Despite Indictment, Yee Scores 323,000+ Votes in SOS Race
Gun control advocate and State Senator Leland Yee, indicted for arms trafficking and public corruption in March, received the vote of 323,858 California voters as of Saturday afternoon. Yee was running for the office of California Secretary of State until dropping out in the wake of the criminal charges against him.
Yee sits in third out of eight candidates in the Secretary of State race, having garnered 9.6% of the total votes cast. And with over 926,000 ballots left to count according to the Secretary of State’s website, total votes recorded for Yee continued to rise.
Yee was one of four Democrats listed on the June 3 primary ballot alongside fellow Dem. Alex Padilla, who sits in second place. Padilla is slated to face Republican Pete Peterson in the November general election.
A major component of campaigns is the ability to achieve a high level of name ID, particularly in a statewide race. The minions of street and yard signs that litter the landscape in the days leading up to Election Day are a testament to this fact.
Yee’s name ID can be attributed not only to his position as a State Senator, and his campaign for Secretary of State, but also from his recent indictment for gun running making news in most media and familiarizing even greater numbers of voters with Yee’s name. Despite the negative association, some voters forget why they know a name on Election Day and vote for someone simply based on knowing the candidate’s name. Many Californians asked on Election Day did not even know an election was occurring.
CNN was one media outlet criticized for not initially covering the Leland Yee scandal. In response, CNN claimed not to cover state senators, though Breitbart’s Tony Lee reported on their extensive coverage of Texas state Senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster of a bill banning late stage abortions. The report also noted previous CNN coverage Sandra Fluke and Yee in their candidacies for State Senate seats. CNN later produced minimal coverage including an article over a week later.
One name ID factor pointed out by the Los Angeles Times is that a Democrat who campaigned for the office of Controller, Betty Yee, shares a last name with Leland Yee. Betty Yee was reported by the Times as having gathered a significant number of endorsements and support from newspapers and labor unions. She has managed not only to gather over 730,000 votes, but is still in a three-way race for second and a spot on the November ballot for Controller. The Times also noted, that Yee's "Asian surname doubtless brought him support within the large Asian American community.”
The June 3 primary election also saw the lowest turnout in California history. CBS Los Angeles commented on California primary election turnout as being historically more conservative, quoting the Public Policy Institute’s Eric McGhee as saying, “Republicans are more reliable voters in general.” Yee would presumably have gathered even more votes had this been a higher turnout election.