Prediction for the 2016 June Primary
The three local contests to be decided on June 7 are California State Assembly District 26, and Tulare County Supervisor Districts 1 and 3. The top two vote getters for the State Assembly and Supervisor District 1 will go on to the general election in November. Tulare County Board of Supervisors district 3 will be decided on June 7 because there are only two candidates.
Each race has been extremely competitive, and, so far, it has been a volatile campaign. For the 2014 primary, predicting the winners was so easy I decided to predict who would come in second instead. This primary, on the other hand, has put my prognostication powers to the test.
According to Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc., “We’re looking at a larger voter growth than ever seen before in a primary.” Political Data Inc revealed that the country’s divisive presidential primaries have brought more than 850,000 new voters onto California’s registration rolls. Nearly half of the new voters are Democrats and only 16.7% of the new voters are Republican.
Another interesting statistic is that 12 days before the 2014 Primary 117,308 ballots had been returned. This year it is 225,448 – and when more people vote it means a higher Democrat turnout.
Will this new dynamic affect the election in Tulare County? We will see in less than a week.
California State Assembly District 26
Candidates: Assemblyman Devon Mathis, Woodlake Mayor Rudy Mendoza, and Chair of the Democratic Central Committee, Ruben Macareno.
After the very established Eric Cantor, who was primed to be the Speaker of the House, lost, not in the general election against a Democrat, but in a primary against a fellow Republican, all incumbents have been put on notice. And that includes Tulare County incumbents.
It is statistically unlikely that Assemblyman Mathis will lose in the primary, but many factors will affect the outcome, such as the increase in Democrat registration and an aggressive ground game by Rudy Mendoza.
Mr. Mathis has some amazing attributes that could ensure his re-election.
To his fellow Tea Party supporters, Mr. Mathis is the only true Tulare County Conservative who is an avowed anti-gay marriage proponent and supports defunding Planned Parenthood. To his Democratic supporters, Mr. Mathis is the only Republican who has reached across the aisle to support their party. To establishment conservatives he is a tax-spending liberal, but to moderate Republicans he is flexible and knows how to compromise.
Mr. Mathis can do no wrong in Porterville, but has lost some voters in Tulare over the hospital controversy. He is loved by the Veteran community, but has lost some support through the controversy surrounding his veteran’s benefits. He is praised for his collaboration in Sacramento on the Managed Care Organization tax but criticized by Central Valley Republicans.
There are clearly two sides of the story on each of these issues, but two sides to the story is not going to help Mr. Mathis’ cause. In the 2014 General Election Mr. Mathis received 52% of the vote, but his slice of that pie just got smaller. Those veterans, Tulareans and Republicans who no longer agree with Mr. Mathis’ actions were former supporters, and probably won’t vote for him again.
What about new voters?
Until a month ago, the Visalia Times-Delta had not listed Mr. Mathis as our assemblyman on their editorial page, and that is emblematic of Mr. Mathis’ struggle with name recognition. There has also been a host of issues that might dissuade new fans, those issues being: Mr. Mathis has lost or fired eight of his staff since taking office; his inability to get bills passed in Sacramento; his Wounded Warrior Project payments; not responding to former Tulare Regional Medical Center Bond Oversight Committee Member Alberto Aguilar’s request for an audit; and Mr. Mathis’ warning letter from the FPPC.
There are not two sides of the story to the above listed, and these issues actually go much deeper than the media can report.
To complicate matters, Assemblyman Mathis has more to lose in this election compared with Mr. Mendoza and Mr. Macareno.
For very valid reasons, or not, when Mr. Mathis was elected as a California State Assemblyman it was the first job he had held in years. While his two opponents will just go back to what they were doing before the election, that may not even be possible for Mr. Mathis. It will be a monumental task for him to return to Tulare County and find a similar paying job and benefits as those he receives now as assemblyman.
November of 2012 was the last election where a Republican faced off against a Democrat for the 26th Assembly District. The Republican was former Assemblywoman Connie Conway. The Democrat was an unknown COS student, Jonathan Sosa, who received 33.5%. That 33.5% were Democrats who just vote the ticket regardless of the candidate.
Statistically speaking, more Democrats than normal will be showing up to the polls this primary and there has been a slight increase in registered Democrats this year because of the “Trump factor.” That means it would be reasonable to predict that Mr. Macareno will receive approximately 33.5% of the vote.
Mr. Mathis cannot expect all 52% of the votes he received in November 2014, and Mr. Mendoza can’t expect the 48% of the votes he received either. Ms. Conway received 66.5% of the vote in 2012 and I predict that Mr. Mendoza and Mr. Mathis will split the Republican vote and each get approximately 33.25%.
I also predict Mr. Macareno will edge both of them out and talk of a recount will surface before the night is over.
Tulare County Supervisor District 3
Visalia City Councilmember Amy Shuklian and Tulare County Supervisor Phil Cox
So let’s just get one thing straight right now. Both Mr. Cox and Ms. Shuklian are conservatives. They are both pro-business, have vowed to improve public safety, and are fiscally conservative. I’ve never heard anyone call Ms. Shuklian a liberal.
Normally a race where the incumbent is running to defend his seat makes for an easy prediction. But nothing has been normal about this election. Ms. Shuklian is a popular Visalia City Council member representing almost the same region that is Tulare County Supervisor District 3. This practically makes her an incumbent also. In fact, Mr. Cox was a Visalia City Council member when he beat out an incumbent to win his District 3 seat in 2008.
I said from the beginning that Mr. Cox was going to win because he was the incumbent. But after consulting my crystal ball, I predict that Ms. Shuklian will win by a small enough margin that Mr. Cox could ask for a recount, but he won’t.
Tulare County Supervisor District 1
Kuyler Crocker, John Elliott, Angel Galvez, Ted Macaulay, Brian Poochigian, Vincent Salinas, Rosaena Sanchez and Dennis Smith. This is the largest and most diverse district and encompasses East Visalia, Farmersville, Exeter, Lindsay, Lemon Cove and Three Rivers.
Don’t tell anyone, but the editor of this paper did not vote in this race because he couldn’t make up his mind. The bottom line is every single candidate who participated in the forums is qualified for the job of supervisor.
So what’s a voter to do?
As contentious as the District 3 contest has been, this one has been docile and almost boring. All of the candidates, save one, have diligently showed up for every forum and nary a cross word has been exchanged. It’s easy to eliminate a few when there are eight candidates, but it’s difficult to pare it down to the two who will proceed to the general election.
First, we can eliminate Mayor pro-tem of Lindsay, Rosaena Sanchez. She did not attend any of the major forums and did not put up signs. I would say that was a waste of $997.82 on filing fees.
Next, we can eliminate Dennis Smith. He is very well versed on the issues but verges on being a conspiracy theorist. His faithful followers do not have the numbers to get him to the general election.
At first, Mr. Crocker seemed to be the next millennial, like Pete Vander Poel, to sit on the dais. He declared his candidacy early and is from Supervisor Allen Ishida’s neck of the woods. Supervisor Ishida gave Mr. Crocker $1,000 donation from his old campaign fund but hasn’t actually come out and formally endorsed him.
But, in 2008, Mr. Vander Poel only had to beat one person to win the election and he had the endorsement of the Republican establishment. Mr. Crocker has to beat out seven people, all of whom have much more life experience, and the established Republicans have been quiet in this race. It’s a hard call, but Mr. Crocker will not get past the primary.
Then there are Angel Galvez and Brian Poochigian. They aren’t standing out from the crowd and have the least experience of those left not mentioned.
So who is left? Former Exeter Mayor, Ted Macauley, Former Visalia Planning Commissioner Vincent Salinas, and current Tulare County Planning Commissioner, John Elliott.
The Tulare County Board of Supervisors is an amazingly homogenous body considering the diversity of the county it represents. Even though the county is 63% Hispanic there are none on the board, and I think it is going to stay that way.
Mr. Salinas in eminently qualified but I can’t get past his performance during the Visalia City Council race. He spent the most money and got relatively few votes. I am also going to predict that Mr. Macauley comes in third and does not get past the primary.
John Elliot will come in first or second. He has a huge following in Three Rivers and those people vote. He is also practically doing the supervisor job right now as Tulare County Planning Commissioner for District 1. For the second spot I’m bringing back Mr. Poochigian. Why? He has a pleasant demeanor, and he has a huge base of supporters. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time an Armenian lost.