate at stake.

Democratic presidential candidates are President Biden, Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, self-help author Marianne Williamson and five others. The Republican candidates include Trump, Nikki Haley, Florida businessman David Stuckenberg and former candidates Ryan Binkley, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Asa Hutchinson and Vivek Ramaswamy.

Which states have elections on Tuesday?

Here are the states with elections on Super Tuesday.

  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina
  • Alabama
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Minnesota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • California
  • Alaska
  • Iowa

The U.S. territory of American Samoa also will hold elections Tuesday.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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