California Election 2018: Updates and Analysis
In a speech that came as a surprise to absolutely no one, least of all the candidate himself, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom heralded his decisive first place victory in tonight’s primary election for governor, while pointing the way toward the general election match-up he now faces against the opponent he hoped would win the second spot in the top-two primary.
Between references to Tupac (he walked on stage to the song “California Love”) Kendrick Lamar, and Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated exactly 50 years ago tonight after winning the California primary, the lieutenant governor also made sure to direct a few sharp words toward the man who will be his opponent in the general election, Republican John Cox.
“Our values, as you know, are under assault,” said Newsom, offering a flavor of the general election rhetoric to come. “We’re engaged in an epic battle and it looks like voters will have a real choice this November between a governor who is going to stand up to Donald Trump and a foot soldier in his war on California.”
To that, the crowd eagerly hissed and booed.
“These days too many politicians want to tell us what can’t be done,” Newsom told an enthusiastic crowd in his own nightclub in San Francisco’s SoMa district, repeating a favorite phrase from the campaign trail. “But our can-do campaign painted in bold colors and big ideas.”
It was a brief speech that cycled through the lieutenant governor’s greatest hits. He reiterated his support for a single-payer health insurance system, inveighed against income and wealth inequality and called for a reinvestment in public education.
“The state of California has always been America’s coming attraction. Millions of destinies connected by one dream: to be whoever you want to be. A state where we don’t criminalize diversity, we celebrate diversity.”
No doubt many in the audience had heard the soaring rhetoric before, just as Newsom had delivered it all before. Neither seemed to mind.
“This is not a victory speech,” the candidate insisted. He wondered aloud what his late mother would think: “If she was here, trust me, she’d said ‘congratulations, now get off the stage and get back to work!’ “
In probably the strangest outcome of California’s elections so far this year, a new state senator was sworn in Monday—with just three weeks left to go in the legislative session.
Vanessa Delgado, a Democrat from Montebello, was elected last week to replace former Sen. Tony Mendoza, who resigned in February after an investigation found he likely harassed several young employees.
But voters had two chances to vote for Delgado this year—once to complete the remainder of Mendoza’s term and again to serve a new four-year term that begins in December—and in an odd twist, they chose her only to fulfill the rest of the current term. That means Delgado will serve as a senator for just three-and-a-half months.
“This is an unexpected result, but it’s what the voters decided,” she said in a brief interview after being sworn in while her parents and 15-year-old daughter looked on.
Delgado, a real estate developer who resigned as Montebello mayor to join the Legislature, will be the shortest-serving state senator in more than a century, according to legislative historian Alex Vassar. (The last time a senator served a shorter term was in 1903, Vassar said, when Orrin Z. Hubbell served 15 weeks before he died.)
Delgado arrived in Sacramento Monday as the Legislature begins the most consequential final three weeks of the legislative year, a time when lobbying is intense and lawmakers face tough decisions on hundreds of bills. In September she’ll return to the district in southeast Los Angeles County and work on constituent issues until Dec. 2. Then—poof—her time as a senator will be done.
The man who hopes to replace Delgado on Dec. 3 was also in Sacramento Monday. Democrat Bob Archuleta, who faces Republican Rita Topalian on the November ballot, mingled with lobbyists and Democratic senators at a campaign fundraiser near the Capitol, just minutes before Delgado began her super-short term.
Gavin Newsom has raised more than $22 million for his run for governor. Patrick Wright hopes he notices one donation of $125 from his Ferret PAC.
Wright, who answers his phone “Ferrets Anonymous,” has been on a mission for 25 years to persuade California’s legislators to legalize ferrets as pets, without success. He hopes Newsom will change that if he is elected governor.
Wright told me: “He accepted the money. Sometimes they return it. I got a nice thank you note.”
Then again, the Newsom campaign has not returned Wright’s calls or responded to his pleading tweets. Wright also approached Republican John Cox, Newsom’s opponent, at a campaign stop at Rudfords Diner in San Diego, and asked for his support:
“He looked at me like I had three eyes.”
State scientists and environmentalists oppose legalizing ferrets, believing they will escape and do what their cousins the weasels do: reproduce and hunt prey, including burrowing birds and other native critters. Although Newsom’s spokesman opted against discussing the topic in any detail, Wright should not count on Newsom reversing that stand.
This story originally appeared in WhatMatters, our daily roundup of the most important policy and politics news in California. Subscribe here.
Wealthy charter school advocates spent $22.43 million in a failed independent campaign to get former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa into the runoff for governor, and ended with a debt of $620,782, final campaign finance filings show.
Teachers unions and other labor groups teamed with a few wealthy donors, health insurer Blue Shield and Pacific Gas & Electric, to spend $6.6 million to help the top vote-getter, Democrat Gavin Newsom, campaign finance reports filed earlier this week show.
The pro-Villaraigosa campaign spent $16 million to boost the former LA mayor; $4 million to attack Newsom; and $1.89 million to muddy second-place finisher, Republican John Cox. Villaraigosa placed third, 840,000 votes behind Cox.
The biggest winners: television stations. Canal Partners, a company that purchases airtime, grossed $15.9 million but spent most of that on television ad buys.