Joe W. Bowers Jr., California Black Media
On June 7, California will conduct a primary election — the first opportunity for voters to elect candidates in newly drawn districts based on the 2020 US census. Registered voters will automatically receive a vote-by-mail ballot no later than May 9, with the option to return it to a secure drop box, or vote in-person up to 10 days before the election for those living in Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) counties.
For those not registered to vote, same day registration is possible up until 8 p.m. on Election Day.
The candidates running to fill eight statewide constitutional offices (Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State (SOS), Attorney General, Controller, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Insurance Commissioner and
Treasurer) and one California US Senate seat will be listed on all primary ballots. The primaries for the four positions on the Board of Equalization, the 52 US Congressional, 80 State Assembly, and 20 State Senate seats are listed based on district.
There are 40 State Senators. They serve staggered four-year terms. Twenty of them representing even-numbered districts are up for election this year.
Statewide, there are 145 elections being held to fill these state and federal offices.
California Black Media (CBM) reports that 55 Black candidates are running in 37 of the elections. That’s 25.5% of the races. Blacks make up 5.8% of California’s population.
In nine of the contests more than one Black candidate is competing. Party affiliations represented are: 36 Democrat, 11 Republican, 4
No Party Preference, 2 Nonpartisan, 1 Green and 1 Peace and Freedom.
In six statewide contests, 12 Black candidates are on the ballot. Two candidates are incumbents. One is Dr. Shirley Weber, who was appointed California’s first Black SOS by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2021, replacing California’s current junior U.S. Sen Alex Padilla. This will be the first time Weber has run for office statewide. The other is Tony Thurmond, California’s second Black State Superintendent of Public Instruction. He was elected in 2018 in a close contest.
There are no Black candidates on the ballot running for Attorney General or Treasurer.
Running for re-election as the state’s chief executive officer, Newsom faces 25 other candidates on the ballot. Four of those candidates are Black. Shawn Collins is a Republican, an Attorney, and a Navy combat veteran. He says, “We can and will make California the best place to start a small business, give parents a real voice in their children’s educations, and bring compassion and law and order together to end the human tragedies on our streets.”
Serge Fiankan is an entrepreneur and has a No Party Preference designation. He says, “As your governor, I will change the status quo and address the real problems we are facing with measurable actions.”
Woodrow “Woody” Sanders III is an Entrepreneur/Director/Engineer and has a No Party Preference designation. Sander’s passion is for restoring California’s “crown as the best state in the union.”
Major Williams is a Republican Businessman. He ran as write-in candidate during Gov.
Newsom’s recall election and received 8,965 votes. His campaign slogan is, “It’s time to think major.”
Incumbent Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis is running against field of seven candidates. Angela E. Underwood Jacobs is a Black Republican Businesswoman/Deputy Mayor running against her. Jacobs was the first African American woman elected to serve on the Lancaster City Council.
Secretary of State
Shirley Weber has six opponents for SOS. Before her appointment, Weber served four terms as an Assemblymember representing California’s 79th Assembly District. She is committed to making California the national leader in running inclusive, trustworthy, and transparent elections – expanding the franchise
to more of our citizens, ensuring election security and empowering voters to make informed decisions. She is the only Black candidate running for SOS.
State Controller Betty Yee is termed out this year. Among six candidates running to replace her is Malia Cohen the first African American woman to serve on the board of Equalization. Cohen wants to make sure the tax code is fair, that people understand tax incentives are out there to benefit the working class. “I am running because I am committed to equity, empowerment, hope and opportunity for all Californians,” Cohen told CBM.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
There are six candidates running to replace incumbent Tony Thurmond as State Superintendent of Public Instruction. As the
chief of K-12 education in the state, Thurmond was instrumental in marshalling the efforts of the Department of Education to help school districts deal with systemic inequities that the pandemic put a spotlight light on. He is running to achieve his vision that by 2026 all California students will be literate by third grade. For Thurmond, Black student achievement and student achievement in general have been major priorities. Among his challengers is Black public and charter schoolteacher Ainye E. Long.
California Insurance Commissioner
Incumbent Ricardo Lara has eight challengers vying to be the next Insurance Commissioner. Three of his opponents are Black. Veronika Fimbres is a transgender nurse running as the Green Party candidate. Fimbres, a Black Navy veteran, has pledged to use the bully pulpit that would come from being insurance commissioner to push for universal health care in the state.
Jasper “Jay” Jackson is a paralegal running as a Democrat. His goal is to deliver transparent and speedy services to the people of California.
Vinson Eugene Allen is a medical doctor and businessman running as a Democrat. Allen says, “I will personally address consumer issues and work with insurance carriers for a fair solution to disputes.”
The office of US Senate will have two separate contests on the June 7 ballot. One contest is the regular election for the full six-year term beginning January 3, 2023. The other contest is a special vacancy election, to complete the unexpired Senate term of Vice President Kamala Harris.
Sen. Alex Padilla who was chosen by Gov. Newsom to replace Harris will be competing in
both contests. In the full-term contest, he faces 22 opponents. Five are Black. And in the special vacancy contest he has seven opponents. Two are Black.
Black candidates in the full-term US Senate race are: Akinyemi Agbede a mathematician and Democrat; Myron L. Hall Podiatric Physician and Republican; Daphne Bradford, an education consultant and No Party Preference candidate; Deon D. Jenkins also has No Ballot Designation and No Party Preference; and John Thompson Parker, a Social Justice Advocate representing the Peace and Freedom Party. Candidates Hall and Bradford are also running in the partial/unexpired term contest.
In the June 7 primary election, the two candidates receiving the most votes advance to the general election. If a candidate receives a majority of the vote (at least 50 % plus 1), a general election must still be held.