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US Senator
You'll be seeing two opportunities to vote for the same U.S. Senate seat on your June 7 ballot.

What does a U.S. Senator for California do?

Senators represent their state’s interests in crafting federal laws and policies that govern our country.

Everything you need as you prep for the June 7 Primary Election — study our interactive voter guides, ask questions, print your ballot and more.

Quick civics recap: The legislature has two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives. While House lawmakers represent people based on population, there are only two senators for each state, regardless of how many people live there. And because California is the most populous state in the country, that also means we’re the least represented when it comes to the Senate — just two lawmakers for more than 39 million people. (Compare that to Wyoming, which has two Senators representing just under 582,000 people.)

The Senate, like the House, can draft or amend legislation that must get approved by both chambers before the president signs it into law. But the Senate has its own specific powers: it votes to confirm presidential nominations for Supreme Court justices, ambassadors and other positions, and votes to approve treaties, neither of which House representatives can do.

Senators are elected to six-year terms, and there are no term limits. That’s why longtime Californians may recognize the same names on their ballots time and time again — our senators have tended to serve for quite a while. Current senator Dianne Feinstein, for example, has been in her seat for 30 years and counting, making her the longest-serving senator in California history. Former senator Barbara Boxer held her seat for 24 years, as did her predecessor, Alan Cranston.

Democrats have held both Senate seats for the past three decades. Our last full-term Republican senator was Pete Wilson, who left the seat in 1990 after being elected governor of California.

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Senators get elected in rotation, so one-third of the Senate faces election every two years. California doesn’t elect both its senators at the same time — our last senatorial election was in 2018, when Feinstein defeated challenger Kevin de León (now a candidate for L.A. mayor) in the runoff for yet another six-year term.

In a confusing twist, you’ll see two opportunities to vote for U.S. Senate on your June 7 ballot. The first will just be a vote on who should finish the rest of the current term, which ends in January 2023. U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla was appointed to the seat by Gov. Gavin Newsom after Kamala Harris, who previously held the seat, was elected U.S. vice president. We’re referring to this seat as “short-term senator” in the guide.

The second vote is the primary election for the new term that begins in January 2023. The top two candidates from the primary vote, regardless of their party, will be on your general election ballot in November.

You might recognize their work from…

In recent years, the Senate has:

  • Confirmed several Supreme Court justices, most recently Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and Justice-designate Ketanji Brown Jackson, who will be sworn in this summer. 
  • Passed $5.7 trillion worth of spending bills to provide financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a $1 trillion infrastructure bill to improve roads and bridges, as well as water, internet and electrical infrastructure.
  • Blocked the advancement of two sweeping voting rights bills. One included measures like making Election Day a paid holiday, increasing access to mail-in ballots, and allowing for early voting, while the other aimed to restore parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were struck down in a Supreme Court decision.
  • Acquitted President Donald Trump, twice — once in 2020 after he was impeached by the House for allegedly soliciting foreign interference in that year’s presidential election, and again in 2021 for allegedly inciting the January 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. 

What’s on the agenda for the next term?

Along with the House, the Senate has to find solutions or relief measures for the big problems facing the country right now: inflation, high gas prices, the continued threat of climate change, fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the possibility of new COVID-19 surges and variants. Congress also has to figure out how to solve long-standing issues that have faced legislative impasses, like immigration reform, student debt relief, and paid family leave. And because the senators we elect this year will serve for six years, they’ll have to work with whoever winds up winning the presidency in 2024.

More reading

Represent (ProPublica): You can use this tool to look up any legislator and see what they’ve done in Congress, from how they voted on bills to statements they’ve made on national issues. 


The Candidates

There are eight candidates running for short-term senator (the election to decide who should continue the current senatorial term, ending in January 2023), and 23 running for the full term election (to fill the senator’s seat starting in January 2023). In both cases, appointed Senator Padilla is expected to win and has the support of the state’s Democratic heavyweights.

Short Term

Daphne Bradford

Education Consultant (No Party Preference)

Bradford is the founder of Building Blue Bridges, an L.A.-based program that convenes high school students and local law enforcement to have listening sessions about policing and bias. She also founded a nonprofit organization that provides technological training to K-12 students to prepare them for college and the workforce.

Website: daphnebradford.com/
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Bradford's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


James P. Bradley

CEO/Business Owner (Republican)

Bradley is an executive in the healthcare technology industry and previously served in the U.S. Coast Guard. He opposes government mandates for vaccines, Critical Race Theory, and the use of taxpayer funds for transgender care. He was a lead plaintiff in a 2020 lawsuit against the state government that challenged the constitutionality of election measures like universal vote-by-mail. The lawsuit was dismissed by a judge.

Website: bradleysenate.com
Endorsements: List of endorsements

More resources: Read more about Bradley's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


John Elist

Small Business Owner (Republican)

Elist is the CEO of a medical device company who bills himself as a “common sense conservative.” Among the policies he supports: suspending the state and national gas tax, recalling Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, and the use of voter IDs for all ballots, including mail-in ballots.

Website: elistforsenate.com/
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Elist's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Myron L. Hall

Podiatric Physician (Republican)

Hall is a podiatrist who works in private practice in Beverly Hills as well as on the staff of Cedars Sinai Medical Center and Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital. He previously served in the U.S. Navy.

Website: drhallforsenate.com/
Endorsements: none listed

Mark P. Meuser

Constitutional Attorney (Republican)

Meuser works for Dhillon Law Group, a private law firm, specializing in political and elections law. He says he “has been involved in 22 lawsuits brought against [Gov.] Newsom for his unconstitutional usurpation of power as a result of COVID-19.” He ran for California Secretary of State in 2018, ultimately losing to Padilla in the runoff. He was endorsed by the California Republican Party.

Website: markmeuser.com
Endorsements: none listed, but he has been endorsed by the California Republican Party

More resources: Read more about Meuser's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Dan O’Dowd

(Democratic)

O’Dowd is a Santa Barbara-based CEO of tech company Green Hills Software. He’s running on one issue: to “make computers safe for humanity,” specifically by banning the technology that powers Tesla’s self-driving vehicles.

Website: none found
Endorsements: none listed

Alex Padilla

Incumbent (Democratic)

Before being appointed U.S. Senator in 2021 after then-senator Kamala Harris became U.S. vice president, Padilla was California’s secretary of state. He also served seven years on the L.A. City Council and eight years in the California State Senate. You can see his voting record as senator with ProPublica’s Represent tool.

Website: alex-padilla.com
Endorsements: List of endorsements

More resources: Read more about Padilla's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Timothy Ursich Jr.

Doctor (Democratic)

Ursich is a chiropractic and sports medicine doctor. Among his policy proposals: scrap construction on California’s long-delayed high-speed rail project, utilize abandoned malls as transitional housing for unhoused communities, and encourage the use (and regulation) of cryptocurrency.

Website: drtimothyursichjr.com
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Ursich’s policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Full Term

Akinyemi Agbede

(Democratic)

Agbede is a mathematician who was born in Nigeria and emigrated to the United States in 2001. Among the policies he supports: setting limits on campaign contributions from corporations and wealthy donors, supporting space research programs, and expanding nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ communities.

Website: drakinyemiagbedeforunitedstatessenate2022.com
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Agbede's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Daphne Bradford

Education Consultant (No Party Preference)

Bradford is the founder of Building Blue Bridges, an L.A.-based program that convenes high school students and local law enforcement to have listening sessions about policing and bias. She also founded a nonprofit organization that provides technological training to K-12 students to prepare them for college and the workforce.

Website: daphnebradford.com/
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Bradford's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


James P. Bradley

CEO/Business Owner (Republican)

Bradley is an executive in the healthcare technology industry and previously served in the U.S. Coast Guard. He opposes government mandates for vaccines, Critical Race Theory, and the use of taxpayer funds for transgender care. He was a lead plaintiff in a 2020 lawsuit against the state government that challenged the constitutionality of election measures like universal vote-by-mail. The lawsuit was dismissed by a judge.

Website: bradleysenate.com
Endorsements: List of endorsements

More resources: Read more about Bradley's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


James "Henk" Conn

Teacher (Green)

Conn is a social worker who previously ran for mayor of Long Beach in 2018 on a platform that supported rent control. He supports free public college, a ban on fracking and single-use plastics, free public transportation and free diabetic treatment.

Website: henk4senate.com/
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Conn's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


John Elist

Small Business Owner (Republican)

Elist is the CEO of a medical device company who bills himself as a “common sense conservative.” Among the policies he supports: suspending the state and national gas tax, recalling Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, and the use of voter IDs for all ballots, including mail-in ballots.

Website: elistforsenate.com/
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Elist's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Pamela Elizondo

Marijuana Plastic Entrepreneur (Green)

Elizondo’s campaign priorities center around the need to stop global warming and funding for wars. She has made several unsuccessful runs for elected office before as a Green Party candidate, including for U.S. Senate in 2016 and the California Assembly in 2012 and 2014.

Website: none found
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Elizondo's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Eleanor Garcia

Industrial Worker (No Party Preference)

Garcia, based in Hawthorne, is an employee in the aerospace industry and wants to institute a massive public works program with union wages to restore manufacturing in the United States. She also supports reinstating the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba and “[replacing] the capitalist government with a workers and farmers government.”

Website: none found
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Garcia's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Don J. Grundmann

Doctor of Chiropractic (No Party Preference)

Grundmann calls the Federal Reserve System and personal income tax the “two greatest financial scandals in history.” If elected, he says his first priority would be to introduce legislation to abolish the Federal Reserve and put it under the control of the U.S. Treasury. He also opposes all immigration and same-sex marriage, and calls global warming a “hoax.”

Website: fight-the-power.org
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Grundmann's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Myron L. Hall

Podiatric Physician (Republican)

Hall is a podiatrist who works in private practice in Beverly Hills as well as on the staff of Cedars Sinai Medical Center and Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital. He previously served in the U.S. Navy.

Website: drhallforsenate.com/
Endorsements: none listed

Deon D. Jenkins

(No Party Preference)

Jenkins is a self-described “grassroots hip hop organizer” whose plan for reparations for Black Americans has been the centerpiece of his campaign.

Website: deondjenkinsforpresident.com/
Endorsements: none listed

Sarah Sun Liew

Entrepreneur/Non-Profit Director (Republican)

Liew, originally from South Korea, is the CEO of three organizations: a real estate management company, a company that provides legal services for immigrants, and a merchant payment services company. Job creation and support for small businesses are at the core of her campaign, and she describes herself as an “admirer and proud supporter” of President Donald Trump.

More resources: Read more about Liew's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Robert George Lucero Jr.

Executive Business Consultant (Republican)

Lucero, who describes himself as a “new Republican and a former leader in the California Democratic Party,” is running with a top priority of preventing the outbreak of nuclear war.

Website: luceroforsenate.org
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Lucero's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Mark P. Meuser

Constitutional Attorney (Republican)

Meuser works for Dhillon Law Group, a private law firm, specializing in political and elections law. He says he “has been involved in 22 lawsuits brought against [Gov.] Newsom for his unconstitutional usurpation of power as a result of COVID-19.” He ran for California Secretary of State in 2018, ultimately losing to Padilla in the runoff. He was endorsed by the California Republican Party.

Website: markmeuser.com
Endorsements: none listed, but he has been endorsed by the California Republican Party

More resources: Read more about Meuser's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Dan O’Dowd

(Democratic)

O’Dowd is a Santa Barbara-based CEO of tech company Green Hills Software. He’s running on one issue: to “make computers safe for humanity,” specifically by banning the technology that powers Tesla’s self-driving vehicles.

Website: none found
Endorsements: none listed

Alex Padilla

Incumbent (Democratic)

Before being appointed U.S. Senator in 2021 after then-senator Kamala Harris became U.S. vice president, Padilla was California’s secretary of state. He also served seven years on the L.A. City Council and eight years in the California State Senate. You can see his voting record as senator with ProPublica’s Represent tool.

Website: alex-padilla.com
Endorsements: List of endorsements

More resources: Read more about Padilla's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


John Thompson Parker

Social Justice Advocate (Peace and Freedom)

Parker is a coordinator at the Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice based in L.A., and a member of the Socialist Unity Party. His proposals include calling for the cessation of all U.S. wars and proxy wars, abolishing the Pentagon, and the creation of a coalition of climate change scientists, activists and survivors of climate disasters that would seize control of fossil fuel companies.

Website: johnparkerforussenate.org/
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Parker's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Enrique Petris

Businessman/Investor (Republican)

If elected, Petris says he would advocate for eliminating “future illegal immigration amnesty laws,” and advocate for round-the-clock military patrols of the U.S. border.

Website: none found
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Petris's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Douglas Howard Pierce

Missing Children’s Advocate (Democratic)

Pierce describes himself as a “special agent” who has participated in solving cases involving missing children, including 43 students who went missing in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, in 2014, though it’s unclear what his specific involvement was or whether it was on behalf of any organization or agency. He previously ran for U.S. Senate in 2018 but failed to advance past the primary.

Website: piercesenate.com/
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Pierce's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Obaidul Huq Pirjada

Attorney (Democratic)

Pirjada, who immigrated to the U.S. from Bangladesh in 1993, says he’s been actively engaged with the Democratic Party for the past decade. Pirjada’s top goals include raising the minimum wage to up to $20 an hour, expanding the child tax credit to all parents, and making debt-free college more feasible for low-income and middle-class students.

Website: sites.google.com/view/Obaidul-huq-pirjada
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Pirjada's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Chuck Smith

Retired Law Enforcement Officer (Republican)

Smith is a former Marine who spent 15 years as a police officer and 25 as security detail for the federal courthouse in Sacramento. He calls himself a “true conservative who understands fiscal responsibility and America First policies,” and wants to “refund the police.”

Website: chucksmithforussenate.com/
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Smith's policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Carlos Guillermo Tapia

Business Owner/Realtor (Republican)
Tapia does not have a campaign website or any public-facing information about his intent to run.

Website: none found
Endorsements: none listed

Timothy Ursich Jr.

Doctor (Democratic)

Ursich is a chiropractic and sports medicine doctor. Among his policy proposals: scrap construction on California’s long-delayed high-speed rail project, utilize abandoned malls as transitional housing for unhoused communities, and encourage the use (and regulation) of cryptocurrency.

Website: drtimothyursichjr.com
Endorsements: none listed

More resources: Read more about Ursich’s policy priorities and experience on Voter’s Edge


Cordie Williams

Doctor/Business Owner (Republican)

Williams is a former Marine who now runs a chiropractic business. He has been active on social media opposing COVID-19 related restrictions and attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.

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