Primary voters in seven states, including California and New Jersey, will head to the polls Tuesday to select their party’s candidates for statewide offices, such as the governors of New Mexico and South Dakota; for mayor of Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest city, and for dozens of seats in the House.
Crime is on the minds of Californians: San Franciscans are deciding whether to remove their prosecutor, and Angelenos are considering whether to elect as their next mayor a longtime Democratic insider or a billionaire former Republican who pledges to crack down on crime and homelessness and clean up the city.
Iowa Republican Senator Charles E. Grassley is not expected to face much opposition as he is running for an eighth term in November at age 89. Other varieties offer more drama.
Here’s what to look out for during Tuesday’s games in New Jersey, Mississippi, Iowa, South Dakota, New Mexico, Montana and California:
A real battlefield map comes into view
In most of the country, the Congressional realignment strengthened the incumbency for both parties. Tuesday will show much of the battlefield that remains. Of the 53 seats in the House that the impartial Cook Political Report sees in play, nine are in California, New Mexico and Iowa.
And for once, Democrats will be watching the districts where they can cause offense: four seats in the Republican House in California, now held by Representatives David Valadao, Mike Garcia, Michelle Steel and Young Kim, and one in New Mexico. , owned by Yvette Herrell.
If those races don’t spice things up Tuesday, California’s unusual primary system could send political obsessives a very late night. Under the system, established under former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the two biggest voters face each other on the first night in November, regardless of party.
Invariably, a few races end with a Republican facing a Republican or a Democrat facing a Democrat, leaving one party off the ice. Based on Tuesday’s results, some seats are guaranteed to change hands.
Democratic Miscalculations and Missed Opportunities
In New Mexico, the Democrats in full control of the state capital in Santa Fe took a chance and made a safe seat in the state’s picturesque north by shifting the district’s boundaries to the south, in the hope to take the Republican seat in southern New Mexico.
But in a bad Democratic year, they may have overplayed their hand: Rather than hope for a three-seat state House victory, Democrats are now concerned that Republicans can keep that seat and take another. .
The California realignment was in the hands of an impartial committee, which put Democrats in a position to take some Republican seats and elect the first Latin American representatives in the Central Valley.
But the Democrats could also lose a number of seats in the House, including that of Katie Porter, one of the party’s rising stars. In addition to Ms. Porter, on the coast of Southern California, Representative Mike Levin is in the process of running for reelection, and a new seat in central California, the 13th district, should be Democratic in a regular year, but it isn’t.
The Democrats had also hoped to have a shot at the Iowa Senate seat, which will be taken by Grassley. But Mr Grassley chose to run for re-election, although he would be 95 at the end of his next term. And Democrats’ favorite candidate, Abby Finkenauer, 33, who served one term in the House, has even struggled to get on the ballot.
Ethical mistakes can be costly. Unless they aren’t.
Representative Tom Malinowski, a New Jersey Democrat, had the makings of a foreign policy heavyweight in his party. He was the Washington director of Human Rights Watch before becoming a top human rights officer in the State Department of the Obama administration.
Malinowski turned his attention to electoral politics in 2018, beating a moderate Republican, Leonard Lance, in that year’s Democratic wave. In 2020, he defeated Thomas Kean Jr., the son and namesake of a popular former New Jersey governor, by 5,311 votes.
Tuesday is mr. Kean the top contender to win his party’s nomination to Mr. Malinowski again, but this time the Democrat is one of the most threatened incumbents in the House, thanks to three factors. Redistricting made its scary Democratic seat scary Republican.
Despite Mr. Kean’s loss in 2020, the governor’s son is a strong opponent in a state where surnames matter (Robert J. Menendez, the son of Senator Bob Menendez, is the firm favorite in the Democratic primary for a new election). seat in the House). and mr. Malinowski admitted his failure to properly disclose thousands of dollars in stock transactions, 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 secretary of the interior amid a cloud of investigations into conflicts of interest and questionable taxpayer spending.
Trump’s swing and miss in South Dakota
Former President Donald J. Trump vowed to punish South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune for not adequately promoting the lie that Mr. Trump won the 2020 re-election. “South Dakota doesn’t like weakness. In 2022 he will get the primary election, political career over!” the former president stated on Twitter in December 2020, before being banned from the platform.
But South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem chose to run for reelection rather than run for the Senate, and no serious challenger heeded 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, elevating him as the heir to Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican Republican. leader of the Senate.
They will also position Ms. Noem to run for president or, if Mr. Trump is running, to run for vice president.
Law and order on the left coast
Los Angeles and San Francisco are famously wealthy and liberal, but the rise in homelessness and a growing sense of disorder have left voters in both cities uneasy just as California pulled out of the harsh crime policies of the past.
Crime rates are nowhere near the highs of the 1990s, but city dwellers have increasingly struggled over the two-and-a-half years of the pandemic with hollowed-out business districts, squalid tent camps, robberies and gaping economic inequalities.
In Los Angeles, the race to succeed Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose term is limited, has turned into a showdown between the local Democratic establishment and the nervous property owners.
Representative Karen Bass, former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and a staunch party member, and Rick Caruso, a former Republican billionaire who served on the city’s police commission, are leading the way. Mr. Caruso has spent tens of millions of dollars on television, radio and digital advertisements depicting Los Angeles as a traumatized hellscape under siege by crime.
In San Francisco, likewise, ongoing pandemic neglect and a jump in anti-Asian hate crimes have fueled a campaign to recall Chesa Boudin, a progressive elected prosecutor with a promise to wean the city from its reliance on incarceration. As in Los Angeles, the call in San Francisco for a crackdown on criminals is being endorsed by some of the city’s wealthiest residents. But it has tapped into the fears of the middle class.
More broadly, the race for California’s attorney general will test the state’s shift from mass incarceration and its appetite for leaders outside the Democratic Party. The incumbent, Rob Bonta, a progressive Democrat appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2021 when Xavier Becerra joined the Biden administration, is running for a full term. Two Republicans and one Republican who became independent will fight against him in November.
The independent, Anne Marie Schubert, is the district attorney in Sacramento County and prosecuted the Golden State Killer. She has strong support from the police and is generally seen as moderate. But of the three candidates who claim progressive reforms have made California less safe, she is the only one without major party support.