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Vogel, Flora make cut for Assembly race runoff
Vogel and Flora
Ken Vogel (left) and Heath Flora are battling it out for the State Assembly this November. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Virginia Madueno fell short in her vote count for state Assembly, which means the fight this November falls to two Republicans in Ken Vogel and Heath Flora.

The outcome of the hotly contested race for the State Assembly District 12 seat being vacated by Kristin Olsen was in limbo for about a month because the count was very close. No candidate received 50 percent plus one vote to avoid a general election runoff.

Elections in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties finished their counts last week and found that Vogel was the highest vote-getter with 25,678 votes, or 38.37 percent; followed by Flora who collected 21,484 votes, or 31.1 percent. Virginia Madueno, a Democrat who served on the Riverbank City Council, was limited to third place and out of the race with 19,764 votes, or 29.53 percent.

Others who ran in the race were Harinder Grewal, a Democrat CSUS professor living in Keyes, and City Marks, a Modesto Republican.

Assembly District 12 includes Hughson, Keyes, and parts of rural Ceres east of Faith Home Road. It also includes Hickman, Waterford, Turlock, Riverbank, Denair, Oakdale, Knights Ferry, Escalon, Ripon, Salida and Manteca.

Vogel is a former San Joaquin County supervisor.

Flora, a fellow Republican, was boosted by an endorsement from state Senator Anthony Cannella of Ceres.

Two Turlock farmers will once again vie to represent the residents of U.S. Congressional District 10 on the November ballot, according to latest election results.

Madueno posted the following message on her Facebook page: "Although I am disappointed in the final outcome I am extremely happy with what I consider to be a great campaign. We kicked off the campaign in February 2015, it was a year and a half of hard work and dedication not just by me but by so many people who came out to be a part of this journey.

"I am ecstatic that we had so many diverse supporters including many Republicans who had no problem being open with their endorsement or support because they took the time to learn more about the candidate and not focus solely on that ‘D' behind the last name."

In the official count for the District 5 Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors, incumbent Jim DeMartini won the race with 6759 votes, or 50.69 percent, to avoid a runoff election. Patterson Mayor Luis Molina picked up 4,215 votes, 31.61 percent while Eileen Wyatt Stokman, a former Ceres School Board trustee, had 2,333 votes, or 17.5 percent.

Republican incumbent Congressman Jeff Denham led with 61,290 votes, or 47.7 percent, followed by Democratic challenger Michael Eggman with 35,413 votes, or 27.6 percent. Democrat Michael Barkley had 18,576 votes, or 14.5 percent of the vote, followed by Denair farmer and Republican Robert Hodges with 13,130 votes, or 10.2 percent.

This November, California voters will be deciding who should replace Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate. For the first time in state history, two Democrats will battle it out for a Senate seat in a primary election. Attorney General Kamala Harris handily claimed a spot on the November ballot with 2,955,743 votes, or 40 percent. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez of Orange County, another Democrat, was in second place with 1,395,525 votes or 18.9 percent.

Duf Sundheim, the top vote gathering Republican, was shut out with a dismal third place finish of 572,979 votes, or 7.8 percent.

A total of 33 candidates were on the ballot.
No Senate candidates appeared in this part of the Valley during the campaign.

California voters face up to 18 ballot questions in November that could end the death penalty, cut into the cost of prescription drugs and free marijuana smokers to legally light up in the nation's most populous state.

The cascade of proposals is certain to create confusion at the ballot box, along with fresh criticism that the state's system of direct democracy has run amok. Low voter turnout in 2014 meant campaigns needed relatively few signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Collectively, the proposals would cut into a broad swath of life in California, involving issues from classrooms to prisons, the porn industry to cigarette taxes.

Voters will ponder whether gun owners should be subject to background checks to buy bullets, if a state ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery stores is needed or whether adult film actors should wear condoms during shoots.

There are proposals to take on $9 billion in public debt to build schools, to repeal an "English-only" rule in classroom instruction approved by voters nearly two decades ago, and to require voters to sign off on huge construction projects financed by public debt, which could threaten the state's unpopular and costly high-speed rail project.

Questions on either repealing or speeding up the death penalty and legalizing recreational pot use could drive voters to the polls. But dense ballots can turn off others, warned Kim Alexander of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation, which seeks to improve the way elections are conducted.

The logjam this year can be partially attributed to the Legislature, which pushed all the ballot questions to November. The list will appear alongside the presidential contest and races for Congress and the Legislature.
Simply sifting through the details of the proposals can be a tricky, time-consuming task. For example, it will be a tough sell to get voters to read the fine print in the 15-page proposal to overturn a 2014 law to ban single-use plastic bags at supermarkets.

Then there's the so-called Children's Education and Health Care Protection Act, one of several proposals yet to be cleared for the ballot. In effect, the measure raises taxes by extending a post-recession, personal income tax increase for a dozen years that was sold to voters by Gov. Jerry Brown and other supporters as "temporary."

Brown, a Democrat nearing the end of his final term, has not endorsed it.

However, Brown did qualify his own proposal to allow earlier parole in certain cases for non-violent felons and let judges decide which juvenile offenders are tried as adults, part of his plan to cut the prison population.

While the array of questions can be daunting, long ballots in California are more routine than not.

Since 1912, state general elections have averaged about 18 ballot questions, according to the Initiative & Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California. The record for a cluttered election was set in 1914, when voters had to sift through 48 questions.

As of Thursday, 15 questions had qualified for the November ballot, either through petition drives or by approval by the Legislature, according to the secretary of state.

Along with the tax-increase extension, two other proposals were pending Thursday that would:

• Raise California's cigarette tax by $2 a pack to $2.87, making it ninth-highest in the nation.

• Allow the state to sell $3 billion in bonds for maintenance at state and local parks, a measure being contemplated by the state Legislature.