Democrat Betty Yee won another term as state controller on Tuesday, defeating Republican challenger Konstantinos Roditis.
Yee is the officer in charge of paying the state's bills and administering the payroll system for state workers. In her role, she is one of the state officials with the power to audit state agencies and local governments.
Roditis, of Anaheim, built his campaign around a “trickle-up taxation” proposal to radically alter the way the state collects taxes — cities and counties collect all revenue before a percentage of funds go to Sacramento. He also pledged to defund the state’s high-speed rail project.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla was reelected Tuesday and will serve a second term, defeating Republican challenger Mark Meuser.
Padilla is a former state senator and Los Angeles City Council member from the San Fernando Valley. He spearheaded a new Motor Voter act in 2015 and a new system for online business registrations. But the new systems have had hiccups: More than 23,000 Californians were registered to vote incorrectly by the state DMV.
Meuser, an attorney, ran on a campaign to stamp out alleged voter fraud. He has claimed that some counties have more voters than people eligible to vote, though elections experts said the claims misrepresent the way the data are collected.
Former U.S. Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis, was elected lieutenant governor Tuesday, defeating state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azuza).
Kounalakis, a prominent Democratic Party donor, was appointed ambassador to Hungary by President Obama and has never held public office. Her father, prominent developer Angelo Tsakopoulos, has been a major source of financing for her first campaign.
Hernandez, an optometrist from the San Gabriel Valley, was first elected to the Assembly in 2006 and then the state Senate in 2010. The lieutenant governor has a seat on several state boards including the University of California Board of Regents, the California State University board of trustees and the State Lands Commission.
California voters on Tuesday rejected Proposition 5, a measure that would have offered a property tax break to homeowners 55 and older as well as the severely disabled and natural disaster victims if they move to a new home.
In what could be a stunning upset, retired Sheriff’s Lt. Alex Villanueva took a narrow lead over Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell early Wednesday. With 100% of precincts reporting, he was ahead by 4,927 votes.
Provisional ballots and late mail ballots still have to be counted.
Villanueva would be the first challenger to unseat a living incumbent sheriff in the county in more than 100 years. Villanueva, who has served in the Sheriff’s Department for three decades, took a lead despite McDonnell out-fundraising him 8 to 1. He made expelling immigration agents from the county jails a centerpiece of his platform.
In Santa Clarita, the 400 or so people who’d gathered for House candidate Katie Hill’s and Assembly candidate Christy Smith’s election-returns party kept the mood buoyant despite no sign of a decision in either race.
The party took place in a music venue in the Westfield Valencia Town Center and outlasted the shopping mall, which shuttered before California returns began rolling in.
Republicans held narrow leads in three Senate races that were still not called early Wednesday, leaving the size of the Republican majority in the chamber uncertain the morning after ballots were cast.
Leading in the vote count nearing midnight Tuesday and before the race had been called, a jubilant Mike Levin went ahead and claimed victory in the 49th Congressional District.
“We are going to win,” said Levin, an environmental attorney in Orange County, as he awaited a tally from the San Diego County registrar of voters.
In a crowded hotel ballroom in Del Mar, accompanied by his wife, Chrissy, his two children and his parents, he told several hundred enthusiastic supporters and campaign workers that it was time to celebrate.
Longtime Rep. Dana Rohrabacher stood on stage at an Irish pub, next to an old surfboard that read, "Give me Liberty or Give me Surf," and called his bid for reelection a race of “David against Goliath.”
A supporter shouted back, “Dana versus Goliath!”
Rohrabacher, a Republican who’s served in Congress for 30 years, told the supporters and volunteers at his election-night party that Democrats had spent wildly to try to defeat him.
To resounding cheers and applause on Tuesday, Democratic congressional candidate Josh Harder took the stage at a downtown Modesto banquet hall and said he was proud of running a campaign that didn’t “get dragged down into the mud” but painted a brighter picture for the Central Valley.
“What we are seeing across our nation right now, in this community, is rebuke to the last two years ... rebuke to the politics of hate, of fear,” he said. “We don’t believe that. We reject that.”
If there has been any Central Valley congressional district with a shot of turning blue this election, it has been this one where Democrats hold a slight edge in registered voters and carried the last two presidential campaigns. And if there has been any candidate that supporters have believed could bridge the area’s growing urban-rural divide, it has been Harder.