In 2024, the same California Senate seat will be on your ballot four times. This is why

NORWALK, CA – JUNE 6, 2022: LA County voters head to the polls to vote in person the day before Election Day at the LA County Registrar-Recorder on June 6, 2022 in Norwalk, California. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

In 2024, the same California Senate seat will be on your ballot four times. This is why

Elections 2024, Homepage News

Ziema Mehta
Laura J. Nelson

November 19, 2023

In 2024, Californians will be asked to vote for a new U.S. senator. They are then asked to vote again. And then again. And then again.

Voters will see two Senate elections during the March primaries: the regularly scheduled election for the Senate’s six-year term beginning in 2025, and a special election to select a replacement who will serve the remainder of the late Senator Dianne’s term Feinstein will serve time. , which ends in January. In November, voters will be asked to choose between the top two candidates in both races.

The four-way vote could create chaos in the competitive Senate primary, which already has a crowded field. More than 30 people have filed to run for the six-year term that ends in 2031, including U.S. representatives. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), as well as Republicans Eric Early, a Los Angeles attorney, and former Dodgers and Padres first baseman Steve Garvey.

Seeing two Senate races on each ballot could tempt voters to split their votes, rather than backing the same candidate twice, said Paul Mitchell, a veteran Democratic strategist and pollster. The risk of a “head” vote and a “heart” vote, he said, is something campaigns must consider

being worried about


For example, a liberal baseball fan might cast a nostalgia vote in support of Garvey, a former Dodgers All-Star, for the short-term special election and a Democrat for the full six-year term. Admirers of Lee, who is trailing in fundraising and in polls, could choose to let the veteran lawmaker from Oakland finish out the remainder of Feinstein’s term but support another candidate who will take the job full-time starting in 2025.

The two 2024 Senate elections also offer candidates a rare opportunity to double the amount of money they are legally allowed to raise from each donor.

Federal campaign rules prohibit donors from contributing more than $3,300 to a candidate in the primary election and $3,300 to a candidate in the general election. With a second election looming, the maximum allowable donation will increase from $6,600 to $13,200.

A representative of the California Secretary of State confirmed that both races will appear on the March and November ballots, but would not identify the candidates who have already registered to run in both races. Spokesman Joe Kocurek said candidates have until December to file. 8 to file to enter the Senate race and state elections officials will not certify the list of qualified candidates until December. 28.

Democratic activist and labor leader Laphonza Butler was appointed by the government. Gavin Newsom will take Feinstein’s seat after her death earlier this year.

Butler said last month that she would not seek a full term. Butler has not said whether she will run to serve out Feinstein’s term, which expires in January 2025, but a person familiar with her plans and not authorized to speak publicly about them said this is not the is the case.

So Butler will serve through November 2024, and the candidate who wins the special election will then serve until early January 2025, when the winner of the full six-year term takes office.

Early and representatives from Schiff, Lee, Porter and Garvey confirmed they had registered for both races.

Darry Sragow, the publisher of the nonpartisan California Target Book, which tracks statewide elections and legislatures, said having many elections on the ballot is a disservice to California’s electorate.

“From my point of view, the way this is being constructed with simultaneous or parallel elections should be confusing to many voters,” he said. “Regardless of who comes out on top here, that’s not a good thing.”

But, the veteran Democratic strategist said, it also creates “fascinating possibilities.”

“All you can say is that the outcome is completely unclear,” Sragow said.

The 2024 election will mark the second time in two years that Californians have voted four times for a U.S. Senate seat in the same year. In 2022, voters saw Sen. Alex Padilla on the ballot four times


When Senator Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice president, Newsom appointed Padilla to replace her in the Senate.

California has historically allowed appointed senators to serve the remainder of the term without an election if the term expires in January after the next regularly scheduled statewide election. But rulings from federal courts in Arizona and Illinois suggested that the Golden State’s longstanding practice of filling Senate vacancies could be illegal under the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which required senators to be elected by electors in any state had to be chosen.

In 2021, after Padilla was appointed, Newsom signed a bill requiring primaries and general elections to fill vacant Senate seats. Padilla filed for the remainder of Harris’ term and the subsequent full six-year term, winning both elections by wide margins.

Democratic strategist David Beltran, who served as an adviser to Padilla’s 2022 campaign, said they addressed the parallel election on the ballot by delivering a simple message in flyers, speeches and other campaign communications.

“It was about repetition,” Beltran said. “I just want to remind people: vote twice.”

The 2024 campaign is much more competitive than the 2022 campaign. Some candidates seeking to replace Feinstein have been campaigning for almost a year. The candidates have reported raising more than $52 million

as far.

It’s possible that in such a competitive field, split-ticket voting could actually make a difference, experts say.

“In a crowded field of candidates, each with their own appeal, appearing on both ballots could potentially pose a risk,” Mitchell wrote of the 2024 election. could result in a candidate reaching the runoff in the special election for the remaining term, and not the runoff in the full-term election.”

Mitchell’s interest in parallel elections was piqued in 2018. After Sen. Tony Mendoza resigned amid sexual harassment allegations, Montebello Mayor Vanessa Delgado and Pico Rivera City Councilman Bob Archuleta ran to fill the remainder.


his term and to represent the 32nd District for another four-year term. All three are Democrats.

Delgado was elected to complete the final 112 days of Mendoza’s term, while Archuleta won the full four-year term. The result suggested that a “shockingly large” number

residents of the district

have switched their votes, Mitchell said.

Everyone thought: how did that happen? That doesn’t make sense, Mitchell said, noting that people went to the county Registrar of Voters Office to examine the ballots to see if they were defective, looking for a reason to explain the divided outcome.

“I think people got a little confused,” he said.


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