Under California’s primary system, the top two vote-getters in state Senate and Assembly races advance to the November general election.
That made Tuesday’s election inconsequential in two San Joaquin Valley Assembly districts. As the only two candidates on the ballot in Assembly District 31, Democrat Joaquin Arambula and Republican Lupe Espinoza, advanced to November regardless of votes cast Tuesday. The same goes for Assembly District 23, where Republican incumbent Jim Patterson and Democrat Aileen Rizo are set to face each other in the fall.
But in other contested state races in the area – particularly Assembly District 26 – voters had decisions to make.
Republicans Warren Gubler, the Visalia mayor, and incumbent Devon Mathis fought it out in the 26th Assembly District with both right around 30 percent. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Mathis pulled in 30.2 percent of the vote to 29.6 percent for Gubler.
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Democrat Jose Sigala, a member of the Tulare City Council, was right behind at 28.7 percent of the vote and Republican Jack Lavers, a rancher from Glennville, was at 11.6 percent. Republican mail-in ballot returns were up 53 percent in that district compared with Democrats’ 32 percent.
Mathis has been under fire for his conduct in office. Most recently, a former staff member filed a lawsuit against her ex-boss saying she was the victim of “severe sexual harassment and bullying” by a fellow staffer and Mathis himself. Before that, the Tulare County Republican Central Committee demanded his resignation after a blogger in Sacramento alleged he sexually assaulted a staff member during a night of heavy drinking. Mathis vehemently denied all of the accusations, and Sacramento police closed a sexual misconduct investigation against him.
County elections offices and the secretary of state’s office still must process and count any vote-by-mail or provisional ballots turned in at polling places on Tuesday, as well as mailed ballots postmarked on or before Tuesday that are received by Friday, so it could be awhile before it’s clear who’s moving on to November.
8th District – Republican Andreas Borgeas took the top spot by a wide margin with nearly 60 percent of the vote. Far behind him was Democrat Paulina Miranda at about 21 percent, comfortably ahead of fellow Democrat Tom Pratt at about 16 percent.
They're vying to replace the termed-out Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte.
12th District – Democrat Ana Caballero, who is seeking to make the jump from the Assembly, pulled in 41.2 percent to put herself in the general election where she apparently will meet Republican Rob Poythress. The Madera County supervisor and former Madera mayor had 26.8 percent of the vote compared with Republican Johnny Tacherra at 23.6 percent.
Caballero, Tacherra and Poythress contested for the seat held by termed-out Republican Anthony Cannella along with Democrat Daniel Parra, 8.4 percent. About 45 percent of Democrats returned their mail-in ballots early for that race compared to 39 percent of Republicans.
14th District – Republican incumbent Andy Vidak topped the field at 55.4 percent of the vote. Democrat Melissa Hurtado was solidly in second at 22.8 percent.
Vidak is seeking to stay in the state Senate against challengers Hurtado and Democrats Abigail Solis, 14.1 percent, and Ruben Macareno, 7.8 percent. More Democrat voters, 45 percent, returned their mailed ballots early for the 14th Senate District race, with 38 percent of Republicans doing the same.
16th District – Republican Shannon Grove was the top vote-getter with 59.9 percent of the vote, with 100 percent of precincts reporting. The sole Democrat in the race, Ruth Musser-Lopez, was second at 28.2 percent. Republican Gregory Tatum earned 11.9 percent.
With 53 percent, Republicans largely outnumbered Democrats, at 28 percent, with the returned mail-in ballots for the 16th Senate District before votes were cast Tuesday.