A barrage of texts from unknown numbers letting you know about a candidate or asking if you support a certain cause. Piles of glossy campaign ads lauding the promise of lowering taxes. News articles of the latest polls filling up your social media timelines.
Election season is in full swing, and the 2018 midterm elections on Nov. 6 are shaping up to be one of the most critical elections in American history.
On the right, Republicans are putting in their last-ditch efforts to secure and maintain majority in Congress in order for their agenda to have traction. On the left, Democrats are looking to unseat many Republican Senate and House seats to gain majority in at least one of the chambers.
Historically, the midterm election turnout has not been great to put it lightly. The 2014 midterms saw an abysmal voter turnout at 36.4 percent national participation; young voters between the ages 18 to 29, in particular, accounted for a 13 percent turnout.
However, 2018 promises to be different. A new poll from the Harvard University Institute of Politics found that 40 percent of voters in that age range will “definitely vote” in the 2018 elections, a near-historic high for young voters.
The Asian American community, too, promises a higher-than-usual voter participation, as reported by the Asian Journal. According to APIA Vote, 48 percent of Asian American voters are “more enthusiastic about voting this year,” including 92 percent of Filipino Americans.
United States Senate
U.S. senators play one of the most crucial roles in all of American government. Senators propose, co-sign and vote on legislation and sit on important committees like those of the judiciary, education, public health, science and technology, etc.
The incumbent Dianne Feinstein has impressively held her post since 1992 and is generally seen as a moderate Democrat, even negotiating with Republicans on some issues and legislative decisions. Her opponent, California Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), however, has been campaigning on the message that he is more progressive and promises to be tougher on the Trumpian conservatism that has permeated throughout Washington.
In an interview with the Asian Journal last spring, de Leon believes that Feinstein does not represent the current state of California, telling the Asian Journal in an interview earlier this year, “I think these are very tumultuous and dangerous times in our nation’s history, and I think that the current Democratic establishment is not reflective of the diversity of today’s California.”
Earlier this year, the California Democrats endorsed de Leon, but Feinstein has maintained her lead ahead of de Leon; as of Oct. 21, Feinstein is 15.3 points ahead of the progressive state senator.
In the famously liberal haven that is California, it’s no surprise that Democratic candidate Gavin Newsom has maintained a comfortable lead ahead of businessman and Republican candidate John Cox. As of Monday, Oct. 29, Newsom holds a 15.3-point lead, according to RealClearPolitics’ aggregated polling data.
Newsom, 51, is currently California’s Lt. Gov, but before that he was the mayor of San Francisco. As mayor, he legalized gay marriage in 2004 in the city, a move which shocked the country. He’s been a fierce critic of the Trump administration and supports single-payer health care, immigrants rights and other progressive issues and causes. Former President Barack Obama is among the long list of liberal endorsements for Newsom.
Cox, 63, is a Chicago-native who founded a law firm specializing in corporate law and tax planning in 1981. His political aspirations began in 1976 when he unsuccessfully ran for a delegate position at the Democratic Convention. A Trumpian Republican, Cox has been endorsed by President Donald Trump
In a nutshell, the lieutenant governor is the state’s second ranking position right below the governor. Similar to the vice president, the lieutenant governor is the President of the State Senate and takes the governor’s place if the governor is killed or becomes disabled.
Both candidates for lieutenant governor this election are Democrats. Eleni Kounalakis, a Greek-American native of Sacramento, is the former ambassador to Hungary, and she was a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign as well as a figure in Clinton’s foreign policy advisory team. During the June primaries, Kounalakis, 52, won the majority vote (24.2 percent)
Her opponent, 61-year-old Edward Hernandez, is a Montebello-native and current California State Senator for the 22nd District (San Gabriel Valley). He is also a member of the California Latino Legislative Caucus and, because he’s an optometrist, also chairs the Senate Committee on Health.
State attorneys general (AG) act as the top legal officers of the state and are often referred to as the “People’s Lawyer” for the state’s residents. Some AGs are appointed by the governor, but most are elected, and Californians will vote on an AG this coming election.
The incumbent, Xavier Becerra, became the first Latino AG of California when he was appointed after former AG Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate in the 2016 elections. As AG, Becerra, a Democrat, has taken a strong stance against the Trump administration for its policies and proposals, filing 40 lawsuits against the federal government.
His opponent Steve C. Bailey is a Republican and retired California judge condemned the lawsuits and opposes net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers should allow access to all content and should not favor/block certain content.
Secretary of State
The Secretary of State (SOS) serves as the chief election officer and the handler for the state’s key documents like the constitution, Great Seal and archives. The SOS also registers businesses with the state, commissions notaries public and overlooks state ballot initiatives.
Democrat Alex Padilla, 45, is the incumbent running for re-election. Padilla was first elected in 2014 after working as on Democratic campaigns, including those for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, former State Sen. Richard Alarcon and LA City Councilor Gil Cedillo. Padilla’s opponent is Republican Mark Meuser, who previously ran an unsuccessful campaign for the California Senate in 2012.
The state controller acts as the Chief Financial Officer of the state. The controller has more “big picture” responsibilities than the treasurer (who handles more specific finance-related duties) such as holding authority over every dollar the state spends a la an accountant and bookkeeper.
The incumbent is Chinese-American Democrat Betty Yee, who has held the post since 2015. Previously, she was a member of the California State Board of Equalization from 2004 to 2015 when she successfully led the effort to force online marketplace Amazon to collect sales taxes. As state controller, Yee has advocated for investing in alternative, green energy and tax reform, specifically ending Gov. Brown’s temporary tax increases.
Yee’s opponent, Republican business owner Konstantinos Roditis, supports Prop 6 which repeals the gas and car tax increases (he co-chairs the Yes on Prop 6 organization), defunding the proposed high-speed rail and ending the new service and labor tax. Previously, the Greek-American CFO has served as the city commissioner for the City of Anaheim.
As the name suggests, the state treasurer functions as the state’s chief investment officer and banker. Generally, the treasurer receives and deposits state monies and observes the state’s budget, surpluses and deficits.
Republican candidate Greg Conlon is a businessman and certified public accountant (CPA) and has served as the president of the California Public Utilities Commission and also served on the California Transportation Commission.
Conlon’s opponent is Democrat Fiona Ma, a CPA with experience in tax law and budget balancing and currently serves on the California Board of Equalization. Ma, a Chinese-American, was also a state assemblymember from 2006 to 2012 and became the first Asian American woman to serve as the Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore, the second highest ranking member of the Assembly.
As the title denotes, the insurance commissioner oversees and manages the services of the Department of Insurance, including licensing and regulating insurance companies, enforces laws according to the California Insurance Code and, in general, provides a check on the insurance industry.
Ex-Republican Steve Poizner was elected as insurance commissioner as a conservative and served from 2006 to 2010, and he is running again this election —
this time, without any party affiliation. Consequently, Poizner — who donated $1 million of his own money to his campaign — is running a campaign touting nonpartisanship in a state in which no-party-preference is becoming more prevalent.
Poizner faces off against Democratic CA Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), who has been a fierce proponent for immigrant rights, especially in the realms of education and public safety. Voters may have seen television attack ads airing anti-immigrant statements Poizner made in a 2010 election, in which he uses the derogatory “illegals” in reference to undocumented immigrants. If elected, Lara would be the first openly gay office holder in California.
Key congressional races
Congress is the de facto spotlight of the 2018 midterms. When Republicans took majority of both chambers of Congress, people across the country were shocked. The legislative branch is the body responsible for proposing and passing federal laws, and provides a check to the other branches of power.
Whichever party earns the majority gains more momentum in passing laws and confirming presidential appointments among other duties. Currently, the House of Representatives contain 235 Republicans and 193 Democrats.
But according to RealClearPolitics, Democratic House candidates have an average 7.6-point lead ahead of Republican candidates, making the so-called “blue wave” possible.
California’s 39th Congressional District
Communities affected: parts of the cities of Fullerton, La Habra, La Habra Heights, Brea, Buena Park, Anaheim Hills, Placentia, Yorba Linda, Diamond Bar, Chino Hills, Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights.
The district’s current representative, Republican Ed Royce, is not running for re-election and has endorsed Korean-American candidate Young Kim, a Republican. A former state assemblymember, Kim is running a platform centered around breaking the partisan “gridlock” of Washington, immigration reform and “empowering teachers and investing in our schools,” particularly increasing funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
Kim’s challenger is first-time candidate Gil Cisneros, a progressive Democrat who has been endorsed by former U.S. President Barack Obama, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti other Democratic leaders. Cisneros is running a campaign focused on universal health care, increased funding to public education and providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, especially recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
According to polls from the New York Times and UC Berkeley, Cisneros is leading the race by 1 point.
California’s 21st Congressional District
Communities affected: San Joaquin Valley, including areas of Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties.
The Republican incumbent, Rep. David Valadao, is facing off against Democratic challenger TJ Cox, who is half-Filipino and an engineer and small business owner. In a recent debate, Cox slammed Valadao for his vote on the Obamacare repeal which would have wiped health care away from half the district and voted for sharply cutting Medi-Cal.
Cox also argued that Valadao has been soft on immigration solutions and slammed the federal government for its “failed leadership” in not aiding Guatemala and Honduras, from which most of the Central American “migrant caravan” has fled.
In 2016, 55.2 percent of the 21st District voted for Clinton and, as of 2017, the district leans more Democratic, but Valadao leads the race by 15 points. (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)