California’s Plausible Independent Candidates
Posted by Chris Nguyen on June 4, 2012
Traditionally, after a California primary election, the top vote-getter from each party would advance to the general election, so you could have one Republican, one Democrat, one American Independent, one Libertarian, one Green, and one Peace and Freedom. An independent (known as a Decline-to-State or DTS back then) could only get on the ballot by petition with the signatures of literally thousands of registered voters. Well, Prop 14 changed all that. Now, it’s just as easy for an independent (known as No Party Preference or NPP) to get on the ballot as a candidate affiliated with a party. If the independent is one of the top two vote-getters, they advance to November’s quasi-runoff that pits the top two candidates against each other in the general election (even if somebody gets more than 50% of the vote in June, there’s still a November runoff required; indeed, even if there’s only one candidate in June, they still advance to a November runoff where there’s only one candidate on the ballot).
So here’s a look at the dozen most plausible independent candidates running in California in tomorrow’s election. (Yes, that’s right we’re less than 23 hours away from the polls opening in the primary!)
(Party registrations do not add up to 100% in the figures below because I have not listed third party registration.)
Could Be Elected
- 8th Congressional District: Former Assemblyman Anthony Adams
Former Republican Assemblyman Anthony Adams is running as an independent candidate. In addition to Adams, there are two Democrats and ten Republicans running. Among the Republicans are a State Assemblyman (Paul Cook), a County Supervisor (Brad Mitzelfelt), a Mayor (Ryan McEachron of Victorville), and a Councilwoman (Angela Valles of Victorville). CD-8′s registered voters are: 41.8% Republicans, 32.5% Democrats, and 19.5% NPPs. It’s entirely possible that the ten Republicans could split enough of the Republican vote to allow the NPP Adams to advance to November against a Democrat and presumably win in November due to the plurality Republicans’ preference for an independent over a Democrat.
- 26th Congressional District: Supervisor Linda Parks
In this open seat, the three leading candidates are State Senator Tony Strickland (R-Moorpark), State Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), and Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks (NPP-Thousand Oaks). (98.3% of CD-26′s registered voters live in Ventura County.) Strickland is the sole Republican, and Parks is the sole NPP, but Brownley is one of four Democrats in the race. In CD-26, Democrats make up 40.2% of registered voters, Republicans 35.7%, and NPP 19.2%. If the Democratic vote is divided enough among the four Democrats or Parks eats up enough slices of the major party votes, this could send Parks into November. In November, she could win, as this is a swing seat. In a Brownley-Parks race, a Republican-NPP coalition could put Supervisor Parks in Congress. In a Strickland-Parks race, a Democratic-NPP coalition could put Supervisor Parks in Congress.
- 28th Assembly District: College District Trustee Chad Walsh
Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) faces exactly one challenger to his re-election bid: West Valley-Mission Community College District Trustee Chad Walsh (NPP-Los Gatos). In AD-28, Democrats make up 43.0% of registered voters, Republicans are 26.3%, and NPPs are 27.1%. If Trustee Walsh can cobble together a solid Republican-NPP coalition or peel off enough of the Democratic vote, Walsh could upset Fong’s re-election bid to become the first independent elected to the Assembly in over half-a-century (several major party legislators, like Juan Arambula and Nathan Fletcher, became independents during their tenures but none were elected as independents). Unseating an incumbent is a tall order, but it’s at least plausible for Trustee Walsh to pull it off.
Will Likely Advance to November But Won’t Be Elected
- 19th Congressional District: Jay Blas Jacob Cabrera
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) has three opponents in her bid for re-election: Republican Robert Murray, Republican Phat Nguyen, and NPP Jay Blas Jacob Cabrera. Democrats make up 47.3% of CD-19′s registered voters, Republicans 22.6%, and NPPs are 26.3%. With the Republican vote split two ways and NPP voters already outnumbering Republicans, it’s likely that Cabrera advances to November, where he’ll be stomped by incumbent Lofgren.
- 23rd Congressional District: Terry Phillips
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) has two opponents in his bid for re-election: fellow Republican Eric Parker and NPP Terry Phillips, a radio reporter from a local NPR affiliate. In CD-23, Republicans are 46.9% of registered voters, Democrats are 29.7%, and NPPs are 18.4%. If he captures the votes of enough Democrats and NPP voters unwilling to vote for a Republican, Phillips will advance to November but lose handily to McCarthy.
- 29th Congressional District: David Hernandez
In this open seat, City Councilman Tony Cardenas (D-Los Angeles) faces off against fellow Democrat Richard Valdez and NPP David Hernandez. Democrats make up 54.6% of registered voters in CD-29, Republicans are 16.4%, and NPPs are 22.3%. If Hernandez captures the votes of enough Republicans and NPP voters unwilling to vote for a Democrat (and Valdez doesn’t eat up too much of the Democratic vote), Hernandez will advance to November but be crushed by Cardenas.
- 20th Assembly District: Mayor Mark Green
There are five candidates for the open AD-20 seat: Republican Hayward Unified School District Board Member Luis Reynoso, NPP Union City Mayor Mark Green, Democratic Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk, Democrat Jennifer Ong, and Democrat Sarabjit Kaur Cheema. In AD-20, Democrats are 54.2% of registered voters, Republicans are 17.1%, and NPPs are 22.4%. If Mayor Green captures the independent vote and/or is able to peel off enough of the Democratic or Republican vote, he could slip in to November but be defeated in his face-off against Quirk.
- 24th Assembly District: Joseph Antonelli Rosas
Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) faces three opponents: Fellow Democrat Geby Espinosa, Republican Chengzhi “George” Yang, and NPP Joseph Antonelli Rosas. In AD-24, Democrats make up 47.6% of registered voters, Republicans 21.8%, and NPPs 27.3%. If independents flock to Rosas, he could advance to November to face off against Gordon.
Decent Shot at Advancing to November
- 13th Congressional District: Marilyn M. Singleton
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) has two opponents in her bid for re-election: fellow Democrat Justin Jelincic and NPP Marilyn M. Singleton. Democrats make up 63.9% of registered voters in CD-13, Republicans are 8.6%, and NPPs are 19.9%, so if Lee holds enough of her own party’s vote, she’ll face Singleton rather than Jelincic in November and win summarily in a landslide.
- 42nd Congressional District: Curt Novak
Congressman Ken Calvert (R-Corona) has five opponents in his bid for re-election: fellow Republican Eva Jones, fellow Republican Clayton Thibodeau, Democrat Cliff Smith, Democrat Michael Williamson, and NPP Curt Novak. Republicans make up 45.2% of registered CD-42 voters, Democrats are 29.9%, and NPPs are 19.9%. If the Democratic vote is split enough, Novak could end up getting more votes than any of the Democrats and advance to November to face off against Calvert.
- 46th Congressional District: Jorge Rocha
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana) has four opponents in her bid for re-election: Republican Jerry Hayden, Republican John Cullum, Republican Pat Garcia, and NPP Jorge Rocha. Democrats make up 44.2% of registered CD-46 voters, Republicans are 31.2%, and NPPs are 20.5%. If the Republican vote is split enough, or if he peels off enough of the Republican vote, Rocha could end up getting more votes than any of the Republicans and advance to November to face off against Sanchez.
- 10th Assembly District: Joe Boswell
Assemblyman Michael Allen (D-Santa Rosa) has six opponents: San Rafael Councilman Marc Levine (a fellow Democrat), fellow Democrat Alex Easton-Brown, fellow Democrat Christian Gunderson, fellow Democrat Connie Wong, Republican Peter Mancus, and NPP Joe Boswell. In AD-10, Democrats make up 53.7% of registered voters, Republicans 19.7%, and NPPs 21.7%. If Boswell manages to peel off some of the Republican or Democratic vote, Boswell could advance to November to be crushed by Allen.