2022 Midterm Election Endorsements

A highway heading into the desert distance, cutting through two sandstone hills and into feathery clouds

2022 Midterm Election Endorsements

Goodness sakes, there are a lot of things to vote for this cycle — on my ballot, there's 55 positions and propositions to decide about. Below is how I'm voting, and — if my rationale makes sense for you — please consider voting this way too. If you don't like my takes, I hope that I provided enough information to help you develop good-quality opinions of your own.

Once again, my criteria for endorsement are based on Kaizen and Catholic Social Teaching:

  • Is the policy fixed and static in the future, or can we learn from it and change it if needed? If current policy is not fixed and static in the future, does this policy change increase our ability to learn?
  • Are we repeating success — either ours or someone else's — or at least not perpetuating failure? If the current policy is failing, are we trying something new?
  • In general, local government is more responsive to feedback and faster to change, as it is in the gemba for most policies. Does the policy localize authority?
  • Is the policy based on explicit goals and objective, measurable reality? Goals are best achieved through a series of small, measurable, achievable steps, which helps prevent muda and muri.
  • Does the policy rest on a coherent model of action, in which we can predict the result of a series of actions; predict if we will get the outcome we think we'll get; and measure our results?
  • Is revenue net positive or neutral?
  • Are the endorsers of the policy suspicious?
  • Given the opportunity to be kind or the opportunity to be mean, does this policy choose kindness?
  • Does this policy respect the inherent dignity of the individual, and ideally help that dignity grow? Intolerance and anger are a form of muri.
  • Do we seek the common good through this policy? Does this policy help us do our duties to others?
  • Are the poor and vulnerable put first with this policy?
  • Does this policy respect and celebrate life, across the whole life of the individual -- not just pre-birth?

I'll present the options below in the order they appear on my ballot. At the bottom of this post, I also link to other endorsements I find interesting or useful.

Bok Choy grilling on a charcoal kettle grill


Since this post will be so long, let's make it easy by putting the conclusion up front. I suggest you vote like this:

  • United States Senator (Full Term): Alex Padilla
  • United States Senator (Short Term): Alex Padilla
  • Los Angeles Mayor: Karen Bass
  • Los Angeles City Attorney: Faisal Gill
  • Los Angeles City Controller: Kenneth Mejia
  • Los Angeles City Councel 11th District: Erin Darling
  • Los Angeles Community College District Seats 2, 4, 6, 7: No Endorsement
  • State Senator, 28th District: Lola Smallwood-Cuevas
  • State Assembly, 61st District: Tina McKinnor
  • United States Representative, 36th District: Ted Lieu
  • Measure LH: Yes
  • Measure SP: No
  • Measure ULA: Yes
  • Measure LA: No
  • Sherrif: Robert Luna
  • Judge of the Superior Court, Office 60: Anna Reitano
  • Judge of the Superior Court, Office 67: Elizabeth Lashley-Haynes
  • Judge of the Superior Court, Office 90: No Endorsement
  • Judge of the Superior Court, Office 118: Carolyn "Jiyoung" Park
  • Judge of the Superior Court, Office 153: No Endorsement
  • Measure A: Yes
  • Measure C: No
  • Governor: Gavin Newsom
  • Lieutenant Governor: No Endorsement
  • Secretary of State: Shirley Weber
  • Controller: Lanhee Chen
  • Treasurer: No Endorsement
  • Attorney General: Rob Bonta
  • Insurance Commissioner: No Endorsement
  • State Board of Equalization, 3rd District: Tony Vasquez
  • Superintendent of Public Education: No Endorsement
  • Measure 1: Yes
  • Measure 26: Yes
  • Measure 27: No
  • Measure 28: Yes
  • Measure 29: No
  • Measure 30: No
  • Measure 31: Yes
  • Chief Justice: No Endorsement
  • Associate Justices: No Endorsement
  • Justices, Court of Appeal, Second District: No Endorsement

Boats in a marina at night, all lit up


On the national level, I view the following issues as critical:

  • The War in Ukraine (and the linked Chinese threat to Taiwan)
  • Blunting the crusade to end legal abortion; while I personally am pro-life, building public policy out of values that are so clearly rooted in religion is fundamentally un-American, and an assault on the freedoms of those who do not share a specific religious interpretation
  • The economy — we need to manage inflation but not solve the problem on the backs of the working classes.
  • Election safety, in that we need to actually have fre and fair elections and have folks respect them, rather than lies about fake fraud
  • The rise of far-right quasi-religious authoritarianism
  • The basic function of government, which has been deeply dmanaged by years of cuts and defunding; our government will be increasingly unable to meet our needs and new challenges unless we change directions

United States Senator (Full Term): Alex Padilla

Alex Padilla, who is more or less the incumbent thanks to being appointed to this seat when Kamala Harris became VP, deserves the nod. He's used his time in the Senate so far to co-sponsor the Green New Deal and the Electoral Count Reform Act, and also push Medicare for All. His opponent, Mark Meuser, blames the baby formula shortage on "bureaucrats who shut down a factory," ignoring the bacteria in the formula caused by production issues. Meuser would vote party-line Republican if elected, which does not match a state that is overwhelmingly Democratic-leaning

United States Senator (Short Term): Alex Padilla

Padilla was appointed to fill Kamala Harris's seat when she became VP, and this position allows him to complete the term. See above for more reasons you should vote for him.

A wide shot of a desert vista, with scrub on the ground and golden light in the sky from the sunset


On the City level, all priorities are overshadowed by the recent revelation that the latest redistricting and many major policies within the city government have been specifically designed to disempower Black Angelenos. The very first thing anyone in any City role must do is contribute positively to real change in LA. Other major issues include:

Los Angeles Mayor: Karen Bass

The choice here is between a historically left-leaning former US Representative and a major local commercial real estate developer. Bass actually has deep experience building bridges, and would be among those best able to address the structural racism in the City Council. She also appreciates the issues caused by the LAPD and LASD behavior above.

Caruso claims he cleans things up, but, as a USC alum, I saw him standing by in his role as Trustee while George Tyndall and while fraternities sexually assaulted women. Sure, he worked as Chair to resolve the legal implications of both issues for USC and for the victims, but it's hard to overlook the years he spent as a Trustee doing nothing about these issues.

Certainly Bass has her own issues with USC; it's unclear how she was involved in fraud there, but she was at least adjacent to it. Under normal circumstances, I'd be deeply concerned about voting for her.

But these are not normal circumstances. Caruso supports an entirely carceral response to homelessness, which will be both expensive and ineffective. He promises to build tens of thousands of residential units, but it's important to remember that, as a commercial developer, he's built exactly 0 affordable housing units and his expertise may not bring much in this area. Bass has strong relationships with the folks who are already working to solve homelessness in LA, and can therefore help the folks that are most aware of what the issues are get their work done.

Los Angeles City Attorney: Faisal Gill

I wrote in my primary endorsements that Hydee Feldstein Soto was my preferred choice, but I've moved away from her lately for a few reasons:

  • She has supported Traci Park in the CD11 district below, whom I am strongly against
  • As time has passed, Gill has made more specific commitments, which makes me think he'll follow through on his Progressive priorities
  • One of my major concerns about Gill was his history as a Republican. Having gotten critical endorsements from local and national Progressive leaders, I'm inclined to think he will do what he says, and not be a snake in the grass like Sheriff Villanueva.

A vote for Feldstein Soto won't be bad here, but I think I'm going to color in the circle for Faisal Gill.

Los Angeles City Controller: Kenneth Mejia

In this case, we have two options:

I would like a Controller who does two things:

  1. Keeps a tight eye on the finances, resources, and capacity of the City
  2. Provides tools to help me do the same

That is clearly Mejia.

Los Angeles City Councel 11th District: Erin Darling

So, first of all, I have a thing against Traci Park, because of her involvement in the recall against our existing CD11 councilman, Mike Bonin. The recall's goal was to unseat him with only 7 months left in his term, which strikes me as a stupid thing to do for anything less than actual criminal behavior — instead, they wanted to recall Bonin for doing something about the homeless other than having them arrested.

Traci Park has a long way to go for me to think she's about anything other than a carceral approach to managing homelessness, yet her major positions taken during the election so far have been:

  • Endorsing the LASD anti-homeless sweep of Venice Beach, which probably housed nobody
  • Opposing all specific plans to develop any housing whatsoever for the homeless.

CD11 has a big homeless problem, I won't deny that. Heck, I live 3 blocks from Westchester Park, which was totally taken over by a major encampment during the lockdown. Fixing this problem requires doing real things, like finding both interim and permanent housing. Park clearly sees jail as interim and prison as permanent housing for the homeless, which is just dumb. Meanwhile, Darling promises — and has the relationships to execute on — continuing already-effective programs.

And, from the perspective of managing the problem, the solution space of Parks vs. “Bonin 2” is wrong, because the homeless problem is citywide. CD11 doesn’t have the most homeless and it actually has a great record compared to other districts over the last 2 years. The problem wasn’t Bonin, so the solution isn’t “not-Bonin.”

Literally every city that’s doing good on homelessness, from Houston to Helsinki, is doing good because of these long-view housing-first solutions that Darling is for - and the nonprofits that do that work in LA are entirely behind Darling.

Weatherbeaten yellow railcars in front of a green Rocky mountain vista

Los Angeles Community College District Seats 2, 4, 6, 7: No recommendation

It is my impression that several of the incumbents are doing well, but I have not done the research to make an endorsement.

State Senator, 28th District: Lola Smallwood-Cuevas

Smallwood-Cuevas has done some impressive things to decrease unemployment in the Black community in Los Angeles. She's also served as head of the UCLA Labor Center. It's these types of knowledgeable and practiced subject-matter experts whom we should be helping to get into positions where they can make a difference.

State Assembly, 61st District: Tina McKinnor

Since being elected to an interim term, McKinnor has gone out on a limb for real Progressive policies at the statewide level. Meanwhile, her opponent, Pullen-Miles, has resisted a Project Roomkey location in Lawndale — at a time when we particularly need housing for the homeless.

United States Representative, 36th District: Ted Lieu

Ted Lieu is getting a lot of heat from Progressive organizations for taking money from defense industry — but defense and foreign policy are absolutely what Federal officeholders should be worrying about. Lieu, a veteran, is a strong supporter of an effective military, and I think all of us should want an effective (if not a vast and wealthy) military. He's also been a key watchdog in Congress, just what we'll need if the GOP takes the House and Senate.

Measure LH: Yes

Unfortunately, California law requires a vote on using public money for public housing, even if that public money has already been appropriated for public housing (this was originally instituted so that 1950s LA can make sure Black people don't get public housing). If you think that we need to reduce homelessness, then we need someplace to put people, and a component of that will be public housing.

We have more than 60,000 homeless to house. Let's vote yes. (If you vote no, then you have to accept the homeless living on the street; it's just logic.)

Measure SP: No

SP was put together by former City Councilman Jose Buscaino, who was just kicked out in the primary. It's not clear why he had to introduce this measure, or what the money will be used for. I'm all for parks, but why?

Measure ULA: Yes

ULA creates a consistent and predictable stream of revenue for Los Angeles to build public housing, year in and year out. It does this by implementing a fairly small tax[1] on high-value property sales, which will almost entirely affect commercial and multifamily sales.

If you want to fix homelessness, we need some place for the currently-homeless to live. ULA makes sure that these places will be built. If you vote against it, you're voting for the homeless to live on the street near your home.

Measure LA: No

In general, I'm for money for education, but we gave LACCD nearly $10 Billion in measures approved in 2016, 2008, 2003 and 2001. Not all of that money has been spent. Let's wait for it to be spent before giving them another $5.6 Billion.

(In the past, LACCD had significant corruption and fraud issues in managing construction, but they seem to have resolved those. Still, we can wait for the $1+ Billion unspent from previous bond measures to be spent).

A sleepy chihuahua, eyes closing


I am particularly concerned with two major issues county-wide, both of which are about power:

Sheriff: Robert Luna

It is difficult to overstate how bad incumbent Alex Villanueva has been, but above I outlined a number of the problems. Villanueva doesn't seem to think that deputy gangs, the civil rights of Angelenos, or the political freedom of Angelenos are important things.

Challenger Robert Luna has deep experience running the Long Beach PD and is endorsed by the people he polices. He has acknowledged the issues with LASD and stands a chance of confronting them. Let's elect him.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office 60: Anna Reitano

Typically I avoid endorsing for judges, but one thing we've done very well at historically is putting prosecutors in these roles. Let's mix it up some and elect a public defender. Reitano is a member of the Defenders of Justice and has received significant endorsements for the role.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office 67: Elizabeth Lashley-Haynes

See above, but replace Reitano with Lashley-Haynes.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office 90: No Endorsement

Judge of the Superior Court, Office 118: Carolyn "Jiyoung" Park

See above, but replace Reitano with Park. (Lest you think this is a plan to overhaul the court system, there ar 494 judges in the LA Superior Court.)

Judge of the Superior Court, Office 153: No Endorsement

Measure A: Yes

This allows a supermajority of County Supervisors to remove the Sheriff. While I don't generally want one set of elected folks to remove another set of elected folks, and also do not want to give more power to the Supervisors, it is clear we have too few checks and balances around our Sheriff. Measure A is a good idea.

Measure C: No

Measure C institutes a totally reasonable tax rate for cannabis sales in LA County. The only issue is that unincorporated parts of LA County have no weed sales, because the County Supervisors have not done anything to legalize these sales.

The County should get a tax, and at a rate similar to Measure C, but it's silly to vote on a tax without any specifics around the rest of the things that would be required to start legal marijuana sales in the County. Let's get a whole plan first.

A brick 1880s building with a sign reading 'Hotel Sheridan'


Governor: Gavin Newsom

First of all, it's hard to imagine Brian Dahle winning this. Second of all, Dahle is for the following:

  • Spending more and more money on law enforcement, even though our state spends among the most already
  • Focusing on the "all homeless people are drug addicts who don't need housing" approach that brought us the homeless crisis to start with, rather than trying... I don't know, something with evidence of effectiveness.
  • More petroleum extraction with less oversight
  • Decreasing safety mandates in housing to "speed construction"
  • Deprofessionalizing government services and the reinstitution of a spoils system

If we want to return to how things were done in the past, with no consideration for whether or not these things were effective, then Dahle's the way to go. Otherwise, Newsome — who has done a decent job of being a national face of a more liberal government — should get your vote.

Lieutenant Governor: No Endorsement

Incumbent Eleni Kounalakis, who has done essentially nothing anyway, lost my vote for her endorsement of Traci Park. Her opponent, Angela Underwood Jacobs, seems to be for platitudes only, and we can't govern off vibes. Both of these folks should exit state politics, and I should learn my lesson for endorsing the clearly nothingburger Kounalakis for the primary.

Secretary of State: Shirley Weber

Our next SoS needs to deal with the following major issues:

I'm not happy that Weber briefly tried to cut down the number of languages voting materials need to be presented in, but I am happy that she reconsidered her decision. She's also stood up to Gavin Newsom and teachers' unions, and tried to require statewide candidates release their tax returns.

Meanwhile, Rob Bernosky intends to use the historically fantastically racist voter suppression technique of "cleaning" voter rolls and eliminate Motor Voter, which has both vastly expanded registration and actually helped keep voter rolls clean — and which we already have a state committee studying and tracking, with a plan to review the law's effectiveness in 2025, so why eliminate it before then unless you're scared of it?

A rusted trestle bridge in a high-altitude Rocky Mountain view

Controller: Lanhee Chen

I'm not strongly against Malia Cohen, who has done good work on supervising the police as a Bay Area politician; but, as little as I can believe that I'm telling you "vote for a guy from the Hoover Institution," my priorities for Controller at the State level are the same as in the City: someone who will track and audit most everything. Chen promises that.

The Controller can't actually direct spending, so I think this is a fairly low-risk bet on a GOP elected official who will acutally work to push back on "business as usual" in Sacramento, and show all of us what's going on. If I'm wrong — and Chen is a never-Trumper, so I have decent confidence I won't be — at worst we've elected a gadfly. At best, we spend all our $billions better.

Treasurer: No Endorsement

Fiona Ma was one of my picks in the primary, but since then there have been credible accusations of sexual harassment that render me unable to vote for her.

Her opponent, Jack Guerrero, seems like a good old-fashioned "tax less/spend less" Republican, and his pitch is fundamentally about having a debt watchdog in Sacramento. Unfortunately for him, Ma has already been doing a good job of this, so I see no reason to vote for someone who claims Hayek, Mises, and Ayn Rand as major influences.

I'm going to leave this one blank.

Attorney General: Rob Bonta

Honestly, as soon as all that racist crap about our City government came out, Bonta was on the ball with an investigation. To me, that's what I want to vote for.

Insurance Commissioner: No Endorsement

Incumbent Ricardo Lara has done some decent stuff around residential fire insurance and even the environment, but he also has accepted tons of money from insurance companies and big oil.

His opponent, Robert Howell, seems to have no specific ideas or perspective on any insurance issues. I can't imagine why anyone would vote for him, other than his vague invocation of Ronald Reagan.

I can't believe this is the pair of idiots we get to vote for. Clear no-vote here.

State Board of Equalization, 3rd District: Tony Vazquez

Vasquez, the incumbent, has done a good job. His opponent, Y. Marie Manvel, advertises herself as having "a double MBA" from USC, which — unless she actually completed the program twice, which would be fantastically expensive and take years — is not something that I, also an MBA from USC, am aware of existing.

Superintendent of Public Education: No Endorsement

I'm not a big fan of our options here either. Incumbent Tony Thurmond seems to have created a toxic workplace. His focus on reading at grade level is the right one, but it's not clear to me he's getting it done.

On the other hand, his opponent, Lance Christensen, is part of the anti-religious-freedom bunch that wants to allow coercive prayer at school, violating parents' and children's right to pursue their own religion without state interference.

Can't vote for either of these two.

A desolate desert view with mountains of gravel and sand, below a cloudy sky

Measure 1: Yes

Look, as. a Catholic, I'm pro-life. But I can't imagine how making abortion or contraceptives illegal will actually advance any pro-life agenda more than other, less-intrusive political approaches; and the concept behind the modern anti-abortion/anti-contraceptive policy machine is clearly rooted in (a specific interpretation of) Christian dogma.

The Catholic church has a specific set of beliefs on abortion. This is fine and as it should be. Every religious org should have its beliefs on the things it finds important. The follow-up is: how do we operationalize this belief in the legal and governmental context of the United States? This is a particular challenge for the Catholic church because it’s a consciously transnational organization.

In the US, our freedom to practice our religion (or lack thereof) comes because everyone has their own freedom to practice their religion (or lack thereof). This is unique in the world and a core concept of what some might call the “American State Religion” — that is, the shared values that bring our polity together. Historically, the American approach has been the ONLY one that guarantees free exercise of religion.

The Catholic (and much of other Christian) beliefs on abortion are strongly influenced by Catholic religious dogma. Inflicting that religious dogma on others is both un-American and a threat to the American system of religious liberty, particularly illustrated by other religions’ differing perspective on abortion (Judaism, generally, is a pro-choice religion, for instance, and Islam designates fetuses as “alive” well after Catholicism does).

I am concerned that, if the American system of religious liberty is to fall, no way us Catholics (or the Jews I grew up around and am descended from) are going to get to practice our religion — we have too many doctrinal differences with mainline Protestants, to say nothing of Evangelicals.

Therefore, the perspective of the transnational Catholic church should be “how do we apply our beliefs in the local context,” and there are literally dozens of other ways to address abortion and euthanasia in the US without our bishops aligning themselves with organizations fundamentally opposed to American democracy and the freedom of Catholics to practice their religion in this country. So the Catholic approach to spreading the Catholic doctrine of life should be very different, and accept the American concept of religious freedom

Measure 26: Yes

I don't love this proposition, which legalizes sports betting at only a few locations; a framework that allowed new industry entrants to do sports betting would be fairer.

But it fundamentally allows existing Indian casinos to run their businesses the way they prefer; gives money to non-gaming tribes; and provides some revenue to state priorities like homelessness and education. It also permits only in-person betting, which does appear to be less addictive than online betting.

In general, I'm inclined to give the tribes their way — they ought to get more benefit from their unique relationship with the State, and this is one way.

Measure 27: No

27 is not an anti-homelessness initiative; it dedicates less than 10% of its revenue to that objective.[2] It is — remarkably just as the ads say! — an initiative bankrolled by out-of-state gambling companies to change California law to make operating in this state easier for them. It offers few benefits to California (the cost of operating an online betting platform would be prohibitive for any tribe that doesn't already have gaming money), while allowing out-of-state corporations to make big profits off of our backs.

Worse than that, it supports online gambling, which may be more addictive than in-person gambling.

After Prop 21 and Uber a couple of years back, hopefully we can all see what a dumb idea this is.

Measure 28: Yes

My son goes to LAUSD and there is only arts education in his school because the parents raise money for it. Let's be clear: handling arts education in this way is a tax, and it's a tax that can't be paid by many Californians, and it's just outright bad for our kids.

I'm against ballot-box budgeting, but, given that the existing structure has an effective tax that allows higher-income families to pay for arts education already, the least we could do is turn this informal tax into a formal one and allocate monies equitably.

Measure 29: No

We've had this same proposition on the ballot for the last 3 elections, and my answer is the same: don't restrict dialysis access, resulting inevitably in death for a subset of dialysis patients. I can't believe I have to say this. I'm all for unionizing the dialysis clinics, but this is not the way.

Measure 30: No

OK, there's this extremely weird thing in California called the Gann Limit which says "nope, California can only spend as much as it did in the 1978-79 fiscal year, adjusted for inflation and population, except for education which we can spend more on." And, if we exceed the Gann Limit, then there are mandatory budget cuts.

This may seem like a dumb idea, because why would it inherently make sense that our 2022-2023 budget should be dictated by our 1978-79 budget, but the Gann Limit is one of the bombs that the anti-tax crusaders of the late '70s hid in our Constitution, to prevent further Californians from having the right to make politico-economic choices.

My understanding of the structure of this Proposition is that it is reasonably likely to force Gann Limit cuts in the future. Supposedly we'll have a vote on removing the Gann Limit in 2024, but, until and unless that passes, Measure 30 is likely to have chaotic and disastrous effects on our state budget.

Plus, the core idea behind this is for companies like Lyft to get government breaks. Already gave them those a couple of years ago!

Measure 31: Yes

Let's be clear, flavored tobacco is tremendously appealing to kids, and we've known that for a while. When we get it off the market, we help kids, and most adults who want to smoke just don't want butterscotch cigarettes. The State already passed a law to prevent these sales, but big tobacco has put that on hold. Measure 31 will put that law into effect.

A black, white, and golden small dog, looking like a Manchester Terrier, in front of orange furniture

State Judicial

I have historically avoided voting on justices, and I'm not sure I'm going to start here. The below votes are up-or-down votes on a single candidate. The objective is to give a 12-year term to someone and, instead of having a competition over who gets that term, to give the people of California the right to vote up or down the Governor's nominees (based presumably on whether there is anything disqualifying about the justice).

The idea is good, but, without a simple way for me to determine if these justices make decisions I'm comfortable with, I can't vote up or down.

Chief Justice: No endorsement

It seems to me that the nominee is just fine here, and I wouldn't object to a yes vote.

Associate Justices: No endorsement

I can't find any reason not to vote yes, but I have low confidence in my ability to suss those out.

Justices, Court of Appeal, Second District: No endorsement

I can't find any reason not to vote yes, but I have low confidence in my ability to suss those out.

A green butte under a wide blue sky

A Thought on "No Endorsement"

While I often avoid endorsements in judicial races, among others, this year sees me actually not voting in:

  1. Lieutenant Governor
  2. Treasurer
  3. Insurance Commissioner
  4. Superintendent of Public Education

This is a lot for me, and really illustrates how much we've lost since the California GOP decided to be a party with niche appeal only. All these positions could use a real opponent to the incumbent; it wouldn't be bad if the Democratic party would do a better job of throwing out its own incumbents who make themselves unelectable, like Ricardo Lara. Instead the Democrats prefer to rely on the reality that, most of the time, the Republican opponent won't actually be able to win. In that, they're probably right, but it doesn't help us members of the electorate, or the state as whole.

We could use a plausible second party in this state, and it's the perfect place for the DSA or Greens to try to make that happen. Let's hope they do. A two-party state is better than a one-party state, and our first-past-the-post structure won't allow more than two parties.

Desert scrub with mountains in the mist behind

Other Endorsers

Want more opinions? I've collected a few here. They're generally left-wing, but they all are organizations that explain their endorsement choices, so I hope they'll help you as much as they helped me.

  1. If you don't think it's small, then look at the property tax rates of other states. ↩︎

  2. Not that dedicating budget money to a specific use is particularly desirable, times change and other uses may be better. But 27 is not even the thing it advertises itself to be. ↩︎