BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — It’s often the case that when voters take to the polls, the most enticing thing a candidate has is simply a ‘D’ or ‘R’ next to their name.
But how much does party affiliation matter in non-partisan races like that for Kern’s Board of Supervisors? According to both Republican analyst Cathy Abernathy and Democratic analyst Neel Sannappa, a lot.
“Each party will probably mail to them or promote the candidate of their party that they support,” Abernathy said. “They’ll know which party the candidates are.”
“Usually what happens is the parties are really trying to make it known that this is the person we’ve endorsed, this is the person we want you to vote for,” Sannappa said.
As the Board stands now, three of five supervisor districts have more registered Republicans. Democrat Leticia Perez represents one of the Democratic areas. The other is represented by Republican David Couch.
“What that shows is that we need to get more folks out into the community, out knocking on doors, out talking to voters, getting them out to vote in the polls,” Democratic analyst Sannappa said.
Sannappa says if Democrats mobilize in 2024, they can put a Democrat in Couch’s District 4 seat. But looking at the election closer ahead, party affiliation already seems to be a big factor in Kern’s race for District 3.
Two District 3 candidates, Jeff Flores and Brian Smith, each have taken stances that align with the Republican party.
While announcing his bid to sit on Kern’s Board, Smith said “defend public safety and protect the taxpayers” were two of his goals if elected. Meanwhile, Flores mentioned “dangerous state laws that release prisoners early” in his candidacy announcement speech.
The other candidate on the ticket, Louis Gill, is a well-known Democrat.
“I think he can do well, but in this district, it is going to be an uphill battle,” Sannappa said.
As Sannappa points out, on paper, it will be a tough race for Gill in a district where Republicans out register Democrats by about 4,700 voters.
Abernathy said Gill’s initial bid to unseat Kevin McCarthy as a blue choice in a deep-red district will only make it tougher.
“I think a lot of people are going to say what were you really after?” Abernathy said. “Were you wanting to be county supervisor or were you trying to raise a lot of money under another gimmic?”
We should note that of Kern’s three Republican-majority supervisor districts, the third district has the least registered Republicans.