(CN) — Initial election results Tuesday revealed a Millennial seeking an upset in one of California’s last Republican congressional strongholds had a fighting chance at succeeding on his second take in flipping the district blue, and gig economy drivers could remain independent contractors in spite of a historic state employment law.
Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar and Republican Darrell Issa were essentially tied when polls closed at 8 p.m. in California, according to initial results released by the San Diego Registrar of Voters.
Campa-Najjar seeks an upset in District 50, which has been without a representative for nearly a year after former Congressman Duncan Hunter was sentenced to 11 months in prison for campaign finance fraud.
He had been campaigning in the district, a tract of mostly rural east San Diego County and parts of southern Riverside County, since the day after he lost by 3 points to Hunter in 2018.
Campa-Najjar got closer than any challenger had in ousting Hunter from office but didn’t succeed in “blue-ing” the district as happened in nearby District 49 where weekly protests at Rep. Darrell Issa’s district office effectively forced him out.
Issa opted not to run for reelection in 2018 after he was tapped for a Trump administration position that never came to be.
As he tossed his hat in the ring last year, however, the fraud investigation against Hunter narrowed after his wife and co-defendant Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him.
The San Diego County Registrar of Voters said Tuesday because it had received a record-breaking number of mail ballots returned early, only 20–30% of ballots will remain uncounted when polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Initial results Tuesday included up to 70% of total votes cast in San Diego County via mail ballots and polling place precinct ballots returned to the registrar’s office from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2.
Ballots cast in-person on Election Day will be consequential for determining who will represent District 50.
Carl Luna, a professor of political science at University of San Diego, said in an email Tuesday that “the odds still favor Issa even if the early balloting seems to be breaking Democrat here and around the country.”
“But given all the early cast ballots which seem to be breaking Democrat around the country, the national narrative that tonight you'll have a red advantage from Election Day voting that turns into a blue shift when late mail-ins are counted may not materialize,” Luna wrote.
“Instead you might start with a Blue Wave from the get-go and the election breaks towards Biden early and stays that way, undercutting fears of a contested outcome,” he added.
The gig economy’s historic investment to garner voter support for its ballot measure to exempt drivers from being classified as paid employees under California’s historic employment law paid off Tuesday.
The New York Times’ voting results showed Proposition 22 netted a double-digit lead of 58% of Californians who voted in favor of exempting Uber, Lyft and DoorDash drivers from being classified as employees under AB 5.
The L.A. Times reported Proposition 22 is the most expensive ballot measure in California’s history with Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates collectively spending more than $204 million to prevent their workers from being classified as employees.
The price tag more than doubles the companies’ $90 million commitment when they announced the proposed ballot measure last year.
The high-ticket ballot measure came as the gig companies face costly lawsuits in California courts, as they have opted not to comply with the California labor law that went into effect in January.
A state court issued a preliminary injunction in August requiring the companies to start classifying drivers as employees, but it was stayed pending appeal.
At the appellate hearing earlier this month, attorneys for the companies argued there would be a spike in drunken-driving collisions if they were forced to classify California drivers as employees.
As for Proposition 15, which asks Californians to create split roll property taxes, so commercial landowners would pay property taxes based on the current value of their property rather than at the time they bought it, initial results were also tied with 63% of counties reporting, according to the Associated Press.
Unions spent heavily to support the proposition, but their dollars were slightly outspent by real estate developers seeking to maintain the status quo for commercial property owners.
Carl DeMaio, a former District 50 candidate and chairman of Reform California, a PAC that opposes tax hikes in the Golden State, said in a statement that, while the race was too close to call, he expected late ballots would oppose the proposition.
“Had Prop 15 been given an honest title by state politicians, the outcome would have been overwhelmingly a NO vote, but given the deceptive title our campaign had to work hard to aggressively educate voters. We believe the NO side will continue to gain as all the ballots are counted,” DeMaio said.
If passed, Proposition 15 would increase property taxes on commercial properties worth more than $3 million by rolling back portions of Proposition 13, a landmark tax rule passed by California voters in 1978.
It is estimated to provide between $6.5 billion to $11.5 billion in new state funding.
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