Voter Guide: March 5, 2024 California Primary Election

Hello, friends and enemies! It’s election season again. In California, midterm elections are on March 5, but you should get a ballot in the mail in early February, if you haven’t already. Remember that you can vote by mail or in person.

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Reminders and Resources for California Voters

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on politics or government. I’m just a person who’s good at reading and looking things up. If you trust my judgment, you can vote how I vote. You can also use my guide as a starting point for your own research.

Quick Reference

This table summarizes how I’m planning to vote in this election. I explain my choices below!

Position/PropositionMy Vote
President of the United StatesClaudia de la Cruz
Senator – Full TermKatie Porter
Senator – Partial TermKatie Porter
Proposition 1No
Congressional District 7David Lee Mandel
Assembly District 10Stephanie Nguyen
Judge of the Superior Court Office No. 21Noel Andrew Calvillo
Sacramento County Board of Education, Governing Board Member, Trustee Area 6Heather Davis

Party-nominated offices

California has an “open” primary thanks to the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act. This means that you are not restricted to voting for candidates for the political party you belong to. The two candidates with the most votes—regardless of party affiliation—will face off in the general election in November. That means we can have, for example, two Democratic candidates running for the same senate seat, rather than one candidate from each party.

However, this does not apply to voting for president. You must have a party preference listed to be able to vote in the presidential party. If you’re a registered Democrat, you’re restricted to choosing from among the Democratic candidates when voting for president. I am registered for the Peace and Freedom party, so my ballot only has their candidates (Cornell West, Jasmine Sherman, and Claudia de la Cruz) available for me to vote for.

I want to note here that the primary elections are the time to vote with your heart. Vote for the candidate you feel strongly about even if you don’t think their chances are good in November. Don’t preemptively pick a worse candidate. We’ll have plenty of chances for lesser-of-two-evils voting in November.

President of the United States

My vote: Claudia de la Cruz

Of the Peace and Freedom party candidates, I think Claudia de la Cruz has the platform I most resonate with and the level of organization possible to make it in the general election, or at least to create a strong coalition and movement. If you’re feeling disillusioned with Biden and the rest of the Democratic candidates right now, I highly recommend taking a look at de la Cruz’s website. I think you will be pleasantly surprised to hear a candidate calling for slashing the military’s budget and nationalizing fossil fuel corporations.

Most of you are probably agonizing over the choice for the democratic candidate (though let me remind you that you can change your party preference and get a new ballot at any point! Use the same-day voter registration form to do so anytime from February 20 through the election itself on March 5). The list of candidates on the ballot probably seems random and that’s because the Democratic Party is only backing Joe Biden for this election. The other two national contenders are Marianne Williamson and Dean Phillips. Williamson is a nut. There’s a whole episode of the Maintenance Phase podcast dedicated to how bonkers she is. Do not vote for this woman. Dean Phillips seems fine to me. He’s a congressman from Minnesota who apparently founded a gelato company of all things? I don’t know. We could do worse I suppose.

So, Joe Biden. I know a lot of us are in the uncomfortable position of really not liking the same guy conservatives have been hating for the last few years (albeit for completely different reasons). It’s hard to want to vote for a president who is 81 years old and is, at best, showing the early signs of dementia. I don’t think it’s wrong to want a president who is younger and mentally agile enough to do the job! Biden has done some good stuff as president. We got the American Rescue Plan act and money for infrastructure. However, I know for a lot of us that his unwavering support of Israel in spite of the mounting death toll is a huge deal breaker. I don’t want a president who is supporting a genocide. I also want to note it’s not merely my opinion that this is a genocide, the International Court of Justice, in response to South Africa’s suit against Israel, says that Israel does seem to be committing some genocidal acts (page 4 of the linked PDF). I legitimately don’t know if I have it in me to vote for Biden in the November election, even knowing that Biden losing will probably mean Trump winning (which will be a fucking nightmare by the way). The Democrats need to grow a spine and pick a better candidate. We need more than two political parties in this country. I don’t know if any of that will get resolved before November and I’m sorry I can’t bring you better or more definitive voting advice.

Voter-nominated Offices

United States Senate: Full Term and Partial/Unexpired Term

My vote: Katie Porter

This is confusing and it took me a little while to figure out what’s going on with having the full term and partial term senate seats on the ballot. Both of these votes are for the same position. One of our California senators is Alex Padilla who will serve until 2029. We are voting to fill Diane Feinstein’s position. After her death last year, Governor Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler to her seat. Butler is not seeking election to the Senate. Voting for the Partial/Unexpired Term is picking a senator to finish the rest of Feinstein’s original senate term, which ends in January 2025. The Full Term position is our regularly scheduled senate election for the term starting in 2025. You could vote for different people for each of these positions, but that would not be super helpful because you’d have a senator coming in for two months then a new senator taking over in January.

This race is really between three high-profile candidates: Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Adam Schiff. All three are currently serving in the House of Representatives and are very well known for different reasons. I am torn between Lee and Porter but am ultimately voting for Porter because I am just fucking tired of being governed by a gerontocracy. I have a huge amount of respect for Lee for being the only member of congress to vote against going to war in Afghanistan. I think she is a great legislator. I just can’t bring myself to vote for another person who should be enjoying their retirement. I am not voting for Schiff because he was one of the very few Democrats to vote to support the Republican’s standalone bill to give Israel $17.6 billion. Stop trying to give them money! Schiff’s platform says he wants to fund NASA and have Medicare for all. We can’t do that if we give literal billions to Israel to support their genocide.

Porter is probably best known for grilling corporate representatives and holding up whiteboards while doing it. Her campaign is not taking money from corporate political action committees, which I think is great because that means she can hold corporations accountable instead of being beholden to them. We need her tenacity in the senate. Something notable in her platform? Banning members of congress from trading stocks! It’s completely insane that sitting members of congress can trade stocks. Yes, insider trading is illegal. That doesn’t mean they’re not doing it! This is the kind of thing that seems like a small change but would do so much to improve our political system.

I have to add this note before we move on. This isn’t about these three candidates but I saw that the Secretary of State added a disclaimer to one particular candidate’s statement. You have to be very off the rails for the SOS to do this.

Measures Submitted to the Voters

We have just one statewide proposition on the ballot this time. Honestly, I’m thankful because it takes a lot of time to read up and write about these things.

Proposition 1


My vote: No

This is another hard one because my gut feeling is to always vote to fund programs to help people. However, I am not convinced that this proposition would actually help anyone. What unhoused people need is housing. I have been following the Sacramento Homeless Union online and a big sentiment is they don’t want to have to be forced to go through these programs to get access to any services. People just need places to stay. That’s it. They need help without having to give up all their possessions and jump through a bunch of hoops. Yes, a lot of people do need various therapies, but solutions should prioritize housing first. There aren’t enough places to live! People can’t afford rent! There are already programs in place for helping people with substance abuse and mental health. This proposition would reallocate local funds from other services for unhoused people to these residential facilities with substance treatment. Disability Rights California opposes the proposition. Cal Matters notes that “the $6.4 billion bond would create up to 4,350 new homes for people who need mental health and addiction services — 2,350 of which would be reserved for veterans … in a state with an estimated homeless population of more than 180,000.” It doesn’t seem like this is the answer. It seems like Newsom just wants to seem like he’s doing something.

Local Races

This is where our ballots probably diverge. I still like to share my thought process even if these elections aren’t relevant to most of you. If you have a question about one of your local races, leave a comment or contact me! I’m happy to help you figure out your ballot.

Congressional District 7

My vote: David Lee Mandel

I don’t dislike our current representative, Doris Matsui, but Mandel sounds like he is a lot more progressive. He is calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, wants single-payer healthcare, and supports getting rid of the Electoral College. Also, Matsui didn’t even submit a statement to put in the voter guide. I get that she’s the incumbent, but she can’t bother to write a little something about why we should vote for her? That feels disrespectful to me. Also, she’s another legislator that’s a million years old! She’s 79 right now. Please retire and enjoy your life, I beg you.

Assembly District 10

My vote: Stephanie Nguyen

Look, I’m not voting for a Republican so of course I’m voting for Nguyen, the only other person running in District 10. The Republican candidate didn’t even publish a statement in the voter guide. So lazy! Nguyen is the incumbent here and it seems like she’s done a decent job so far. She seems more pro-police and pro-business interests for my tastes, but we could certainly do worse.

Judge of the Superior Court Office No. 21

My vote: Noel Andrew Calvillo

It always takes a little work to figure out who the judicial candidates are because these are nonpartisan offices (not affiliated with a political party) and judges don’t put out a platform like prospective legislators do. We have to judge them on their background and who endorses them. My initial choice was Amy Holliday because she’s the only person who has a statement in the voter guide. However, she is currently the district attorney for Sacramento County and half the endorsements on her website are from police groups. I don’t like that. I think Calvillo is our best choice. It sounds like he has done a lot of good work and he has endorsements from actual people (not just police).

Sacramento County Board of Education, Governing Board Member, Trustee Area 6

My vote: Heather Davis

Davis is the incumbent in this position and has been on the County Board of Education since she was elected in 2016. I couldn’t find any information about her opponent, Shazleen Khan. She didn’t provide a candidate statement or respond to local news outlets. This sounds super basic, but if you’re going to run for office, you at least have to have a website or a facebook page or something. So, I guess I’m voting Davis.

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