Today marks the deadline to qualify for state and local offices in California as we hurdle towards June primaries. While we're still waiting for the official lists of candidates in all districts from the Secretary of State, IVN has been watching closely for independent candidates running for California elected office.
There is a handful of strong independent candidates emerging to run for seats all over the state, bringing a welcome range of nonpartisan viewpoints. It remains to be seen how their campaigns will unfold and whether voters will connect with their messages.
This year's elections in California will work a bit differently than in the past. Open primaries, as passed with Proposition 14 in 2010, will take place on June 5th. With open primaries, anyone regardless of party preference may vote for the candidate of their choice. Decline-to-state voters, or those with "no party preference" will be able to vote for any candidate, except for the GOP Presidential race which is closed to Republicans only. The top two vote getters in each Senate, Congressional, State Senate and State Assembly race will advance to a run-off on the November ballot.
In addition to nonpartisan primaries, independent redistricting has opened up opportunities on California's electoral map. Public Policy Institute of California's study on state political trends found interesting data on the potential influence of independent and centrist voters. Geographically, over half of California's population reside in areas that identify as either "Moderate Liberal" and "Conservative Liberal". Independents are 20% of the state's registered voters. This translates to a real opportunity for independent candidates, or moderate partisans, to engage voters.
Here is a round-up of California's most notable no party preference candidates for 2012 elections:
CD 8: Anthony Adams
District: CD 8
Former Republican Assemblyman and current lawyer, Anthony Adams announced in February he would run as "no party preference" in the new 8th Congressional District. He said, at the time, "From the time I was a child, I pledged Allegiance to the United States of America. All of us have said the same words since we entered Kindergarten. We did not pledge allegiance to a political party. Democrats and Republicans are putting their party ahead of our Country. I believe there is a better way." He's running in the largest district in the state, and also one of the most crowded with multiple Republican hopefuls. Decline to State registration hovers at 18%, giving Adams a chance if Republicans end up splitting primary votes.
CD 24: Matt Boutté
District: CD 24
Matt Boutté threw his hat in the ring in competitive CD 24, pitting him against incumbent Democrat Rep. Lois Capps and former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado. Not bad for a 26-year-old. He's already pledged to not take PAC or super interest money and will not run negative adds. His candidacy adds another layer to the already interesting race in Santa Barbara and San Lois Obispo, where IVN declared was crucial to appeal to Decline to State voters prior to his entry. With an independent in the mix, this is a must-watch contest.
CD 10: Chad Condit
District: CD 10
Chad Condit's entry into the race in CD 10 garnered national attention. He's running in the same area his father, former Rep. Gary Condit, served. Unlike many other independent candidates, he has considerable name recognition. Whether that helps or hurts, is unknown. In an interview with IVN, Condit affirmed his commitment to his district and is gearing his campaign towards heavy grassroots efforts on his home turf. Prior to running he served as Senior Legislative Assistant for the State Assembly.
CD 52: Jack Doyle
District: CD 52
Jack Doyle is a former two-term Mayor of Santee and as retired Navy Reserves, is the only veteran in the race. This is sizable advantage, as the military industry is a hugely important part of the region. Decline to State voters make up 27% of this San Diego district and polling done by IVN has shown an independent candidate could do extremely well in this area.
CD 49: Dick Eiden
District: CD 49
Dick Eiden is an independent candidate in the 49th Congressional District, taking on Republican Chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Rep. Darrell Issa. It will be an uphill battle as Mr. Eiden is running as a progressive in a safely conservative area, albeit slightly less so due to redistricting. Mr. Eiden's background is in activism and law.
AD 20: Mark Green
- Mark Green, AD 20
District: AD 20
Independent candidate Mark Green has extensive experience in local and regional government, including Mayor of Union City, his hometown. The Bay Area Assembly seat he's running for is safely Democratic, with nearly 55% of voters registered with the party. However, Decline to State voter population is healthy at nearly 23%. His campaign website includes a long list of endorsements, so it appears he has considerable local support.
CD 26: Linda Parks
District: CD 26
The lone female independent candidate recently reregistered from Republican to "no party preference" which could propel her to a great showing in June primaries. She's moderate and has experience as Ventura County Supervisor. The race in CD 26 is crowded with Democrats Jess Herrera, David Cruz Thayne and Assemblywoman Julia Brownley. Republicans include State Sen. Tony Strickland and Akiva Werbalowsky. Decline to State voters make up 18% of voter registration.
AD 28: Chad Walsh
District: AD 28
By far the most well-funded to date of the diverse field of California independents, Chad Walsh has launched a well thought out, well supported bid for State Assembly in the 28th. Mr. Walsh is a Silicon Valley professional and is drawing much of his support from that community. His priorities are focused on the economy, growing businesses, quality education and California state budget issues. Although AD 28 is considered solidly Democrat, by combining Decline to State and Republican registered voters Chad Walsh could capitalize on nearly 52% of the vote. Incumbent Democratic Assemblyman Paul Fong would then be left with 43% registered Democrats, if that.