where the top two vote-getters regardless of party affiliation advanced to the November ballot, local candidates focused their campaigns on courting the independent vote and closing the bipartisan gap.
This year’s June Primary was the first contest in the new “top-two” system, intended to allow voters more moderate options. Only contested for legislative and House races, most battles will still pit Republican versus Democrat come November.
But local races revealed how much of an impact the “top-two” system had on election results.
In the 48th Assembly District, Republican was the surprise victor over incumbent Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina). In a largely Democratic Latino district, Gardner narrowly took the Primary victory with 45 percent of the votes over Hernandez’s 43 percent. was low and some analysts suggest third party candidates siphoned votes away from the top two, but Gardner believes independent voters and those willing to cross party lines contributed to his success.
“People did cross party lines to vote for me and that’s because we had a clear message - to put California back in order,” said Gardner. “We need to create jobs and a business-friendly environment.”
Republican candidate believes the 4.02 percent that separated him and top vote-getter (D-Santa Fe Springs) in the 32nd Congressional District was the result of a closing bipartisan gap.
Although his district is Democratic and Latino-majority, Glendora native Miller said he would actively seek the independent and third party voters that make up 25 percent of the 32nd district.
“The fact that [Napolitano]and I spent nearly nothing compared to her shows that this election is winnable for me,” said Miller. According to state records, Napolitano’s campaign spent $337,026 in contributions, while Miller spent $5,599 by May 16.
Napolitano said she was unfazed by the close election and attributed the close numbers to light campaigning.
Current commitments as a Congresswoman for the 38th Congressional District and her husband’s illness kept Napolitano from focusing on her campaign prior to Tuesday’s primaries, she said.
But as the election heads to the November polls, Napolitano is confident she can win voters from both sides of the political spectrum.
“I’ve always had the bipartisan vote,” said Napolitano. “If you look at my past elections in the 38th district, you’ll see that my voting turnout has been 77 percent to 74 percent in a 60 percent Latino, Democratic district. So I’ve had crossover appeal for over 20 years.”
But Miller called out Napolitano as an example of cronyism in D.C. who, Miller says, special interest voting has kept in office for nearly 14 years.
“The incumbent politicians in both political parties have created this problem,” said Miller. “People are more engaged and are seeing that [Republicans and Democrats aren’t] doing what they said they were going to do. They’re seeing these politicians were saying ‘x’ and now they’re doing ‘y.’ People are seeing now that maybe they should look at the candidate and not the [party label] next to their name.”