Tuesday, March 28, 2023

California Democratic Supremacy Tested by Crime, Inflation

LOS ANGELES ( Associated Press) — Democrats are facing a potentially grim political year in many parts of the country, but no one in California is talking about a change in the direction of the liberal bastion.

California’s largely irrelevant Republican Party can field only little-known candidates for governor and the US Senate, and the GOP only has isolated chances for upsets, even in favorable circumstances for the party.

Mail ballots are already out for the June 7 primary election that will set the stage for November’s runoff. The election is taking place within a cascade of difficult political issues: the possible repeal of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion, widespread despair with a homelessness crisis and galloping inflation and rising home costs. The state’s median price hit a record $849,080 in March – with residents suffering from pocketbook stress.

President Joe Biden’s popularity has waned – even among some of his fellow Democrats – and the party typically loses congressional seats in midterm elections in the White House. California Democrats showed historic numbers in 2020 to defeat then-President Donald Trump in a landslide, but are expected to fall at the top of the voting ticket next month with little drama: Governor Gavin Newsom and US Sen. Alex Padilla, both Democrats, Face only symbolic opposition.

But none of this is a threat to the democratic supremacy of the state. Republicans have not won a statewide election in California since 2006, and Democratic voters outnumber Republicans nearly 2 to 1 statewide. Democrats are expected to maintain their supremacy in the legislature.

The GOP won four US House seats in 2020, but Democrats still dominate the congressional delegation, leaving 10 of the 53 House seats with one vacancy.

At a state Republican Party convention last month, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield said he would hold the chamber’s gavel in January, not San Francisco Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He predicted more House upsets in California would upset the balance of power in the chamber, but the GOP faces a tough race to hold its ground.

Recent history is not encouraging for the GOP. Last year, Newsom appeared weak, but then easily defeated a recall effort driven by critics of his handling of the pandemic.

“We don’t have a real race for governor. We don’t have a real race for senator,” said Claremont McKenna College political scientist Jack Pitney, who cited the one-sided recall election as evidence of dwindling GOP prospects, even as Democrats are running nationally. are defensive.

“The problem here is that the Republican bench is too thin,” Pitney said. “There really isn’t any Republican in California who has a statewide profile.”

Republican challengers are not included in the most-watched race in the state this year. In San Francisco and Los Angeles, local district attorneys are being blamed for reforms that some say fueled rising crime. The return of San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin is on the ballot next month. The petition signatures required to be eligible for the recall are still being collected in Los Angeles County, where Jorge Gascon may be forced to defend his seat later this year.

Los Angeles will also elect a new mayor from among candidates, including Democratic Representative Karen Bass, who was on Biden’s short list for vice president, and billionaire developer Rick Caruso, a longtime Republican who was an independent and then Became shortly before entering the race for mayor. Registered as a Democrat.

Arguably the most endangered Democrat on the statewide ticket is Attorney General Rob Bonta, a reform-minded Newsom appointee who is facing challenges from two Republicans and an independent candidate — Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert — who are facing spikes in crime. blame him for it. Schubert recently left the GOP and is gambling that a different identity on the ballot will draw more votes.

A promising new face for the Republicans is state comptroller candidate Lanhi Chen, the son of Taiwanese immigrants who have several Harvard University degrees, served in the administration of President George W. Bush, and serves on the editorial board of the left-wing Los Angeles Times. received support.

In the race for the top congressional, Republican Representative Mike Garcia is defending his seat in a Democratic-leaning district north of Los Angeles. Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, a star of the party’s progressive wing, is seeking another term in a closely divided coastal district in Orange County. And nearby, Republican Rep. Michelle Steele, a Korean immigrant, is trying to win a second term in a district that has a slight Democratic edge that contains the nation’s largest Vietnamese American community.

Predictions for a disastrous year for Democrats nationally are undergoing reassessment following the leak of a draft US Supreme Court opinion piece that would reverse the historic abortion ruling.

Newsom called it a “defining issue” in the election and is backing a November ballot proposal to ensure abortion rights are included in the state constitution, a move Democrats hope will entice more voters into the election. . It remains to be seen whether abortion can affect economic issues and public safety among voters.

A final decision in the case is not expected until the end of the court’s term in June. If the row is reversed, the results are likely to be concentrated in conservative-leaning or swing states that may see abortion as highly restricted or restricted. California wants to expand those rights — Newsom wants the state to be “asylum” for those seeking abortions and is one of the bills in the Legislature that would pay the costs for pregnant women to come out of state.

Trump’s influence has fixed contests in Ohio and Georgia but his presence is mostly peripheral in California. However, support for him will be an issue in some close races, especially in Congress fights.

The issue for California Republicans is whether enough voters frustrated by rising crime, homelessness and the economy will take their grievances out on Democrats.

“If there was going to be a time for a Republican to take a legitimate shot at a statewide candidacy, this is the year to do it,” said Matt Rexrod, a GOP adviser who is advising Republican Nathan Hochman, a former federal prosecutor and Is. One of five candidates running for attorney general.


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