Some down-ballot races undecided in California primary
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Victors emerged in some down-ballot statewide races while other contests remained close Wednesday in California’s primary elections.
In race to become the state’s top education official, a candidate backed by charter school proponents and another backed by teachers unions earned the most votes, guaranteeing them spots in the general election.
The second-place finisher still had not been declared in Tuesday’s race for lieutenant governor, where candidates spent big money to get their names in front of voters.
In the contests for secretary of state and controller, both Democratic incumbents will advance to the November election against Republican opponents.
Early returns in the treasurer’s race indicated the general election will pit a Democrat against a Republican, an outcome that isn’t guaranteed under California’s primary rules that advance the top two vote getters regardless of party.
More than 3.5 million votes had been counted in each of those five races Wednesday morning. Because so many ballots in California are cast by mail, many votes weren’t yet counted and the winners of close races might not be called for weeks.
Here’s a look at the early returns:
SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
Los Angeles schools executive Marshall Tuck and Assemblyman Tony Thurmond will advance to the general election in the nonpartisan superintendent of public instruction race.
As of Wednesday morning, Tuck won 37 percent of the vote and Thurmond won 34 percent.
The race to become the state’s top education official has become a proxy battle in a larger fight over how best to improve California schools. On one side of the debate are powerful teachers unions, which back Thurmond. On the other side are wealthy charter school and education reform proponents, which support Tuck.
Thurmond has stressed opposing the Trump administration’s agenda, including proposals to transfer money from traditional public schools to charter schools. His top donors are teachers unions and labor groups.
Tuck has emphasized giving families a choice in the schools their children attend, including nonprofit charter schools. His donors include charter school advocates such as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and KB Home Founder Eli Broad.
Tuck ran for the seat unsuccessfully in 2014. Incumbent Tom Torlakson beat him with union backing.
Democrat Eleni Kounalakis will advance to the November general election after winning the most votes in the Tuesday primary race to replace California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Returns Wednesday morning showed Democrat Ed Hernandez in second place with Republican Cole Harris close behind in third place.
The November contest could be a Democrat-on-Democrat matchup if Hernandez maintains his lead as ballots continue to be counted.
Although the lieutenant governor holds little real power, 11 candidates were vying to replace Newsom, who is running for governor.
Kounalakis, a former diplomat, and Hernandez, a state senator, raised substantial money to run television ads and get their names in front of voters.
Harris, a businessman, funded his campaign almost entirely with his own money. Kounalakis also poured significant funds into her own campaign.
The lieutenant governor serves as a University of California regent, a California State University trustee and as a state lands commissioner overseeing conservation and public access. They also act as governor when the top executive is away.
Democrat Fiona Ma finished first in the race to replace outgoing Treasurer John Chiang, guaranteeing she’ll advance to the November general election.
Republicans Greg Conlon and Jack Guerrero followed in second and third, respectively, in early returns.
The treasurer manages the state’s money and sits on the boards of California’s public employee pension funds.
Ma, a State Board of Equalization member and former assemblywoman, has the most political experience and the biggest fundraising haul of all the candidates.
Conlon challenged Chiang in the last general election.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Democratic Secretary of State Alex Padilla won first place in his reelection bid, ensuring he’ll advance to the November election. He’ll face Republican attorney Mark Meuser, who came in second.
Padilla has emphasized his record of sparring with President Donald Trump. He often denounces the president’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in California. Padilla also refused to comply with the Trump administration’s requests to provide data on California voters, arguing it was politically motivated.
Meuser is running on a platform of purging voter rolls of people who have moved or died and conducting audits to ensure ineligible people aren’t registered to vote.
Democratic Controller Betty Yee secured first place in her reelection bid with Republican entrepreneur Konstantinos Roditis taking second place. The two will face off in November.
The California controller serves as the state’s top accountant and audits various state programs. She sits on several state boards and the State Lands Commission.
Yee says she has promoted tax policies that are equitable for vulnerable populations, including supporting equal taxation for same-sex couples before gay marriage was legalized.
Roditis says he wants to lower government spending and audit high-speed rail, a project Republicans frequently criticize because of rising costs.