NEWS

California primary: Padilla to face GOP's Mark Meuser in November election for U.S. Senate

Shad Powers
Palm Springs Desert Sun
Secretary of State Alex Padilla talks during a news conference at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Padilla announced a ballot initiative that would raise the caps on awards in medical malpractice lawsuits is eligible for the November 2022 election.

Heavy favorite and incumbent Democrat Alex Padilla and Republican attorney Mark Meuser have advanced to the November general election for U.S. Senate in California, Associated Press said Tuesday evening.

With 100% of the precincts reporting, Padilla and Meuser were outdistancing the 23-person field by enough votes to declare them the two winners who will now square off in November — not once, but twice.

Padilla has 53.5% of the vote, while Meuser was well behind him at 14.3% of the vote, but no one else in the field had more than 6.7% of the vote.

In Tuesday's primary Padilla's seat was the subject of two different votes, which may have caused some confusion for voters. 

Here is an explanation for the unusual situation: 

In 2021, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris became vice president. This gave Gov. Gavin Newsom the opportunity to appoint Padilla, who was then California's secretary of state. The 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says Senate appointees should serve “until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.”

So in Tuesday's primary, one of the votes was a special election for someone to fill the 56 or so days (from when election results are certified in November until Jan. 3, 2023) that will be left on Harris' original term. Eight people were competing for that position. And the second vote was for the full six-year term beginning in January.

Padilla (51.3%) and Meuser (21.6%) advanced as the candidates in the short stint race as well.

CalMatters voters guide: The U.S. Senate seat race

Padilla, who has the backing of the Democratic establishment in the state, was the odds-on favorite. Meuser has been a critic of some of the state's coronavirus health restrictions and has slammed Padilla for the state of the current economy in California. 

Meuser, who is from Pasadena, issued a statement Tuesday night.

“I am beyond grateful for the support of the people of California for giving me the opportunity that a Republican hasn’t received in 10 years: to be on the ballot in the general election for one of California’s U.S. Senate seats,” said Meuser.

“The fact that this is happening is a telling sign of a shift in the minds of California voters and their excitement for this campaign. They are tired of the continued one-party rule that has dominated this state for over a decade and the continued representation in Washington from rubber stamp politicians from the same party. 2022 will be a red wave year and California is going to be a part of it.” 

These were the candidates vying for the short appointment: 

  • Daphne Bradford (no party), Education consultant
  • James P. Bradley (R),  CEO/Business owner
  • Jon Elist (R),  Small business owner
  • Myron L. Hall (R), Podiatric physician
  • Mark P. Meuser (R), Constitutional attorney
  • Dan O'Dowd (D), Tech executive
  • Alex Padilla (D), Appointed U.S. Senator
  • Timothy Ursich Jr. (D), Doctor

Those eight candidates were also vying for the six-year U.S. Senate appointment, along with these 15 candidates in the 23-person field:

  • Akinyemi Agbede (D), Mathematician
  • James “Henk” Conn (Green Party), Teacher
  • Pamela Elizondo (Green Party), Marijuana plastic entrepreneur
  • Eleanor Garcia (No party), Industrial worker
  • Don J. Grundmann (No party), Doctor of chiropractic
  • Deon D. Jenkins (No party), No designation
  • Sarah Sun Liew (R), Entrepreneur/nonprofit director
  • Robert George Lucero Jr. (R), Executive business consultant
  • John Thompson Parker (P), Social justice advocate
  • Enrique Petris (R), Businessman/investor
  • Douglas Howard Pierce (D), Missing children's advocate
  • Obaidul Huq Pirjada (D), Attorney
  • Charles Smith (R), Retired law enforcement
  • Carlos Guillermo Tapia (R), Business owner/realtor
  • Cordie Williams (R), Doctor/business owner