Key Races on the November 8 Ballot

The 2022 midterm election is finally here. Already, more than 3.5 million people have cast their ballots in California. But there are likely to be many more. Unlike the June Primary dud, this election is expected to have high turnout.

Below are just some of the races we’ll be watching. When you've finished the list, check out our list of city races to watch at 

Los Angeles County Sheriff

Sheriff Alex Villanueva is fighting for political survival following four years of scandal and conflict with county officials. His opponent is former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. 

Luna — who has been endorsed by every single one of the county’s supervisors — has vowed to bring stability and transparency to the office.

The latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll shows Villanueva is in trouble. Among likely voters and those who have cast their ballot already, 40% support Luna, compared to 32% for Villanueva.  

To learn more about the controversies that have characterized Villanueva’s tenure, listen to the LAist podcast Imperfect Paradise.   

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors District 3

State Sen. Robert Herzberg and West Hollywood Councilmember/former mayor Lindsey Horvath are vying to succeed Sheila Kuehl, who did not seek re-election in District 3. This district encompasses large parts of West LA and the San Fernando Valley and is home to some 2.06 million residents.

Both candidates are Democrats. And yet, this is a contentious race. The biggest issue is crime and public safety. Horvath has been accused by critics of wanting to “defund police.” She denies that. 

Interestingly, Sheriff Villanueva has featured in this race as well. Horvath has repeatedly called the sheriff out, while Herzberg has said he doesn’t see the value in attacking the county’s current top law enforcement officer.

Riverside County Board of Supervisors District 5

Incumbent Jeff Hewitt and Moreno Valley Mayor Yxstian Gutierrez are running in the general election for District 5. If Gutierrez wins, it will flip the balance of power on the board. 

Read more about the candidates and their stances on the issues at the Press-Enterprise.  

Orange County Board of Supervisors Districts 2, 4 and 5

Two Democrats — Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento and Garden Grove Councilwoman Bernice Nguyen — are competing in District 2, which is currently represented by Katrina Foley. Orange County’s approved redistricting maps cut Foley’s residence out of the new, heavily Democratic 2nd District, so she’s running in District 5.

In District 4, incumbent Supervisor Doug Chaffee is facing a re-election challenge from Buena Park Mayor Sunny Park. This is a Democrat-Democrat match-up, but the party has thrown its support behind the challenger this time.

The District 5 race is critical because it will determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Katrina Foley, a Democrat, is battling Republican Sen. Pat Bates. These are two starkly different candidates. Read more about the race and the candidates at Voice of OC.

San Diego Sheriff

San Diego Undersheriff Kelly Martinez was the top vote-getter in the June primary with 37.5%. She’s in a runoff with prosecutor John Hemmerling, who got 20.4% of the vote. Martinez is endorsed by the retiring sheriff, as well as Democratic politicians like Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher and Mayor Todd Gloria. Hemmerling has the Republican Party’s endorsement and that of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors District 2

The landscape in San Luis Obispo County has shifted dramatically thanks to redistricting. Board of Supervisors District 2 is less blue than it once was and incumbent Bruce Gibson, a Democrat, is facing a re-election fight. 

Gibson’s challenger is Bruce Jones, a retired surgeon who has served on the Templeton Area Advisory Group. Jones is supported by the Republican Party.

Major issues in this race include housing, homelessness, crime, and election integrity. Read more about the race here.  

Alameda County District Attorney

No matter who wins on Tuesday, Alameda County will make history by electing its first African American district attorney.

Progressives favor civil rights attorney Pamela Price, who is promoting race-neutral bail and sentencing reform. Chief Deputy DA for Alameda County Terry Wiley is seen as tougher on crime. He wants to make the county safer from repeat offenders and expand partnerships with victim advocates.

Both candidates oppose the death penalty and favor alternatives to incarceration. 

Santa Clara County Sheriff

This race features two very different candidates with similar surnames. Bob Jonsen and Kevin Jensen are on the ballot to replace embattled sheriff Laurie Smith, who is retiring. 

Jensen is the frontrunner. He’s endorsed by the Santa Clara County Deputy Sheriff's Association and the San Jose Police Officers' Association among others. Although he’s a department insider, he touts his record of standing up to Smith and calling out mismanagement of the county jails.

Jonsen is the police chief of Menlo Park. He says the department is desperately in need of new blood.

"It's really time for this organization, the Sheriff's office, to start moving out of that cloud of controversy and really get back to serving the community.m,” Jonsen told ABC 7.  

Shasta County Board of Supervisors Districts 1 and 5

Shasta County is a key battleground in the fight between traditional Republicans and the extreme right. The races for Supervisor Districts 1 and 5 will determine which one of these wings of the GOP controls Shasta County politics following the recall of Leonard Moty by militia-aligned activists in February.

In the June primary, several far-right candidates backed by the Liberty Committee suffered losses. But a few also mustered enough support to make it to the November General Election, which brings us to where we are today.

In District 1, which is being vacated by Joe Chimenti, Redding City Councilmember Erin Resner is facing off against gym owner and political newcomer Kevin Crye. He’s the anti-establishment candidate. Crye’s candidate statement says he decided to run because he “couldn’t stand to watch our liberties trampled anymore.”  

District 5 is a match-up between Anderson Mayor Baron Browning and political newcomer Chris Kelstrom. They’re vying to replace Les Baugh. Kelstrom is the Liberty Committee-backed, anti-establishment candidate in this race. 

One thing to watch: potential intimidation tactics on election night. We saw harassment of Shasta County election officials on election night in June. And in the lead-up to November 8, there have been reports of door-to-door voter intimidation in the county.