California primary roundup: The good, the bad, the bizarre

The polls at the Zion Lutheran Church in San Luis Obispo on Tuesday.
The polls at the Zion Lutheran Church in San Luis Obispo on Tuesday. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

The playoffs are behind us, and finally, we get down to the real deal: the November finals.

We’ll miss some of the eliminated players (Katcho Achadjian for one, if he doesn’t make the next round), but it’s time to get down to the business of figuring out who should lead our nation, our state, our county and our cities. (Be forewarned, the November ballot will be crowded with races.)

Before we move on, though, there are The Tribune’s traditional post-election awards to announce:

MVP: Money. How else to explain Justin Fareed?

Worst case of denial: Bernie Sanders.

Biggest disappointment: After hearing for months that California might be a player — maybe even a decider! — in the presidential contest, we learn the morning of the election that we don’t matter at all! Hillary Clinton has all the delegates she needs! Thanks, AP.

Biggest game-changer: Abel Maldonado, the Santa Maria Republican and former state legislator. No, his name wasn’t on the primary ballot, but remember: Abel is largely responsible for ushering in California’s top-two primary system, which sends the two highest finishers to the general election regardless of party affiliation. We’re seeing what that change has wrought: two Democrats will face off for the U.S. Senate seat in November. Thanks, Abel.

Biggest upset: In the race for state Assembly, Dawn Ortiz-Legg, a Democrat, had an 8 percentage point lead over Republican Jordan Cunningham in a district that has been a Republican stronghold. There’ll be a rematch in November.

Best performance by a rookie: John Peschong. He’s never held a public office, but he wound up the leader of the pack of candidates vying to replace Frank Mecham on the county Board of Supervisors. He’ll face Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin in the fall.

Best showing by an underdog: Eric Michielssen. He lost, but he denied Debbie Arnold a landslide victory.

TV ad most in need of a do-over: Congressional candidate Helene Schneider’s. Different can be good, but tying a card table on the top of a car, surfboard style, and setting it up in the ocean, where it’s nearly wiped out? That might play in Santa Barbara, but not so much in the rest of the district.

Most bizarre campaign move: Dale Gustin, who ran for District 1 supervisor, refused to leave the studio of a Paso Robles radio station, which had excluded him from a candidates forum. Gustin was cited for trespassing.

Most eye-catching logo: Dawn Ortiz-Legg’s hard hat.

Windmill award: Congressional candidate Bill Ostrander made campaign finance reform a key goal. May not be an impossible dream, but it’s a tough sell.

Quietest campaign: State Senate. Yes, this was on the ballot. Democratic incumbent Bill Monning vs. Republican Palmer Kain. Did anyone see a single Kain sign in all of SLO County?

Biggest relief: Round 1 is over.