Golden bets: Key races for Californians on the ballot

California is often considered the first to introduce innovative, progressive laws, but the 2022 midterm elections could prove to be a showdown if Democratic turnout continues to decline.

As of Thursday, early Democratic votes were down 65% compared to last year, when Gov. Gavin Newsom faced recall, GOP Senate candidate Mark Meuser said, citing numbers from the California GOP.


Republican turnout is down 50%, but a larger majority of that party prefers in-person voting than Democrats. Sixty-two percent say absentee voting should only be done if someone has a valid reason for not showing up, compared with 16% of Democrats, the Pew Research Center found.

Voting pictures

Voters walk to a precinct at the Sierra 2 Center for the Arts and Community to cast their ballots Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Voters cast ballots in California’s primary election, setting the stage for the November races.

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

“This shows that this will be one of the lowest turnouts in California history, similar to 2014 when Jerry Brown was re-elected,” Meuser said. “There’s been a media blackout in the US governor and senate races – people aren’t getting the information.”

It is on this background Washington Examiner has prepared a voting guide for the hottest races and propositions for November 8.


Newsom is a household name synonymous with the year-long COVID-19 shutdown. He also survived an impeachment amid voter anger over school and business closures during the pandemic.

There is a second person in that race: Republican Brian Dahle, a former assemblyman. He pledged to cut red tape, lower the cost of living and improve quality of life issues such as water, infrastructure and homelessness.

Gavin Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, flanked by Attorney General Xavier Becerro, right, answers a question about a lawsuit the state is likely to file against President Donald Trump over his emergency declaration to fund the U.S.-Mexico border wall on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, Sacramento, California.

(Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

US Senate

Democratic incumbent Alex Padilla has been nominated to fill Vice President Kamala Harris’ seat in 2021. He is a former Los Angeles City Councilman and California Secretary of State. During his tenure, he added legal protections to public lands and helped shores with erosion control.

Republican Mark Meuser, a constitutional rights attorney, finished second in the jungle state’s primary. He supports ending special interest control of government and says he wants a return to where the people have a voice instead of Big Tech, Big Business and Big Pharma.


American house


This is a race where a Republican edged out a Democrat, albeit by one percentage point. Assemblyman Kevin Kiley was a prominent opponent of Newsom and even wrote the book “Recall Newsom”. He’s a staunch conservative who vilifies the left over high gas prices, declining living standards and illegal immigration. Navy surgeon Kermit Jones wants to bring a centrist approach to his party, hoping his medical background will give him an edge in the fight against high health care costs and to address issues like prices and lack of quality care.


This is a newly drawn district that is seen as a toss-up with no incumbent leadership. It’s a heavily Hispanic agricultural area where Democrats outnumber Republicans, but low voter turnout could give conservatives an advantage. Democratic Rep. Adam Gray is running against almond farmer John Duarte, who is fighting the state over water and land use rights.


Incumbent David Valadao is the only California Republican who voted to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 uprising, but he still has the support of GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy. He represents an agricultural district that is 43% Democratic. The race against centrist Democratic farmer Rudy Salas is considered a toss-up, even though Salas swept the primary.


Republican rookie Rep. Michelle Steel hopes to hold on to her seat in Orange County, which has grown increasingly blue. Both Steel and challenger Jay Chen are Asian-American and appeal to an increasingly diverse electorate. The race is seen as leaning Republican, even though Democratic registered voters are 5% higher.


Rep. Katie Porter’s star is rising in Democratic circles as she begins to play a bigger role in congressional hearings against special interests. It represents a coastal area of ‚Äč‚ÄčOrange County that used to be an intensely red zone. Challenger Scott Baugh is a longtime Republican Party leader who has served as both a council member and district chair. His longtime ties to the county could make this a close race.

Katie Porter

Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) speaks during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2022. The congresswoman called the Irvine Police Department a “disgrace” after it arrested a man. with whom she lived for allegedly assaulting a protester at an event at her town hall in July 2021.

(Andrew Harnik/AP)


Every election cycle, voters have a chance to pass new laws, some of them quirky, others that deal with substantive issues. This time is no exception.


Sports betting. Prop. 26 would allow in-person sports betting at racetracks and casinos on tribal land. Prop. 27 allows residents to bet through approved online bookmakers.


Regulation of kidney dialysis treatment centers. The state has about 650 dialysis clinics, many of which are privately run. This would require a doctor, general practitioner or physician assistant on site during treatment. Clinics would also have to report infection information.



A tax on high incomes to finance the transition to electric vehicles. Residents earning more than $2 million a year would pay a 1.75% tax to subsidize the purchase of electric vehicles, build more charging stations and fund wildfire prevention efforts.

2018 Tesla Model 3, rm

In this Sunday, July 8, 2018, photo, 2018 Model 3 sedans are charged as they are displayed outside the Tesla showroom in Littleton, Colorado.

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


Prohibition of personal sales of flavored tobacco. If passed, the bill would join a list of other anti-tobacco laws passed in the Golden State, which first banned smoking in restaurants in 1995.


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