Despite millions spent on negative ads against him, various ethics scandals and an intraparty challenge in the June primary, California’s gay insurance commissioner Ricardo Lara now appears to have an easy path to being elected to a second term this fall. . As such, he is expected to remain the only elected statewide LGBTQ leader in the Golden State.
With all ballots now counted and Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber ready to certify the results on Friday, July 15, Lara will face Republican Robert Howell in the November 8 general election ballot. Due to the Democrats’ overwhelming electoral advantage in the state, the cybersecurity equipment maker is considered to have no chance of being elected California’s insurance czar.
The electoral battleground for Lara could have been completely different had Congressman Marc Levine (D-Greenbrae) survived the primary. As additional ballots were counted over the past month, Levine had dropped to second place.
But his lead over Howell eventually evaporated. According to the unofficial July 11 tally, Howell had secured a second-place finish with 18.1% of the vote for a total of 1,212,273 votes.
It was 6,760 more votes than Levine received, leaving him in third place with 18% of the vote. Lara took first place in the primary with 2,408,986 votes, or 35.9% of the total votes cast.
Levine conceded the race on July 6 and congratulated Lara and Howell on their progress in the general election. In a statement, Levine noted his belief that any candidate or campaign that loses their race should “publicly accept the outcome of the election” and “express our confidence in the system.”
It was a pointed dig at the various Republican candidates across the country who lost their own races this year but refused to concede. And it also served as a blow to former President Donald Trump, who continues to push the baseless lie that he should have been declared the winner of the 2020 presidential race.
“Going against a starter in a statewide race was always going to be an uphill battle. Many political observers thought we didn’t have a chance, but we ran a fiery race and raised issues that too many Californians find intimidating in debate,” said Levine, who added that his rallying cry “Hold responsible insurance companies“, “at the end of the race, the holder also made it a central part of his message”.
In her own statement released on July 8, Lara did not mention Levine by name. Instead, he called him “the naysayer who spent $1.5 million on political slurs and attacks.”
Lara credited the “nurses, teachers, firefighters and farm workers” who propelled him to his “2:1 primary election victory over Republican Robert Howell”. Noting that he was “the first LGBTQ+ and statewide elected insurance commissioner,” Lara also noted his support “from various precincts” in last month’s election.
“I look forward to telling California voters about our long track record of success fighting for consumers and giving them a clear contrast between me and my Republican opponent,” Lara said. “I look forward to meeting other Californians from across the state to talk about what we’re doing to help wildfire survivors and make insurance accessible to everyone, no matter your zip code. I’m here to finish the job I started and can’t wait to win your vote again in November.”
Some work to do
With 52.3% of primary voters voting for Howell, Levine or GOPer fourth runner-up Greg Conlon, and 11.8% supporting the other five candidates in the race, Lara has work to do to win back the trust of those Californians who felt he didn’t deserve four more years. Most state dailies endorsed Levine, as did the Bay Area Reporter in the primary. Of the seven statewide executive office holders seeking re-election this year, Lara received the fewest votes in the primary.
By conceding the race, Levine did not endorse Lara in the general election. Instead, he pledged to “continue to play a role” in the issues he raised during the election campaign as he now completes his fifth term in the Assembly. Due to his refusal to seek re-election to his seat in the North Bay Assembly District, Levine will leave the Legislative Assembly later this year.
“On Election Day, California’s insurance crisis and the need for reforms to ensure fairness, transparency, accountability and accessibility were on many more minds in our state – from voters to editorial boards – than when we started the campaign,” Levine said. “The ideas we championed together are still important and, thanks to you, will continue in California in the months ahead as we continue to battle rising rates, insurance companies evading liability and increasingly devastating forest fires.”
Lara’s election four years ago marked the first time an LGBTQ person was elected to a statewide office in the Golden State. While our candidates had competed in this year’s primary races for Governor, Attorney General, State Comptroller and Secretary of State, as well as a trans woman in the race for Insurance Commissioner, none stood out. is qualified for the fall competitions. Thus, Lara is the only statewide candidate in the November ballot from the LGBTQ community.
With Lara taking on Howell, this year marks the first time since 2014 that every partisan statewide general election in California will feature a Republican against a Democrat, as noted in a tweet from Rob Pyers, chief research officer. for the nonpartisan California Target. Book. Democrats currently hold all nine statewide seats up for grabs this year.
With Marc Levine conceding 2nd place in the first two primaries for Insurance Commissioner and Republican Robert Howell, 2022 will mark the first time since 2014 that the @CAGOP had candidates for every California statewide race that ran in the general election. https://t.co/3OR996Terr pic.twitter.com/EoreHciA5F— Rob Piers (@rpyers) July 6, 2022
(The race for the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction is nonpartisan, nonetheless, Democratic incumbent Tony K. Thurmond is expected to easily win re-election against Lance Ray Christensen.)
Governor Gavin Newsom is running against State Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber). Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis is opposed by Angela E. Underwood Jacobs.
Weber is pushing back against Rob Bernosky in his bid for a full term as Secretary of State, while Treasurer Fiona Ma is up against Jack M. Guerrero. US Senator Alex Padilla is running for a full six-year term against Mark P. Meuser.
In the open race for state comptroller, Republican Lanhee Chen won an endorsement last week from lesbian Sacramento County prosecutor Anne Marie Schubert. The only GOP candidate to place first in his primary race was Chen, who received 37.2% of the vote and faces Malia Cohen. A former San Francisco supervisor and elected member of the state tax board, Cohen took second place with 22.7 percent of the vote.
Schubert, a former Republican turned independent, lost her lead bid for California attorney general. GOPer Nathan Hochman took second place to face Attorney General Rob Bonta and received an endorsement from Schubert on July 12.
HRC rejects West Coast House candidates after primaries
Following their primary victories this spring, a trio of House candidates on the West Coast have won the support of the political action committee of the national LGBTQ advocacy organization, the Human Rights Campaign. They were among 14 House candidates the HRC PAC endorsed on July 6.
Two gay men vying for the Southern California House seats were on the list, Will Rollins and Robert Garcia, as was Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a lesbian vying for a seat at Oregon House. A former Santa Clara City Councilman, McLeod-Skinner defeated moderate Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-Canby) in their party’s primary and now faces Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer in November for New York’s new 5th District. Beaver State Congress.
Garcia, the mayor of Long Beach, is looking for the newly opened 42nd congressional district along the Los Angeles County coast. He is the favorite winner of his fall race against GOPer John Briscoe.
Rollins, a former federal prosecutor who lives with his partner in Canyon Lake, is aiming to oust conservative Congressman Ken Calvert (R-Corona) from office. They are competing for the new 41st congressional district which includes much of the gay retirement and tourist mecca of Palm Springs.
So far, progressive gay democrat Derek Marshall has not been endorsed by the HRC PAC. He is considered the underdog in his run this fall against Congressman Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia) in the Golden State’s 23rd congressional district.
The HRC PAC last week endorsed Democrat Jay Chen, a direct ally seeking the seat in California’s 45th congressional district. A lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve who sits on the board of Mt. San Antonio Community College, Chen is running against Congresswoman Michelle Steel (R-Huntington Beach).
Political Notes, the online companion to the notebook, returns on Monday, July 18.
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