Californians voted in the state’s open primary election on Tuesday night, revealing some telling information about the mindset of voters ahead of the midterm elections.
The primary race for mayor of Los Angeles placed two very different visions for the city against one another. The outspoken law and order candidate, billionaire businessman and former Republican Rick Caruso ran against a slew of candidates that included several left-wing progressives, most notably Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass. Neither candidate reached the 50% vote necessary to avoid a runoff, but Caruso was the projected winner, with more than one-third of the expected votes counted. He led Bass early Wednesday with 42% support compared to Bass’s 37%. Caruso and Bass will face off in November. L.A. City Councilman Kevin de León, another progressive Democrat, came in third place, followed by progressive activist Gina Viola.
“This is a great night because so many people have gone to the voting booth and they sent a message: We are not helpless in the face of our problems,” Caruso told supporters at The Grove, a luxury shopping center in the city that he developed. “We will not allow the city to decline. We will no longer accept excuses.”
Caruso said his position was “a victory story, about an entire community that refused to let the dream of Los Angeles be extinguished.”
Bass also addressed supporters in Hollywood, saying, “We are in a fight for the soul of our city,” adding, “and we are going to win.”
Another race gaining attention was the election for state controller, where Lanhee Chen, a Republican, came out ahead, winning 37% of the vote. If Chen beats his Democratic opponent in November, it would be the first time Republicans have won a statewide race since 2006.
In a decisive outcome, voters chose to recall San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, with the yes votes coming in at 60%.
Boudin addressed his loss by blaming the situation on “right-wing billionaires,” while acknowledging “we’ve made mistakes” without stating what he thinks those mistakes were.
“People are angry, they’re frustrated, and I want to be very clear about what happened tonight: The right-wing billionaires outspent us three to one, they exploited an environment in which people are appropriately upset, and they created an electoral dynamic where we were literally shadowboxing,” Boudin said. “Voters were not given an opportunity to choose between criminal justice reform and something else. They were given an opportunity to voice their frustrations and their outrage and they took that opportunity.”
However, for Republicans hoping to see a shift in California state politics, the gubernatorial primary showed resounding support for Democratic policies in the state. Democratic incumbent Governor Gavin Newsom is the projected top vote-getter, annihilating a list of other candidates with 56.3% of the vote as of Wednesday morning, with 49% of the expected ballots counted. Republican Brian Dahle was in second place, with only 16.8% support. The two will compete in the general election in November after Newsom survived a recall attempt last year.