Offsetting Partisan Legislative Race Results Maintain County’s Political Status Quo

By Mark Gutglueck
The balance among the number of Republicans as opposed to Democrats representing San Bernardino County at the legislative level remained unchanged as a result of the November 3 election. In a single case, a sitting Democratic Congressman was supplanted by a Republican. In a single case, an incumbent Republican state senator has been replaced by a Democrat. In all of the other races, either the incumbent prevailed or the replacement will be a member of the incumbent’s party.
In California’s 33rd Assembly District, located wholly within San Bernardino County and which has been dominated by the Republicans since its current district boundaries were established in 2012, two Republicans, Thurston Smith and Rick Herrick, were vying to replace Republican Jay Obernolte, who stepped up to run for Congress this year. Smith prevailed with 83,181 votes or 55.18 percent to Herrick’s 67, 573 votes of 44.82 percent.
In Assembly District 36, which straddles San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, incumbent Republican Tom Lackey defeated Democratic challenger Steve Fox.
In Assembly District 40, contained entirely within San Bernardino County, incumbent Democrat James Ramos solidly defeated Republican challenger Jennifer Tullius, 107,127 votes or 58.36 percent to 76,436 votes, or 41.64 percent.
In Assembly District 41, which covers portions of both San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, incumbent Chris Holden won convincingly, but actually lost in San Bernardino County, where he received 24,490 votes or 49.12 percent to Republican hopeful Robin Hvidston’s 25,370 votes or 50.88 percent. The overwhelming number of Democrats in the portion of Assembly District 41 outside San Bernardino County carried the day for Holden.
In Assembly District 42, where former Yucca Valley Mayor Chad Mayes is the incumbent, a unique situation, ultimately beset by paradox, exists. Mayes had been for the entirety of his political career a rock-ribbed conservative Republican and, as such, was elected to the Assembly in 2014, reelected in 2016 and again in 2018. On December 6, 2019, Mayes left the Republican Party, opting to file for re-election as an independent, while decrying the partisan bickering that has gripped Sacramento. In the November 3 contest, he was facing Republican San Jacinto Mayor Andrew Kotyuk. Paradoxically, Mayes did more poorly in the San Bernardino County portion of Assembly District 42, despite that having been his political base previously. In San Bernardino County, Kotyuk hauled in 26,411 votes or 52.48 percent to Mayes’s 23,914 or 47.52 percent. In Riverside County from which Kotyuk hails, Mayes outpolled him decidedly, such that overall in the district Mayes has won with 55.9 percent of the vote to Kotyuk’s 44.1 percent.
In Assembly District 49, which falls entirely within San Bernardino County, incumbent Democrat Eloise Gomez Reyes trounced Republican challenger Matthew Gordon 104,575 votes or 69.1 percent to 46,768 votes or 30.9 percent.
In Assembly District 52, which includes a portion of both San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, Democrat incumbent and former Pomona Mayor Freddie Rodriguez won solidly over Republican Challenger Toni Holle on both sides of the county line.
In Assembly District 55, which is spread out through southwesterly San Bernardino County, southeasterly Los Angeles County and northeasterly Orange County, incumbent Phillip Chen faced a challenge from Democrat Andrew Rodriguez. Chen overall prevailed with 55 percent of the vote to Rodriguez’s 45 percent. In San Bernardino County, Chen polled 19,605 votes or 54.1 percent to Rodriguez’s 16,621 votes or 45.88 percent.
In California State Senate District 21, which lies within the western Mojave Desert and spans into Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, incumbent Republican Scott Wilk beat Democratic challenger Kipp Mueller.
In Senate District 23, which perambulates over San Bernardino and Riverside counties and where Republican Rosilicie Ochoa-Bogh and Democrat Abigail Medina were vying to replace Republican Mike Morrell, Ochoa-Bogh appears to have prevailed with 52.4 percent of the vote, though early in the tabulation of results last week, Medina had taken a slight lead, which has now evaporated.
In Senate District 25, which lies on both sides of the Los Angeles County/San Bernardino County divide, incumbent Democrat Anthony Portantino, with 64.1 percent, overwhelmed Republican Kathleen Hazelton, with 35.9 percent of the vote.
In Senate District 29, the incumbent, Ling Ling Chang, had acceded to that office in 2018 after Democrat Josh Newman, who had defeated Chang in 2016 by 2,498 votes, was recalled from office as a consequence of the Republicans targeted him for being one of 81 legislators to vote in favor of increasing the state’s tax on gasoline.
Politics in the 29th District are complex. The district includes a substantial swath of northeast Orange County, Diamond Bar and surrounding cities in Los Angeles County as well as Chino Hills in San Bernardino County. While a plurality of the district’s voters are registered Democrats at 38.7 percent, the Republicans, who generally turn out in larger numbers at the polls than Democrats, account for 31.3 percent of the district’s voters. In this way, the 25.3 percent of the district’s voters who are unaffiliated with any party are the deciding factor in who holds office. While Chang, as of today had outpolled Newman in San Bernardino County, 18,451 votes or 52,84 percent to 17,361 votes or 47.16 percent, in the district overall, Newman is well enough ahead of Chang, 212,585 or 51.3 percent to Chang’s 201,959 votes or 48.7 percent, that the position is now considered Newman’s for the next four years. This represents the one legislative office representing San Bernardino County that the Democrats have flipped.
In the 8th Congressional District, where Republican incumbent Paul Cook chose to depart this year in favor of successfully seeking the First District San Bernardino County Supervisor’s position, current 33rd District Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, the Republican in the race, has beaten Democrat Chris Bubser. The 8th Congressional District is the largest in California, including much of San Bernardino County’s Mojave Desert and stretching northward to include all of Mono and Inyo counties.
In the 27th Congressional District, comprising parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties including much of the San Gabriel Foothills, incumbent Democrat Judy Chu has defeated Republican challenger John Nalbandian, though within San Bernardino County Nalbandian outpolled Chu 11,105 votes or 52.9 percent to 9,887 votes or 47.1 percent.
In the 31st Congressional District, which lies entirely within San Bernardino County, incumbent Democrat Pete Aguilar had little difficulty with GOP standard bearer Agnes Gibboney. Aguilar collected 167,481 votes or 61.24 percent to Gibboney’s 106,006 or 38.76 percent.
In the 35th Congressional District, which includes cities and territory in both San Bernardino and Los Angeles County, incumbent Democrat Norma Torres dispatched Republican challenger Mike Cargile, 69.3 percent to 30.7 percent.
In the 39th Congressional District, Gil Cisneros ran for office in 2018 successfully, utilizing a portion of the wealth that had fallen to him after he won a Mega Millions jackpot worth $266 million in 2010. Cisneros, an 11-year Navy veteran, had been a Republican but left the party in 2008 out of a belief that the GOP had become “too ideological.” In the 2018 race, Cisneros, running as a Democrat, outdistanced Young Kim by collecting 126,002 votes or 51.56 percent to Kim’s 118,391 votes or 48.44 percent.
In a rematch this year, Kim, a Republican, came roaring back, polling 172,253 votes or 56.61 percent to 168,108 votes or 49.39 percent for Cisneros. Kim’s victory marks the one legislative position that the GOP picked up in San Bernardino County as a consequence of the November 3 election.

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