California gubernatorial election, 1998

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California gubernatorial election, 1998
California
1994 ←
November 3, 1998
→ 2002

  Lt. Gray Davis.jpg DanLungren.jpg
Nominee Gray Davis Dan Lungren
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 4,860,702 3,218,030
Percentage 57.97% 38.38%

CA1998Gov.svg

County Results

Governor before election

Pete Wilson
Republican

Elected Governor

Gray Davis
Democratic

The 1998 California gubernatorial election was an election that occurred on November 3, 1998, resulting in the election of Gray Davis, the state's first Democratic governor in 16 years. Davis won the general election by an almost 20% margin over his closest opponent, Republican Dan Lungren. Davis succeeded Pete Wilson who was term limited out of office for life.

The 1998 California gubernatorial election featured the state's only gubernatorial blanket primary, a practice which was later struck down in United States Supreme Court in California Democratic Party v. Jones in 2000. The primary occurred on June 2, 1998. Davis defeated fellow Democrats Jane Harman and Al Checchi for the Democratic nomination. Davis received more votes than Dan Lungren who ran against less well-known opponents in the Republican primary. The primary set a record for spending in a California gubernatorial primary.

Open primary[edit]

The Democratic field for the race became open when the state's most well-known and popular politician Dianne Feinstein decided in January 1998 not to run for Governor despite a request from President Bill Clinton. She decided not to run in the race because of the difficulty of campaigning, the "deteriorated" nature of California statewide campaigns, and her desire to continue her work in the Senate.[1] Former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta also decided not to run.[2]

Al Checchi, a Democratic airline executive and political newcomer, was among the first to declare for the race. Gray Davis also declared around the same time. Congresswoman Jane Harman joined the contest in early April 1998. In early polling the three candidates were within 12 points of each other, with Davis in last.[3] Harman spent $14.4 million in her race for Governor.[4] Checchi spent just under $39 million on his campaign.[4] The airline executive's campaign included numerous ads, one of which included school children trying to pronounce his name and another with his wife speaking Spanish.[2] Checchi did not identify himself as a Democrat in most of his early campaign ads.[5] Harman briefly overtook Checchi in state polls but declined after Checchi launched a series of negative campaign ads against her.[6] Many of Feinstein's top campaign advisers worked for Harman during the Gubernatorial primary. Harman's campaign ran a biographical ad of her at the 1960 Democratic convention.[2]

Davis ran on the campaign slogan "experience money can't buy," and he promised to make education his top priority, which matched voters' concerns in exit polls. All three major Democratic candidates made education one of their top priorities in the campaign.[6] Davis was third in polling until the final week of the campaign, and because he had trouble raising money during the early months of the campaign, he did not run campaign ads early in the race as did Harman and Checchi.[2] Davis spent 9 million in total campaign funds in the primary[4] and later criticized Checchi for giving money to Republicans Steve Forbes and Bob Dole in 1996.[2]

Lungren spent $7.7 million in the primary.[4] Davis finished first in the primary, followed by Lungren, Checchi, and Harman.

Primary results[edit]

California gubernatorial open primary, 1998
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Gray Davis 2,083,396 34.74%
Democratic Al Checchi 748,828 12.49%
Democratic Jane Harman 741,251 12.36%
Democratic Charles "Chuck" Pineda Jr. 23,367 0.39%
Democratic Pia Jensen 12,403 0.21%
Democratic Michael Palitz 12,050 0.20%
Republican Dan Lungren 2,023,618 33.75%
Republican Dennis Peron 72,613 1.21%
Republican James D. Crawford 28,881 0.48%
Republican Eduardo M. Rivera 22,222 0.37%
Republican Jeff Williams[7] 19,799 0.33%
Green Dan Hamburg 92,298 1.54%
Libertarian Steve W. Kubby 47,025 0.78%
Peace and Freedom Gloria Estela LaRiva 21,505 0.36%
Peace and Freedom Marsha Feinland 15,572 0.26%
American Independent Nathan E. Johnson 19,540 0.33%
Natural Law Harold H. Bloomfield 12,422 0.21%
Invalid or blank votes 209,828 3.38%
Totals 6,206,618 100.00%
Voter turnout  %

General election[edit]

Gray Davis won the general election by almost 20% over Dan Lungren. Davis outspent Lungren 28.6 million to 23.8 million.[4] Davis tried to portray Lungren as too conservative. In one debate, Davis attacked Lungren for voting no on a Safe Drinking Water Bill in the 1980s while Lungren tried to cast himself as the political heir of former California Governor Ronald Reagan. The policy differences between Davis and Lungren were substantial. Davis was pro-choice in a staunchly pro-choice state, and Lungren was pro-life. Lungren favored giving children abstinence only education. Both candidates were Roman Catholic. Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Bob Kerrey made campaign stops in California on Davis's behalf.[8][9] Davis succeeded in casting Lungren as too far right for California. Even normally conservative San Diego County went for Davis. Upon his victory, Davis promised he would focus his attention on education and would convene a special session of the legislature.[10] The race determined who would control reapportionment of congressional districts after the 2000 census.[6]

Results[edit]

Final results from the Secretary of State.[11]

1998 gubernatorial election, California
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Gray Davis 4,860,702 57.97%
Republican Dan Lungren 3,218,030 38.38%
Green Dan Hamburg 104,179 1.24%
Libertarian Steve Kubby 73,845 0.88%
Peace and Freedom Gloria Estela LaRiva 59,218 0.71%
American Independent Nathan E. Johnson 37,964 0.45%
Natural Law Harold H. Bloomfield 31,237 0.37%
No party Write-ins 21 0.00%
Invalid or blank votes 235,925 7.24%
Totals 8,621,142 100.00%
Voter turnout 41.43%
Democratic gain from Republican

Results breakdown[edit]

County Davis Votes Lungren Votes Others Votes
San Francisco 80.03% 192,496 15.16% 36,464 4.82% 11,567
Alameda 73.47% 282,297 22.58% 86,745 3.95% 15,195
Marin 68.94% 70,108 26.94% 27,392 4.11% 4,193
San Mateo 68.43% 142,144 28.52% 59,249 3.05% 6,320
Los Angeles 65.69% 1,297,896 31.16% 615,642 3.14% 62,134
Santa Cruz 65.62% 56,078 27.73% 23,699 6.65% 5,680
Sonoma 64.29% 103,235 29.03% 46,616 6.68% 10,724
Santa Clara 64.28% 270,105 31.66% 133,015 4.05% 17,056
Yolo 63.06% 31,939 33.14% 16,783 3.80% 1,926
Contra Costa 62.82% 190,200 34.25% 103,686 2.93% 8,867
Solano 62.81% 63,791 33.76% 34,288 3.43% 3,480
Napa 59.86% 25,809 35.24% 15,193 4.90% 2,112
Monterey 59.76% 54,464 36.27% 33,053 3.97% 3,619
Lake 58.83% 11,074 35.77% 6,734 5.40% 1,017
San Benito 57.42% 7,531 37.87% 4,967 4.71% 618
Sacramento 57.37% 206,870 39.65% 142,970 2.98% 10,721
Mendocino 57.37% 16,450 30.20% 8,659 12.43% 3,563
Imperial 56.15% 13,262 36.38% 8,592 7.47% 1,765
Merced 53.39% 21,200 44.16% 17,535 2.45% 973
Santa Barbara 53.33% 65,937 42.76% 52,873 3.90% 4,827
Ventura 52.95% 110,226 43.76% 91,093 3.30% 6,851
San Bernardino 52.60% 174,629 43.39% 144,056 4.02% 13,336
San Joaquin 52.03% 64,377 45.62% 56,447 2.35% 2,911
Del Norte 51.34% 3,820 41.49% 3,087 7.16% 533
Humboldt 51.22% 23,880 37.88% 17,658 10.90% 5,081
Riverside 51.15% 173,567 45.73% 155,175 3.13% 10,607
Stanislaus 50.69% 50,793 47.00% 47,095 2.32% 2,322
Alpine 50.35% 285 43.64% 247 6.00% 34
Kings 49.98% 11,370 47.06% 10,704 2.95% 673
San Diego 49.45% 364,169 46.28% 340,834 4.27% 31,423
Amador 49.20% 6,614 48.19% 6,478 2.61% 351
San Luis Obispo 49.04% 42,543 46.53% 40,363 4.43% 3,837
Trinity 49.01% 2,447 43.42% 2,168 7.56% 378
Tuolumne 48.38% 9,731 48.58% 9,771 3.03% 610
Fresno 47.68% 82,293 49.46% 85,369 2.86% 4,946
Mono 47.35% 1,641 47.32% 1,640 5.34% 185
Yuba 46.54% 6,302 49.79% 6,743 3.67% 497
Tehama 46.02% 8,561 50.23% 9,343 3.75% 698
Butte 46.00% 30,184 49.86% 32,717 4.14% 2,716
Lassen 45.85% 3,792 49.15% 4,065 4.99% 413
Siskiyou 45.54% 7,493 49.23% 8,100 5.24% 861
Calaveras 45.46% 7,358 50.35% 8,150 4.18% 678
Inyo 45.36% 3,082 49.70% 3,377 4.95% 336
Nevada 44.98% 17,522 50.62% 19,720 4.40% 1,717
Orange 44.69% 318,198 52.07% 370,736 3.23% 23,126
Tulare 44.11% 32,186 53.54% 39,072 2.35% 1,715
Plumas 43.99% 3,764 52.26% 4,472 3.75% 321
El Dorado 43.84% 25,429 52.64% 30,534 3.51% 2,037
Colusa 43.60% 2,136 53.50% 2,621 2.89% 142
Placer 43.55% 38,734 53.68% 47,745 2.78% 2,462
Shasta 43.28% 23,076 52.76% 28,130 3.97% 2,109
Sutter 42.07% 9,296 55.73% 12,313 2.20% 486
Mariposa 41.86% 3,005 53.70% 3,855 4.45% 319
Kern 41.80% 59,132 55.29% 78,213 2.90% 4,103
Glenn 41.74% 3,150 54.86% 4,140 3.40% 256
Sierra 41.70% 734 52.50% 924 5.80% 102
Madera 41.10% 10,869 56.20% 14,864 2.70% 714
Modoc 40.74% 1,428 52.95% 1,856 6.30% 221

References[edit]

External links[edit]