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In California, Republicans look for meager wins in 2024

Your state-by-state guide to the 2024 elections


S. Greg Panosian / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

In California, Republicans look for meager wins in 2024

STATE STATS

Voter makeup:

Over 22 million Californians, or about 82 percent of the state’s population, were registered to vote as of Feb. 20. California is a deep-blue state, with registered Democrats nearly doubling the number of registered Republicans this year, at 10 million to 5 million.

The state GOP limits primary voting to registered party members. Nonaffiliated voters may vote in Democratic primaries if they request the appropriate ballot. President Joe Biden won California with 63.5 percent of the vote in 2020.

Voting:

Voters need to provide their driver’s license or state ID card number to register online. California allows same-day registration and mail-in voting. As of March 14, only 85 percent of primary votes had been counted in California. The state typically takes weeks to finish counting votes because the deadline for mail-in ballots extends past Election Day. For legislative and local elections, California uses a “jungle primary” system in which the top two candidates advance to the general election, regardless of party.

PRESIDENTIAL

On Super Tuesday, former President Donald Trump garnered roughly 1.7 million votes, or 79.1 percent, in the GOP primary. He won 169 delegates for the Republican National Convention, where he is expected to be nominated for president.

Biden received nearly 2.8 million votes in the primary, or just over 89 percent of Democratic ballots. Independent Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., has campaigned heavily in California and launched a new political party, We the People, in January to vie to get on the ballot in the state.

SENATE

Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff and Republican Steve Garvey will battle for the only open U.S. Senate seat, which the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein formerly held. Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed former EMILYs List president Laphonza Butler to complete Feinstein’s term, and she declined to run in the election. California has not elected a Republican senator since 1988.

  • Adam Schiff only narrowly edged ahead of Garvey in the primary with 32 percent of votes. A senior member of the Judiciary Committee, he is serving his 12th term in the U.S. House. Schiff headed the first impeachment inquiry into Trump and later investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. Schiff started the year with $35 million raised for his campaign. In the California primary debate, he focused on his history of opposing Trump. He rejected a call for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war. Schiff is firmly opposed to laws protecting babies from abortion and has also advocated for expanding the Supreme Court and introducing term limits for the justices.

  • Steve Garvey, a former first baseman for the L.A. Dodgers and San Diego Padres, has branded himself as a moderate Republican. Garvey has no political experience. He took up philanthropy and brand deals after retiring from Major League Baseball. He’s campaigning on quality-of-life issues such as homelessness, education, and crime. Garvey drew fire from Democratic candidates for refusing to say during a primary debate whether he’d vote for Trump in November. He is mostly ignoring abortion in his campaign messaging and has said he’s willing to find compromises on the issue to unify the state. Garvey opposes a nationwide pro-life law.

U.S. HOUSE

Republicans hold only 11 of California’s 52 House seats—five of them in districts where Biden won in 2020.

  • One of the closest races is incumbent GOP Rep. John Duarte against Democratic former state Assemblyman Adam Gray in the 13th District. Duarte beat Gray by only 564 votes in the 2022 election. The opponents have campaigned on similar issues such as water infrastructure, education, and cost of living. Gray brands himself as a centrist willing to anger both parties for good policy, like when he introduced an unsuccessful bill to suspend California’s gas tax. He opposes any protections for unborn babies from abortion. In a September debate, Duarte said women should be able to have abortions for up to three months of pregnancy and that he opposes a national law safeguarding the unborn. He also calls himself “immigration fluid,” both advocating for border security and pathways to citizenship or work visas for migrants.

  • Rep. Katie Porter, a Democrat, campaigned unsuccessfully for Feinstein’s U.S. Senate seat and did not file for reelection to the House, leaving the 47th Congressional District up for grabs. Former California Assemblyman Republican Scott Baugh, Porter’s 2022 rival, is running again. He took the highest number of votes in the primaries, with Democrat David Min close behind. Baugh is campaigning on a promise to lower taxes and advocate to secure the border, while Min is making gun violence, climate change, and abortion his top campaign issues.

  • Incumbent Republican Rep. David Valadao and former assemblyman Rudy Salas, a Democrat, will face a November rematch after they came out on top in the 22nd District against one other candidate from each party. Valadao beat Salas in the last election by only fewer than 4,000 votes. Valadao voted to impeach Trump during his time in office. He won only 3 percent more votes than Salas in the primary.

BALLOT MEASURES

Eleven ballot propositions qualified for the ballot in November. Seven of them are citizen-led initiatives, while the other four originated in the state legislature.

  • Initiatives: One citizen initiative seeks to raise California’s minimum wage to $18 per hour. Another one would raise the income tax for millionaires and save the extra funding in a pandemic prevention and response fund.

  • Amendments: One proposal would repeal Proposition 8, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. If passed, California would declare marriage “a fundamental right” to all residents, including same-sex couples. Another amendment would lower the vote threshold to approve local special taxes to fund housing projects.

Dig Deeper:

  • Read Leo Briceno’s report on the border compromise bill that Rep. Duarte co-sponsored.

  • Listen to analysts from Florida and California compare their two states ahead of a debate between California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

  • Read Addie Offereins’ report on a new California proposal to use churches to help address the state’s housing shortage.


Clara York

Clara is a 2023 World Journalism Institute graduate and a senior journalism major at Patrick Henry College.


Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a WORLD reporter and a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College. She resides in Washington, D.C.

@CarolinaLumetta


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