The primary election is on Tuesday, June 5, and what makes California’s primary so different is that the top two vote getters go on to the general election in November. The top offices are state legislative offices, U.S. congressional offices and state constitutional offices. We could end up with two Democrats running against each other or a Democrat vs. an Independent or a Republican. Because it’s a top two primary, the entire political calculation and strategy are different. Top two doesn’t apply to presidential races, county central committees, local offices or nonpartisan offices like superintendent of public instruction.
For Governor: No endorsement
Currently, Gavin Newsom (D) is the front-runner in the polls; the battle is really for the No. 2 spot among Antonio Villaraigosa (D), John Chiang (D) and John H. Cox (R). Newsom wants Cox to take second because it would be a slam-dunk for him in the general election since this is an overwhelmingly Democratic state. Newsom, Villaraigosa and Chiang are all competent, experienced and seasoned. I know very little about Cox other than that he is a businessman and Trump endorsed him at the request of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, primarily to try and boost Republican turnout in California, which is important for the congressional races.
For Lt. Governor: Endorse Senator Ed Hernandez
Hernandez (D) is an experienced state legislator while his opponent, Eleni Kounalakis, is a former ambassador to Hungary. Her father is a major donor to the Democratic Party
For Secretary of State: Endorse Alex Padilla
Alex Padilla is very capable, experienced and has bought that office up to date—both in efficiency and technologically. He oversees elections and that job has become significantly more important in every state with attempts to hack our systems.
For Controller: Endorse Betty Yee
Betty Yee, a Democrat, is competent, experienced and a former legislator
For Treasurer: Endorse Fiona Ma
Democrat Fiona Ma is competent, experienced and a former legislator.
For Attorney General: Endorse Xavier Becerra
Xavier Becerra (D) has done an outstanding job as attorney general. He’s outspoken, gutsy and has not hesitated to take on the Trump administration.
For Insurance Commissioner: Endorse Steve Poizner
He’s smart, knowledgeable and tough. He does not have a party preference.
For Congress: Endorse Ted Lieu
We are fortunate to have a very competent, well-regarded and respected congressman in our district.
For State Assembly, 50th District: Endorse Richard Bloom
Richard Bloom is also a very able and influential assemblyman, who is an opinion shaper in the state capitol in Sacramento.
For Board of Equalization, seat No. 3: Endorse Scott Svonkin
Svonkin is the three-time president of the LA Community College District.
Avoid Santa Monica City Council’s Tony Vazquez, who is the husband of Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District School Board member Maria Leon-Vazquez; both are currently the subject of an investigation by the LA County District Attorney’s Office in connection with ethical conflicts related to their votes.
For U.S. Senator: Endorse Dianne Feinstein
She is still a power in the Senate and very important to California, but her only impediment is age—currently 84-years-old, she would be 90 years old by the end of her term. Recently, Kevin de León was in town and I spoke to him at some length. He thinks the San Francisco Democrats convinced Diane to run; she was really not too enthusiastic and suggested she could quit whenever she got tired of it, at which point the governor—who they figured would most likely be Newsom— would be able to appoint to fill the seat.
Whether that is a spin or reality, I frankly don’t know.
Judges of Superior Court
The Los Angeles County Bar Association has, for years, been rating candidates for judgeships as “extremely well qualified, well qualified, qualified and not qualified.” A nonpartisan committee of 31 members, from all types of practices, goes through a meticulous process to evaluate and rate all the judicial candidates. I’ve found their ratings to be thoughtful and fair.
Office No. 4
Endorse Commissioner A. Verónica Sauceda, rated as “well qualified.”
Office No. 16
No endorsement—all three candidates were rated as “qualified.”
Office No. 20
Endorse Deputy District Attorney Mary Ann Escalante, rated as “well qualified.”
Office No. 60
No endorsement—Attorney Holly L. Hancock and Deputy District Attorney Tony J. Cho were both rated “qualified.”
Office No. 63
Strongly endorse Judge Malcolm M. Mackey, who was rated “extremely well qualified.”
Office No. 67
Endorse State Bar Judge Maria Lucy Armendariz, who was rated “well qualified.”
Office No. 71
Endorse Commissioner Danielle R.A. Gibbons who was rated “well qualified.”
Office No. 113
Endorse Deputy District Attorney Steven Schreiner, who was rated “well qualified.”
Office No. 118
No endorsement-both candidates were rated “qualified.”
Office No. 126
No endorsement-both Senior Deputy County Counsel Rene Caldwell Gilbertson and Deputy District Attorney Ken Fuller both rated “Qualified”
Office No. 146
No endorsement-both candidates rated “Qualified
For Superintendent of Public Instruction: No endorsement
The choice is between Tony K. Thurmond, who is strongly supported by the California Teacher’s Union, and Marshall Tuck, who is strongly supported by the charter school champions. How you vote probably depends on how much you feel you want to shake up the education establishment.
Endorse current Assessor Jeffrey Prang, who has cleaned up an office that has had some problems in the past.
Endorse current Sheriff Jim McDonnell, who has been outstanding in his job.
Supervisor, Third District
Endorse current Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who has done a good job as supervisor and also picked good staff.
Recommend a “no” vote on this bond measure. They have plenty of money available from previous water and park bonds that hasn’t yet been spent. They jumped in on this one not because there is a need, but because they saw an opportunity with no other competing bond issues.
Recommend a “no” vote on this. This is the transportation people trying to tie up money into a special fund for their use only. In good times like the present, it doesn’t matter, but in the next recession when the legislature is desperately looking for money to keep the state going, it will need maximum flexibility and this bond issue takes the money away.
Recommend a “No” vote. Supermajority requirements (particularly a two-thirds majority, which is very difficult to get) are almost always a bad idea. This measure is really just a way to try and repeal something already in the statutes—in this case, the cap and trade laws—without actually saying that’s what they’re trying to do.
It’s kind of a housekeeping measure. Recommend a “yes.”
Also kind of a housekeeping measure. Recommend a “yes.”
Editor’s note: For Superior Court judge office no. 126, the Los Angeles County Bar Association found Shomo Frieman “unqualified” while Rene Caldwell Gilbertson and Ken Fuller were found “qualified.” Though Frieman’s qualification was misstated in the 5/31 print edition, TMT Publisher Arnold G. York maintains a “no endorsement” position between the two qualified candidates.