Politics

Election 2014: California's primary was of secondary interest to most voters

Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
MayaSugarman/KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell greets supporters at his election gathering at the JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday night, June 3.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
Gov. Jerry Brown, accompanied by his wife, Anne Gust Brown, talks to reporters outside the Old Governors Mansion on election night in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Brown easily advanced to the November general election with early returns showing him with 57 percent of the vote. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
A press conference with Governor Jerry Brown is televised during an election gathering for Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Bob Olmsted at Pierre Garden in Glendale on Tuesday night, June 3.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
Bobby Shriver finished second in the primary and advance to the runoff for Los Angeles County Supervisor.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
California Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Neel Kashkari greets supporters during an election night party at the Port Theater on Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in the Corona Del Mar area of Newport Beach, Calif. Two Republicans are vying for the chance to challenge Gov. Jerry Brown in November. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Chris Carlson/AP
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
Cheryl Ocampo distributes flags on tables ahead of Marianne Williamson's election party at the Marriott in Marina del Rey.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
Shannon Mahoney, left, Katie Brennan and Patricia Sill watch polling numbers come in during Marianne Williamson's election party at the Marriott in Marina del Rey.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
Sheila Kuehl finished first in the primary to succeed termed-out LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
Sharon McNary/KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
The crowd applauds Wendy Greuel, candidate for the 33rd Congressional District, during a primary election party at her campaign office in Santa Monica.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
Los Angeles 3rd District supervisor candidate Sheila Keuhl, right, jokes with Los Angeles City Council Member Mike Bonin, left, and his fiancé, Sean Arian, during her campaign party at Basement Tavern in Santa Monica.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
Candidate for the 33rd Congressional District Wendy Greuel addresses the crowd during a primary election party at her campaign office in Santa Monica. With her is her son, Thomas Schramm, left, and husband, Dean Schramm.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
Monica Harman, left, of Speak Out Against Bullying and Michele Arce of the East Los Angeles Chamber wear shirts supporting Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell during his election gathering at the JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday night, June 3. Harman and Arce have known McDonnell for almost two decades.
MayaSugarman/KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
A supporter holds flyers for Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Bob Olmsted during his election gathering at Pierre Garden in Glendale on Tuesday night, June 3.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Bob Olmsted watches local television as first results come in at Pierre Garden in Glendale on Tuesday night, June 3.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Bob Olmsted watches local television as results come in at Pierre Garden in Glendale on Tuesday night, June 3.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
L.A. County Sheriff candidate Paul Tanaka finished second in the primary and is headed for the November runoff.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC
Los Angeles County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell easily won the primary on Tuesday night.
State Senator Ted Lieu is headed for the runoff in the race to succeed retiring West LA Congressman Henry Waxman.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC


Tuesday was primary day in California, with all the top statewide offices on the ballot, plus the entire Assembly and half of the State Senate.

Every seat in the House of Representatives was on the ballot, and in L.A. County there were rare open races for sheriff and two seats on the powerful Board of Supervisors.

And, yet, voters still managed to approach a record low for turnout, with only 18.3 percent of registered voters participating in the mid-term election, according to the final election night tally from the Secretary of State's office. The lowest turnout on record came during the 1916 primary election, when just 18.16 percent of registered voters cast a ballot. The lowest in recent memory was in the June 2008 primary, with 19.75 percent.

This was the first time the so-called "jungle primary" was in effect for statewide offices. Under this new system, the top two finishers will advance to the November runoff, regardless of party affiliation. The policy is in effect for federal offices as well.

Perhaps it was the inevitability of Democratic victories in this deeply blue state that kept many voters at home. But that was no consolation for candidates who were in contested races.

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This story has been updated.