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Top California State Senate Races to Watch

by Lucy Ma, published


California’s new “top two primary” is right around the corner, and Independent voters have no shortage of exciting races to follow going into June 5th.

A spotlight has been cast on the upcoming election, and for good reason. Political pundits are prone to saying “this is the election to watch”, but this time around many agree that for California this could really be it.

Not only will this be the first time Decline to State voters, a whopping 21.3% of the state’s electorate, have a say in which candidates make the November runoff- DTS voters are likely to cast the deciding vote in several newly redrawn districts throughout the Golden State.

California’s Legislature is slated for a major turnover, 80 state assembly seats (35 of them open), and 20 odd-numbered state senate seats are all up for election. The results from 2012 could very well shape the state’s political landscape for years to come.

Here are four California State Senate races where Independent voters could really make a difference:

State Senate District 5:

Not one, but three experienced elected officials are vying for votes in this newly drawn San Joaquin County seat. Democratic State Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani will be facing off against Republican State Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, and Republican County Supervisor Leroy Ornellas this June. Democrats have a very slim voter registration advantage, but the race is expected to be a tossup. Over 16% of those registered to vote self identify as “No Party Preference” or “Other”.

State Senate District 15:

SD 15 is a prime example of how DTS voters will help to shape the election, even in districts where there is a clear preference for one major party. Democrats have a considerable voter registration advantage over Republicans in the district, so much so that the race is between current Democratic State Assemblyman Jim Beall and fellow Democrat Joe Coto (a former CA State Assemblyman). Nearly 28% of those currently registered to vote in the June 5th primary are registered under “No Party Preference” or “Other”- an important voter bloc for both candidates.

State Senate District 19:

This will be an interesting three-way battle between former Democratic State Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, fellow Democrat Jason Hodge (a firefighter and Oxnard Harbor District Commissioner), and Republican Mike Stoker (a former Santa Barbara County Supervisor). Voter registration numbers tend to favor Democrats over Republicans, but over 20% of the electorate registered as “No Party Preference” or “Other”. Independent voters will have a huge say in who makes it to the November runoff.

State Senate District 39:

SD 39 has one of the largest Independent voter contingents in the state (over 26%), so it goes without saying that they will be a primary focus for any candidate hoping to make it through to the general. Under the newly drawn lines, Senate District 39 could very well be in play. Democrats have lost a bit of their voter registration advantage- which has narrowed down to under eight percentage points. This promises to be an exciting race between Democratic State Assemblyman Marty Block, Democratic challenger Patrick Marsh (a political newcomer), and former Assembly Republican Leader George Plescia.

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