High-profile races in California — a San Francisco district attorney recall and a mayor’s race in Los Angeles headed to a runoff — could signal trouble for Democrats in the November general elections.
Voters hit the polls for primary elections and other races not just in California, but also in Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota on Tuesday.
Unlike previous primaries in Georgia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, former President Donald Trump’s shadow didn’t loom particularly large.
One of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him last year – David Valadao of California – doesn’t even have a challenge from a Trump-endorsed opponent.
Here are the key developments:
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Los Angeles sets mayor’s race: Karen Bass vers. Rick Caruso
No one received 50% of the vote in the Los Angeles mayor’s race, so the top two finishers will now face off in a November runoff election: U.S. Rep Karen Bass, D-Calif., and first-time candidate Rick Caruso.
Bass, a popular progressive who was on Joe Biden’s short list for vice president, could become the city’s first female mayor.
Caruso, a billionaire Republican-turned-Democrat who made crime rates a big issue, zoomed into contention by spending millions in advertising and pledging to increase funding for Los Angeles police.
The November winner will replace Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is term limited.
— David Jackson
Read the whole story:Democratic frontrunners Rick Caruso, Karen Bass advance to November runoff in LA mayor race
San Francisco voters recall district attorney over rising crime rates
Boudin won election in 2019 by pledging criminal justice reform. Critics said his policies, including efforts to end mass incarceration and prosecuting police misconduct, contributed to increased criminal conduct.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed will now name a new DA, with a special election to come.
— David Jackson
More:Is California, one of the bluest states in the US, at a turning point over crime, homelessness?
California Gov. Gavin Newsom to face long-shot Republican Brian Dahle in the fall
California Gov. Gavin Newsom topped all rivals in a primary and moves to the general election against little-known Republican Brian Dahle.
Dahle, a state senator, was projected to finish second in California’s all-party primary, earning him a runoff election with the incumbent Newsom.
With a third of vote counted, Newsom had around 60% of the vote in the Democratic-leaning state.
— David Jackson
The last poll closing of the primary day has taken place in California, which has a slew of House races and major contests in big cities.
In San Francisco, voters are deciding whether to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin over rising crime rates, a major issue nationally as well.
Los Angeles has a mayor’s race that could boil down to a November runoff between the top two finishers.
The favorites are U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., and billionaire Rick Caruso, who wants to spend more money on police.
— David Jackson
South Dakota’s lone congressman, Rep. Dusty Johnson, defeated state Rep. Taffy Howard, who falsely believes there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
Johnson voted to certify the 2020 election results and to create the independent commission to investigate January 6th.
With 56% of the district reporting, Johnson led Howard 60.9%-39.1%.
— Dylan Wells
Fact check:Joe Biden legally won presidential election, despite persistent contrary claims
Former meteorologist Mark Ronchetti easily won the Republican primary for governor in New Mexico. He will face incumbent Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in November.
Jessica Taylor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report said that they will shift the ranking of the election from “likely D” to “lean D” because of Ronchetti’s win, noting that “Ronchetti is the only candidate who could make it competitive.”
Ronchetti was the GOP Senate nominee in 2020, but lost the race to Sen. Ben Ray Lujan.
— Dylan Wells
Thune wins Senate GOP primary in South Dakota
U.S. Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, won his primary against two challengers who joined the race after Thune drew the ire of former President Donald Trump.
Trump speculated the senator’s career was “over” after he made public statements dismissing the former president’s lies about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
— Associated Press
Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who famously switched parties to become a Republican in 2019, won the GOP primary in NJ-02. Van Drew was expected to win but faced criticism from two challengers because he was one of only 13 House Republicans to vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who earned Donald Trump’s ire by backing the infrastructure bill, survived a challenge from a Trump supporter in his primary.
Smith’s opponent, radio talk show host Mike Crispi, had the supporter of former Trump advisers Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, but the former president himself stayed out of the race.
— Dylan Wells and David Jackson
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chair of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection and the longest serving congressman from Mississippi, won the primary election to represent District 2 against a single rival.
Thompson led opponent Jerry Kerner with 96% of the vote. The congressman, who first took office in 1993, will face conservative Republican Brian Flowers in November.
Thompson will lead the Jan. 6 committee in the first of a series of public hearings in Congress beginning Thursday.
— Chelsey Cox
How to watch the Jan. 6 hearing:Most networks, except Fox News, will broadcast it
Chuck Grassley sails past Jim Carlin in GOP Senate primary in Iowa
Chuck Grassley has captured the Republican Party’s nomination, cruising past state Sen. Jim Carlin in Tuesday’s primary election as he seeks an eighth term in the U.S. Senate.
The Associated Press called the race in favor of Grassley.
Grassley, 88, will take on the winner of a Democratic primary race that included former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, retired Navy Admiral Mike Franken, and physician and city council member Glenn Hurst.
Carlin, a 59-year-old trial lawyer and Army veteran from Sioux City, jumped into the race in February 2021 — well before Grassley had announced he planned to seek reelection. It is the first primary challenge Grassley has faced since his 1980 election to the U.S. Senate.
Read the whole story here:Chuck Grassley sails past Jim Carlin in Republican US Senate primary; moves on to run for 8th term
— Brianne Pfannenstiel, Des Moines Register
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem wins GOP primary: Is the White House in her future?
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a big backer of Donald Trump, has been declared the winner of her state’s Republican gubernatorial primary.
Noem, who easily defeated South Dakota state Rep. Steve Haugaard in the GOP contest, will face Democratic state legislator Jamie Smith in the fall general election.
If Noem wins that, speculation will mount about her next possible race: A presidential bid in 2024. Noem, who has raised more than $15 million for her South Dakota re-election bid, has also been mentioned as a possible running mate for Trump, should he win re-nomination as president.
Haugaard, her Republican primary opponent, accused Noem of using the South Dakota statehouse as a stepping-stone to a presidential campaign.
– David Jackson
Polls are now closed in Iowa and New Mexico.
Five Republicans are competing in the N.M. GOP primary to challenge Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in November, including former meteorologist Mark Ronchetti, who ran for Senate in 2020 but lost to Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Lujan.
In Iowa, Republicans are competing to determine who will take on the state’s last surviving Democrat in Congress: Rep. Cindy Axne. Axne’s former colleague, former Rep. Abby Finkenauer, is one of the candidates competing for the Democratic nomination for Senate.
Whoever emerges will face a steep uphill battle to defeat longtime incumbent Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley.
— Dylan Wells
The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday domestic terrorism threats could become more volatile during the midterms because of misinformation and politically and emotionally charged events, such as an impending Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights.
“Threat actors have recently mobilized to violence due to factors such as personal grievances, reactions to current events, and adherence to violent extremist ideologies, including racially or ethnically motivated or anti-government/anti-authority violent extremism,” the National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin said.
Targets could include public gatherings, faith-based institutions, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media and perceived ideological opponents, according to the bulletin.
“As recent acts of violence in communities across the country have so tragically demonstrated, the nation remains in a heightened threat environment, and we expect that environment will become more dynamic in the coming months,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
DHS “remains steadfast” in its “commitment to provide timely information and resources to the American public and our partners across every level of government, in law enforcement, and in the private sector,” he said.
— Candy Woodall
SCOTUS:Chief Justice John Roberts facing test of leadership amid tense time at Supreme Court
In Iowa, Franken swarms Democratic primary opponents with TV ads
The final weeks of the Democratic U.S. Senate primary race in Iowa have been marked by a flurry of television and digital ads. Retired Navy Admiral Mike Franken has outspent his next-closest Democratic competitor, Abby Finkenauer, more than 5-to-1.
Finkenauer, a former U.S. representative from Cedar Rapids, has spent nearly $300,000 on ads, according to data provided by advertising analytics firm AdImpact on May 31. That was dwarfed by the nearly $1.6 million Franken spent.
Finkenauer entered the race last summer as the perceived front-runner, garnering major endorsements and tallying more than $1 million in fundraising during her first quarter.
But Franken’s latest fundraising reports indicate he may be closing that gap. He outpaced Finkenauer during each of his last two fundraising periods, though she’s raised more during the election cycle.
— Brianne Pfannenstiel, Des Moines Register
First polls close
The first poll closings of the night have taken place in New Jersey and Mississippi.
Both states feature a slew of Democratic and Republican primaries for U.S. House seats.
Some of the polls have closed in South Dakota, which is split between time zones., Incumbent Gov. Kristi Noem is a heavy favorite to win her Republican primary.
– David Jackson
Half of Republicans support stricter gun laws, an exclusive USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll finds, a double-digit increase after a series of horrific mass shootings at schools, stores, streets and houses of worship.
The increase in GOP support – from 35% last year to 50% – could boost the prospects for Congress to tighten federal gun laws, an effort that has failed for decades. The House is poised to pass a Democratic package of proposals this week as bipartisan negotiations on a less far-reaching compromise continue behind closed doors in the Senate.
“I’m pro-gun, that’s part of the Second Amendment,” says Sean Nelson, 27, an independent from Hagerstown, Maryland, who leans to the GOP. The cybersecurity analyst was among those called in the survey. Recent mass shootings prompted him to support stronger background checks and waiting periods for gun purchases. “With all these things happening, we need better regulation and better rules to prevent those things happening,” he says.
— Susan Page and Kenneth Tran
Read the whole story here:Half of Republicans support stricter gun laws, a double-digit jump in a year, USA TODAY/Ipsos poll says
In South Dakota, some voters given the wrong ballots
Some Minnehaha County, S.D. voters were handed the wrong ballot, or a ballot with an incorrect ballot stamp, on the morning of Election Day, according to the county’s auditor.
Those issues occurred in legislative districts 2 (east of Sioux Falls, including Brandon and Valley Springs), 9 (west of Sioux Falls, including Hartford) and 25 (encompassing the remainder of Minnehaha County up to Dell Rapids), and were resolved by 10 a.m., county auditor Ben Kyte said.
Mick Monger, 61, at the MariCar Community Center said he had to take a lunch break to vote because he and other voters were turned away earlier in the day.
“We were unable to vote, they said they had the wrong stamp,” Monger said, “I hope everybody else had the chance to get out and vote.”
Read the whole story here:‘Limited number’ of wrong primary election ballots given to Minnehaha County voters, auditor says
The Trump factor in California races
Two Republican congressmen are facing challenges tied to Trump, but for different reasons.
In a Democratic-tilting district in the state’s Central Valley farm belt, Republican Rep. David Valadao is highlighting an independent streak while contending with GOP fallout for his vote to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 insurrection. Republican Chris Mathys has made Valadao’s vote a centerpiece in his campaign to oust him.
In a Democratic-leaning district north of Los Angeles, three Democrats are vying for the chance to take on Republican Rep. Mike Garcia, who captured the seat in 2020. Garcia, a former Navy fighter pilot who was endorsed by Trump in 2020, joined House Republicans who rejected electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania and opposed Trump’s impeachment after the Capitol insurrection. Two other Republicans are also on the ballot.
California uses a top-two election format in which only the top two vote-getters advance to the November general election, regardless of party.
— Associated Press
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on ballot months after recall vote
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, is back on the ballot just nine months after facing a recall vote that could have removed him from office.
Newsom survived the recall vote by a comfortable margin, with more than two-thirds of Californians voting “no” on the recall measure.
Now, Newsom faces a crowded field of 25 challengers, including Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle and former Los Angeles poet laureate Luis Javier Rodriguez, according to the Los Angeles Times.
– Ella Lee
NJ primary pits Trump Republicans against moderate favorites
A quick look at the ballot slogans for Tuesday’s primary provides a glimpse into the strategy of New Jersey’s Republican Party in the post-Trump era — everything is about who can put “America First” in the most convincing way.
There’s an “America First Veteran” and the “America First Agenda.” Two candidates are running as “America First Republicans,” not to be confused with “America First Conservative Republicans.” Other candidates are running under the slogans “America First: True Conservative Outsider” and “New Jersey First.”
But if any of the self-styled Trump Republicans have a chance of riding the anticipated midterm red wave into the House of Representatives, they must first pull off upsets in Tuesday’s primary against leading candidates who represent New Jersey’s traditionally moderate brand of conservatives.
– Dustin Racioppi, Bergen Record
What’s driving voters in Tuesday’s primary?
Among the states with primaries on Tuesday, California has more than 11 million immigrants – more than any state in the U.S. At least 1-in-4 New Jersey residents is an immigrant, and immigrants make up 9% of the New Mexico population, according to the American Immigration Council.
But immigration and troubles at the border are being overshadowed by other anxieties on the minds of voters, including historic inflation, brutal acts of gun violence, expected overhauls to reproductive rights and the ongoing pandemic.
“The economy, inflation, reproductive rights and guns are driving the conversation,” said Varun Nikore, executive director of the AAPI Victory Alliance. “I’m not seeing much on immigration. Too many other issues are coming to the forefront.”
– Candy Woodall, Phillip M. Bailey
L.A. race for mayor among the most competitive elections
Los Angeles voters will decide on a replacement for Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is departing the seat after meeting Los Angeles’ two four-year-term limit for mayors.
Twelve different candidates are on the ballot, but polling shows voters are mainly deciding between retiring Democratic U.S. Rep. Karen Bass and billionaire developer Rick Caruso. A poll from the Los Angeles Times shows Bass has 38% support among likely voters while Caruso, a former Republican who just registered as Democrat this year, has 32% support.
In Los Angeles, if a mayoral candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, they win the seat immediately, but the polling shows that to be unlikely. If tonight no candidate earns more than 50%, the two top candidates head to a runoff election in November.
– Kenneth Tran
Ryan Zinke is eyeing a comeback in a new House seat in Montana
Ryan Zinke, a former Montana congressman who later served in Trump’s cabinet as Interior secretary, is looking to return to the House.
Zinke is running for a new seat after the 2020 Census determined population growth merited a second congressional district in Montana.
An investigation determined he lied to an ethics official about his involvement in a development project during his tenure as Interior Secretary. His state of residency has also been questioned, after a report from Politico found that his wife declared residency in Santa Barbara, California.
More:Former Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke misused Cabinet position, investigation finds
Zinke’s most significant challenger is Al Olszewski, a former Montana state senator and orthopedic surgeon. Olszewski has criticized Zinke for not being conservative enough, citing Zinke’s votes during his tenure as a member of the House, including being what he described as too pro-choice, voting with NARAL 70% of the time while in office
– Kenneth Tran
More:Los Angeles mayoral race has spurred endorsements from Kim Kardashian, Elon Musk and Magic Johnson. What to know
The first polls close Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET in New Jersey, Mississippi and South Dakota.
An hour later, at 9 p.m. ET, polls close in Iowa and New Mexico.
Montana closes its polls at 10 p.m. ET.
And California’s polls close last, at 11 p.m. ET.
– Ella Lee