Primary voters in seven states, including California and New Jersey, head to the polls on Tuesday to select their party’s candidates for statewide positions, such as governors of New Mexico and South Dakota ; for mayor of Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest city, and for dozens of House seats.
Crime is very much on the minds of Californians: San Franciscans decide whether or not to remove their district attorney, and Angelenos debate whether to elect a longtime Democratic insider or a former Republican billionaire as their next mayor. promises to get tough on crime and homelessness. and clean up the city.
Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley is unlikely to face much opposition as he seeks an eighth term in November at the age of 89. Other races offer more drama.
Here’s what to watch for in Tuesday’s contests in New Jersey, Mississippi, Iowa, South Dakota, New Mexico, Montana and California:
A real map of the battlefield appears
In much of the country, the redistricting of Congress has strengthened the mandate of both parties. Tuesday will highlight much of the remaining battlefield. Of the 53 House seats that Cook’s nonpartisan policy report sees at stake, nine are in California, New Mexico and Iowa.
And for once, Democrats will be watching for districts where they can play offense: four Republican House seats in California, now held by Reps. David Valadao, Mike Garcia, Michelle Steel and Young Kim, and one in New York. Mexico, owned by Yvette Herrell.
If those races don’t add some suspense to Tuesday’s vote, California’s unusual primary system could give political obsessives a very late night. Under the system, established under former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the top two voters on primary night face off in November, regardless of party.
Invariably, a few races end with a Republican meeting a Republican or a Democrat meeting a Democrat, leaving a party frozen. Some seats could be guaranteed to change hands depending on Tuesday’s results.
Democratic miscalculations and missed opportunities
In New Mexico, Democrats in full control of the state capitol in Santa Fe took a chance, making a safe seat in the state’s scenic north less secure by pushing district boundaries south into the hope to take the Republican seat in southern New Mexico.
But in a bad Democratic year, they may have overplayed their game: Rather than hoping for a sweep of the state’s three House seats, Democrats now fear that Republicans could hold that seat and take another. .
Redistricting in California was in the hands of a nonpartisan commission, which put Democrats in a position to take some Republican seats and elect the first Hispanic representatives in the Central Valley.
But Democrats could also lose some House seats, including the one held by Katie Porter, one of the party’s rising stars. Besides Ms. Porter, Rep. Mike Levin on the Southern California coast is sweating re-election, and a new seat in central California’s 13th District should be a Democrat in an ordinary year, but it’s not that.
Democrats had also hoped to make a play for the Iowa Senate seat held by Mr. Grassley. But Mr Grassley chose to stand for re-election, even though he would be 95 when his next term ends. And the Democrats’ favorite candidate, Abby Finkenauer, 33, who served one term in the House, even struggled to get elected.
Ethical breaches can be costly. Except when they aren’t.
Rep. Tom Malinowski, a Democrat from New Jersey, had the makings of a foreign policy heavyweight in his party. He was director of Human Rights Watch in Washington before becoming a senior human rights official in the Obama administration’s State Department.
Mr. Malinowski turned to electoral politics in 2018, beating a moderate Republican, Leonard Lance, in that year’s Democratic wave. In 2020, he edged out Thomas Kean Jr., the son and namesake of a popular former New Jersey governor, by 5,311 votes.
On Tuesday, Mr. Kean is the overwhelming favorite to win his party’s nomination to challenge Mr. Malinowski again, but this time the Democrat is one of the most threatened incumbents in the House, thanks to three factors. The redistricting made his seat narrowly Democratic narrowly Republican.
Despite Mr. Kean’s loss in 2020, the governor’s son is a strong contender in a state where surnames matter (Robert J. Menendez, the son of Sen. Bob Menendez, is the heavy favorite in the Democratic primary for another seat in the House). And Mr. Malinowski admitted he failed to properly disclose thousands of dollars in stock trades, the subject of an investigation by the House Ethics Committee.
On the other hand, another House candidate with a checkered ethics record, Ryan Zinke, is expected to win his GOP primary and return to the House from Montana’s First District. Mr. Zinke left Washington in 2018 as Mr. Trump’s first interior secretary under a cloud of conflict of interest investigations and questionable taxpayer spending.
Trump’s swing and failure in South Dakota
Former President Donald J. Trump has vowed to punish Sen. John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, for failing to sufficiently promote the lie that Mr. Trump was re-elected in 2020. “South Dakota doesn’t like not weakness. He will be primary in 2022, political career over! said the former president on Twitter in December 2020, before being banned from the platform.
But South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem chose to run for re-election rather than the Senate, and no serious challenger answered Mr Trump’s call to take on Mr Thune. Consequently, Republican voters in South Dakota are likely to easily nominate Mr Thune – dismissed by Mr Trump as a “Republican in name only” and “Mitch’s boy” – for re-election, making him the heir. presumptive by Mitch McConnell. of Kentucky, the Republican leader in the Senate.
They will also put Ms. Noem in a position to run for president or, if Mr. Trump is running, to make a play for vice president.
Law and Order on the Left Coast
Los Angeles and San Francisco are famously affluent and liberal, but rising homelessness and a growing sense of disorder have unsettled voters in both cities, just as California retreated from past repressive policies.
Crime rates are nowhere near the heights of the 1990s, but city dwellers have spent the two-and-a-half years of the pandemic increasingly struggling with gutted business districts, squalid tent camps, heists and gaping economic disparities.
In Los Angeles, the time-limited race to succeed Mayor Eric Garcetti has turned into a showdown between the local Democratic establishment and angry landlords.
Rep. Karen Bass, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and a longtime party stalwart, and Rick Caruso, a former Republican billionaire who served on the city’s police commission, are the frontrunners. Mr. Caruso has spent tens of millions of dollars on television, radio and digital ads depicting Los Angeles as a traumatized hell besieged by crime.
In San Francisco, continued pandemic neglect and a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes have fueled a campaign to recall Chesa Boudin, a progressive who was elected district attorney on a promise to wean the city off its addiction to incarceration. . As in Los Angeles, the call in San Francisco to crack down on criminals is underwritten by some of the city’s wealthiest residents. But he tapped into middle-class fears.
More broadly, the race for attorney general in California will test the state’s move away from mass incarceration and its appetite for leaders outside the Democratic Party. The incumbent, Rob Bonta, a progressive Democrat whom Governor Gavin Newsom appointed in 2021 when Xavier Becerra joined the Biden administration, is running for a full term. Two Republicans and a Republican-turned-independent are in the running to face him in November.
The Independent, Anne Marie Schubert, is the Sacramento County District Attorney and prosecuted the Golden State Killer. She enjoys strong support from law enforcement and is widely considered a moderate. Yet of the three candidates who say progressive reforms have made California less secure, she is the only one who does not have major party support.