On June 3, County Supervisor Jeff Stone (R) and businesswoman Bonnie Garcia (R) narrowly beat Glenn Miller (R) and Philip Drucker (D) for the top two spots in California's twenty-eighth state Senate district. Stone came in first with 21.9 percent, only 2 percentage points ahead of Garcia. Miller, who placed third, was short just 449 votes behind Garcia.Although both Stone and Garcia are Republicans, under California’s new nonpartisan primary system, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party preference, advance to the general election. Consequently, voters outside the Republican Party will arguably have the most critical vote in November.
Garcia and Stone both hold similar positions on big-ticket issues like California's water crisis and Proposition 13. However, their campaigns differ on some local issues.
The newly redrawn district includes California’s southwest cities, as well as its desert regions. As expected, Stone won a majority in his hometown, Temecula, as well as Murrieta, Wildomar, and Lake Elsinore. Similarly, Garcia successfully appealed to Palm Desert, Blythe, Desert Hot Springs, Indio, and Rancho Mirage.
The toss up remains in Palm Springs, where a majority of registered voters side with Democrats. In 2013, 56.9 percent of the district’s registered voters were not Republicans, thus Republican candidates who want to win must be willing to broaden their appeal beyond party lines.Credit: Aroundthecapitol.com
During the primary, Miller won a majority in wildcard cities such as Indio, Murrieta, and Palm Springs. Now that he is out of the race, he has officially endorsed Stone, a strategic move that could very well make the difference for Stone.
Now, the candidates are running more district-driven campaigns, as opposed to focusing on partisan, hot-button topics.
When asked about California’s water crisis, both candidates agree on the need to increase the state’s water storage capacity. Stone, however, goes a step further on the topic.
“We should continue to examine the efficacy of desalination plants like the one recently built in Carlsbad,” he argues on his website.
Both candidates have vowed to keep Proposition 13 unaltered. This proposition was directed to decrease property taxes, stating that housing values cannot exceed the California Consumer Price Index or 2 percent.The candidates also see the need to spend less on bureaucracy and funnel funds directly into direct classroom assistance. Garcia claims that parents and teachers, in cooperation with local leaders, should share the responsibly of educating children to truly better the community.
While the candidates agree on some hot-button issues, Garcia and Stone differ in political experience.
“I am the only candidate with a proven track record of success at the state level as a staffer, elected official, and as an appointee of both a Republican and Democratic governor," Garcia said in an interview for IVN.
Stone has years of local government experience serving on the Temecula City Council. According to his website, his priorities rest with water regulation, upholding the "No New Taxes" pledge, limiting prison budgets, and improving education.
Garcia and Stone remain strong Republican candidates, but they will need to appeal to a broader spectrum of voters to win the district. While Garcia has more political experience, Stone has made district specific-issues his focus.