Orange County Republican DA Todd Spitzer is on course for re-election outright — beating his Democratic-backed opponent by a massive margin — as Democrats advanced for a chance in November to take a majority on the powerful supervisory board for the first time in decades.
Democrats had hoped to oust Spitzer along with former prosecutor-turned-defense attorney Peter Hardin – who has raised more than $800,000 for the campaign.
Still, Spitzer generated a large lead in the vote count, with 64% of the vote to Hardin’s 19% at the 11 p.m. update on election night.
[Read: Spitzer Dominates in Early Election Results for High-Stakes DA Race]
Spitzer overcame a series of controversies – including a judge ruling last week that he violated California’s racial bias law – as he hammered home a message about protecting OC from LA-style crimes.
“This election is about one thing: making sure Orange County remains the safest large county in California, instead of being overrun by the same pro-criminal ideology that destroyed Los Angeles and San Francisco,” said Spitzer said in a statement reacting to his large lead. in the election night results.
Hardin’s campaign said he does not plan to issue a statement until Wednesday.
Spitzer hasn’t lost an election since he began running for public office in 1992.
“As I said at the start, Todd Spitzer has never lost an election and is a master campaigner in Orange County,” said political science professor Jodi Balma. at Fullerton College. “He went on the attack and defined his main opponent before Pete Hardin could define himself.”
Meanwhile, Democrats are staging a battle to take majority control of OC’s oversight board in November.
[Read: Latest Results on Who Will Make OC’s Mental Health, Homelessness and Sheriff Spending Decisions]
Democrats are on track to be the top two voters in two of three supervisor seats up for grabs, with Democrat Katrina Foley and Republican Pat Bates leading in the second round in South County’s 5th District.
If those results hold, the South County race in November will decide whether Republicans keep their majority on the board or lose it to Democrats for the first time since the 1970s.
Foley had just under half the vote in the 11 p.m. update, with 44% to Bates’ 23%. The Republican vote was split among three candidates, while Foley is the only Democrat running for the seat.
It appears to be a very low turnout election, with only 16.5% of Orange County voters casting their ballots as of the 11 p.m. update.
There were still an unknown number of mail-in ballots to be counted – which may arrive until Friday and still be counted if postmarked on Election Day – as well as an unknown number of ballots provisional statements filed in person on election day.
All of the county school board incumbents – all of whom are part of the pro-charter Conservative majority – appear to have sailed towards re-election.
But there are still close races at the federal level.
Michelle Steel and Young Kim, two Republican congressmen from Orange County, fell behind the Democratic challengers on Tuesday night, Steel just behind her challenger while Kim was 16% behind her competitors.
Those contests are expected to head to runoffs in November, according to California rules for automatic runoffs between the top two voters in state and federal races.
AD officials sweep election night for judge seats
This election saw the most OC Superior Court Justice seats on the ballot in recent memory – with nine seats open.
Orange County district attorney officials ran for eight of those nine seats.
And they all won.
[Read: 2022 Primary Election Night Results: Who Will Join Orange County’s Judicial Bench?]
The final seat had OC Superior Court Commissioner Michelle Bell leading the way.
That sweep of DA officials leading to the judgeship included Shawn Nelson, a high-level DA office staffer who was classified as “unqualified” by the Orange County Bar Association.
The vice chair of the bar association’s evaluation committee for judges’ evaluations was Tracy Miller, a former senior DA prosecutor who accused Nelson of wrongdoing in a lawsuit against the DA’s office. .
Miller and the bar association president did not respond to previous Voice of OC phone messages asking if Miller had been involved in evaluating Nelson for grades.
Nelson did not respond to requests for comment on the charges against him when previously contacted by Voice of OC.
Maintaining Status Quo in Orange County Education
With the most public attention in recent memory on county school board and superintendent races, every incumbent of the race clung to their seat.
[Read: 2022 Primary Election Night Results: Who Will Run Orange County Education?]
Conservative Charter School Majority members Mari Barke, Tim Shaw and Lisa Sparks all won re-election with double-digit percentages, and Superintendent Al Mijares fended off a challenge from Stefan Bean by a similar margin.
The re-election of all candidates means disagreements between Mijares and the board could continue.
[Read: OC Board of Education and Department Ramp Up Taxpayer Spending On Internal Lawsuits]
Shaw’s win also raises questions about what will happen to the lawsuit that resulted in his temporary suspension from the board which argued he was improperly occupying the seat after being named to it.
[Read: Tim Shaw Temporarily Removed From the Orange County Board of Education]
Congress: Republicans see first slides, Democrats see first gains
Two of Orange County’s Republican incumbents in Congress, Michelle Steel and Young Kim, saw themselves slipping behind their Democratic challengers in the first primary results released as of the 11 p.m. update on Tuesday night.
The gap was narrow between Steel, whose district spans Orange and Los Angeles counties, and challenger Jay Chen, who had 46% of the 55,600 votes counted so far in the 45th district, edging out Steel by 2 percentage points.
Kim, whose district spans Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, fell behind Democratic challenger Asif Mahmood by 12% of the votes counted by the 11 p.m. update.
Orange County Democratic incumbents in Congress, namely high-profile Congresswoman Katie Porter, all led their respective races.
Porter had 57% of the more than 71,400 votes counted so far – a big lead, which narrowed slightly at 11 p.m., over Republican challenger Scott Baugh, who had 27% of the vote, according to early returns in the 47th congressional district.
As the Democratic votes coalesced around Porter, there were three Republicans on the ballot.
Early results also favored fellow Democratic incumbents Mike Levin — whose congressional district spans Orange and San Diego counties — and longtime Congressman Lou Correa — whose district represents part of the Central County – versus their challengers.
The top two voters from each race after Tuesday will face off in November.
[Read: Primary Election 2022: OC’s Congressional Landscape Results]
Democrats led results in most State Assembly and Senate races
Democrats led the results in six of eight State Assembly races on Tuesday night.
In the 68th State Assembly District, Democrat Avelino Valencia won about 51% of the vote, followed by Republican Mike Tardif who had about 23% of the 20,502 votes counted as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.
In the 72nd State Assembly District, Democrat Judie Mancuso has won about 48% of the 57,148 votes counted so far, while Republican Diane Dixon has about 39% of the 62,975 ballots counted as of 11:30 p.m.
Mancuso said she won the primary election Tuesday night in a press release after the vote count.
In the 64th State Assembly District, Raul Ortiz, Jr. — the only Republican in the race — led the polls Tuesday night with 33% of the votes counted so far. Democrat Blanca Pacheco followed closely with 24% at 11:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, in the 71st State Assembly District, Republican Matt Rahn led the polls with about 53% of the vote, followed by Republican Katie Sanchez with about 47%.
There were about 31,000 votes counted at 11:26 p.m. in this race.
Democrats also led the polls in three of the state’s five Senate races last night.
In the state’s 34th Senate District, Democrat Tom Umberg has won about 57% of the 45,192 votes counted so far with Republican Rhonda Shader trailing him with 43% as of 11:26 p.m.
Meanwhile, in the state’s 36th Senate District, Republican Janet Nguyen had a roughly 55% lead over Democrat Kim Carr who had about 45% of the 108,933 votes counted as of 11:26 p.m. last night.
[Read: 2022 Primary Election Night Results: State Races]
Two of OC City’s three ballot measures fail
OC voters in Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Westminster considered ballot measures last night.
[Read: 2022 Primary Election Night Results: HB, Newport Beach and Westminster Ballot Measures]
As of 10:20 p.m., voters in Huntington Beach had passed a ballot measure creating a new cannabis tax, while residents of Newport Beach and Westminster voted against measures that would have changed the way they elect the mayor.
In Huntington Beach, 71% of the 20,264 the votes cast supported the creation of a special tax on cannabis businesses. While no such business currently exists in the city, the move could potentially pave the way for cannabis stores to open in Huntington Beach.
In Newport Beach, residents voted against directly electing the mayor in future elections. Of the 10,969 votes cast, 60% did not support the change.
Voters in Westminster also voted against a measure changing the way the mayor is elected – 59% of the 7,058 votes cast were against eliminating a directly elected mayor and increasing City Council districts from four to five.
In Newport Beach and Westminster, voting methods will remain the same.
Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at [email protected]