The race for Senate District 31 in Riverside County will bear great significance to the 2012 elections. Not only will the outcome impact residents in the newly drawn district, which stretches from Corona to Moreno Valley, the race also has statewide implications. It is one of the open seats Senate Democrats need to pickup in order to reach a two-thirds majority in California’s upper house- effectively sidelining Republicans on tax issues. SD 31 will be a key battleground in which both parties are slated to spend millions this election cycle.
Three candidates are vying for a spot in the state’s first Top Two Open Primary this June. The top two vote getters will face a runoff in November’s general election. Assemblyman Jeff Miller is the lone Republican in the race, and is expected to benefit from having his Democratic opponents Steve Clute (a former legislator) and Richard Roth (a retired general) split the primary vote.
Voter registration numbers in the district are fairly close between Democrats and Republicans, 40.05% and 36.64% respectively. Candidates that hope to make it through to November will need to take early measures in gaining support from the district’s “No Party Preference” voters, who make up 18.62% of the electorate.
Due to the potential SD-31 has in shaping California’s political landscape, several independent expenditure committees have been spending actively to influence voters. The two Democratic candidates, Clute and Roth, have been the primary subjects of the efforts.