By Edmund Tuck
The 2022 midterm elections saw an influx of new candidates with local government backgrounds get elected to both the California State Assembly and Senate. This was due to term limits of some incumbents and others retiring, leaving several open seats. As a result, prospective candidates were inspired to run in these races, many of them being either current or former locally-elected politicians from all over the state.
In total, 22 of the 80 State Assembly seats will now be represented by non-incumbents if current results hold. Of those 22 newly elected candidates, 16 come from current local government positions. Of the 20 seats up for election in the State Senate, 11 will be newly-elected members if results hold. Only 7 out of the 11 new candidates are originally from local government positions, which is a slightly smaller percentage than the State Assembly. That being said, both the Senate and Assembly have a sizable portion of their new electeds from local government. This shows that jumping from local government to state government positions in California is a viable way to see electoral success.
AD 5: Joe Patterson, Rocklin City Council
Joe Patterson is a Rocklin City Council Member and is newly elected in the race for AD 5. This seat is being vacated by Frank Bigelow, who chose not to seek re-election. The district is newly drawn and represents some northeastern suburbs of Sacramento. Patterson is already the projected winner by an extremely wide margin.
AD 10: Stephanie Nguyen, Elk Grove City Council
Stephanie Nguyen is currently leading her opponent, who is another democrat, by 16% and seems poised to be the district's new representative. She is a current Elk Grove City Councilmember. If she wins, she will represent the newly drawn district that covers the southwest suburbs of Sacramento, including Elk Grove. The district is being vacated by Marc Levine.
AD 12: Damon Connolly, Marin County Supervisor
AD 12 is a district that covers almost all of Marin County. Damon Connolly is currently a Marin County Supervisor who is winning by 8% over his opponent, who is another democrat. Technically Heath Flora is the incumbent, but due to redistricting Flora is now running in AD 9, so AD 12 is an open seat.
AD 21: Diane Papan, San Mateo Deputy Mayor
Diane Papan is currently the San Mateo Deputy Mayor and just won election to the State Assembly by a wide margin. She will now represent the eastern part of San Mateo County. Again, due to redistricting, the incumbent is technically Adam Gray, who is now running for Congress. Therefore AD 21 can be classified as an open seat before the election.
AD 27: Esmeralda Soria, Fresno City Councilmember
Esmeralda Soria is currently leading in AD 27 by a very thin 1.2% margin, but is still favored to still win the seat. The current Fresno City Councilmember is running to represent the district, which covers much of the central valley and part of Fresno. Again, due to redistricting, it is best seen as an open seat.
AD 28: Gail Pellerin, Former Santa Cruz County Clerk
Gail Pellerin is a Democrat and former Santa Cruz County Clerk and is projected to win her race for AD 28 by more than 30%. This seat represents parts of the southern Silicon Valley area and the city of Santa Cruz. There is not a clear incumbent again due to redistricting; a common occurrence in this election.
AD 30: Dawn Addis, Morro Bay Councilmember
The race for AD 30 has the Democratic candidate, Dawn Addis, leading her Republican opponent by about 26%. Addis is currently a Morro Bay Councilmember and is running to represent the seat, which covers part of Santa Cruz all the way down to San Luis Obispo. The incumbent is unclear, due to redistricting merging several seats together.
AD 37: Gregg Hart, Santa Barbara County Supervisor
In AD 37, Gregg Hart is leading his Republican opponent by 18%. Hart is a current Santa Barbara County Supervisor and has been a Santa Barbara City Councilmember in the past. The incumbent Steve Bennet moved over one district after redistricting, meaning that AD 37 was an open seat. The new district represents Santa Barbara, Lompoc, and Santa Maria.
AD 39: Juan Carillo, Palmdale City Councilmember
Democrat Juan Carillo is currently leading his race to represent AD 39, which covers parts of Lancaster, Palmdale, and Victorville, by 12% over a Republican opponent. Carillo is a current Palmdale City Councilmember, but decided to run for assembly this election cycle. The incumbent is unclear due to redistricting splitting districts, but Tom Lackey’s former district is closest to overlapping. Tom Lackey decided to move over a district and ran against another incumbent in a safe Republican seat.
AD 47: Christy Holstege, Palm Springs Mayor
Current Palm Springs Mayor and Democrat Christy Holstege is leading by an extremely slim .8% in the race to represent AD 47. With an estimated 20% of the vote left to count, this race could still go either way. This seat had previously been represented by Chad Meyes, an avowed moderate, who chose not to run for re-election. The district represents a large portion of inland San Bernardino County, including Palm Springs and Yucaipa. The district has traditionally been a swing seat so it will be interesting to see what party manages to win.
AD 60: Corey Jackson, Riverside County Board of Education
In AD 60, Corey Jackson is projected to win the seat over his Republican opponent by about 10%. Jackson is a Democrat and also currently a Riverside County Board of Education member. AD 60 is traditionally a strong Democratic area, like much of California. It encompasses all of the city of Moreno Valley and goes south towards San Diego County. The incumbent Jose Medina decided to not run for re-election, which is why the seat was open.
AD 64: Blanca Pacheco, Downey Mayor
Blanca Pacheco is a Democrat and the current mayor of Downey in Eastern Los Angeles County. She is currently leading the race to represent AD 64 by 18% and is heavily favored to beat her Republican opponent. The district covers Both Downey and Norwalk, and swings out to cover La Mirada and La Habra as well. The new district has parts of 4 previous assembly districts because of redistricting. This means there is not a very clear incumbent but the seat was left open.
AD 68: Avelino Valencia, Anaheim City Councilmember
Avelino Valencia is currently projected to win her race to represent AD 68. The Democrat is also currently an Anaheim City Councilmember. The district covers Anaheim, Orange, and Santa Ana. Orange was added to this district after redistricting, making it slightly more Republican leaning. The incumbent Tom Daly is going to retire after his term ends, which is why this seat was left open.
AD 70: Tri Ta, Westminster Mayor
Tri Ta is the current Mayor of Westminster and is winning the race for AD 70 by 10%. Ta is favored to win the seat, which would represent the city he currently serves and also Garden Grove. This is a heavily Asian-American and traditionally Republican part of California. The current incumbent would be considered Janet Nguyen, due to her previously representing much of the same area. Nguyen is running for State Senate instead of running for assembly again, leaving an open seat.
AD 72: Diane Dixon, Newport Beach City Councilmember
Republican Diane Dixon is projected to win her race in AD 72 by about 16% over her Democratic opponent. Dixon is currently a member of the Newport Beach City Council and is now set to represent the district that stretches from Huntington Beach down to Mission Viejo. There is no clear incumbent, which is why the seat is now open.
SD 06: Roger Niello, Former Assemblymember and Sacramento County Supervisor
In SD 06, the Republican Roger Niello is in the lead by 10%, which means he will most likely win the seat. He is a former Assemblymember and Sacramento County Supervisor and is now vying for a State Senate seat. The retiring incumbent is considered to be Jim Nielsen, who’s old district represented much of the area of the new 6th district.
SD 08: Angelique Ashby, Sacramento City Councilmember
Angelique Ashby is a Democrat who is currently a Sacramento City Councilmember. She is leading her race by 4% over her opponent, who is also a Democrat. This district represents the central Sacramento area with the incumbent, Richard Pan, vacating the seat. Ashby has not been projected the winner yet but is on track to win.
SD 10: Aisha Wahab, Hayward City Councilmember
The current Hayward City Councilmember, Aisha Wahab, is currently leading her opponent by 4%. Both are Democrats. This district is situated on the East Bay and encompasses the city of Hayward, which Wahab already represents. The incumbent, Bob Weickowski, is vacating the seat.
SD 18: Steve Padilla, Chula Vista Councilmember
Steve Padilla is projected to win SD 18 over his Republican opponent. This district covers a large amount of land, from southern San Diego and Chula Vista all the way to Needles and the Arizona border. The incumbent is Ben Hueso, who is not seeking re-election because of term limits. Steve Padilla is a current Chula Vista Councilmember and has succeeded in his pursuit to represent the district.
SD 32: Kelly Seyarto, State Assemblymember and Murrieta Councilmember
In the State Senate race for SD 32, Republican Kelly Seyarto is projected to win the seat by a wide margin over his Democratic opponent. This district was redrawn in the redistricting process and it covers parts of northeastern San Diego County and parts of southern Riverside County, with the main cities being Murrieta and Temecula. Seyarto used to be a Murrieta councilmember for many years before he ran and won a state assembly seat. He then decided to run for State Senate after redistricting gave him a good opportunity in an open seat.
SD 36: Janet Nguyen, State Assemblymember and Former Orange County Supervisor
In SD 36, Republican Assemblymember, Janet Nguyen, is projected to win the race over her Democratic opponent by 16% -- a convincing margin. Nguyen is currently an assemblymember but has also served as Orange County Supervisor, Garden Grove City Councilmember, and has also previously been a State Senator. She has held many state and local offices and has just won another race to represent this district which stretches from Garden Grove and Huntington Beach down to San Clemente.
SD 38: Catherine Blakespear, Mayor of Encinitas
Democrat Cathernine Blakespear, who is currently the Mayor of Encinitas, is leading her close race in SD 38 by 4% over her Republican opponent. This district saw significant redistricting and now represents Mission Viejo down the San Diego County coastline, all the way to the northern part of San Diego City. There is no clear incumbent because the seat combines parts or several previous districts, meaning it was an open seat.
More New Faces Arriving to the Capitol
AD 20: Liz Ortega, Labor Council Executive
Liz Ortega is a Labor Leader and is leading her opponent by 18%, so she is well on her way toward winning the seat. The seat, which was vacated by Bill Quirk who retired, covers part of the East Bay in Alameda County.
AD 22: Juan Alanis, Stanislaus Sheriff Sergeant
Juan Alanis is currently a Sheriff Sergeant in Stanislaus County and is currently leading by 14% over his opponent. He is running to represent AD 22 which encompasses much of the northern central valley, including Stanislaus County. It is significant how easily he is winning the district which both Newsom and Biden have previously carried. The incumbent Kevin Mullin vacated the seat to run for US Congress.
AD 35: Jasmeet Bains, Physician
Jasmeet Bains is a family doctor in Bakersfield. She is leading her opponent with 60.52% of the vote and will be the first South Asian woman to serve in the California Legislature.
AD 51: Rick Zbur, Civil Rights Attorney
Rick Zbur is a Democrat and Civil Rights Attorney who is currently winning his race to represent AD 51 by 10% over his Democratic opponent. AD 51 covers many affluent parts of West LA. It stretches from Hollywood to Beverly Hills and then to the coast in Santa Monica. Despite being a wealthy district, it still leans heavily Democrat. Due to redistricting, the new district combines parts of 4 previous districts so the incumbent is very unclear. That being said, the seat was open.
AD 63: Bill Essayli, Attorney
Bill Essayli is a Republican Attorney who is projected to win the race to represent AD 63. He will win by an approximate 18% margin over his opponent, who is a Democrat. AD 63 is a Republican-leaning area which voted for both Cox and Trump previously. It covers Republican-heavy parts of Riverside County including Lake Elsinore and Menifee and also goes all the way up to Norco. Due to redistricting, it combined large parts of two previous districts, so the incumbent is not very clear. However, the district was an open seat.
AD 69: Josh Lowenthal, Business Owner
The race for AD 69 has been projected as a win for Democrat Josh Lowenthal over another Democrat running against him. Lowenthal is a business owner and is the son of the former Long Beach congressman Alan Lowenthal. This name recognition likely helped him win the seat handily. The incumbent Patrick O’Donnell is retiring, leaving the Long Beach-based seat open.
AD 71: Kate Sanchez, Business Owner
In AD 71, the Republican Kate Sanchez is winning over her fellow Republican by a very slim 2% with 15% of the vote still to be counted. This will be a close race. Kate Sanchez is a business owner without much political background except for issue-specific organizations. This seat is quite Republican-friendly and stretches from Mission Viejo to Murrieta and Temecula. This new district overlaps with Kelly Seyarto’s old Assembly seat but Seyarto ran for State Senate, which is why it is an open seat.
SD 04: Marie Alvarado-Gil, Public School Administrator
Marie Alvarado-Gil is currently leading her State Senate race by 4%. She is currently a public school board member in Amador County. SD 4 encompasses most of the eastern California border with Nevada. Due to redistricting, there is not an exact incumbent. It is also notable that both Cox and Trump carried this district but both candidates are Democrats.
SD 16: David Shepard, Farmer
David Shepard is a farmer from the central valley who is currently winning by 4% against the current seat's incumbent. Due to redistricting, the seats changed significantly by adding much of the central valley to the district. This partially explains why the incumbent, Melissa Hurtado, is losing in this close race. There is still about 30% of the vote outstanding, however, so Hurtado could make up ground in late returns.
SD 20: Caroline Menjivar, Non-profit Director
In SD 20, the Democrat Caroline Menjivar leads her other Democratic opponent by 12%, meaning she is heavily favored to win the seat. This district covers much of the northern and central part of the San Fernando Valley, including the cities of San Fernando and Burbank. There is not a clear incumbent given that redistricting meant that the previous SD 20 was in the San Bernardino Valley. Menjivar is a non-profit director and used to work in the LA Mayor’s office.
SD 28: Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, Educator
Lola Smallwood-Cuevas is currently a labor organizer in Los Angeles. She is leading by 18% over another Democrat in the race to represent SD 28, which covers Culver City and a large part of Downtown LA. Again, due to redistricting, it is unclear who the incumbent is but the seat is open regardless.
Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Jasmeet Bains as a Kern County supervisor.