Primary preview: California state executive elections, 2014

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June 3, 2014


By Maresa Strano

June 3, 2014 Election Preview

Jump to the section for:
*California Governor
*California Lieutenant Governor
*California Attorney General
*California Secretary of State
*California Treasurer
*California Controller
*California Superintendent of Public Instruction
*California Insurance Commissioner

Sacramento, California: Eight state executive positions are up for election in 2014 in the state of California: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, state controller, superintendent of public instruction and insurance commissioner.

Going into the 2014 electoral cycle, all seven of the partisan positions are held by Democrats; The office of California State Superintendent of Schools is technically nonpartisan, though incumbent Superintendent Tom Torlakson has long been affiliated with the Democratic Party. Torlakson is one of five state executive incumbents seeking re-election in 2014, including Governor Jerry Brown, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.[1]

The three remaining incumbents - Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Treasurer Bill Lockyer and Controller John Chiang - are barred by term limits from running for a third term in their respective positions in 2014. Unlike his term-limited contemporaries, Chiang has chosen to seek a different office over retirement. He is pursuing the open treasurer's seat this year.

On June 3, California voters will nominate two candidates from each of the eight contested primary fields to send to the November 4 general election.[2] California is one of three states to use a blanket primary, or top-two system, which allows all candidates to run and all voters to vote but only moves the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, to the general election.[3][4][5] Below, Ballotpedia has put together a preview of those upcoming elections.

All polls in California are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time.[6]

California Governor
See also: California Gubernatorial election, 2014

Democratic incumbent Governor Jerry Brown is running for re-election in 2014. He has been previously been elected governor three times.

Primary Election Candidates

Democratic incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown was elected to a record-breaking fourth non-consecutive term in the office.[7]

Including Brown, 15 candidates filed for the June 3 California gubernatorial primary election. Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount (R), who was seen as a strong challenger to Brown, withdrew from the race one month before the primary due to health issues. Bount's exit left a total of 14 hopefuls, few with the political connections or money to provide a substantial general election challenge. California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R) and former Treasury official Neel Kashkari (R) proved to be formidable campaigners in the primary, though Brown was heavily favored for re-election.[8]

Throughout the primary campaign season, polls underscored projections that Brown would win another four-year term as California's chief executive in 2014. A Field Poll released in early April put Brown 40 percentage points ahead of Tim Donnelly, who then appeared to be his biggest competitor. Brown drew 57 percent to Donnelly's 17 percent, with ex-candidate Blount at 3 percent and Kashkari at 2 percent. The final poll before the primary conducted for USC and the Los Angeles Times foreshadowed Donnelly's demise, pushing Kashkari into second place overall at 18 percent, with Donnelly at 13 percent and Brown holding tight at 50 percent.[9]

The California gubernatorial race was rated by the Cook Political Report as "Solid Democratic." Brown defeated Republican challenger Neel Kashkari in the November 4 general election by a wide, 18 percentage point margin of victory.


General election

Governor of California
Poll Jerry Brown * (D) Neel Kashkari (R)Undecided/OtherMargin of ErrorSample Size
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov
October 16-23
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Primary and hypothetical match-ups

Governor of California
Poll Jerry Brown* (D) Tim Donnelly (R)Neel Kashkari (R) (Not included in Poll 1 or 3)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Institute of California
November 12-19, 2013
The Field Poll
November 15-December 3, 2014
Public Policy Institute of California
January 14-21, 2014
Public Policy Institute of California
March 11-18, 2014
The Field Poll
March 18-April 5, 2014
Public Policy Institute of California
April 8-15, 2014
Public Policy Institute of California
May 8-16, 2014
May 16-19, 2014
USC/LA Times Poll
May 21-28, 2014
AVERAGES 50.67% 13.78% 5.33% 24.78% +/-4.23 937.22
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Note: An asterisk (*) denotes incumbent status.

California Lieutenant Governor
See also: California Lieutenant Gubernatorial election, 2014

Democratic incumbent Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom is running for a second term in 2014.

Primary Election Candidates

Attorney General of California
See also: California attorney general election, 2014

Democratic incumbent Attorney General Kamala Harris is running for a second term in 2014.

Primary Election Candidates

California Secretary of State
See also: California secretary of state election, 2014

Outgoing California Secretary of State Debra Bowen (D) was is prevented by term limits from running for re-election in 2014.

Primary Election Candidates

Seven candidates filed for race to replace Bowen as California's chief elections official in 2014. One of the key issues of the election thus far has been the signature and filing requirements for minor party candidates under California's top-two primary system. Under new qualifications implemented with the top-two primary system, minor party candidates must collect 10,000 signatures to waive a filing fee equal to two percent of the first year's salary for state offices or one percent for members of Congress. Prior to implementing the top-two system, the number of signatures required to waive that fee was 150, so most minor parties opted to file petitions.

After launching their campaigns for California Secretary of State, California State Senator Alex Padilla (D) and ex-state Sen. Leland Yee, who ultimately had to withdraw from the race after he was arrested in March 2014, expressed concerns about ballot access limitations for minor parties under the top-two primary system. Then-Senator Yee opposed the top-two system since it was originally proposed on the ballot, and Senator Padilla said his office was looking into legislative solutions.[11][12] Green Party candidate David Scott Curtis has campaigned against the top-two system while independent candidate Dan Schnur, who will be designated "no party preference" on the ballot since California’s Proposition 14 took away candidates' "independent" label option, is in favor of it. Democrat Derek Cressman openly opposes the system but did not focus on the issue during his primary campaign.

On March 26, 2014, Democratic candidate Leland Yee was arraigned on seven charges of corruption and firearms trafficking. Yee, along with 25 others, was involved in an FBI operation to uncover those suspected of illegal activities involving drugs, guns and arranging murder for hire. If convicted, Yee would face up to 20 years in a federal prison. Yee's alleged illegal activities stemmed from his debt acquired in a failed run for San Francisco mayor in 2011 and money raised for the Secretary of State race. Authorities believe Yee accepted money for official actions performed while in office. These actions included urging an agency to accept a software contract from a specific vendor in exchange for $10,000, writing a Senate proclamation to honor the Chee Kung Tong group for $6,800 and introducing a medical marijuana businessman to state legislators working on the issue for $21,000. Unknown to Yee, all of these paying contacts were undercover agents. In other attempts to raise money, Yee allegedly promised to help other undercover agents obtain illegal guns from an international arms dealer.[13] Despite no longer being in the race, Yee's name will remain on the primary ballot. This is due to an election rule--scarcely seen outside California--barring candidates from withdrawing their names from the ballot after they file.

A California non-profit association called the Sacramento Press Club incited the ire of Green Party candidate David Scott Curtis for failing to invite him and two other 2014 secretary of state candidates to participate in an April 23 debate.[14] With seven candidates in the running, the Sacramento Press Club said they wanted to restrict the size of the event by only including "top contenders in a crowded field," whom they determined to be Pete Peterson (R), state Sen. Alex Padilla (D), Dan Schnur (I) and Derek Cressman (D). By the time Curtis learned of his exclusion, back-to-back Field Polls had been released showing Curtis ahead of both Schnur and Cressman, two of these presumed "top contenders." Absent an immediate explanation and/or apology from the Sacramento Press Club, Curtis used social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to broadcast his outrage over what he considered a conspicuous display of political bias by the tax-exempt organization, into which Curtis subsequently filed an IRS investigation request.[15] Amid what a press club representative characterized as Curtis' "tirade of insulting and threatening social media posts" against the organization, the Green Party hopeful questioned what such demonstrable selectivity means for the state of 'journalism,' thus prompting recognition of his snub's contextual significance. At this stage of the primary election season, political media-affiliated individuals and organizations were already cited for their marked presence and potential influence in the secretary of state open seat race. For example, Schnur is known for furnishing the Capitol press, whose members make up a large portion of the Sacramento Press Club, with sound bites and other material. Schnur was one of the two candidates to receive invitations to the debate hosted by the press club despite trailing Curtis in the polls. Joe Mathews, the California editor at Zocalo Public Square, wrote, “Of course, I’m for Dan Schnur for Secretary of State. I’m in the media, and he’s our candidate...He’s the favored candidate of our state’s political media, which feeds us polls and old, bogus narratives about the state.”[14] Meanwhile, Northern California's chapter of The Society of Professional Journalists honored disgraced ex-candidate and state Sen. Leland Yee with its Public Official Award shortly before Yee's arrest forced him to exit the 2014 secretary of state race.[14]

California State Superintendent of Schools
See also: California down ballot state executive elections, 2014

Incumbent California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is running for re-election.

Primary Election Candidates

California Treasurer
See also: California down ballot state executive elections, 2014

Democratic incumbent Bill Lockyer is term-limited from running for re-election.

Primary Election Candidates

California Controller
See also: California down ballot state executive elections, 2014

Democratic incumbent controller John Chiang is term-limited from seeking re-election as controller in 2014 and has opted to run for the open state treasurer's seat.

Primary Election Candidates

California Insurance Commissioner
See also: California down ballot state executive elections, 2014

Democratic incumbent commissioner Dave Jones is running for re-election.

Primary Election Candidates

See also

Ballotpedia News


  1. California Constitution, "Article 2, Section 6," accessed June 27, 2011
  2. California Secretary of State, "Qualifying Candidate Information," accessed June 19, 2014 (timed out)
  3. National Conference of State Legislatures Website, "State Primary Election Types," accessed January 6, 2014
  4. Fair Vote, "Congressional and Presidential Primaries: Open, Closed, Semi-Closed, and 'Top Two,'" accessed January 6, 2014
  5. Ballotpedia research conducted December 26, 2013, through January 3, 2014, researching and analyzing various state websites and codes.
  6. California Secretary of State, "Elections FAQ," accessed January 3, 2014
  7. The Sacramento Bee, "Gov. Jerry Brown to become the longest serving governor in California history," October 5, 2013
  8. The Orange County Register, "Laguna Hills mayor drops out of governor's race," April 29, 2014
  9. Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, "New University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll," May 21-28, 2014
  10. Cook Political Report, "2014 Governors Race Ratings," May 16, 2014
  11., "Padilla, Yee looking at 3rd party ballot access issues," February 20, 2014
  12., "In statewide debut, top-two primary blocks third parties from June ballot," February 14, 2014
  13. The Sacramento Bee, "FBI: California Sen. Leland Yee took bribes, trafficked guns," March 27, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2, "Sacramento Press Club excludes Green Party candidate from Secretary of State debate," April 20, 2014
  15., " Re: Exclusion of Green Party Candidate from Secretary of State Debate," April 20, 2014