California candidates compete for down-ballot races |

California candidates compete for down-ballot races

SACRAMENTO, Calif.  — Beyond the race for governor, voters are also casting ballots Tuesday for other statewide offices that govern California’s schools, the state’s financial books and other key policy areas.

In the races for superintendent of public instruction and lieutenant governor, candidates are spending big to get their names in front of voters.

Five candidates are running to replace the treasurer, who is running for governor. And the secretary of state and controller are attempting to hold onto their seats in re-election battles.

Here’s a look at those five races:


The race to become the state’s top education official is the only statewide contest that could be decided Tuesday. Because the contest is nonpartisan, if any candidate wins more than 50 percent of the primary election vote he or she will win the race outright. Otherwise, the top two candidates advance to the November general election.

The race has become a proxy battle in a larger fight over how best to improve California schools. On one side of the debate are powerful teachers unions, who are backing Assemblyman Tony Thurmond. On the other are wealthy charter school and education reform proponents, who are backing former Los Angeles schools executive Marshall Tuck.

Thurmond and Tuck, both Democrats, are the front-runners. Lily Ploski, an educator and former college administrator, and Steven Ireland, a parent, are also running.

Thurmond has stressed opposing the Trump administration’s agenda, including proposals to transfer money from traditional public schools to charter schools. His top donors are teachers unions and labor groups.

Tuck has emphasized giving families choice in the schools their children attend, including nonprofit charter schools. His donors include charter school advocates such as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and KB Home founder Eli Broad.

Tuck ran for the seat unsuccessfully in 2014. Incumbent Tom Torlakson beat him with union backing.


Although the lieutenant governor holds little real power, 11 candidates are vying to replace incumbent Gavin Newsom, who is running for governor.

Three Democrats have raised substantial money to run television ads and get their names in front of voters: state Sen. Ed Hernandez and former diplomats Eleni Kounalakis and Jeff Bleich.

Republican Cole Harris has also mounted a challenge with a campaign funded almost entirely with his own money.

Three other Republicans — Lydia Ortega, David Fennell and David Hernandez — are running, along with Democrat Cameron Gharabiklou. Two no-party-preference candidates — Gayle McLaughlin and Danny Thomas — are also running.

The lieutenant governor serves as a University of California regent, a California State University trustee and as a state lands commissioner overseeing conservation and public access. He or she also acts as governor when the top executive is away.


Five candidates are vying to replace outgoing Treasurer John Chiang, who is running for governor.

The treasurer manages the state’s money and sits on the boards of California’s public employee pension funds.

Democrat Fiona Ma has the most political experience and the biggest fundraising haul. The State Board of Equalization member and former assemblywoman says she would make socially responsible investments with the state’s money.

Her only Democratic challenger, Vivek Viswanathan, a former aide to Gov. Jerry Brown, says he won’t take corporate money.

Two Republicans are running: Cudahy City Councilman Jack Guerrero, who says he would push for lower taxes, and businessman Greg Conlon, who challenged Chiang in the last general election.

Peace and Freedom candidate Kevin Akin is also on the ballot.


Seven candidates are challenging Democratic Secretary of State Alex Padilla in his re-election bid.

Republican attorney Mark Meuser is running on a platform of purging voter rolls of people who have moved or died and conducting audits to ensure ineligible people aren’t registered to vote.

Padilla has emphasized his record of sparring with President Donald Trump. He often denounces the president’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in California. Padilla also refused to comply with the Trump administration’s requests to provide data on California voters, arguing it was politically motivated.

Democrat Ruben Major, Green Party candidates Michael Feinstein and Erik Rydberg, Libertarian Gail Lightfoot and Peace and Freedom candidate C.T. Weber are also on the ballot.


Controller Betty Yee faces a Republican challenger in her re-election campaign.

The California controller serves as the state’s top accountant and audits various state programs. She sits on several state boards and the State Lands Commission.

Yee says she has promoted tax policies that are equitable for vulnerable populations, including supporting equal taxation for same-sex couples before gay marriage was legalized.

Republican entrepreneur Konstantinos Roditis is challenging her. He says he wants to lower government spending and audit high-speed rail, a project Republicans frequently criticize because of rising costs.

Peace and Freedom candidate Mary Lou Finley is also running.

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