In previous columns I wrote about how 2016 was going to be an election year like no other and unlike my presidential prognostications, my predictions of 2016 continue to ring true.
Locally, we had a significant shake-up with Senator Runner’s last-minute decision to not seek re-election. Fortunately Assemblyman Scott Wilk chose to step into the void and his candidacy ensures that the seat remains in Republicans’ hands. In fact, Mr. Wilk will be the first Santa Clarita resident to hold a state Senate seat in decades, which means pending on the outcome of the race to fill the 38th Assembly District, Santa Clarita residents could occupy both a Senate and Assembly seat giving our community significant representation in Sacramento.
Wilk’s decision to jump into the Senate race did set off a 5-day scramble for potential candidates to file the necessary paperwork and put a campaign together. While no one candidate was able to clear the field, three Republicans challengers emerged: Santa Clarita Mayor Pro Tem Dante Acosta, Supervisor Antonovich Deputy Jarrod DeGonia, who also served as my District Director, and retired Officer Tyler Isen. Regardless of who secures the nomination, Republicans need to unite as the Democrats have a strong candidate in Newhall School District Board member Christy Smith.
But even beyond the local races, for the first time this century, both presidential races will still be in play when California holds its primary on June 7. What makes California even more unique is the way Republicans allocate our delegates. Unlike states that award delegates based on vote percentage or are “winner take all”, we allocate delegates based on a combination of statewide results and individual congressional district winners. Of the 172 delegates, 13 are awarded state wide with 10 going to the top vote getter, and three going to “pre-determined” delegates (the State GOP Chair, the National Committeeman and Committeewoman). The remaining 159 are split among the 53 congressional districts (CD) with the winner of each CD receiving 3 delegates. So even in parts of Oakland where Republican registrations hovers around 10%, the same number of delegates will be awarded as our own 25th CD. Also important is unlike our legislative races, which have a “jungle” or “top two ” primary system, California’s Presidential primary is closed, so there can be no cross-over votes like in other states.
So what does all this mean? For one, candidates with the best ground game have the advantage…huge rallies in major population centers aren’t enough. Candidates must tailor their message much more carefully. Also, statewide polling isn’t as reliable – while a USC/LA Times poll released Easter weekend showed Trump and Cruz basically tied (36-35) among likely voters, you don’t have a enough of a sample to breakdown each CD individually. Finally, the closed primary is an obstacle for Trump – he has always relied on crossover votes to pad his Republican base which is not an option here in California and that creates greater opportunity for Cruz and Kasich to pick up more delegates.
So whomever you support, be excited! All the candidates will spend time a significant amount of time in California not to just raise money but actually campaign – who knows when that will happen again.