Here’s the Bay Area race national progressives are watching

Here’s the Bay Area race national progressives are watching

It’s Election Day in California. The top races on Californians’ ballots this year — think governor and U.S. Senate — pack little drama, as incumbent Democrats are on track to cruise to victory. Races elsewhere in the country, however, are incredibly close and could determine whether one or both houses of Congress change hands.

The Chronicle’s reporters and producers will be posting live election updates throughout the day on local developments, news from around the state and country, and analysis on the many big issues at stake this election. 

Latest updates:

49ers’ unprecedented spending overshadows Santa Clara elections

The NFL’s San Francisco 49ers poured more than $4.5 million into Santa Clara’s city elections, an unprecedented sum that comes as the team tries to oust city officials who’ve been critical of its management of publicly owned Levi’s Stadium. Team owner Jed York wants to unseat Mayor Lisa Gillmor and re-elect two City Council members. The team’s spending is equivalent to $78 per registered voter in Santa Clara, a staggering sum for the eighth largest city in the Bay Area.

York has long supported his preferred candidates in Santa Clara, where he has clashed with some city leaders over stadium operations. But the scope of spending in this year’s contests has sparked a debate about local democracy and big money in politics. Gillmor said the 49ers are engaged in “a complete and total potential takeover of our city.” Her opponent in the mayoral race, Council Member Anthony Becker, said the city needs a leader who will move beyond the 49ers feud and focus on issues like the housing shortage.

Voters in Inner Sunset sorted through ‘overwhelming’ propositions by studying multiple voter guides

In the Inner Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco, Darya Whitfield, voting Tuesday at a garage on 19th and Lincoln, said she and a large group of friends did a lot of prep for Election Day, comparing three different voter guides and having a spirited debate about what to vote on various propositions. The most confusing, she said, were Propositions D and E, the two competing housing measures. She and her friends each came out with a different takeaway, she said.

“The wording is really convoluted,” she said. “It’s not accessible, which is ironic because they’re about making housing accessible.”

That inaccessibility, she said, can be disillusioning for voters like her, who care deeply about what happens in their city. “It’s scary to think you could make the wrong decision just because you didn’t have all the information,” she said.

Arizona officials reports issues at 20% of voting locations in largest county

Election officials in Maricopa County, Arizona’s largest county, reported having equipment problems at about 20% of its 223 polling locations, according to the Maricopa County Elections Department. Ballots at some voting centers were not going through the tabulators, the machines that scan and count ballots, election officials said. “We’re trying to fix this problem as quickly as possible,” said Bill Gates, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, in a video posted on Twitter.

What’s Nancy Pelosi’s political future?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could decide to finally retire from Congress after a historic 35-year tenure if Republicans take control of Congress.

Even those in her closest orbit wouldn’t address the issue leading up to the election, but four years ago she promised she would not seek the speakership beyond 2022. When asked about that promise since, she has reiterated that her focus is on keeping control of the House of Representatives.

Political watchers expect that if Democrats do lose control of the House, there could be new leadership, likely from a younger generation of lawmakers like Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

State voters agree that democracy is at risk, poll finds

A majority of California voters are in bipartisan agreement that the nation’s democracy and election process are at risk, according to a new Berkeley IGS Poll. But Democrats and Republicans differ on the nature of the threats. While 81% of Democrats considered the potential for violence by disgruntled voters a major threat, and 79% expressed concern over organized efforts that make it more difficult to vote, 69% of Republicans said they considered illegal voting the biggest threat the U.S. is facing. 

The respondents also diverged in expressing confidence in the accuracy of the machines that tally election results, with 86% of Democrats expressing confidence in the tallies compared with just 45% of Republicans. 

“While California voters are in broad agreement that American democracy faces critical dangers, Democrats and Republicans disagree sharply on the nature of the threats, making the challenge of addressing the problem particularly daunting,” said Eric Schickler, co-director of IGS.

President Biden will not make public appearances on Election Day

The White House has called a “lid” for Election Day, indicating President Joe Biden will not be making any public appearances or speak to media.

“We expect the president will address the elections the day afterwards,” Karine Jean-Pierre, Biden’s chief spokesperson, told reporters at a press briefing.

Jean-Pierre said Biden will watch the election results from the White House as he prepares for an upcoming trip to international summits in Asia and North Africa, the AP reported.

The Bay Area race national progressives are watching

Erika Huggins (left) and Candidate for Alameda County District Attorney, Pamela Price (right), stop for a chat at the Free The People Block Party in West Oakland, Calif to celebrate Juneteenth.
Erika Huggins (left) and Candidate for Alameda County District Attorney, Pamela Price (right), stop for a chat at the Free The People Block Party in West Oakland, Calif to celebrate Juneteenth.Sabrina Sellers/Special to the Chronicle

Civil rights attorney Pamela Price and Chief Assistant District Attorney Terry Wiley are facing off in the race for Alameda County district attorney. 

They’re running to succeed retiring longtime District Attorney Nancy O’Malley in a race that’s drawn national attention due to Price’s evident alignment with the movement of progressives attempting to redefine the role of district attorneys’ offices. 

Less than six months after San Francisco voters recalled District Attorney Chesa Boudin, a former public defender, the Alameda election was widely seen as a test for the East Bay’s appetite for a leader who focuses on redressing root causes of crime rather than more punitive approaches.

Gov. Newsom, expected to cruise to victory, focuses on statewide issues

With Gavin Newsom almost certainly destined to win his re-election bid on Tuesday — more than one year after beating back a recall attempt — the governor of California has spent the past few days campaigning for issues that could shape the future of the state.

On Sunday, Newsom joined Sen. Alex Padilla in Southern California to rally for Prop. 1, which guarantees the right to an abortion in the state constitution.

“This is our opportunity to send a powerful message back to people all across America that we have their back,” Newsom told a crowd at Long Beach City College, referencing the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Roe v. Wade. “That it’s not just about 40 million of us in California; that we have their back. We believe in reproductive freedom. We believe in a woman’s right to choose. We believe in these fundamental freedoms and we are not going to take this moment for granted. We’re going to meet this moment.”

Separately, the governor has been speaking out against Prop. 30, which would tax millionaires to support climate change initiatives. The proposition is supported by rideshare companies. 

“They’re the beneficiary of a lot of those directed dollars,” Newsom said. “I just cannot in good conscience support that.”

Podcast: Embattled election officials withstand harassment, threats of violence

Until recently, being an election worker was an admirable but low-profile way to serve the public. But in the era of Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” and widespread disinformation about voter fraud, election workers are under siege.

On today’s Fifth & Mission podcast, Chronicle reporter Shwanika Narayan and host Cecilia Lei talk about the escalating hostility and political violence election workers are facing. In a recent poll, one in five said they plan to leave their jobs before the 2024 election.

Also on the episode, Contra Costa County Deputy County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong talks about the harassment he endured as the elected clerk-recorder of San Luis Obispo County during and after the 2020 election, and about the important role elected officials play in a democracy.

Listen at this link.

S.F. voters in the Sunset turnout for Prop. 1

John and Melinda Bailey, voting at the Sunset Rec Center on Tuesday morning in San Francisco, said that one of the items motivating them to trek through the rain to the polling station was Proposition 1, the statewide measure that would enshrine the right to abortion in the California Constitution. “To me, that’s the most important thing on this ballot,” Melinda Bailey said. John Bailey added that he came to support Proposition M, which would tax owners of vacant units in San Francisco. “I think it’s an important way to open up more housing,” he said.

Another Sunset voter, Anita Harmon, also said Prop. 1 was one on the most important items on the ballot to her. She added that Propositions J and I, which determine whether cars will be allowed back on the Great Highway and JFK Drive, were also top of mind this election. “I think those are very important to people in this neighborhood,” she said, though she didn’t share how she voted. Beyond that, she added, it was about exercising her right to hold politicians accountable. “I’d like to keep leaders in office that are thoughtful and responsible with their leadership,” she said.

S.F. district attorney, supervisor candidates canvass in the rain

San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey canvasses alongside District Attorney Brooke Jenkins as she chats with voters at Philz Coffee on Folsom Street in San Francisco, Calif. Tuesday, November 8, 2022 on the morning of Election Day.
San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey canvasses alongside District Attorney Brooke Jenkins as she chats with voters at Philz Coffee on Folsom Street in San Francisco, Calif. Tuesday, November 8, 2022 on the morning of Election Day.Jessica Christian

Canvassing in San Francisco continued Tuesday morning with interim District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, who is running to keep her appointed post, and District 6 supervisor candidate Matt Dorsey speaking with voters in the rain in the South of Market neighborhood.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and State Sen. Scott Wiener joined the candidates Tuesday outside Philz Coffee on Folsom Street, holding signs in support of Dorsey.

Don’t bet on sports gambling to win – yet

People likely to be crying in their beer after the polls close Tuesday include supporters of Propositions 26 and 27, both of which are attempting to legalize sports gambling in California. Supporters burned a stadium full of money ($120 million behind Prop. 26 and $169 million in support for Prop. 27) to legalize wagering here, and polls predict both will go down in defeat.

The reasons are many for their defeat, starting with how many Californians didn’t think the outcome of Prop. 27 was that important to them, according to a Public Policy Institute of California survey. And few were buying Prop. 27’s promise to steer a portion of their revenue toward homeless services and affordable housing — including homeless service providers.

But Californians who want to bet (legally) on sports shouldn’t despair. Another ballot measure may be coming in 2024. With California’s sports gambling market worth an estimated $3 billion to $4 billion

Key tests for Mayor London Breed in this election 

San Francisco Mayor London Breed is not on the ballot Tuesday, but she faces a number of high-stakes tests that could impact her political future. 

Five of her appointees to elected-official vacancies are facing voters for the first time: District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey, and school board candidates Lainie Motamedi, Lisa Weissman-Ward and Ann Hsu. 

In addition, Breed is supporting eight ballot measures and opposing six. The most critical and contentious is Proposition D, meant to streamline affordable housing, which she pushed after supervisors rejected her previous efforts to push reforms through the board. Progressive supervisors then placed competing measure Prop. E on the ballot. 

Breed is also behind Prop. J, which would keep JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park car-free and is being challenged by Prop I. 

Vice President Harris spending Election Day in L.A.

Vice President Kamala Harris will spend Tuesday in Los Angeles, doing radio interviews to drive voter turnout, according to her public schedule. Harris spoke at an election rally Monday at UCLA and encouraged voters to support Congresswoman Karen Bass, who is running for mayor against developer Rick Caruso in Los Angeles. “When I was in Sacramento and (Bass) was in Sacramento, I saw how she would tirelessly fight for the people of this region, the people of our state, and the people of our nation,” Harris told the crowd. Harris was California’s attorney general, while Bass served in the California state Assembly before becoming a U.S. representative.

Why rain on Election Day could be bad for Republicans

A person carries an umbrella while walking up Lawton Street in San Francisco, Calif. Tuesday, November 8, 2022 as rain falls on Election Day.
A person carries an umbrella while walking up Lawton Street in San Francisco, Calif. Tuesday, November 8, 2022 as rain falls on Election Day.Jessica Christian

What does rain on Election Day means in California, according to election data guru Paul Mitchell? “It’s good for the environment,” he said, “and bad for Republicans.” That’s because 44% of Republicans plan on voting in-person at a voting center and 36% of Republicans say they won’t vote until Election Day, according to a Capitol Weekly poll. It found that 6% of Democrats plan to cast ballots in person and 9% will do so Tuesday.

So Tuesday’s storms could affect more Republicans than Democrats. Rain was lashing Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley on Tuesday, and Mitchell noted that Irvine, Santa Clarita, Stockton and Merced are hosting some of the nation’s most competitive House races.

Why do Republicans wait until Election Day? Historically, they didn’t. They were far more often early ballot-casters. But that changed after the non-stop, flat-out wrong warnings from top Republicans – led by Donald Trump – that the voting system is not to be trusted. Capitol Weekly’s polling found that 54% of California Republican voters are not confident that their ballot will be received and counted if they return it by mail. Only 3% of Democrats feel that way.

It’s a really dangerous strategy, said Mitchell, vice president of Political Data and owner of Redistricting Partners, a political strategy firm. “Republicans have self-sequestered themselves into this in-person voting population because of conspiracy theories,” Mitchell said. “It’s not strategic to say, ‘Hey, you’ve got this easy way to vote for a month, but we want you to choose a harder way and only do it on one day.’”

A Northern California race that could help determine the balance of power in Congress

Rocklin Republican Kevin Kiley has run unsuccessfully for higher office twice in the past few years and has been stuck in the superminority in the state Assembly since he was elected in 2016. 

But Tuesday, he might see his luck change.

Kiley is running against Democrat Dr. Kermit Jones for an open seat in Congress. If he and other Republican candidates win Tuesday night, he could find himself in the majority for the first time in his political career.

Prop. D campaign makes last push to get voters out on a rainy morning

During a rainy start to Election Day, laptops and clipboards replaced drinks on the bar of Noe Valley Tavern, where the Proposition D campaign was making one last push to remind people to vote. At 7 a.m., 54 volunteers from the Nor Cal Carpenters Union headed out to hang flyers on doors around Noe Valley and the Mission.Todd David, a senior adviser to the Housing Action Coalition who is helping run the Prop. D campaign, said that today, the challenge is getting people to actually cast their ballots. “After four elections, there’s definitely a little voter fatigue,” he said. “Rain on the day of doesn’t help either.” And his Election Day message to voters? “Please remember to vote. It’s not that hard to walk to the mailbox.”

Will the Paul Pelosi attack affect the midterms?

After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul Pelosi was attacked by an intruder in their San Francisco home, some Democrats started talking about it in their campaigns.

Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized Republicans who made light of the attack. In one close congressional race in Southern California, Democrat Christy Smith accused her opponent of bearing responsibility because he’s called Nancy Pelosi “evil.” In Northern California, congressional candidate Dr. Kermit Jones talked about the event with supporters over the weekend, saying it underscores that civility and American democracy are at stake in this election.

Political experts say that strategy may help Democrats turn out their base, but likely won’t have a huge impact on the midterms. 

Find your polling place in California

It's Election Day in California.

It’s Election Day in California.

Stephen Lam/The Chronicle

You can find your polling place in California by entering your address on the California Secretary of State’s Office website or on your county’s elections website.

Mail-ballot turnout in Bay Area’s largest counties

Vote-by-mail turnout in the Bay Area’s four largest counties as of Monday, the day before the election, was slightly more than 25%, according to their election websites.

In Santa Clara County, 292,464 out of 1,045,613 ballots had been returned, or 28%. 

In Alameda County, 264,128 out of 931,936 ballots had been returned, or 28.3%.

A total of 177,227 out of 701,915 ballots had been returned in Contra Costa County, or 25.3%.  

In San Francisco, 134,020 out of 501,166 ballots issued to voters had been returned, or 26.7%.

California polls are open

Voting centers are now open in California for in-person voting and ballot drop-off from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you are standing in line at 8 p.m., you are still allowed to vote, according to the California Secretary of State’s Office. If you haven’t voted yet, here’s how to cast your ballot in the Bay Area.

Congress, Senate, Governor: Races to watch

These are the national races that we’ll be keeping a close eye on tonight.

California congressional races

CA-45: A lot has changed since 2020, when Orange County Republican Reps. Michelle Steel and Young Kim made history by being the first GOP Korean American women to ever serve in Congress. The latest round of redistricting forced Steel into a new district where Democrats hold a 5-point registration advantage. Steel is facing Democrat Jay Chen, in a race the progressive American Prospect dubbed “the craziest House race of 2022” because of Steel’s attempts to paint Chen as a tool of the Chinese government.

CA-9: Democratic Rep. Josh Harder has consistently run in battleground districts, and 2022 is no different as he seeks re-election in a new district that includes about half of his current one, and which contains 44% registered Democrats, 28% Republicans and 20% no party preference voters. He’s facing San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti, who’s been investigated multiple times during his tenure on the county board — investigations that determined he crossed the line in berating another supervisor and county staffers. Bribery allegations against Patti, however, weren’t substantiated by investigators.

CA-41: Republican Rep. Ken Calvert is a stalwart of Riverside County politics, but the addition of much of Palm Springs, which includes a substantial LGBTQ community, makes his latest re-election bid less of a sure bet. Donald Trump won Calvert’s old district by 7 percentage points in 2020, but would have won by only 1 point in the new district, and Democrats believe it has continued to shift in their favor. Democrat Will Rollins, the former federal prosecutor challenging Calvert, has at least one powerful ally in his corner: former Sen. Barbara Boxer, who’s been fundraising on his behalf.

CA-3: Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley has had his eye on a number of higher-profile positions for a few years, and this time it looks like he might get his wish in his bid for Congress. Kiley was a vocal opponent of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pandemic prevention measures, and ran in the recall election attempting to oust the governor from office. He’s facing a political newcomer, Dr. Kermit Jones, who’s taken a moderate stance on many issues as he’s campaigned.

U.S. Senate

Nevada: The Nevada Senate race hasn’t garnered nearly as much attention as races in Georgia and Pennsylvania but could be a pickup opportunity for Republicans. Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Mastro is locked in a tight battle to hang onto her seat, and is facing Republican former Attorney General Adam Laxalt. Cortez Mastro has championed her stance on abortion rights access; Laxalt celebrated the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Georgia: Abortion has colored virtually every race in the country, but perhaps nowhere has it factored so directly into a campaign as it has in Georgia, where two women have claimed Republican candidate Herschel Walker encouraged them to obtain abortions after he impregnated them. Walker has denied those claims. Meanwhile, he has said he would support a federal ban on the procedure. Sen. Raphael Warnock is one of the only Democrats to win a federal election in Georgia in decades, and is fighting to hold onto the seat after winning a special election in 2021.

Pennsylvania: Equally as explosive a race has been the Pennsylvania Senate contest, where Republican TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz is running against Democrat John Fetterman, a former lieutenant governor who suffered a stroke in May. Though the candidates have staked out positions on serious issues including abortion, inflation and crime, the race has also been dominated by questions about Fetterman’s health, and claims that Oz has spread medical misinformation over his career and that he only recently moved to Pennsylvania.


Oregon: The last Republican governor of Oregon, Vic Atiyeh, won election in 1978. But a Republican candidate, Christine Drazan, has had a slight edge in the polls in recent weeks — a prospect terrifying to Democrats who’ve long viewed the West Coast (the continental part, anyway) as a safely Democratic bloc. Millions of dollars from Nike founder Phil Knight to an independent candidate have scrambled the race, as the New York Times reported, and could split left-leaning voters between Democrat Tina Kotek, the former speaker of the Oregon House, and Knight’s beneficiary, Betsy Johnson.

Arizona: Elections themselves have been a key issue in the race for Arizona governor, where Republican former news broadcaster Kari Lake is running against Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. Lake has pushed false conspiracies about the validity of the 2020 presidential election. Hobbs, meanwhile, will oversee the election in which she’s running in her role as secretary of state.

Georgia: The race for Georgia governor is a rematch of the 2018 contest between now-Gov. Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams. In that race, Abrams fell less than 60,000 votes short in an affair overseen by Kemp in his role as secretary of state. Abrams was integral in 2020 in helping secure electoral wins for Georgia Democrats through her voter registration efforts, but polls appear to favor Kemp this time around. Voting rights and abortion access have been central issues in the race.



















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