California Is About to Experience a Political Earthquake Introduction

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California
Courtesy of Gage Skidmore (Flickr CC0)

California is about to experience a political earthquake, and that’s a good thing. On Thursday, the state will hold its first-ever primary in which the top two vote-getters — no matter their party affiliation — will advance to November’s general election.

This new system, approved by California voters in 2010, is intended to reinvigorate electoral competition without detracting from the voting power of traditionally underrepresented constituencies. But it has been met with skepticism from many who doubt that it can live up to these lofty ambitions.

The top two primaries can boost voter engagement and reshape political discourse, but they could amplify the clout of big money donors and rich candidates who fund their own campaigns. In short: California’s new system could swing elections toward those with deep pockets or away from them, depending on turnout and other factors — but that’s a reason to respect, not deride it.

The June 5 primary was a big deal, with the state’s first “jungle primary,” in which the top two vote-getters run off against each other in November.

The top-two system means that it’s possible for two candidates from the same party to face off against each other in November, which could lead to some unexpected results in California’s congressional races.

California
Courtesy of Thomas Hawk (Flickr CC0)

The state Democratic party is putting all its muscle behind Gavin Newsom in the gubernatorial race.

It’s not just the state party that is backing Newsom: The Democratic National Committee has also thrown its support behind him. And it makes perfect sense, really. It seems like every time we turn around, there he is — Gavin Newsom.

The front-runner in the race to be California’s next governor (and by all accounts, a shoo-in for the nomination) is a guy who has managed to make himself seem both refreshingly new and reassuringly familiar at once. He looks like an uncle who teaches high school English—a bit bland but always willing to lend an ear if anyone needs it—but he also happens to be one of those guys who discovered his passion for politics after dropping out of law school and going backpacking through South America (he didn’t even know Spanish). He may seem like a relic from another era at first glance but actually has been able to adapt quickly enough over time so as not only to survive but thrive in today’s chaotic political climate.

A slew of California House Democrats is retiring this year, leaving open seats that could help reshape the Democratic Party.

It’s been a big year for the Democratic Party, and California is about to experience a political earthquake. It’s not just because of Trump’s election; it’s also due to a slew of California House Democrats who are retiring this year, leaving open seats that could help reshape the Democratic Party.

Sixteen congressional districts currently held by Democrats will be open after November—including seven in California alone. And while most analysts agree that Republicans will probably win back control of Congress this fall, their margin of victory could be less than many thought possible just months ago—and some say it could even be under 20 seats total. That means that even if Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker again next year (and she might), she’ll preside over a decidedly more conservative group than that which has dominated all but two years since her party took control in 2007.

A lot of candidates are running for office in California this year, making it harder for voters to make up their minds on who to support. It’s fun that voters have a lot of choices with each candidate their own platform. It’s hard to know who to believe or trust when it comes down to making the final decision. With all this in mind, make sure to read articles on how to pick the right candidate before heading over to the polls!

Primary Day is June 5 and There’s a Lot at Stake This Year

The primary will be held on Tuesday, June 5. And while there are dozens of congressional seats and state legislative seats up for grabs, there’s a lot at stake this year: the governor’s mansion, two U.S. Senate seats (one currently held by Dianne Feinstein), and a handful of key ballot initiatives that could change how Californians vote for years to come.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

CNN: California is about to experience a political earthquake. Here’s why; by Ronald Brownstein
Loyola Marymount University: California is about to experience a political earthquake. Here’s why
Politico: POLITICO Playbook: California braces for possible political earthquake; by Eugene Daniels and Ryan Lizza

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Thomas Hawk’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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