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Strickland, Runner win

Elections: Local officials get nods in statewide races; voters pass propositions 13 and 14

Posted: June 9, 2010 10:48 p.m.
Updated: June 10, 2010 7:30 a.m.

Meg Whitman, left center, winner of the Republican nomination for governor of California, and Carly Fiorina, the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate from California, are joined by Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, left, and California state Sen. Tony Strickland as they celebrate at a post-primary election celebration in Anaheim on Wednesday.

The two state senators who represent the Santa Clarita Valley both have a shot at statewide offices in November, according to Wednesday's final vote tallies from the California primary election.

Sen. Tony Strickland, who represents parts of the west and central Santa Clarita Valley, won the Republican nomination for state controller in Tuesday's election.

Sen. George Runner, whose district encompasses the rest of the Santa Clarita Valley, won the Republican nomination for the Board of Equalization District 2 seat.

Strickland, who emerged from the primary race with nearly 60 percent of the Republican vote, will face Democratic incumbent John Chiang in November. Chiang beat Strickland in a race for the Controller's Office in 2006.

The Republican senator celebrated election night with the Meg Whitman camp at the Universal City Hilton Hotel. He said Whitman, who won the Republican gubernatorial race, asked him to seek the office again.

"I believe (I), as controller, and Whitman at the top are going to be the team that turns this state around," Strickland said Tuesday night, criticizing Chiang for what he called a lack of leadership.

Runner bested a field of three other Republican candidates and received nearly 36 percent of the total votes cast.

He will face Democrat Chris Parker in the November election.

"I am honored to have won the Republican nomination for California's tax board," Runner said in a statement issued Wednesday.

"My work as a taxpayer advocate resonated with taxpayers throughout the state who demand and deserve fair representation on their tax board. I look forward to the November elections."

Two measures fail
Statewide, voters dumped two ballot measures supported by businesses - Proposition 16, which would have required a two-thirds voter approval before local governments could provide electricity to new customers - and Proposition 17, which would permit companies to reduce or increase the cost of auto insurance depending on the driver's history of continuous coverage.

Proposition 16 was funded by Pacific Gas & Electric.

Proposition 17 was put on the ballot by Mercury Insurance to overturn a state law prohibiting insurance companies from considering a driver's insurance history to set rates.

It also would have allowed loyalty discounts to follow customers if they switch insurance companies.

Open primaries OKed
Proposition 14, the open-primary initiative, passed by 54 percent of the vote.

Pundits saw it as an indictment of dysfunction among California's political parties and a way to change government. It will allow voters to cast ballots for any candidates in a primary election.

"Californians hate their state's politics, and they are looking for measures to change it," said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College.

Still, it's doubtful Proposition 14 will be the panacea to political stalemate in Sacramento, he added.

One of five initiatives on the ballot, Proposition 14 was backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has long argued that centrist candidates rarely win primaries dominated by party activists.

He praised voters for "bringing real accountability to government and putting the people back in charge of the politicians."

The open-primary measure was opposed by California's Republican and Democratic parties. Officials complained it would give well-funded special interests the greatest sway over the election process and leave candidates beholden to big-money donors, not voters.

Third parties feared their candidates would be shut out of general elections because minor candidates typically draw fewer votes.

Other ballot measures
Despite their willingness to reform primaries, voters defeated Proposition 15, a measure to experiment with public funding of political campaigns.

Voters overwhelmingly adopted Proposition 13, which exempts earthquake safety improvements from property taxes.


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