The California Primary – is the Democrat really a “Democrat”?

In this pivitol year for statewide office, voting for a candidate with “Democrat” after their name might not be enough to ensure a pro-consumer vote

Stuart Zanville
2016 June

If you’ve been following the media coverage of California’s June 7 primary election, you might think there’s only one race on the ballot.

Based on the coverage the last six months, the only races that seem to matter will decide who will be the candidates for president. Yes, I know that’s really, really important. But, if you’re looking for coverage of the important statewide races that are on the ballot, don’t bother, there hasn’t been any.

That’s too bad, because some believe that this year’s California election is the most important in decades. The statewide candidates elected this year will be in office for a long, long time, probably longer than the President of the United States.

Sorry, Hillary, Bernie, Donald, and John; it’s not about you; it’s about us. And by us, I mean consumers and the plaintiff attorneys who protect them from unsafe medicine, unsafe products and unfair business practices.

Don’t get me wrong: what happens in Washington, D.C., is critically important; but we can’t overlook what happens in Sacramento, and we have to take this election year very seriously.

It is true that Democrats hold nearly a two-thirds majority in both the state Senate and Assembly. But a number of those Democrats are so-called “Corporate Democrats” who often side with Republicans to fight any pro-consumer or pro-environment bill. It’s shameful but true; some of these Democrats put protecting corporate profits ahead of protecting people’s rights.

Nancy Peverini, Legislative Director of CAOC, our state trial lawyer association, says, “This is a pivotal election year with huge stakes. With the state’s new term limit rules giving lawmakers a dozen years in either chamber, both the Assembly and Senate are set to see nearly every seat locked up in incumbency for a decade to come.”

All 80 seats in the Assembly are up for election in 2016 and 20 of the Senate’s 40 seats will be decided. With the current district configurations favoring incumbents, many state legislators might be in office until 2028. That’s why it’s so important that we get this election right.

To complicate things further, California is in the fourth year of the Top Two Candidate Open Primary system for statewide offices. Political insiders refer to the system as the “Jungle Primary” since the rules of the jungle seem to apply: “Eat or be eaten.”

If you haven’t paid attention, all candidates for a given state or congressional office are listed on a single Primary Election ballot and voters can vote for the candidate of their choice regardless of their party. The top two vote-getters advance to the General Election in November. It doesn’t matter if one gets a majority, the top two vote-getters still advance.

Therefore, it’s possible and in some districts even likely that two Democrats will advance to the General Election in the same district.

Remember earlier when I told you about Corporate Democrats? In this Primary Election year, just voting for a candidate with “Democrat” after their name might not be enough to ensure that the person you are voting for is pro-consumer.

So unless you are a political junkie, how are you supposed to know which Democrat deserves your vote? This is where CAOC comes to the rescue. They carefully look at all of the candidates and here are their endorsements in the Southern California races for state Assembly and Senate:

  • ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 37 (Santa Barbara)

Monique Limon

Limon is a leader in education and is a strong advocate for schools and women’s issues.

  • ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 39 (San Fernando)

Patty Lopez

Lopez is the incumbent and is committed to protecting the rights of women, children, seniors and veterans.

  • ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 40 (Rancho Cucamonga)

Abigail Medina Medina has worked in education and has worked closely with patients of disabilities, veterans, seniors and victims of crime to secure them essential health services.

  • ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 47 (San Bernardino) Eloise Gomez-Reyes

Reyes was the first Latina to open her own law firm in the Inland Empire and has a distinguished record providing legal services to the community.

  • ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 48 (West Covina) Bryan Urias

Urias is a son of immigrants who has an extensive record of public service in the San Gabriel Valley.

  • ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 64 (Carson) Mike Gipson

Assembly Member Gipson has been serving the people of the 64th District his entire life as a peace officer, legislative staff, elected official and labor organizer.

  • ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 65 (Fullerton)

Sharon Quirk-Silva

Quirk-Silva is a former Councilwoman and Mayor with a reputation for solving problems by working collaboratively.

  • ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 66 (Manhattan Beach)

Al Muratsuchi

Muratsuchi is a former Assembly Member, prosecutor and Deputy Attorney General

  • SENATE DISTRICT 21 (Antelope Valley)

Johnathon Ervin

Ervin is an Iraq War veteran currently in his 18th year of service. He is a senior field engineer with Raytheon, a former member of the Lancaster Planning Commission and a school district trustee.

  • SENATE DISTRICT 25 (La Canada/ Flintridge)

Anthony Portantino

Portantino was a member of the state Assembly from 2006-12 before leaving due to term limits. He is a visiting fellow teaching Leadership at USC.

  • SENATE DISTRICT 35 (Compton)

Steve Bradford

Bradford was elected to the Assembly in 2009 and authored bills promoting clean energy and enhancing local neighborhood security. He pushed for common sense immigrant rights measures.

Stuart Zanville Stuart Zanville

Stuart Zanville is the Executive Director of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA). Contact him at (213) 487-1212 or by e-mail:

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