Democrat Malia Cohen wins California state comptroller race

Democrat Malia Cohen won the race for California comptroller, beating a Republican who gave her party its best shot in years to end its losing streak in the statewide election.

Cohen will become the state’s first black comptroller, a role that involves disbursing state funds, auditing government agencies and serving on more than 70 boards and commissions. She says her past role as head of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ budget and finance committee makes her uniquely qualified for the job.

“As Comptroller, I will ensure that our tax dollars respond to the homelessness crisis, protect our environment, and provide access to health care and reproductive freedom. Let’s build a California where everyone prospers “Cohen said in a statement. “We have work to do, and I’m excited to get started.”

Cohen declared victory on election night, but the Associated Press did not call the race until the following Tuesday. Cohen was in the lead with 55% of the vote after more than 8 million ballots were counted.

Cohen hopes to make it easier for people to report fraud in the wake of the more than $20 billion in fraudulent unemployment benefits California has paid out to felons during the pandemic. She wants to use her auditing power to identify problems within the agencies and propose solutions to prevent them from happening again.

While Cohen had the Democratic-dominated electorate in California on his side, Republican Lahnee Chen’s campaign waged a competitive fight. Chen, who has never held elected office, has raised $3.3 million in campaign contributions for the year through the October reporting deadline, doubling what Cohen has raised over the past year. same period. Chen even brought in more money than Brian Dahle, the Republican gubernatorial candidate.

Chen, a former political adviser to Sen. Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, won the June primary, but there were four Democrats running against him who collectively won more votes. He presented himself as someone who would be an independent watchdog of state finances.

Chen said in a statement Tuesday that it had become clear he would not win the race, adding that he had contacted Cohen to congratulate her.

“Although our campaign was not successful, I am filled with gratitude for my wife, children and family, whose unwavering support made my candidacy possible,” he said.

Chen also thanked voters, volunteers and donors who supported his campaign.

Cohen, who sits on a state tax board, will follow a similar path to Democrat Betty Yee, who served on the equalization board before taking on her role as comptroller. The council administers tax programs in the state.

Ahead of Election Day, Chen’s campaign questioned Cohen’s financial background after the Los Angeles Times reported that a condo she purchased in 2006 had been seized and a business license had been suspended. for tax matters. Cohen called the attacks about the operating lock and said the business license suspension resulted from a change of address.

Chen, a policy officer now on leave at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank, waited until the end of the primary race to admit he hadn’t voted for former President Trump in 2016 or 2020. Cohen’s campaign attempted to tie him to Republicans. push for anti-abortion legislation even though he says he supports abortion access, and the Comptroller is not responsible for pushing abortion policy back and forth.

In other statewide races, Democratic incumbent Gavin Newsom won a second term as governor, Democrat Eleni Kounalakis was re-elected lieutenant governor, Democrat Fiona Ma won a second term in as Treasurer, Democratic Atty. General Rob Bonta, appointed to the post last year, won a four-year term, Democrat Shirley Weber was re-elected as Secretary of State and Democrat Ricardo Lara was re-elected Insurance Commissioner.

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