Biggest primary night of 2018 yet offers clues, questions ahead of midterms
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Some 85 congressional districts, five governorships and five U.S. Senate seats are up this cycle in the eight states that held primaries Tuesday in what was arguably the most consequential night of the 2018 election cycle thus far.
Several high-profile races in California have still not been projected by the Associated Press, and both parties may have to wait days to see which candidates advance to November in several U.S. House districts expected to be competitive in November.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein easily advanced to the fall in the U.S. Senate primary in California, but her general election opponent remains unclear. The race for second place looks to be between former California state senator Kevin de León, who mounted a challenge to Feinstein from the left, and Republican James Bradley.
California’s Lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom, also advanced to November in the crowded race to be the next governor of the Golden State. The Associated Press projected the race shortly after midnight eastern time.
Newsom spoke of “resistance with results” in his victory speech after California’s primary election day.
“The halftime score is looking very promising and the home team is winning big,” Newsom said to a crowd of a few hundred supporters.
He also took veiled shots at President Trump and the policies of his administration. Newsom called California “a state where we don’t criminalize diversity, we celebrate diversity. Where we don’t obstruct justice, we demand justice.
Newsom’s opponent in the general election will be Republican John Cox, who has the endorsement of President Trump, but the uphill task of winning statewide office in increasingly blue California.
The race also encountered some unexpected drama on Tuesday, with the news that over 100,000 voters in Los Angeles County had their names left off of rosters at various polling stations, much to the frustration of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, who called on the secretary of state to keep voting booths through Friday.
Results in key California House races still unclear
All eyes are on California as results continue to come in in all 53 House races in the Golden State.
But both parties may have to wait days to figure out which candidates advanced to November. Of the seven districts in California that Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 election, just one has a projected Democratic winner as of 2 a.m. EST (T.J. Cox, who ran unopposed in the state’s 21st Congressional District).
Three of the most competitive congressional races in the state are taking place in Southern California. All are currently held by Republicans and have long been conservative bastions in the blue state.
But all three also voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and that year some incumbents barely eked out a victory.
The retirements of Rep. Darrell Issa in the 49th Congressional District and Rep. Ed Royce in the 39th, along with decreasing approval ratings for incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in the 48th, have fueled Democratic hopes that those seats could be flipped come November.
A total of 47 candidates ran Tuesday across the districts, threatening to upend hopes in a “jungle” primary system, where only the top two will make it through to the general election regardless of party affiliation.
In the 39th Congressional District, Republican Young Kim, who has Royce’s endorsement, is currently leading the crowded pack. Millionaire Democratic candidates Gil Cisneros and Andy Thorburn traded barbs and insults – and even threatened legal action – for months, prompting the state party to broker a truce lest the negativity keep them out of the running. Cisneros is currently at the key second place spot with 16.3% of the vote.
In the 48th Congressional District, Rohrabacher is facing his toughest primary in his three decades in Congress, with low approval ratings (largely due to his favorable comments about strengthening relationships with Russia), an army of Democrats aiming to unseat him and a former protege’s last-minute decision to jump in for a spot in the general.
In an interview with ABC News before the primary, Keirstead said he thought party players in Washington should bear the blame if Democrats in this competitive district splinter the vote and get boxed out of the general election. That doesn’t seem to be happening right now, but there are still quite a lot of votes to be counted.
In the 49th, Democrat Doug Applegate, who lost to Issa in 2016 by just 3 points, is running again, but with only 12.4% of precincts reporting it’s Republican Kristin Gaspar with the top spot and Ricky Chavez, also a Republican at number two. It’s just one of several races that could shut out Democrats.
In California’s 50th Congressional District, incumbent GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter is easily holding on to the top spot in the suburban San Diego seat he has held for nearly a decade, and despite swirling questions around a campaign finance scandal, he could remain in Congress after the 2018 midterms.
The race also remains uncalled, but Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar a former White House fellow and spokesman for the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, is currently holding on to the second spot.
The Democratic candidates in two races in California’s Central Valley, where the issue of immigration looms large, remain outstanding early Wednesday morning.
In California’s 10th Congressional District, Republican incumbent Rep. Jeff Denham, an Air Force veteran who has held this seat since 2011, is a top Democratic target.
California’s 10th Congressional District is 42 percent Latino and voted for Hillary Clinton 48 percent to 45 percent. Denham is currently holding on to that top spot, but Democrat Josh Harder, a venture capitalist is holding on to number two. He has led the pack in fundraising.
Before the Russia investigation and the presidency of Donald Trump, Rep. Devin Nunes was a relatively low-profile congressman, now he has been catapulted into controversy after controversy during his tenure as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He has taken the top spot in California’s 22nd Congressional District.
Fresno County Deputy District Attorney Andrew Janz won the second spot on the November ballot and will take on Nunes in November. Janz has consistently hounded Nunes for his handling of the House investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and has proven to be a solid fundraiser and could give the Republican his first real race in years.
Hillary Clinton won California’s 21st Congressional District by more than 15 points in the 2016 presidential election, but GOP Rep. David Valadao has won consistently large victories since he was first elected to the U.S. House in 2012, including a 13 point victory in 2016. Valadao has broken from his party on the issue of immigration, taking a much softer approach and defending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
Valadao will face Democrat and businessman T.J. Cox in November, in what looks to be a difficult seat to flip. With just over 44 percent of precincts reporting in the district, Valadao is winning 64 percent of the vote to Cox’s 36 percent.
In California’s 4th Congressional District, GOP Rep. Tom McClintock advanced easily to the November ballot, in a more low-profile race that Democrats believe could be competitive in November.
Democrat and former diplomatic official Jessica Morse currently holds the second spot.
Democrats revel in New Jersey primary results
Results in the Garden State emerged as expected for Democrats, who aim to increase their 7-5 congressional delegation advantage to double digits in November.
Candidates with intriguing resumes who won Tuesday evening and can expect the support of the party include a former Navy pilot, Mikie Sherrill, attempting to take over the state’s 11th Congressional District from retiring Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen; a former assistant secretary of state, Tom Malinowski, waging a challenge to Rep. Leonard Lance in the 7th district; and state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, running in the 2nd district where Rep. Frank LoBiondo is stepping aside.
Preventing Democratic flips in New Jersey would go a long way towards Republicans’ goal of maintaining their majority in the House, as would stealing back the seat of Rep. Josh Gottheimer in the northern 5th Congressional District after the former Hillary Clinton campaign adviser scored an upset in 2016.
Republican attorney John McCann will attempt to make a victory over Gottheimer his second upset in a row after he overcame a fundraising deficit of over $1.2 million to opponent Steve Lonegan, a former GOP Senate nominee, to win the party’s spot in the 5th Congressional District Tuesday.
In Montana, Rosendale wins the race to take on Tester
Sen. Jon Tester is one of ten sitting Democrats up for re-election in states that President Trump won in the 2016 election, and Tuesday night he finally got his Republican opponent.
Montana State Auditor Matt Rosendale won the GOP primary to take on Tester in November in what will be a marquee race in the battle for the U.S. Senate.
Rosendale beat three other Republicans in the race to defeat Tester, which will likely draw heavy donations from deep-pocketed Republican donors.
President Trump trained his sights on defeating Tester following the Democrat’s role in the failed nomination of Dr. Ronny Jackson, the president’s personal physician, to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
The Democratic nominee to take on GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte in November was still unclear late Tuesday night.
State representative Kathleen Williams and attorney John Heenan were separated by just over 2,000 votes with just over 44 percent of precincts reporting.
Potential history-making win in New Mexico
In New Mexico, Debra Haaland – a member of the Laguna Pueblo – got closer to making history tonight as she is the projected winner of the Democratic primary in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District. This is an open seat race with current Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham running for governor. Haaland is hoping to become the nation’s first Native American woman elected to Congress. The Associated Press projected Haaland the winner just after 11:40 p.m. EST.
“Tonight, New Mexico made history,” Haaland wrote in a statement late Tuesday night, “Thank you to the tens of thousands of volunteers, grassroots donors, and supporters who won this election today. I’m honored and humbled by your support. Our win is a victory for working people, a victory for women, and a victory for everyone who has been sidelined by the billionaire class.”
The governor’s race matchup is also set in the race to succeed GOP Gov. Susana Martinez, the nation’s first Hispanic female governor. The race will be congressman versus congresswoman. Democratic Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and GOP Rep. Steve Pearce will face each other in November in a state that has only voted Republican once in the last seven presidential elections.
Immigration will be a key issue in this border state that is one of Democrats’ best chances at flipping a GOP-held governor’s mansion this cycle.
Alabama GOP Rep. Martha Roby heads to a runoff
Alabama Republican Rep. Martha Roby is headed to a runoff election in July against fellow Republican and former Democratic Rep. Bobby Bright.
Bright was an independent while serving nine years as the mayor of Montgomery, before winning election to the House as a Democrat in 2008. He was then defeated by Roby in 2010 after just one term and has since switched his registration to run as a Republican.
Roby has faced backlash in Alabama for pulling her support for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016 after the Access Hollywood tape.
In a statement released Tuesday night, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) reiterated their support for Roby.
“The NRCC congratulates Martha Roby on her strong finish in tonight’s primary,” NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers said, “The results proved that Martha Roby fights for Alabamans first and gets results. We continue to stand behind her and are confident she’ll emerge victorious in the coming runoff,”
Noem advances in South Dakota gubernatorial race
Rep. Kristi Noem won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in South Dakota, defeating state attorney general Marty Jackley.
Noem is currently serving her fourth term in the House, and becomes the immediate favorite in November.
But Democrats are hoping to compete in the deeply red state, and they think state senator Billie Sutton is the right candidate.
Sutton, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a 2007 rodeo accident, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and is hoping his populist appeal and moderate policy positions can help him appeal to the state’s more conservative electorate.
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