SACRAMENTO — Polls closed Tuesday after voters cast ballots for California’s next attorney general, lieutenant governor, schools chief and other statewide offices. The race for superintendent of public education was an expensive showdown between unions and charter-school advocates. Attorney General Xavier Becerra wants to stay in the job he was appointed to last year. In the contest for secretary of state, the incumbent Democrat Alex Padilla is hoping to hold onto his seat against a GOP challenger. Either candidate running for insurance commissioner will make history with a win.
Here’s a look at the down-ballot races:
Republican Steven Bailey, a former state court judge, was trailing Xavier Becerra, who became California’s first Latino attorney general last year after Kamala Harris left for the U.S. Senate.
Becerra wants voters to keep him in the job to continue battling the Trump administration. Formerly a longtime Los Angeles congressman, Becerra regularly makes national headlines challenging the GOP president’s efforts to change environmental and immigration policies.
Bailey calls the focus on Trump policies “a waste of taxpayer resources” and says he would concentrate on fighting crime. Before becoming a judge, Bailey was deputy legislative director of the California Department of Social Services in the 1980s.
Bailey has lagged in fundraising and ethics questions have further complicating his efforts. He has denied allegations he used his judgeship to aid his political campaign, improperly accepted gifts and steered business to a firm where his son worked.
A judicial ethics panel is reviewing the case and a decision is expected after the election.
Eleni Kounalakis, a former diplomat, was leading Ed Hernandez, a state senator, in the race for lieutenant governor.
The contest is a Democrat-on-Democrat matchup after no Republican finished in the top two spots during June’s blanket primary.
Both Kounalakis and Hernandez advanced after raising substantial money to get their names in front of voters and replace Gavin Newsom, the heavy favorite to be the next governor.
Although the job holds little real power, it’s seen as a launching pad into higher office.
The lieutenant governor serves as a University of California regent, a California State University trustee and as a state lands commissioner overseeing conservation and public access. The lieutenant also acts as governor when the top executive is away.
Both candidates say they want to lower college costs, and both oppose oil drilling off the California coast.
If elected, Kounalakis would be the first woman to hold the position. She emphasizes her background as a developer and former ambassador to Hungary.
Kounalakis vows to stop sexual harassment in workplaces, hold perpetrators accountable, and ensure women receive equal pay for equal work.
Hernandez, chair of the Senate Health Committee, authored a bill increasing transparency around drug pricing last year. It passed over opposition from pharmaceutical companies.
He also had a hand in passing laws to protect access to clean air and water, increase funding for schools and career education programs, and provide one year of free community college.
He says he wants to protect against sexual harassment, hold abusers accountable, and remove offenders from office.