Wake Us When It’s Over – A Few Takeaways from the California Primary

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Despite hundreds of millions spent on campaigns, the California primary was a sleepy affair.  As of this writing, about 2.7 million votes remain to be counted.  Here are a few takeaways from the vote.

Legendary journalists Jules Witcover and the late Jack Germond, famous political columnists from an era past, wrote several terrific books chronicling presidential campaigns.  I was reminded of one of the titles of their books when thinking about this year’s California primary – wake us when it’s over!

Despite hundreds of millions spent on campaigns, the California primary was a sleepy affair.  As of this writing, about 2.7 million votes remain to be counted.  Here are a few takeaways from the vote:

No, California is not on the verge of electing Sen. Garvey

National pundits have been talking up Steve Garvey’s candidacy since he announced his candidacy.  Some say that his surprise top 2 finish in the U.S. Senate race is a sign that he could be competitive this fall.

Garvey made the top two because Adam Schiff and his allies spent over $10 million to “pick his opponent.”  It’s a proven strategy: by nudging your weakest opponent into the runoff, you can secure a November victory. The latest UC Berkeley IGS poll proves this. Schiff starts out leading Garvey by 15 percent.  Democratic candidates combined received 57.7 percent of the total Senate vote in a vote with a more favorable Republican voter universe.  With Garvey’s campaign quiet for much of the primary, don’t expect him to suddenly run a competitive campaign.  He’s still a long shot.

Limbo of Newsom’s statewide homeless bond shows Californians want results

Gov. Newsom spent tens of millions promoting Prop. 1, a $6.38 billion bond measure to build homeless housing and mental health treatment facilities.  Even though homelessness was the second most important issue for voters in the CBS News exit poll, Prop. 1’s fate is at a knife’s edge, leading by just 30,000 votes statewide.

Why is Prop. 1 struggling despite little opposition?  Voters want results.  As I’ve written before about Newsom’s Project Homekey spending, the state is spending billions on homelessness programs and new housing.  However, homelessness is worse than ever.  In voting no, voters sent Sacramento a message that they are fed up with rampant homelessness, and are tired of billions being spent with nothing to show for it.

As PRI’s Kerry Jackson and Dr. Wayne Winegarden have written previously, “the progressive policy framework has made no progress on homelessness (and) it shouldn’t be too much to ask lawmakers to rethink their premises.”

The California primary results also jeopardize lawmaker plans for up to $26 billion in additional bonds, including a $10 billion “affordable housing” bond measure and a $14-$15 billion school construction bond. Voters rejected a statewide school infrastructure bond in 2020, and don’t look like they are in the mood to go on another borrowing spree in November.

Voters are fed up with California’s growing crime problem

While Sacramento politicians are quick to defend Prop. 47, California voters made at the polls that they are tired of rising crime in their communities as politicians defend the status quo.

Consider that liberal San Francisco voters approved measures giving police more authority and getting tough on drug users.  Embattled Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón garnered just 22 percent of the vote.  Even Asm. Reggie Jones-Sawyer, recently ousted as chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee after blocking anti-human trafficking legislation, came in last place in his Los Angeles City Council campaign.

Voters clearly want Sacramento to chart a different policy course to increase public safety in their neighborhoods.  Lawmakers would wise be to read PRI’s study “Paradise Lost” and, as its author Steve Smith says, “end the policy mistakes that are putting dangerous offenders out on the streets and exposing every Californian to becoming a crime victim.”

Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s vice president of marketing and communications.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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