California U.S. Senate race voter guide: Alex Padilla vs. Mark P. Meuser

GOP attorney Mark Meuser, left, and Sen. Alex Padilla in side-by-side photos.
Sen. Alex Padilla, right, is on the midterm election ballot twice, and in both cases he faces Republican attorney Mark Meuser, left.
(Courtesy photos)

Sen. Alex Padilla, appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom when Kamala Harris left the Senate to become vice president, will appear on the November ballot — twice.

He’s running to complete Harris’ term through Jan. 3 as well as for a full six-year stint. In both elections, he is facing off against GOP attorney Mark Meuser.

Given the state’s overwhelming Democratic tilt as well as Padilla’s enormous fundraising advantage, he is widely expected to handily win both elections.



Who are the candidates?

Padilla, a former California secretary of state, state senator and Los Angeles City Council president, became the state’s first Latino U.S. senator when Newsom appointed him to fill Harris’ seat in 2021.

Born in Pacoima to a Mexican-born housekeeper and short-order cook, Padilla, 49, graduated from MIT with a degree in engineering. Prop. 187, the successful 1994 ballot measure that denied taxpayer funding of many services to undocumented immigrants, prompted Padilla to leave engineering and enter public service.

Meuser, 48, was born in Huntington Beach and graduated from Oak Brook College of Law. He has repeatedly sued Newsom over COVID-19 policy and other matters. He was involved in the litigation that successfully stopped Democrats from removing then-President Trump’s name from the California ballot in 2020.

This year isn’t the first time the two men have competed. Meuser lost to Padilla by 29 points in the 2018 secretary of state election. He also unsuccessfully ran for state Senate in 2012.

For as long as anyone can remember, pundits have used the ‘midterm’ label for elections halfway between presidential elections. But what does it mean?


Where they stand on abortion

The candidates follow their respective party lines on most issues, including abortion.


Padilla is a staunch supporter of abortion rights and has authored or co-sponsored multiple bills aimed at protecting access.

“In the face of unending attacks on reproductive freedom, we will not give up the fight to protect a woman’s right to safe abortion access,” he said.

Meuser opposes abortion and supports the Supreme Court ruling this year that overturned federal protection for abortion access. He said he opposes some Republicans’ efforts to enact a nationwide ban and that the matter should be decided by the states.

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Nov. 8, 2022


Where they stand on the economy

Meuser blamed “out of control government spending” for rising consumer prices on everything from groceries to gas.


He proposed balancing the budget and additional oil drilling, including in California, to ease prices.

“Then we need to examine every single executive agency, and we need to really audit every department for waste, fraud and abuse,” he said.

He opposed the Inflation Reduction Act, the recently passed federal law that reduces the deficit, lowers prescription drug costs, invests in domestic energy production and promotes clean energy.

Padilla voted for the law, commending its focus on climate change and healthcare prices.

He supports Medicare for all and universal basic income and making the child-tax credit permanent.


Past coverage

More than 20 Californians are running for the U.S. Senate seat, but Democrat Alex Padilla and Republican Mark P. Meuser have emerged from the pack.

June 7, 2022


California’s freshman U.S. senator, Alex Padilla, says the last year has meant a lot of adjustment — and a regular 4,600-mile roundtrip commute.

April 18, 2022

Padilla, considered a politician to watch since his 20s, has served on the L.A. City Council, in the Legislature and as California secretary of state.

Dec. 22, 2020


How and where to vote

Ballots have been mailed to all of the state’s 22 million registered voters. Californians can return ballots by mail, drop them at collection boxes or turn them in at voting centers. They can also cast ballots early at voting centers or wait until Nov. 8 to vote at their neighborhood polling places.

Californians can register to vote or check their status at

Here’s how to vote in the California midterm election, how to register, what to do if you didn’t get mail ballot or if you made a mistake on your ballot.



More election coverage

California voters head to the polls Nov. 8 to vote for U.S. senator, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, controller, treasurer, attorney general, superintendent of public instruction, the state Board of Equalization, judges, members of Congress and the state Legislature. Local races in Los Angeles include mayor and county sheriff. There are also seven ballot propositions on the table.

In the November midterm election, California is one of the battlefields as Democrats and Republicans fight over control of Congress.