Los Angeles Times - Christine Mai-Duc
Although California’s top-of-the-ticket races were said to be decided before voters even walked into the polls Tuesday, the show had to go on for the many legislative races at stake.
Voters sorted through an array of candidates, in some cases choosing from half a dozen or more, to set the stage for matchups in November.
With 26 seats up for grabs this election cycle, interest groups stepped up spending in hopes of influencing the competitive landscape.
Outside groups including oil companies, education advocates, unions and business groups have spent nearly $29 million, a record for the June primary that far outstripped the $16.7 million in spending two years ago.
Overall, one thing became strikingly clear: Early indications of depressed GOP votes in the presidential primary did not bode well for the fortunes of some Republicans in these races.
Weak showings from GOP candidates
Republican incumbents in Southern California were looking especially vulnerable after Tuesday’s returns rolled in.
Preliminary results showed Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Manhattan Beach) — considered one of the most at-risk — trailing Democratic challenger Al Muratsuchi, who he beat in 2014 by just 700 votes.
“Clearly, the large turnout yesterday was a reflection of the high level of interest in the presidential election and, in particular, the polarizing effect of Donald Trump,” said Muratsuchi, who has tried to tie his opponent to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
In nearby Orange County, Sharon Quirk-Silva, another Democratic challenger who formerly represented the Assembly district, beat Assemblywoman Young Kim (R-Fullerton) by six percentage points in preliminary results.
And in the Inland Empire’s Assembly District 40, Republican incumbent Marc Steinorth of Rancho Cucamonga was ahead of first-time candidate Abigail Medina, a Democrat, by just 300 votes.
There was more than $250,000 in independent expenditures spent on his campaign by pro-business groups.