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The California primary: Feeds from across the Golden State as voters had their say in presidential race

Welcome to a special California primary edition of Essential Politics. We’re tracking state politics and happenings in government on our regular Essential Politics news feed.

  • Secretary of State Alex Padilla reported on Friday afternoon that some 2.4 million votes remain uncounted from the statewide primary.
  • A state lawmaker wants to open up California’s presidential primaries to all voters.
  • After four years, voters and candidates are still getting used to the state’s top-two primary system.
  • Kamala Harris has nabbed first place and Loretta Sanchez second place in California’s U.S. Senate primary, according to AP. The two Democrats will face off in a November runoff.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter for more, or subscribe to our free daily newsletter and the California Politics Podcast

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As the week ends, 2.4 million uncounted ballots from California’s primary

For the politically curious, it’s the best guessing game around: What’s in the uncounted ballots from election day, and how many of them will change closely watched races across the state?

On Friday afternoon, Secretary of State Alex Padilla reported that there were 2,423,607 uncounted ballots statewide. About two-thirds of those are vote-by-mail ballots, with three Southern California counties leading the way: Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange.

Reports from a number of the state’s 58 counties haven’t changed for a few days, so expect the figures to shift pretty noticeably by early next week.

And one other part of the process: This is the first year in which ballots that arrive up to three days late -- Friday would be the deadline -- can be counted. So the number of ballots on hand could also change.

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There are more than 2.5 million uncounted ballots left from Tuesday’s statewide primary

More than 2.5 million ballots were left uncounted on election day across California, a process that could take several days or longer and leave close races in limbo.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla posted a report late Thursday on unprocessed ballots. Most of that total -- about 1.8 million -- were mailed to voters but returned only on Tuesday.

Six million ballots have already been counted from the statewide primary. The uncounted tally would push total voter turnout to about 8.5 million, or around 47% of all registered voters.

Los Angeles County had more unprocessed ballots than anywhere, about 616,000. San Diego County reported 285,000 uncounted ballots.

A portion of the unprocessed total are provisional ballots -- designated for voters whose registration status can’t be immediately verified on election day. If a provisional ballot is later found to have been cast mistakenly, it may not be counted.

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Voters and candidates still acclimating to state’s top-two primary system

For voters who spent decades – even lifetimes – trying to understand the rules for elections in California, the last four years of a new system have been a jarring jumble of candidates and choices.

The seismic shock responsible: an overhaul of the rules for congressional and legislative primaries. That change, promised as a way to reform state politics, tore down election rules that had been built by political parties to give a leg up to their preferred candidates.

What’s left is a system that’s far from settled, for either voters or candidates.

“It has no doubt upped the uncertainty factor,” said Dave Gilliard, a Republican political consultant who managed several legislative races across California on Tuesday’s ballot.

As many as two dozen races for the Legislature or Congress will pit same-party candidates against each other on Nov. 8, according to early returns from Tuesday. In most of those contests, it was outside money and the number of candidates on the primary ballot -- not political strategy -- that shaped the outcome.

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Lawmaker wants to open presidential primary ballots to all voters

With voters registered as no party preference locked out of voting in this week’s closed Republican presidential primary, one lawmaker proposed Thursday to open future votes to everyone.

Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) and the Independent Voter Project announced the proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would create a single presidential ballot from which all Californians could pick and choose candidates from any party.

However, the proposal would leave it up to the political parties to decide whether to count votes from no-party-preference voters or those of other parties.

“When voters fill out their ballot they expect to be able to vote for their candidate of choice, regardless of political party,” Gray said in a statement. “While voters have that right in every other state and federal election, their choices are artificially limited when voting for president of the United States.”

In addition to being locked out of the Republican presidential primary, no-party-preference voters also had to ask poll workers for ballots containing Democratic presidential candidates and those of other parties. Gray said that is unfair given that elections are paid for by taxpayers.

“If political parties want to write the rules, then they should pay for the primary elections themselves instead of asking taxpayers to foot the bill,” Gray said.

Republican Party officials were not immediately available to comment on the proposal, which would have to be approved by the state’s voters.

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2,300 votes separate GOP rivals in Central Coast congressional district -- with 27,000 to count

All eyes are on the No. 2 spot.

Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal won the primary with a commanding lead of 33% of the vote in a crowded field of nine candidates to replace retiring Rep. Lois Capps in the 24th Congressional District.

Just 2,357 votes separate Republicans Justin Fareed, a 28-year-old former Capitol Hill staffer who works for his family’s sports medical devices company, and state Assemblyman K.H. “Katcho” Achadjian of San Luis Obispo. Fareed is ahead.

There are 27,866 ballots still waiting to be processed in San Luis Obispo County alone, according to officials there. Santa Barbara County is still counting unprocessed ballots and should have an update by Friday morning.

“It’s still a tight race,” said Nyri Achadjian, the assemblyman’s daughter and campaign manager. “There are several thousand votes to be counted and we’re looking forward to seeing them come through.”

Fareed’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

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Labor icon Dolores Huerta’s son locked in tight race for general election spot in the Central Valley

Election day is over, but the wait has just begun for Daniel Parra and Emilio Huerta, two Democrats running for Congress who are currently separated by just 467 votes.

They each hope to advance to the general election and take on Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford), who already clinched his November spot, in a district Democrats have been struggling to crack for two election cycles.

Democrats have a 16-percentage-point advantage over Republicans in the Central Valley’s 21st Congressional District, but Valadao has steamrolled his last two opponents.

Huerta, an attorney and the son of labor icon Dolores Huerta, was supported by many in the state’s Democratic establishment and boasted a 2-1 fundraising advantage over Parra, a Fowler city councilman.

At the party’s convention in February, he even managed to successfully block Parra from getting the party’s endorsement through some dramatic maneuvers off the floor.

But it is Huerta who is lagging behind Parra with thousands of ballots in the district yet to be counted. It is unclear who will come out ahead.

“I’m a first-time candidate so everything is a surprise to me,” Huerta told The Times on Wednesday. “We were hoping, of course, to have better numbers.”

Parra said he was happy with his showing so far, especially considering what he was up against. One of the speakers who advocated for blocking Parra from getting the party endorsement was Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chair of California’s Democratic congressional delegation.

“The guy had money and he had the DCCC over working for him,” Parra told The Times. “So I’m feeling pretty damn good to have done what I’ve done. I’ve had the machine come at me and I’m still here.”

Kern County expected to have an estimate of total uncounted ballots by Thursday afternoon. About 40,000 mail-in ballots and 15,000 provisional ballots still need to be tallied in Fresno County, where about a third of the district falls.

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L.A. County estimates there are more than 500,000 ballots left to count

Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder and County Clerk Dean Logan estimates that the county has more than 500,000 ballots left to tally from Tuesday’s primary election. More than 1.4 million ballots have been tallied in the county so far, he said in a news release.

The estimate of uncounted ballots includes 240,063 provisional ballots, 125,280 vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at polling sites and 204,946 ballots that were postmarked by election day.

The rise of voting by mail among Californians means it can often take weeks to get final election results, especially in close races such as the handful of congressional and legislative races that are still too close to call.

County election officials have until July 5 to submit their final results for presidential delegates to the office of California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and until July 8 to submit results for all other offices. Padilla then has until July 15 to certify the state’s primary election results.

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State Senate race in Compton and Assembly race in Diamond Bar are over

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Super PAC focused on GOP voters to back U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez

Sanchez
(Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)

A Republican political consultant on Wednesday said he is working with a super PAC to support Orange County Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez’s campaign against state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris in November.

The Democrats were the two Senate candidates who finished in the top two in Tuesday’s primary election and will face off in the general election.

Sacramento consultant Dave Gilliard said the pro-Sanchez campaign by the Jobs Opportunity and Freedom PAC will be focused on Republican voters because no GOP candidate will be on the November ballot.

“Representative Sanchez’s experience on national issues, especially those related to national security, veterans and public safety, make her the easy choice in November,” Gilliard said in a statement.

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Kamala Harris says she’s the U.S. Senate candidate who can unify Californians

U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris, center, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf chat with diners at the Home of Chicken and Waffles.
(Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times)

A day after dominating the U.S. Senate primary election, state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris hobnobbed with diners at Oakland’s Home of Chicken and Waffles and then told reporters that Tuesday’s results showed she was the candidate who can unify all of California.

According to preliminary results, Harris finished with 40.4% of the vote Tuesday, compared with 18.6% for her Democratic rival, Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange. Harris bested Sanchez in all but four counties, and the two were neck-and-neck in the congresswoman’s home county.

The two Democrats will face off in the November general election. Harris dismissed speculation that Sanchez may appeal to moderates and Republicans in hopes of building a patchwork of support that could lead to victory in the general election.

“California spoke last night in terms of the primary,” Harris said. “People of every demographic, every geographic location in our state, all came together. It was not North versus South; it was not the coast versus inland. All Californians spoke. And we unified them .… That that’s how were going to go into November.”

Harris promised to debate Sanchez, but declined to say how many times, and sidestepped questions about the differences between them.

“I like getting things done. That’s the work I did as attorney general of California,” Harris said. “And that’s the work on want to do going forward.

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Key local ballot measures had clear results on election day

Police shootings in San Francisco will face extra scrutiny, the minimum wage in San Diego will go up and medical marijuana shops will stay where they are in San Jose as voters made their preferences overwhelmingly clear in key local ballot measures across California on Tuesday, according to preliminary results from county registrars.

Almost 80% of voters in San Francisco decided to have the city’s civilian police review board investigate all officer-involved shootings. More than two-thirds also backed a measure that will increase the amount of new housing reserved for low-income residents to 25% — the nation’s highest figure.

Voters in San Diego gave high support for a measure to boost the city’s minimum wage more quickly than the state’s plan to raise the wage gradually to $15 by 2022.

In San Jose, almost two-thirds of voters shot down a measure that would have expanded where medical marijuana dispensaries could go in the city. Glendale voters took a strong stance against the repeal of a tax on electricity, water and gas rates, with 71% opposed.

Tax hikes did very well, according to Michael Coleman, a fiscal policy advisor to the League of California Cities. Nearly 90% of them passed, including large bond measures for community colleges in Long Beach and Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

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California voters overwhelmingly approve anti-corruption Proposition 50

California voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved Proposition 50, an anti-corruption ballot measure that allows each house of the Legislature to suspend a member without pay for misconduct.

The state constitutional amendment passed with 75.3% of voters in favor and 24.7% opposed. It was placed on the ballot by the Legislature in response to a series of scandals in 2014 in which senators charged with crimes were suspended but were allowed by the Constitution to continue to be paid.

“Californians want to have every tool to rein in corrupt politicians,” Kathay Feng, who heads the watchdog group California Common Cause, said Wednesday.

Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) said he was disappointed in the vote results because he feels the measure is not going to end corruption and may be misused by the majority party against dissenting legislators.

To guard against misuse, Proposition 50 now requires a two-thirds vote of the Assembly or Senate to suspend that house’s member without pay. Previously, suspensions were allowed with majority votes.

The vote outcome was not surprising to Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.

“Asking voters if they want to take money away from politicians is like asking if they want to give puppies and ice cream to orphans,” Schnur said. “The only surprise with Proposition 50 is that the margin wasn’t even larger.”

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Rep. Ami Bera comes in first in 7th Congressional District

(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

U.S. Rep. Ami Bera came out on top in the 7th Congressional District in Tuesday night’s primary.

The Sacramento Democrat received 53.3% of the vote, according to the Secretary of State’s results. Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, a Republican, received 46.7%. Mail-in and provisional ballots are still being counted.

In May, Bera’s father, Babual Bera, pleaded guilty to illegally funneling more than a quarter of a million dollars to his son’s 2010 and 2012 campaigns.

The congressman has said that neither he nor campaign aides knew of his father’s activities until they were contacted by federal prosecutors. An aide said Ami Bera wrote a check from his political account to the U.S. Treasury on the day of the plea to cover the entire amount identified by prosecutors.

Republicans have pushed Bera to provide more information about what happened, and political observers questioned how the lingering questions might affect voters.

Before Tuesday’s results came in, the second-term congressman said he expected to pull in only 40% of the vote and lose the primary to Scott. He lost the primary in his previous two races, but he won in the general.

“I wouldn’t read too much into the results,” he said by phone. “Historically in the primary, we have fewer younger voters, fewer minority voters.”

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It’s deja vu all over again with these November runoffs

As was expected, California voters in several races will be choosing between some familiar names in the general election.

Here are the competitive races in which incumbents will square off against the same opponent they faced in 2014:

In the Legislature:

  • Assembly District 36: Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) will again face Steve Fox, a Democrat who won this seat in 2012 and whom Lackey ousted in 2014. This will be the third cycle in which these two rivals meet: In 2012, Fox edged out Lackey in the primary before winning against another Republican in November. Democrats have a voter registration edge in this seat and could make it one of their pickup priorities for the fall.
  • Assembly District 39: Assemblywoman Patty Lopez (D-San Fernando) may be an incumbent, but she hasn’t shed much of her outsider status since her surprise win in 2014. Primary results show her nearly 20 points behind former Assemblyman and fellow Democrat Raul Bocanegra, whom Lopez has defeated by less than 700 votes.
  • Assembly District 53: In the 2014 primary, Assemblyman Miguel Santiago ran against three other Democrats for this open seat and still walked away with 56% of the vote. This time, he faced only two others and got just 47%. He’s now in a rematch against activist Sandra Mendoza, who lost to him by wide margins in the last general election.
  • Assembly District 65: In Tuesday’s primary, Democratic challenger Sharon Quirk-Silva, who won this seat in 2012 only to lose it in 2014, pulled ahead of Assemblywoman Young Kim (R-Fullerton) in this true swing district. With 100% of precincts reporting, Quirk-Silva was up by more than 3,000 votes.

  • Assembly District 66: Al Muratsuchi is another Democratic challenger who’s ahead of a Republican incumbent after Tuesday’s results. He and Republican Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Manhattan Beach) will face off in November in one of the more hotly contested races with an eye toward the Democrats’ supermajority.

In congressional races:

  • Congressional District 10: Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) will again face Democrat Michael Eggman, who lost to Denham in 2014. With voter registration virtually tied, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has placed this on its “Red-to-Blue” priority list.

  • Congressional District 17: Repeat challenger Ro Khanna appears to be ahead of Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), a stark contrast from the 2014 primary, when Khanna trailed Honda by 20 points. Khanna has been building up momentum toward what is sure to be a lively rematch of the last election.
  • Congressional District 31: Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) will again face Iraq war veteran Paul Chabot, who ran against Aguilar for this open seat in 2014. Aguilar beat Chabot by three percentage points in the 2014 general election, and while Democrats maintain a slight edge in voter registration here, it could be a competitive race for the first-term congressman this fall.

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Tehachapi rancher Phil Wyman’s surprise finish

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We’ll know how many ballots remain to be counted in L.A. County later today

From the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters Dean Logan:

The numbers could swing close races, including who will take on incumbent Democratic Rep. Grace Napolitano in Norwalk. Currently, Republican Gordon Fisher leads Democratic Assemblyman Roger Hernández by fewer than 250 votes for second place.

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State Assembly race in Anaheim is over

The Associated Press has called a close race for an open seat to represent Anaheim in the Assembly. Democrat Sean Jay Panahi has finished first and will face Republican Harry Sidhu, who edged out fellow Republican Steven Choi.

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It’s over in Anaheim’s congressional primary

Former Democratic state Sen. Lou Correa will take on Republican Bob Peterson in the congressional race to replace U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez, according to the Associated Press.

Peterson edged out Democrats Bao Nguyen and Joe Dunn for second place.

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These are the closest races in the California primary

Thousands of ballots across California remain uncounted on the morning after election day, and they could determine the fate of numerous races for Congress and the state Legislature.

The top two finishers in each district advance to November. Here are some of the most interesting outstanding races, per the Secretary of State’s Close Contests results page.

U.S. House of Representatives

  • Former Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Republican, trails Democrat Rita Ramirez by 1,085 votes for the right to face incumbent Republican Rep. Paul Cook in Yucca Valley.
  • Two Democrats, Emilio Jesus Huerta and Daniel Parra, are separated by less than 500 votes, with Parra leading to oppose incumbent Republican Rep. David Valadao in Hanford.
  • Two Republicans, Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and Justin Fareed are close in the battle to go up against Democrat Salud Carbajal in an open seat in Santa Barbara. Fareed has an almost 2,400 vote edge over Achadjian.
  • Incumbent Democratic Rep. Grace Napolitano of Norwalk might face either a Republican or Democrat in November. Fewer than 250 votes separate Republican Gordon Fisher and Democratic Assemblyman Roger Hernández.

State Senate

  • A Democrat-on-Democrat race is assured to represent Compton for an open seat currently held by Sen. Isadore Hall, who is running for Congress. Warren Furutani leads Isaac Galvan by about 1,500 votes to go up against top-finisher Steven Bradford.

State Assembly

  • It’s a tight one in the Modesto-area race to replace Republican Kristin Olsen. Republican Ken Vogel leads, but two Democrats and a Republican are within a couple thousand votes for second place. Currently, Republican Heath Flora holds the edge for second.
  • For the open seat to represent Menlo Park, Democrat Marc Berman is in first, with Democrat Vicki Veenker leading Republican Peter Ohtaki by about 1,200 votes for second.
  • Visalia Republican incumbent Devon Mathis will face either Democrat Ruben Macareno or Republican Rudy Mendoza in the fall. Macareno leads Mendoza by about 600 votes for second place.
  • In Diamond Bar, Democrat Gregg Fritchle is on top and will take on a Republican, either Phillip Chen or Mike Spence. Chen leads Spence by about 600 votes for second place.
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Hillary Clinton wins California primary

Hillary Clinton has won California’s Democratic primary, sending her into the general election with a convincing victory in the state with more delegates up for grabs than any other.

Her opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, campaigned hard here as he sought a win that would persuade superdelegates that he was the candidate with the best chance to beat Donald Trump in the general election. Sanders has vowed to stay in the race to try to wrest the nomination from Clinton at the party convention next month.

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So, what just happened?

The Times made a little primary history too.

With results still outstanding in so many races and a lot of material to sort through, I didn’t file our daily Essential Politics newsletter until about an hour before it publishes at 3 a.m. As master editor Scott Sandell will tell you, I frequently miss deadline. But I’ve never before stretched deadline into the next day.

Check it out, and please sign up to have it free in your inbox each weekday.

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Wednesday’s big question: How many uncounted California ballots?

Tuesday may be in the record books, but the new day in California arrives without a full tally of votes cast in the state’s presidential primary.

And that wasn’t unexpected.

With California’s evolution to a state where most voters cast their ballots by mail, political watchers have concluded that election day has turned into election week.

The independent Target Book, a publication that handicaps congressional and legislative races, called it “probable” that as many as 3 million ballots could remain uncounted by time Tuesday night ended. And traditionally, said the analysts, those ballots tend to have come from Democrats, young and Latino voters.

As of early Wednesday morning, about 5 million ballots had already been counted, but there was no official word on how many remained. State election law gives counties 30 days to finish their canvassing of votes cast. Secretary of State Alex Padilla must receive certified results from each of California’s 58 counties by July 8.

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San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer wins reelection

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The primary bet: Streaking around the state Capitol?

Paul Mitchell, one of California’s most quoted political analysts, was on a losing streak early Wednesday morning.

Literally.

A veteran of campaign data analysis, Mitchell was certain a few months ago that the state’s U.S. Senate primary wouldn’t end in a same-party runoff in November.

So certain, in fact, that he wagered a naked jog around the state Capitol if he was wrong.

Which leads us to Tuesday’s election, in which state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez -- two Democrats -- came out on top. It will be the first Senate general election in state history without a Republican on the ballot.

So what about Mitchell’s bet?

Just before 1 am, Mitchell posted a tweet in which he claimed to have made good on the wager.

The link in the tweet shows a short path around Capitol Park, a five-minute run in which Mitchell apparently burned 76 calories. And, it appears, he took a shortcut through some shrubs.

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Garcetti, Villaraigosa reflect on Hillary Clinton’s historic nomination

Celebrating at an election-night party in downtown L.A., Hillary Clinton supporters marveled at the historic nature of her nomination.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who endorsed Clinton last fall, said in an interview that he was moved by her victory speech.

“It’s impossible not to feel the joy of this historical moment,” he said. “I got tears in my eyes thinking about my daughter, thinking about this country and realizing that’s going to be the president.”

Clinton’s director for California, Buffy Wicks, reiterated Clinton’s campaign message that her candidacy isn’t simply about being a woman, but about being the most qualified candidate. Still, Wicks said, “she recognizes the historic magnitude of where she is.”

Claudia Carrasco, 30, said she and two friends started campaigning for Clinton in the 2008 election. Carrasco said she liked Clinton from the beginning because she was a woman, but that she also respected her experience and her work on behalf of women and children.

“I can’t believe it took so long for a woman to get this far,” she said.

Carrasco and her friends said they were unusual among their peers for their support of Clinton.

“All my friends were in Sanders booths,” said Glenys Bronfield, a first-time voter who became a citizen in 2015. But Bronfield labeled herself a “proud Latina for Hillary,” and planned to continue volunteering on Clinton’s behalf in the general election.

Former L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said a Clinton nomination “means a lot” to the immigrant community.

“People know her, they’ve worked with her, they trust her,” he said.

Any division among Latinos over the Democratic presidential nominee is insignificant in comparison with the threat posed by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Villaraigosa said.

“Let’s be clear. People in this state know that no one in this race except for Trump is arguing for the forced deportation of 11 million people,” he said.

Villaraigosa and others emphasized the need for the Democratic Party to come together against Trump.

“We have to unite the party, and we will,” he said.

Some were disappointed that that unification didn’t start Tuesday night. When Clinton’s Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders, announced to supporters in Santa Monica that he would continue to fight through the primary in Washington, D.C., and the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, some members of the crowd grunted, calling for him to move on.

Elena Ong, a member of the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Hillary Leadership Council, said she agreed with some of the principles Sanders stands for, but she had hoped he would start to take steps to support Clinton and unite Democrats under one platform.

“I think he has a responsibility to unify the party now,” Ong said.

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A hint of big battles to come?

As returns continued to crawl in early Wednesday, a few November races were beginning to take shape.

In Assembly District 66, for example, incumbent Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Manhattan Beach) was trailing Democrat Al Muratsuchi by the smallest of margins.

If numbers hold, Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown (D-San Bernardino) could be heading into a November runoff against fellow Democrat Eloise Reyes. Spending by outside groups had already neared $2.3 million by the time of the primary.

And in the open seat in Assembly District 43, Ardy Kassakhian and Laura Friedman were also neck and neck with 42% of precincts reporting.

The California Charter Schools Assn. Advocates, an affiliate of the association itself, has already demonstrated it’s ready to spend big in that race, having dropped $1.4 million in the primary alone to support Friedman and oppose Kassakhian.

Update, June 8, 1:59 p.m.: This post was updated to reflect that the California Charter Schools Assn.'s independent expenditure committee has spent money in Assembly District 43.

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Wednesday’s front page of the Los Angeles Times

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Isadore Hall served with subpoena at election night party

State Sen. Isadore Hall (D-Compton) was met by a process server at his congressional campaign’s election party in San Pedro on Tuesday night, and was served with a subpoena in a lawsuit over a real estate deal, CBS 2-TV reported. Hall, who has been accused by opponent Nanette Barragán of campaign finance violations, is leading Barragán in early returns for South L.A.'s 44th Congressional District seat.

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Election returns yield some unexpected results

With 62% of precincts reporting in Orange County:

And with just 15% precincts reporting in the San Fernando Valley:

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Cardenas wins 29th Congressional District primary

U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Los Angeles) secured the top spot in the 29th Congressional District primary Tuesday night.

At midnight, former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon and retired military officer Joe Shammas were still competing for second place and the other spot on the November ballot, according to the Associated Press.

With 27% of the vote counted, Alarcon had 11% of the vote and had Shammas 15%.

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Incumbent leads in heated O.C. supervisors race

In the race for Orange County’s First District seat, incumbent Supervisor Andrew Do led in early returns Tuesday night, surging ahead of opponents Michele Martinez and Phat Bui.

Do, going into his 17th month on the Board of Supervisors, had won more than 40% of the votes by 10:30 p.m., according to a count of absentee ballots from the county’s Registrar of Voters.

Martinez, a Santa Ana councilwoman, claimed nearly 30%, and Bui, a Garden Grove councilman, had won 21% of votes, according to the early results.

Experts predicted that Do and Bui -- the two highest-profile candidates in the race -- would split the Vietnamese American vote in an area where immigrants command a powerful presence at the polls.

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Hahn and Barger ahead in L.A. County supervisor races

U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro) held a large early lead Tuesday night in the primary race for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, but it was not yet clear whether she would garner the majority needed to avoid a November runoff.

In a second county contest, Kathryn Barger, chief of staff to the current supervisor, was the top vote-getter in initial results. She was followed by state Sen. Bob Huff, with former Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian close behind. That contest appears almost certainly headed for a runoff.

This year’s election represents the second phase of a major shift on the Board of Supervisors brought on by term limits approved by voters in 2002.

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Two Democrats will challenge each other for California’s U.S. Senate seat

Loretta Sanchez
(AP)

California voters made history on Tuesday in the race for the U.S. Senate, sending two Democrats to a November runoff and denying a Republican a spot on the fall ballot for the first time since the state’s first direct election of senators in 1914.

State Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris won the largest share of the vote and the title of winner in the primary. With 37 percent of precincts reporting, Harris led Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez by 24 percentage points.

Under California’s relatively new top-two primary rules, the two Democratic women will square off on Nov. 8 – a contest that pits Harris’ strength as the party favorite against Sanchez’s potential appeal to Republicans, unaffiliated voters and Latinos.

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In Santa Monica, Bernie Sanders vows to fight on

Sanders said he expects the gap between him and Hillary Clinton in California to diminish as more returns come in and says he will take his fight to the last primary, which is next Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Sanders avoided hitting Clinton during the speech and congratulated her on her wins tonight. Instead, he focused on Trump.

With more than a third of the votes counted, the gap between Sanders and Clinton is more than 20 points.

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Harris says ‘California has spoken,’ vows to conduct a positive Senate campaign

California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris fires up supporters after being declared the first place finisher in California's U.S. Senate primary election.
(Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times)

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris took the stage just after 10 p.m. at the Dulancey Street Foundation clubhouse in San Francisco to hoots and cheers.

“California has spoken,” Harris told the crowd after being declared the first place finisher in California’s U.S. Senate primary election.

Harris warned that it would be a difficult five months before the November election, and inferred that the nation would be overwhelmed by the divisive, racially-charged politics of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“Our unity is our strength. Our diversity is our power,” Harris said in her brief 10-minute speech. “We understand that we have so many challenges as a country and we are prepared to lead.”

Harris said she is prepared to pass comprehensive immigration reform, combat climate change, reform the criminal justice system and address income inequality.

Afterward, Harris said she plans to run a positive campaign. When asked about whether Democratic rival Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange poses a serious threat, Harris brushed the question aside, saying she plans to stay focused on the many critical issues facing the country.

At Delancey’s, which is above the Bayside restaurant of the same name, the clubhouse was overflowing with Harris supporters. A party-like atmosphere took hold after Associated Press declared her the first place winner earlier in the evening.

Wine flowed freely, and selfies were taken in abundance as the crowd waited for Harris to take the stage.

Silicon Valley technology executive Ken Coleman, who has supported Harris since she was San Francisco’s district attorney, marveled at the prospect of Harris becoming only the second African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

“We are very excited to be here, where there’s the possibility of an African American woman being elected to the Senate. If not, an Hispanic woman Senator,” said Coleman, chairman of Saama Technology. “That says a lot about how far we have come.”

Democratic state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who has endorsed Harris for Senate, said he had expected the attorney general to dominate the primary and doesn’t think she’ll have any trouble winning in November.. Harris was endorsed by the California Democratic Party and Gov. Jerry Brown.

“I’m not surprised,” said Jones. “She’s a representative of the best of California. She’s been a marvelous attorney general and she’ll be an exceptional senator.”

Within a half hour after Harris’s speech, the clubhouse was emptying fast. Outside, Harris’s supporters blended in with disappointed San Francisco Giants fans, who just saw their team lose to the Boston Red Sox at AT&T Park just blocks away.

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Correa wins 46th Congressional District primary

Former state Sen. Lou Correa won the 46th Congressional District primary election Tuesday. While the second-place finisher has not been determined, former state Sen. Joe Dunn, one of the strongest fundraisers in the race to replace Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Orange), was not expected to land in the top three.

Correa and Dunn had received more money than the rest of the candidates combined. As of midnight, the race to second place and a spot on the ballot in November was between Republican Bob Peterson and Democrat Bao Nguyen.

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Loretta Sanchez declares victory as second-place finisher in U.S. Senate primary

No media outlet has yet called the race for the second-place finish in the U.S. Senate primary, but Loretta Sanchez has declared victory. The Associated Press earlier called the first-place finish for Kamala Harris.

With about 33% of precincts reporting, Sanchez has just over 16% of the vote. Her closest rival for second place, Duf Sundheim, has 9.4%. The first- and second-place finishers face a runoff in November.

“We’re excited tonight, we’ve looked at the numbers, we know we’re going to be there and we’re just going to start working tomorrow toward November,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said increased turnout in the November general election will make up the difference between her and Harris — who currently has 41 percent of the primary vote. They are both Democrats.

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Scenes from the Hillary Clinton victory party

Donors, supporters, volunteers, campaign leaders and a group of Clinton surrogates were at the Edison in downtown Los Angeles to watch the results come in tonight. She is leading in early returns in California, and declared victory in the Democratic primary early this evening in a speech from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Southern California Democrats including Rep. Maxine Waters, Supervisor Hilda Solis, Rep. Brad Sherman and Mayor Eric Garcetti celebrated Clinton’s status as the presumptive nominee:

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Spotted in Santa Monica: Sanders tattoo

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Knight will face Caforio in 25th Congressional District race

U.S. Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) won the 25th Congressional District primary Tuesday night and will face off against attorney Bryan Caforio in November, according to the Associated Press.

Democrats are eager to oust Knight, considered to be one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents in the House.

Caforio, who was backed by the national Democratic party, beat Democrat Lou Vince to come in second.

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The power of voting, so to speak, is missing in Orange County

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For some voters still waiting in line after polls close, patience is a virtue

A small group of voters in downtown Los Angeles had to wait an hour to vote after polls closed Tuesday when their polling station ran out of Democratic ballots.

Humberto Jacobo, 37, arrived at the small rec room at the Hayward Manor Apartments on 6th Street at 7 p.m. only to discover there were no ballots available for registered Democrats.

For the better part of two hours, a group of about 15 to 30 voters waited as apologetic poll workers tried to get officials to bring more ballots, “but they never did,” he said.

The voters “weren’t really complaining at all,” Jacobo said, including him. “I wanted my vote to count.” Finally, the group voted on yellow emergency ballots, he said.

Shortly after 9 p.m., the last of the voters had left, and a poll worker declined to comment to The Times as she cleaned up the station with other volunteers.

Kyle Bolden, a 35-year-old professional guitarist, wrote to me in a direct message: “Well, went to vote at Millikan Middle School in Sherman Oaks. Got there around 6:40 pm. Went in, got in line at my designated table. Then one of the [poll] workers told me that they had run [out] of Democratic ballots. So, I had to wait about 20 minutes before another [poll] worker showed up with the ballots. People were kind of irritated, but they did vote nonetheless.”

And Kenneth Huang, a 31-year-old digital marketing manager, told me in a phone interview that when he got to his polling place at Burbank City Hall at 7:50 p.m., it had run out of Democratic ballots.

So poll workers offered him a crossover Democratic ballot for nonpartisan voters or a write-in ballot.

“There wasn’t any other choice left.”

He was confused by what it might mean if he voted on a crossover ballot, so he took the write-in ballot. He said there were a couple of other people facing the same choice who were also confused.

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Dancing to victory?

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Follow California primary results on our interactive map

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Sacramento’s new mayor is the former leader of the state Senate

Darrell Steinberg, who served for six years as leader of the state Senate, was elected mayor of Sacramento on Tuesday night after a campaign in which his closest rival attempted to hang that long political resume around Steinberg’s neck.

Unofficial returns showed Steinberg, 56, besting seven other contenders for the capital city’s top job. Under city rules, his 60% of the vote means he won’t have to run again in November.

Steinberg, who launched his campaign last fall, had only one major challenger: Angelique Ashby, a city council member who argued that she -- not Steinberg -- best understood the city’s current needs.

Steinberg will succeed Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who led the effort to keep the Sacramento Kings but leaves office under new criticism over 1996 allegations of molestation made by a 16-year old girl.

City politics is where Steinberg’s career began, serving on the city council before being elected to the state Assembly in 1998.

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Early returns show voter support for state anti-corruption measure

In the latest backlash to a series of legislative scandals, early election returns Tuesday showed California voters approving a ballot measure that would allow the state Assembly and Senate to suspend members without pay for misconduct.

The ballot measure would allow the Assembly and Senate to suspend a member of its house without pay based on a two-thirds vote of that house. Only a vote by the Assembly would be needed to suspend an assemblymember, and the same would be true in the Senate.

James Mayer, president and CEO of California Forward, a government accountability group, a leading proponent, welcomed the support of Proposition 50, which was placed on the ballot by the Legislature as an amendment to the state Constitution.

“It puts the Senate and the Assembly in a better place to respond to another ethical problem should it arise,” Mayer said.

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Valadao declared winner in 21st Congressional District primary

Among the Democrats hoping to challenge the incumbent this fall, Daniel T. Parra, a Fowler city councilman, was ahead with 21% of the vote and 22% of precincts. Parra was a computer systems analyst for more than 20 years.

Emilio Huerta, son of labor icon Dolores Huerta, was trailing Parra with 18% of the vote.

Huerta is a labor lawyer and worked for the United Farm Workers union that his mother co-founded. He hoped to rely on building a grassroots campaign base stemming from his family’s roots in the area and maintaining focus on economic issues as well as immigration.

Valadao is considered vulnerable this fall.

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Intense emotions at Sanders rally in Santa Monica

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Loretta Sanchez’s family and supporters dissect votes as returns roll in

There was an air of excited anticipation and anxious chatter at Loretta Sanchez’s election night party. As the campaign awaited results, Sanchez’s mother sat front and center.

Friends and supporters filtered by to greet Maria Macias through the evening, saying, “Hi, Mom,” and kissing her on the cheek.

Next to her, supporter Gilbert Andrew Garcia mused, “When was the last time Southern California had a senator?” (It was John Seymour, who was appointed by Gov. Pete Wilson in 1991 to the seat Wilson had left empty by becoming governor.)

“It’s been a long time,” said Jayne Munoz, a friend and longtime supporter of Sanchez.

The two of them refreshed election returns on their phones, which showed Kamala Harris ahead at 40% and Sanchez holding at about 16% with 13% of precincts reporting.

Republican Duf Sundheim had about 10% of the vote.

“That’s worrying,” Munoz said. “I expected him to have nothing.”

Munoz said she made sure to wear a Sanchez sticker to her yoga class this morning. Asked whether she lined up any Sanchez voters, she said, “I know I did. One woman said, ‘You earned my vote.’”

“We’re going to make it, we’re going to make it,” Garcia said.

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Kamala Harris finishes first in U.S. Senate primary

California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris was declared the top vote-getter Tuesday night in the state’s open race for the U.S. Senate, as a bevy of primary candidates competed for the other spot on the fall ballot.

With 13% of precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race for Harris, 51, who was long seen as the front-runner in a crowded field of 34 candidates.

The most prominent challenger, Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange, is a Democrat like Harris. Should they finish in the top two spots once all the votes are counted, it would mark the first time in a statewide election in which a Republican failed to make the November ballot.

Sanchez was second in early returns, followed by a trio of Republicans: former state GOP chairman Duf Sundheim, attorney Phil Wyman, and former GOP chairman Tom Del Beccaro.

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Sanchez arrives in Anaheim: ‘We’re getting ready for round two!’

U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez arrived at her election night party at Anaheim Brewery shortly after 8:30 p.m., taking the stage as her supporters shouted, “Loretta! Loretta! Loretta!”

“It might be a little while before we have results,” she said after thanking supporters.

“It’s been an exciting campaign, and we’re getting ready for round two!”

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Labor leader on California Senate race: ‘Two Democrats, two friends’

Nick Celona of the Seafarers International Union backs Kamala Harris for U.S. Senate.
(Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times)

Democratic Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who has endorsed state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris’ senate bid, expects a face-off between Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Orange) in the November election.

Jones said it will be extremely difficult for rival Sanchez to make up ground on Harris among Democrats, especially since the California Democratic Party and Gov. Jerry Brown have both endorsed Harris.

Jones also dismissed speculation that Sanchez will be able to court Republicans and moderates if she makes it past the primary election. Moderate Republicans and independents who are turned off by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump might skip the election all together, Jones said.

Combine that with Harris’ support among labor unions and Silicon Valley technology companies and it’s hard to see any cracks in her campaign, he said.

“What are the vulnerabilities?” said Jones, who was attending Harris’ election night party in San Francisco Tuesday. “I think Kamala wins.”

Nick Celona, an assistant vice president of the Seafarers International Union, said he’s known Harris for more than two decades and considers her the strongest and most qualified candidate in the Senate race. The union recently held a fundraiser for the attorney general’s Senate campaign.

Celona said Sanchez has been a friend to both his union and labor in general, but in the tough business of politics you have to pick a side.

“We love her, too,” Celona said of Sanchez. “Two Democrats, two friends. You know, it’s tough.”

Still, the California Federation of Labor endorsed Harris in the Senate race, an strong indication of her overall strength among labor groups, he said.

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Harris and Sanchez have early leads in California Senate primary

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Hillary Clinton likely to be far ahead in early returns and here’s why

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Tough time at the polls today for many California voters

California voters faced a tough time at the polls Tuesday, with many voters saying they have encountered broken machines, polling sites that opened late and incomplete voter rolls, particularly in Los Angeles County.

The result? Instead of a quick in-and-out vote, many California voters were handed the dreaded pink provisional ballot — which takes longer to fill out, longer for election officials to verify and which tends to leave voters wondering whether their votes will be counted.

This year’s presidential primary race has already been one of the most bitter in recent memory. Before Tuesday’s vote, Bernie Sanders’ supporters accused the media of depressing Democratic turnout by calling the nomination for Hillary Clinton before polls opened in California.

Those feelings haven’t gotten any less raw Tuesday as hundreds of Californians complained of voting problems to the national nonpartisan voter hotline run by the Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights Under Law.

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Loretta Sanchez election party underway in Anaheim

Supporters of Loretta Sanchez munched on tacos and sipped on beers at Anaheim Brewery in the popular Packing District area of the city as they awaited the Senate candidate’s arrival.

A big-screen television set up in one corner was tuned to Hillary Clinton’s remarks, but the volume remained low and the crowd mostly remained low-key as she spoke.

A short while later, glasses clinked and cheers of “Loretta! Loretta! Loretta!” broke out, but didn’t last long.

Volunteers and campaign staff exchanged hugs and warm greetings as they waited.

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Sometimes voters just forget who they voted for

Who did David Lai vote for?

Beats him.

Lai, a 59-year-old from Orcutt in Santa Barbara County, really couldn’t recall who he cast a ballot for in the hot nine-candidate race to fill a seat vacated by the retirement of Democratic Rep. Lois Capps.

“Matt something?” he said during a work break near downtown San Luis Obispo.

Perhaps it was Matt Kokkonen, a financial advisor and perennial candidate for elected office? He is the only Matt in the race.

“No, wasn’t him,” Lai said.

After a couple seconds of thought, Lai said he couldn’t remember.

It was some Republican.

His co-worker, Kyle Cuzick, 25, of Nipomo, said he didn’t even vote in the congressional race.

Another voter, who declined to share her name out of embarrassment, also forgot who she voted for even though she was just walking out of her polling place in San Luis Obispo.

When a reporter ran through the names of all the candidates, she remembered.

“The female,” she said, “the Democrat.”

It was Helene Schneider, the Democratic mayor of Santa Barbara, she acknowledged before asking to remain anonymous. She works as a teacher.

Another male voter who didn’t want to share his name was in the same boat. He couldn’t remember until a reporter mentioned the ballot designations of the Democrats. He had voted for William Ostrander, a farmer.

“I’m not the most educated voter,” he said sheepishly.

Other voters remembered the near past just fine.

James Thurman, a 63-year-old musician, voted for Democratic Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal.

So did Greg Gillett, a 38-year-old attorney from San Luis Obispo, who was struggling to chose among Carbajal, Schneider and Republican Justin Fareed.

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This voter thought he was ‘independent,’ only to discover he’s still an American Independent

In the weeks leading up to the primary, we wrote about thousands of voters who appeared to be mistakenly registered for the American Independent Party, a little-known third party with an ultra-conservative platform.

Since then, tens of thousands of AIP voters have left the party.

Ben Patao was not one of them, apparently.

Patao, 45, says he first discovered in the 2012 primary that he had inadvertently registered for the party instead of as a no party preference voter.

He immediately changed it, he said, and was confirmed as a non-partisan that November.

But when he went into his polling place in Los Angeles Tuesday morning, he says, poll workers told him he was still registered with the party.

“I have no idea why they didn’t change it,” Patao said. He wrote in Clinton’s name instead, hoping for the best.

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Why some district results won’t be available tonight

The Associated Press has already announced a primary election win for more than 60 California candidates ahead of the state’s polls closing at 8 p.m.

Open primary races with two candidates or fewer are considered uncontested by the AP, and their results will not be tabulated and released tonight.

We’ll be focusing on some of the more contested races tonight and will be covering the uncontested results as they come.

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) has no opponent. The other already declared congressional races all have two candidates.

Five state Senate seat results have already been called, including the 33rd District in Long Beach, where Sen. Ricardo Lara is uncontested.

Forty-six Assembly races are already called, including 14 that won’t be contested in November.

Check out the results here

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Voter voices from Little Tokyo: Splits between Clinton and Sanders

A polling place in the heart of downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo was busy all morning, with a steady stream of voters still waiting in line at 10:30 a.m.

Poll workers spoke multiple languages and assisted voters who had trouble figuring out which ballot to choose.

Asked about her vote by a reporter, Woo Inok opened her ballot, printed in Korean. She pointed to No. 13 and tapped her finger twice: “Clinton. Clinton,” she said.

A friend acted as an interpreter and said Inok chose the former secretary of State because she has “many experiences in politics.” She said her friend does not like Donald Trump because “he lies.”

Kelsey Iino, 36, changed her voter registration to Democratic to be able to vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders today. “I like his liberal ideas,” she said. “He encompasses all of America. I’m hopeful.”

She was not dissuaded by the mathematical certainty that Clinton had enough delegates to defeat Sanders in the primary.

If Clinton is the nominee, Iino said she will likely vote for a third-party candidate. In 2000, she voted for Ralph Nader.

“We’ll see what happens,” she said, adding that she won’t be casting a vote for Trump.

“The racism he’s inspired disgusts me,” she said. “He brings out one-sided, ignorant people.”

Noba Jones said she got to know the Clintons through a Chicago jazz connection many years ago.

“I came out t