Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
December 31, 2015 – 2:26 PM

  • U.S. Senate race will be top contest
  • California could play presidential role
  • High-dollar ballot measures abound

Since 2016 is a number divisible by 2, this is also an election year, and that biennial fact will dominate – and perhaps distort – California politics in the forthcoming months.

There’s even an outside chance that California will have a role in the presidential selection process beyond being a cash cow for White House aspirants – something that hasn’t happened since Jerry Brown was a hirsute young man.

While Californians will doubtless vote for the Democratic candidate, whomever he or she is, in the November election, the cast-of-thousands Republican field may still be large enough in June to make our primary election meaningful, even decisive, for the GOP.

Californians will also be filling a U.S. Senate seat and Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris is the odds-on favorite to win – particularly if she faces one of three Republican hopefuls. But it’s possible, under California’s top-two primary system, that she and another Democrat, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, will duel in the fall, with the outcome hinging on how Republican, independent and Latino voters react.

Whether or not that occurs, the election season will still be the preoccupation of the state’s political pros, particularly a likely array of high-dollar ballot measures dealing with such yeasty issues as marijuana legalization, taxation, medical care and Brown’s twin water tunnels.

Brown himself hints that he may enter the ballot wars and spend some of his multi-million-dollar campaign treasury. But even if he doesn’t, the tab for the ballot measure campaigns will be in the tens of millions of dollars.

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