As Californians open their June 5 voting packets this month, they may be a little shocked by the sheer number of candidates for the state’s highest offices – 32 for U.S. senator and 27 for governor.

That’s because under the state’s “top two” primary system all candidates for partisan offices appear on the same primary ballot, with the two highest finishers, regardless of party, advancing to a November runoff.

It’s completely changed the dynamics of primary elections, creating battles for second place and therefore a second chance to win. But with so many candidates, each of whom will garner at least a few votes, with mail voting already under way and with the prospect of a low turnout primary, pre-election handicapping is imprecise at best.

There’s little doubt that U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein will finish first in the Senate primary, and with no serious Republican candidate on the ballot, she seems destined to face her chief Democratic challenger, state Sen. Kevin de León, in November.

However, with fewer than three weeks remaining before election day, the contest for governor is much murkier.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has been the consistent frontrunner in the polls, and for months it appeared that he would face former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who had pulled into virtual tie.

As winter turned to spring, however, Democrat Villaraigosa inexplicably began to fade, Newsom’s support climbed and John Cox, a wealthy Republican businessman and philanthropist from San Diego, slipped into contention for second place. Cox pulled slightly ahead of Villaraigosa in April polls by the Public Policy Institute of California and UC-Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies.

Where it stands now is uncertain. A coalition of wealthy education reform and charter school advocates responded to Villaraigosa’s fade with a multi-million-dollar “independent expenditure” campaign on his behalf.

As mayor, Villaraigosa pushed the kind of education …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

      

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