5 Things to Watch For in the California, New Jersey, and Other 'Super Tuesday' Primaries Tonight
Voters in eight states will cast their ballots in primary elections today, making June 5 the "Super Tuesday" of the 2018 midterm elections. Alabama, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota will hold elections, but California and New Jersey will draw the most attention.
California holds a "jungle primary," which means that rather than having one Republican candidate and one Democratic candidate face off in November, the top two vote-getters in a general primary will face off on the ballot. This means that two Democrats or two Republicans can win the top two places today, and effectively lock out the other party.
It is feasible, in a few districts, that two Republicans will take the first and second places in jungle primaries today, meaning that no Democrat will be able to win in November — the party won't even have a candidate on the ballot in one of America's most liberal states.
Polls will close at various times tonight. At 8 p.m. Eastern, polls will close in Alabama, Mississippi, New Jersey, and parts of South Dakota. At 9 p.m. Eastern, polls will close in New Mexico and other parts of South Dakota. At 10 p.m. Eastern, polls close in Montana and Iowa. Finally, California will make observers wait the longest, as polls close at 11 p.m. Eastern. This story will be updated with results.
Tonight will be wild: Republicans and Democrats could get excluded from November ballots, and the Republican spectrum runs from anti-Trump to a millennial progressive who rejected the Democratic Party without leaving behind any of its ideas...
Without further ado, here are five things to watch for in the elections tonight.
1. Primaries that could kick Democrats or Republicans out of November.
Every California primary allows for the possibility that two Republicans or two Democrats could win, excluding the other party from representation on the ballot in November. In many primaries, however, this is not only possible but probable.
In the race for U.S. Senate, two Democrats may exclude Republicans from the ballot in November. Dianne Feinstein, the oldest member of the U.S. Senate at 84 years old, faces a challenge from former president pro tempore of the California State Senate Kevin de León. The progressive de León poses a credible threat to the long-time moderate senator, even though she enjoys a powerful advantage in the polls.
James Bradley, a pro-Trump Republican who has little name recognition and has not raised a great deal of money, may get locked out by de León, who is running to represent the far-left state with his own liberal stances. Feinstein has the advantage of incumbency, while de León enjoys the advantage of being a better ideological match for California. A race between Feinstein and de León in November is quite likely.
Results: Feinstein and de León will face off in November, shutting out Republicans from the Senate race.
In California's open 39th Congressional District, both Democrats and Republicans have broad fields with many credible candidates running against one another. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) announced his retirement, and the squabbling to replace him could shut Democrats out of the November election.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) backed former Navy officer and lottery winner Gil Cisneros (who won a whopping $266 million). Cisneros and his major competition, health insurance executive and former teacher Andy Thorburn, each dumped more than $6 million into the race. Cisneros has attacked Thorburn, claiming he "fabricated" a voice message where Cisneros warned Thorburn he's going negative.
"This is the weirdest race in the country that's attracted Democrats of all stripes and an unprecedented amount of money," Sam Jammal, a former Obama administration official and one of the Democrats splitting the vote, told POLITICO. "But all the negativity doesn't help us because we're still just beginning to build the Democratic brand here."
Many Republicans are also running. Assemblywoman Young Kim has raised more money than the others and leads in internal polling, with Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson and former state Sen. Bob Huff not too far behind. In conservative Orange County, it is possible not one of the Democrats running could be on the ballot in November.
Results: Republican Young Kim and Democrat Gil Cisneros will face each other in November.
In California's 48th Congressional District, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) faces a challenge from a close friend, former Orange County Republican Party chairman Scott Baugh. Rohrabacher's wife actually pleaded guilty for recruiting and installing a Democratic candidate to split the vote and get Baugh elected to the California State Assembly.
There are no fewer than eight Democrats on the ballot, but only two of them are truly serious. The DCCC and the liberal group Indivisible endorsed real estate investor Harley Rouda, a moderate Democrat with a history of contributing to Republican campaigns as recent as 2016. The California Democratic Party backed Hans Keirstead, who faces allegations that he slept with graduate students.
While the district usually votes Republican, Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump by one percentage point in 2016. There are 16 names on the ballot. Democrats are quite likely to get shut out.
In California's 49th Congressional District, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) dropped out of the race. While the district barely leans Republican (+1), it voted for Clinton by 7.5 points. A whopping sixteen candidates from both parties are competing for the seat, meaning both Republicans and Democrats face the prospect of being locked out in November.
Four Democrats are running: real estate investor Paul Kerr, former United Nations staffer and former Hillary Clinton foreign policy advisor Sara Jacobs, environmental lawyer Mike Levin, and retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate. Major Democrat groups are divided. EMILY's List backed Jacobs, Progressive Democrats of America backed Applegate, and Democracy for America and the Sierra Club supported Levin.
No fewer than eight Republicans have entered the race, of whom four are notable: State Assembly member and former Marine Col. Rocky Chávez enjoys the support of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former State Assembly member Diane Harkey enjoys Rep. Issa's endorsement, Orange County Supervisor and small business owner Kristen Gaspar enjoys Rep. Ed Royce's endorsement, and real estate entrepreneur Craig Nordal has pledged to join the House Freedom Caucus if elected.
In California's 50th Congressional District, Democrats could get locked out of the November ballot. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) faces well-financed primary challenges from both sides. Hunter is under investigation by the FBI for campaign fraud, and he has been accused of inappropriate relationships with women and drinking on the job. In each of his previous primaries, Hunter won more than 50 percent of the vote.
Republicans El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and business executive Shamus Sayed are challenging Hunter. Sayed took fourth place in fundraising, behind Hunter and two Democrats.
Democrat small business owner Ammar Campa-Najjar, who worked on Obama's re-election campaign in 2012, has raised the most money in the race (more even than Hunter), and former Navy SEAL Josh Butner has taken third place in fundraising. Democracy for America and the Democratic Party of California backed Campa-Najjar, while the PACs of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) backed Butner. Realtor Patrick Malloy, who ran against Hunter in the past, is also in the race.
Despite the Democrats' high fundraising totals, they may be locked out of the November ballot because registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats, 42 percent to 27 percent. This district has an R+11 swing, which means it is quite plausible Sayed or Wells could take second to Hunter tonight.
Results: Republican Duncan Hunter will face Ammar Campa-Najjar in November.
2. Vulnerable Democrats.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has tried to resurrect the 2006 Democrat slogan against Republican "corruption, cronyism, and incompetence." In New Jersey today, however, one of the most notoriously corrupt Democrats is running for re-election in New Jersey's Senate race.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) faced a lengthy trial into no less than twelve counts of corruption. While the trial ended with a mistrial, and federal courts refused to press further charges, Menendez also became notorious for corruption.
In the Democratic primary, Menendez faces a challenge from community news website publisher Lisa McCormick.
Former pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin is likely to win the Republican primary, as he enjoys support from various state and national leaders. He has also poured $7.5 million of his own money in the campaign. Hugin will have to defeat construction executive Brian Goldberg, but like Menendez, he is likely to win and make it to the November ballot.
Hugin will make the election a referendum on Menendez's corruption. Even though New Jersey is a blue state, this Republican might have a good shot.
Results: Menendez won his primary, as did Hugin. They will face off in November.
In Montana, Sen. John Tester (D-Mont.) will face a tough re-election campaign in November. Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 20 points in Montana in 2016, and conservative groups have poured $5.7 million into the race.
Tester has long been more of a moderate Democrat, but he has opposed Trump, most notably voting against Trump's choice for director of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson. Tester is fairly popular in Montana, and he has highlighted his work for veterans, who make up about 9.4 percent of Montana's population. Tester has also raised about $12 million, with $6.2 million cash on hand.
National Democrats like Joe Biden, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have backed Tester, along with anti-campaign finance group End Citizens United and NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Five Republicans are running to face Tester in November, but the most notable are state auditor Matt Rosendale and retired state judge Russ Fagg. Fagg, a fourth-generation Montanan, has attacked Rosendale (who moved to Montana from Maryland 20 years ago) as a carpet-bagger.
Rosendale has racked up an impressive number of endorsements, both in state and nationally. Eight state senators and 24 state representatives have endorsed him, along with U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Uah), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Former White House strategist Steve Bannon and current National Security Advisor John Bolton have backed Rosendale, along with Catholic Vote, Citizens United Political Victory Fund, Club for Growth, and the Senate Conservatives Fund.
While Rosendale will likely win the GOP primary, the race against Tester may prove more difficult than expected in November.
Results: Rosendale won and will face Tester in November.
Republicans have focused on New Jersey's 4th Congressional District (R+4), which is represented by Democrat Rep. Josh Gottheimer. Conservative stalwart Steve Lonegan has raised six times more money than his closest opponent, John McCann. McCann is closely connected with Trump, while Lonegan led the effort to stop Trump from receiving the Republican nomination at the RNC in 2016. Lonegan has strong name recognition — having run for governor, U.S. Senate, and the 3rd Congressional District.
Results: McCann beat Lonegan.
3. Vulnerable Republicans.
Democrats looking for a "blue wave" in November have focused on many California districts represented by Republicans which voted firmly for Clinton in 2016. Before addressing these races, however, PJ Media will address Alabama's 2nd Congressional District.
Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) is running for her fifth consecutive term in the House of Representatives. While her district is R+16, an extremely unlikely pickup for Democrats, Roby opposed Donald Trump in 2016, announcing after the Access Hollywood scandal that she would not vote for the Republican candidate.
Roby defeated local activist Becky Gerritson in the March 2016 primary, winning 67 percent of the vote. She had won re-election with 64 percent in 2012 and 67 percent in 2014, but Gerritson ran as a write-in candidate in 2016 and brought Roby down to a 49 percent victory.
Sensing blood in the water, a few notable Republicans have run to challenge Roby in the primary. Barry Moore, an at-large delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention, listed "Making America Great Again" as a campaign priority. Moore has raised $76,170, more than the other candidates in the race but still far less than Roby's $732,098.
Perhaps more notable, former Rep. Bobby Bright (D-Ala.) entered the Republican primary. A former Democrat, Bright represented the 2nd Congressional District from 2009 to 2011, but was defeated by Roby in 2010 — losing to her by only two percentage points, 49 percent to 51 percent. Before serving as a congressman, Bright was Montgomery mayor for ten years.
Roby may still win tonight, but her race is incredibly interesting.
Results: Roby will face Bright in a runoff, the winner will face Democrat Tabitha Isner.
Democrats have looked to many U.S. House races in California as potential pick-ups in November.
In California's 4th Congressional District, 35-year-old Jessica Morse, a national security strategist who worked at the State Department and U.S.A.I.D., has outraised incumbent Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). The district is R+10, but Democrats hope Morse's fundraising advantage can prevail over McClintock's incumbency. Morse faces a challenge from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Regina Bateson.
Results: McClintock and Morse will go to the general election in November
In California's 10th Congressional District, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) won re-election by 3.4 percent in 2016, but Clinton beat Trump by 3 percent. Democrats have fielded three interesting candidates: 53-year-old beekeeper Michael Eggman, 31-year-old venture capitalist Josh Harder, and 52-year-old former Riverbank Mayor Virginia Madueño, who was endorsed by EMILY's List. The Democratic Party has not chosen a candidate.
In California's 22nd Congressional District, Democrats are looking to defeat Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence. Fresno County Deputy District Attorney Andrew Janz has raised more than $1 million and was endorsed by the California Democratic Party.
Results: Janz will face Nunes in November.
In California's 25th Congressional District, Democrats have their eyes set on Rep. Stephen Knight (R-Calif.) in a toss-up election. Attorney Bryan Caforio represents union and progressive groups, while California's Democrat congressmen have endorsed Katie Hill, who is also backed by EMILY's List, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood.
California's 45th Congressional District has never elected a Democrat to the House of Representatives, but Clinton defeated Trump by 5 points in the district in 2016. Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) voted for the tax cuts, which have helped the country overall but impacts high-tax states like California negatively.
Four Democrats in the primary to face Rep. Walters have raised at least $500,000: University of California-Irvine law professors Katie Porter and Dave Min, former Republican and Obama staffer Brian Forde, and Iranian-American former staffer for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) Kia Hamadanchy. The duelling law professors represent the local and national Democratic parties. The California Democrats endorsed the more moderate Min, while Sens. Warren and Harris backed Porter. Tonight will show which type of Democrat faces Walters.
Results: Katie Porter, the Democrat backed by Warren and Harris, will challenge Rep. Mimi Walters in November.
In Iowa's 3rd Congressional District (R+1), Democrats have targeted Rep. David Young (R-Calif.). Young has a mixed voting record on the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), voting against the first version of the repeal and for the final bill.
Small business owner Cindy Axne, endorsed by EMILY's List, is running on fixing Obamacare. Pete D'Alessandro, a former campaign aide for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), enjoys Sanders' endorsement and pushes for his Medicare-for-all single-payer health care system.
Results: Axne beat D'Alessandro.
4. Four governor races.
In Iowa, Democrats are running for the privilege of challenging incumbent Gov. Kim Reynolds, who replaced longtime Gov. Terry Branstad last year after President Trump appointed him ambassador to China. Reynolds is popular, with 42 percent approving of her and only 35 percent disapproving, according to a Morning Consult poll.
Reynolds' greatest achievement involved moving Medicaid enrollees who received $600,000 in benefits into a privatized version of the program in which private health plans administer Medicaid benefits. Democrats will choose between business owner Fred Hubbell, who wants to reverse this privatization, and union leader Cathy Glasson, who pushes for a Sanders-style single-payer health care program.
Results: Hubbell won and will face Reynolds in November.
New Mexicans will vote for candidates to replace term-limited Gov. Susana Martinez (R-N.M.). Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) is unopposed in the Republican primary, but Democrats have a three-way split.
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, has led in the polls and won the Democratic Party's pre-primary convention. Her cousin, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, represents the 3rd Congressional District. Thirty-one local and statewide politicians have endorsed her, along with a slew of labor unions, EMILY's List, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood. She faces Jeff Apodaca, a businessman and son of former Governor Jerry Apodaca, and state Senator Joe Cervantes.
Results: Lujan Grisham won, and will face Steve Pearce in November.
South Dakota also has an open governor's race, with Gov. Dennis Dougaard (R-S.D.) retiring. State Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton is running unopposed in the Democrat primary, while Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley face off in the Republican primary. Noem has more name recognition, and a slight advantage in the polls, while both Republicans have unleashed negative ads against one another.
Results: Noem beat Jackley, and will face Democrat Billie Sutton in November.
While Democrats may prevail in Iowa and New Mexico, Trump has a 72 percent approval rating in South Dakota, so Sutton is likely to lose.
California voters will also choose the top two candidates for governor. Democrats have rallied around Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the top Democrat, on the theory that he would be more likely to beat the top Republican, John Cox, than former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Villaraigosa supporters have promoted the candidacy of Republican Travis Allen in an effort to keep Cox from taking second place in the governor primary.
Newsom has some serious problems, however. He divorced his former wife Kimberly Guilfoyle following a sordid affair with Ruby Rippey-Tourk, the wife of his then-campaign manager Alex Tourk. While Trump has supported Cox, many have suggested he should have backed Allen instead. In a powerful debate moment, Allen asked, "if you can't trust Gavin Newsom with his best friend's wife, how can you trust him with your state?" Ouch.
Results: Gavin Newsom will face John Cox in the November election.
5. A millennial progressive ... Republican?!
New Jersey's 7th Congressional District has not elected a Democrat to the House of Representatives since 1980, but Clinton eked out a win there by 1 percentage point in 2016. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) has represented the district since 2009, but Democrats are hoping his support for the tax cuts last year might weaken him in this high-tax state.
Lance's most interesting challenge comes from his own party, however. Leftist activist Lindsay Brown may oppose political free speech, support Sanders-style single-payer health care, push global warming alarmism, champion a minimum wage increase, back LGBT activism, and more — but she is running in the Republican primary.
"I'm actually planning to run in the Republican primary because — especially in NJ — the Democrats and the way the Democratic Party establishment is run is not supportive of young people who don't have deep, deep political experience or a lot of money to fund their own race," Brown told Paste. "We shouldn't all have to be millionaires or deeply politically connected to represent constituents."
The primary is semi-closed, which means voters who are registered with a particular party can only vote in that primary, while previously unaffiliated voters may vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary.
Many Democrats dropped out in February and March to clear the way for Tom Malinowski, a former State Department official in the Obama administration. Local leaders joined the group End Citizens United in endorsing Malinoswki, who raised about $530,000 last year.
Running in the Bernie Sanders wing, social worker Peter Jacob received the endorsement from Our Revolution. He lost to Lance in 2016 by 11 points. He raised over $100,000 for his campaign last year. Goutam Jois, an attorney who has worked on civil rights and immigration cases, said he is running against Trump's immigration policies. He raised nearly $300,000 last year.
No matter who wins the Democratic primary, Lance will remain the bare favorite in the November election.
Update: Malinowski won, as did Lance.