The Conservatives see an opening. Sacramento Attorney General Anne Marie Schubert — a former Republican who is no longer affiliated — former Republican U.S. Attorney Nathan Hochman and Republican attorney Eric Early challenge Bonta, arguing that California’s dropping of more severe and that the sentences have undermined public safety.
Partisan affiliation injects a real variable into this race. Schubert has the backing of law enforcement and could be formidable in the general election – but she would have to come out of the first two primaries without an (R) next to her name first. If she succeeds, it could offer the Conservatives a plan.
Controller: Overseeing California’s finances might not seem like the sexiest job. But Republicans are buoyed by Lanhee Chen’s prospects of grabbing an open state comptroller seat. The former Hoover Institution fellow and young fiscal fiancé has racked up GOP endorsements and raised some $2 million since launching as he preaches a message of fiscal discipline, arguing that Democrats have mishandled the huge spending of the state.
The Democratic camp is a fight. The establishment has fallen well behind Board of Equalization member Malia Cohen, but she will have plenty of competition. Moderate Democratic state senator Steve Glazer arrived late to cap off a field that already included Los Angeles Comptroller Ron Galperin and Monterey Park City Council member Yvonne Yiu.
Insurance Commissioner: This Dem-on-Dem race is shaping up to be one of the hottest campaigns this year, with Marc Levine quitting his Bay Area Assembly seat to challenge incumbent Ricardo Lara, a former US senator. ‘State.
Lara spent much of his first term fending off corruption charges after he was convicted of accepting political donations from the insurance companies he oversees and regulates. The scandal hasn’t stopped the state’s top Democrats from endorsing him, however, and he still has the backing of Newsom and the U.S. senator. Alex Padille.
In the other corner, Robert Molnar, a former Republican who no longer has any party affiliation, also shows up to unseat Lara. Molnar worked for former insurance commissioner Steve Poizner more than a decade ago when Poizner was a Republican, and is counting on a centrist candidate to gain traction this time around. (When Poizner ran for office again in 2018 as an independent, Lara beat him by a margin of just under 6 points.)
Targeted Republicans: Democrats are eager to tackle a slate of vulnerable Republican seats, including representatives. Young Kim in CA-40, David Valadao in CA-22, Mike Garcia in CA-27, michelle steel in CA-45 and Ken Calvert in CA-41.
Both Kim and Steel flipped their seats in 2020, ousting incumbent Democrats Gil Cisneros and Harley Rouda. This time around, Kim takes on Democratic challenger Asif Mahmood, and Steel takes on Democrat Jay Chen. Both districts have a slight slant to the left, which could mean a tough battle.
The race to watch is CA-22 in the Central Valley, where Valadao will fight to retain its seat in a district that now includes Delano, Porterville, Hanford, parts of Bakersfield and a Democratic bias. State Assemblyman Rudy Salas, a moderate Democrat, quits his post in the Legislative Assembly to challenge Valadao.
Democrats targeted: The midterm years are historically bad for the president’s party, and Republicans are hoping to leverage frustrations over gas prices and public safety to win over California’s congressional delegation.
The NRCC is targeting four California Democrats this year: Reps. Julia Brownley in CA-26, Katie Porter in CA-47, mike levin in CA-49 and Josh Harder in CA-9. The party is also targeting the open CA-13 seat that Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray and 2020 nominee Phil Arballo are seeking.
According to the latest data from the Secretary of State’s office, the new districts of Brownley and Harder are Democratic, D+13 and D+14 respectively, which will make them harder to reverse.
Geography matters, though: The Central Valley, where Harder is running, is often tougher for Democrats than the Los Angeles area Brownley represents, given the valley’s more conservative lean — including among a large bloc of voters with no party preference – and usually low turn out. Elsewhere in Southern California, Porter and Levin run in neighborhoods with far less room for comfort. Porter’s Orange County district leans only one point to the Democratic party, while Levin’s is D+2.5, though Porter is backed by a huge warchest and strong name recognition.
Join us for a live chat on the California midterm races to watch: Tune into our Twitter space Thursday at 12 p.m. PT / 3 p.m. ET as our reporters Lara Korte and Jeremy White break down the midterm contests. -mandate to California to keep an eye on this year.