By Duncan A. Kennedy
Tuesday’s statewide direct blanket primary elections have taken place all across California for state, local and federal offices. While results will continue to fluctuate for the next week, as ballots postmarked on Election Day and received up to seven days later will still be counted in the final results, the results of most races seem to have shaken out and The Mountain Messenger can project what most of the one-on-one races in November will look like.
Incumbent Governor Gavin Newsom (D-San Francisco) cruised through the primary as expected; in November, he will face State Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), who finished a distant second. Newsom’s Lieutenant Governor, Eleni Kounalakis (D-Sacramento), faced token Democratic primary opposition and will likely face Deputy Mayor Angela Underwood Jacobs (R-Lancaster). The Attorney General race is still up in the air, but it seems most likely the appointed incumbent Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) will face former Assistant Attorney General Nathan Hochman (R-Los Angeles) to win a full term.
The State Controller race saw Hoover Institute Fellow Lanhee Chen (R-Palo Alto) qualify for the top two as the lone Republican; his opponent will most likely be Board of Equalization Chairwoman Malia Cohen (D-San Francisco). Appointed incumbent Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D-La Mesa) cruised to the general; her opponent will likely be Chief Financial Officer Rob Bernosky (R-Hollister). Incumbent Treasurer Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) easily shook off sexual misconduct allegations to win a spot in the general; the battle for runner-up is contentious, but it seems likely that city councilman Jack Guerrero (R-Cuadhy) will defeat controversy-riddled Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do (R-Garden Grove) for that position.
A couple of normally quiet undercard races also saw some interesting results. Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara (D-Santa Monica) qualified for the top spot in the primary, beating back a primary challenge from Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-Greenbrae); he will likely face cybersecurity specialist Robert Howell (R-San Jose), who defeated perennial candidate Greg Conlon (R-San Rafael) for runner-up. Incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond (NPP-Richmond) placed first in his officially nonpartisan primary; the battle for runner-up is currently between policy executive Lance Christensen (NPP-Wheatland), teacher Ainye Long (NPP-San Francisco), and software architect George Yang (NPP-Menlo Park).
Two elections for the U.S. Senate are occurring simultaneously – one to complete the term of former Senator Kamala Harris after her ascension to Vice-President of the United States and the other to succeed her for a full term. In both elections, appointed incumbent Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles) easily placed first, with second place going handily to constitutional attorney Mark Meuser (R-Pasadena). The two will face off in a rematch of their 2018 Secretary of State contest, where Padilla won 65-35 against Meuser.
Tuesday’s marquee race was arguably the primary for the Third Congressional District, an open swing seat stretching from Lake Almanor to Death Valley with its chief population centers in Rosevilla, Rocklin, Grass Valley and Truckee. Former White House Fellow and internal medicine physician Kermit Jones (D-Roseville) placed first, holding an 8-point lead over Assemblyman and runner-up Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin). Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones (R-Colfax) placed third in the contest, while perennial candidate and universal healthcare advocate David Peterson (D-Grass Valley) placed fourth. Dr. Jones and Assemblyman Kiley will face off for the seat in November, no doubt flooding the airwaves across the district with incessant political ads as part of their respective parties’ efforts to control the House of Representatives for the next two years.
In Assembly District One, incumbent Assemblywoman Megan Dahle (R-Bieber) decisively won her primary; she will face businesswoman and community activist Belle Sandwith (D-Loyalton) in November. Emergency Services specialist Kelly Tanner (R-Round Mountain) placed third, while activist and avowed communist Joshua Brown (PF-Redding) placed fourth.
Finally, in the Board of Equalization District One race, incumbent BOE Member Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills) won his primary handily. He will face business services manager Jose Altamirano (D-West Sacramento) in a bid to represent one-fourth of California’s tax base and formulate tax policies for the next four years across the state.
Sierra County was largely uneventful in county-level elections this year, as no incumbents were challenged – the county’s Sheriff-Coroner, Superintendent of Schools, Clerk-Recorder, Assessor, Treasurer-Auditor, District Attorney and District Five Supervisor all handily won re-election. The only contested race was the District Two Supervisor contest to replace retiring incumbent Peter Huebner and the current vote tally shows retiree Lila Heuer leading property manager Gerald “Sandy” Sanders by a 2-1 margin.
Plumas County’s races are also largely uncontested, but a few are proving to be quite contentious; Clerk-Recorder Marcy DeMartile has warned that many ballots are outstanding and so current results could markedly change, so we won’t be projecting any winners here quite yet. Incumbent District Five Supervisor Jeff Engel seems likely to defeat businesswoman Mimi Garner in a rematch of their 2018 contest, while planning commissioner and former Glenn County Supervisor Tom McGowan leads Lassen County Child Support Services Director Kelley Cote in a bid to replace retiring District Three Supervisor Sherrie Thrall.
At present, incumbent Sheriff Todd Johns leads challenger and retired sergeant Dwight Cline by around 900 votes in what has been a surprisingly divisive race, while appointed incumbent Assessor Cynthia Froggatt holds a narrow lead over Chief Appraiser Amy Hendrickson.
The Mountain Messenger has done its best to conduct nonpartisan coverage of the 2022 elections across the Lost Sierra, from the local level all the way to the federal. Sadly, we couldn’t publish all the interviews we did, and we didn’t hear back from all the candidates we were hoping to interview. Nonetheless, we feel we’ve done our part as a news organization to make sure local voters were well-informed going into this year’s primary. From here until the November general election, we’re not likely to have much election coverage, but we hope you’ll continue reading to learn about other goings-on in this picturesque region.