2012 elections preview: California voters to select winners in congressional, legislative primaries

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June 4, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional and State legislative teams

The fast-moving primary season of May and June continues today with elections in California.

This will be the first election year in which California's Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act will be in effect. This means that all candidates for a seat compete in a blanket primary regardless of any party affiliation. The two candidates who receive the most votes then advance to the general election.

Here's what to watch for in California, where polling places will be open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm Pacific Time.[1]

Contested Primaries in California -- June 5, 2012
U.S. House
(53 seats)
State Legislature
(100 seats)
Total Contested Primaries 45 (84.91%) 58 (58%)

Congress

U.S. Senate

Incumbent U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) is seeking re-election in 2012. Despite having an incumbent in the race, 23 challengers are running in the blanket primary.

Five Democratic candidates -- Colleen Shea Fernald, David Alex Levitt, Nak Shah, Diane Stewart and Mike Strimling have filed to challenge the incumbent. Fourteen Republicans, one Libertarian, one Independent, and two Peace and Freedom Party candidates have also filed and are running in the primary.

U.S. House

California has a total of 53 seats on the ballot in 2012. A total of 240 candidates have filed to run, made up of 74 Democratic challengers, 81 Republican challengers, 39 third party challengers, and 46 incumbents. Including the six states with primaries today, a total of 226 U.S. House seats have held primaries. Thus far, 63.05% of possible primaries have been contested nationally. California's contested figure of 84.91% (45 of 53 possible party primaries) is significantly more competitive than the national average.

There are nine open seats, Districts 1, 2, 8, 21, 26, 29, 41, 47, and 51. The races in districts 2, 8, and 52 have attracted over ten candidates each.

District 41, centered around Riverside, is one district which has been left without an incumbent. The district ranks among California's most contentious races, with leaders from both parties seeking to gain control of it. The current frontrunners of the race are Democrat Mark Takano and Republican John Tavaglione. Also running are Anna Nevenic, George Pearne, and Vince Sawyer.[2]

There is one instance of incumbents facing off in the primary. In District 30, Democratic incumbents Howard Berman and Brad Sherman will battle it out along with five other candidates in what Politico has called one of the five ugliest member vs. member battles.[3]

In the 20th District, incumbent Sam Farr faces a challenge from Republican Jeff Taylor, who he defeated in the 2010 general election, along with five other candidates.[4]


Members of the U.S. House from California -- Partisan Breakdown
Party As of November 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 34 38
     Republican Party 19 15
Total 53 53

State legislature

California State Senate elections, 2012 and California State Assembly elections, 2012

There are 100 total legislative seats with elections in 2012 -- 20 Senate seats and 80 House seats.

There are 58 (58%) contested primaries. Thus, there will be 58 races tomorrow with at least three candidates on the ballot. The figure of 58% contested primaries is much higher than the current national contested average of 22.84% for states that have had filing deadlines.

Senate

The real battle in November will be whether Democrats wrestle a 2/3 majority control of the chamber.

In the Senate, there are a total of 3 incumbents facing a primary challenge - 2 Democrats and 1 Republican.

Republican Party District 1: Incumbent Ted Gaines is running against Julie Griffith-Flatter (D), Les Baugh (R), and Bogdan Ambrozewicz (I).
Democratic Party District 25: Incumbent Carol Liu faces Ameenah Fuller (D) and Gilbert Gonzales (R).
Democratic Party District 35: Incumbent Roderick Wright is challenged by Paul Butterfield (D) and Charlotte Svolos (R).

In addition, there is one race where two current members of the California State Assembly are squaring off.

House

In the House, there are a total of 17 incumbents facing a primary challenge - 11 Democrats and 6 Republicans.

There are 35 incumbents retiring in 2012. A total of 21 -- 16 Democrats and five Republicans -- are ineligible to run because of term limits.

California State Senate
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 25 26
     Republican Party 15 12
Total 40 40


California State Assembly
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 52 56
     Republican Party 28 24
Total 80 80


See also

Ballotpedia News

References