Eight state primaries took place Tuesday night in California, New Jersey, Mississippi, Alabama, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota, but most eyes were on the Golden State’s gubernatorial showdown, where President Donald Trump-backed GOP John Cox is sitting pretty against his Democratic challenger in November’s midterm election.
The Republican businessman outpaced Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Tuesday night at the ballot box, but former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was the top vote-getter and is ultimately expected to be the gubernatorial victor in November for Democrats in the liberal stronghold of California, where the blue party is vying to retake Congress this fall to bolster a national movement to oust Trump’s conservative agenda.
“Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will move on to the November election – taking one of the two top spots in the jungle primary – to face Trump-backed Republican businessman John Cox, who surged late in the campaign,” Fox News reported. “The result is disappointing for Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was widely considered the only realistic challenger to Newsom in November in the extremely liberal state.”
More California blues?
Even though most of the attention Tuesday night was focused on the tight Villaraigosa-Cox battle for second place, the ultra-liberal Newsom appears to be well-situated for a win, come November, especially after attacking his GOP rival to appeal to California’s leftist gun control advocates.
“Newsom is essentially assured victory in November's statewide contest, given California's overwhelmingly liberal electorate,” Fox News’ Gregg Re reported. “Some Democrats cried foul earlier this month after Newsom ran ads that reminded voters of Cox's connections with Trump and the NRA, saying the frontrunner was implicitly trying to rally conservatives to the polls to ensure Cox beat Villaraigosa for the second spot on the ballot.”
But Trump has high hopes for Cox in the Midterms, and believes he can turn things around in the nation’s most populous deep-blue state.
“California has a rare opportunity to turn things around and solve its high crime, high tax, problems – along with so many others,” Trump tweeted May 28. “On June 5th, vote for GOP Gubernatorial Candidate JOHN COX, a really good and highly competent man. He’ll Make California Great Again!”
Another familiar name in liberal circles is also moving forward on the Democratic ticket.
“Sen. Dianne Feinstein will place first in the state's jungle primary – a widely expected result,” Re informed. “She will likely face ultra-progressive State Sen. Kevin de Leon in November, who delivered remarks early Wednesday strongly suggesting that he will be the runner-up.”
Many of California’s key House races were too close to project winners – which may not be announced for days, due to the state’s eccentric election laws – but much is as stake for both parties.
“Democrats need to flip 23 Republican-controlled to retake the House from the GOP in November, [and] out of California's 53 House seats, Republicans hold 14, and seven of those GOP-held districts backed Hillary Clinton in 2016,” Re noted. “That makes the Golden State center stage for what Democrats are hoping is a major anti-Trump wave in November.”
The primaries are exceedingly important to both parties because of its “jungle primary” system, which could mean early knockouts and no representatives for one party or the other, come November.
“In several races, either Republicans or Democrats face the very real prospect of being denied a place on the ballot in the general election,” Re noted. “That's because of California's nonpartisan, open ‘jungle primary’ system, which advances the top two vote-getting candidates to the general election – regardless of their party affiliation.”
This could be more detrimental for the blue than the red.
“The risk is particularly high for Democrats – who are riding a wave of anti-Trump enthusiasm in California – [as] so many Democrats are running in three of the House races that they might split the vote to such an extent that two Republicans end up with the most ballots,” Re explained. “That result would lock Democrats out of competing in the general election in some of the most vulnerable Republican districts – a kind of embarrassing political ‘own goal’ that would highlight the quirks and perils of California's unique primary procedure.”
New Jersey: Scandal-plagued Dem Sen. Menendez still wins
Incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) still managed to eke out a victory Tuesday night against his little-known competitor. After the U.S. Department of Justice issued its decision not to retry a corruption case against Menendez, he opted to run, once again, for the Senate seat.
Another notable contest in the Garden State for the GOP included a couple of heavyweight businessmen.
“The AP also called the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in favor of wealthy former biopharmaceutical executive and Marine, Bob Hugin.” CBS News announced. “Hugin defeated construction company executive Brian Goldberg, according to the AP. Hugin is a former Celgene Corp. executive. In the 11th Congressional District, Republican New Jersey Assembly Jay Webber won the party primary, according to the AP.”
Big news for Democrats also came out of New Jersey, where they are looking to gain some ground.
“The AP also called the Democratic primary in the state's 11th District for former Navy pilot and former federal prosecutor Mikie Sherrill,” CBS noted. “Sherrill won a five-way race in the district Democrats hope to flip with the retirement of Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen.”
In one district, New Jersey Democrats are looking to retake take over some new territory as they try to take advantage of anti-Trump sentiments generated by the mainstream media.
“The Second District, in South Jersey, would not be a Democratic target in a normal year, but Democrats believe this year’s anti-Trump energy gives them a chance,” the New York Times reported. “The incumbent, Frank LoBiondo, is retiring, and four Democrats and five Republicans are running to replace him. The Democratic race is interesting as a microcosm of a national tussle: It pit[ted] Jeff Van Drew, a conservative Democrat who might appeal more in such a Republican-leaning district in November [who took 55 percent of the vote], against Tanzie Youngblood, a progressive,[who lost with a mere 19 percent].”
Mississippi: Strong for Republicans
Trump-backed incumbent Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) did well as expected in the Republican primary race for the Senate Tuesday night in Mississippi, especially after the president took to Twitter to make sure his favorite stole the show.
“Senator @RogerWicker of Mississippi has done everything necessary to Make America Great Again!” Trump exclaimed Tuesday morning on Twitter. “Get out and vote for Roger, he has my total support!”
One greatly anticipated race did not take place Tuesday night, as Mississippians will have to wait until the fall for a showdown.
“The special election to replace retiring Republican Senator Thad Cochran will not take place until November 6,” CBS News noted. “Since Mississippi special elections are nonpartisan, all candidates will run together on a single ballot in November – regardless of political party. If no one receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff three weeks later.”
However, another contest of interest was decided in last night’s primary.
“The AP called the Republican race in Mississippi's 4th Congressional District for incumbent Rep. Steven Palazzo,” CBS News announced. ‘He defeated primary challenger Brian Rose.”
Alabama: No surprises
Incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey (R-Ala.) won her gubernatorial contest in Alabama Tuesday night and now looks forward to meeting her Democratic challenger in November as the frontrunner.
“The AP projected Republican Kay Ivey as the nominee for governor in the GOP primary,” CBS News informed. “Ivey currently serves as the state's governor, after taking over when former Gov. Robert Bentley resigned in 2017.”
South Dakota: Staying red
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) rose to victory Tuesday night in South Dakota’s premier contest and will now be entered on the November ballot in the predominantly Republican state.
“The AP projected Rep. Kristi Noem has won the GOP primary against state Attorney General Marty Jackley, in her bid to become governor,” CBS explained. “The AP projects she will run against Billie Sutton – presumed Democratic nominee for governor.”
New Mexico: Another Hispanic female gov?
For the primary showdown in New Mexico, all eyes were on the race for governor.
“In the gubernatorial contest, the AP projected that Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham will win the Democratic primary,” CBS News reported. “If she wins in the fall, she would take over from another Hispanic female governor, Susana Martinez, who is term-limited.”
Clear winners were announced early in the Senate contests, with Mick Rich winning for the Republicans and Martin Heinrich for the Democrats. Debra Haaland was called the Democratic winner in New Mexico’s 1st congressional district.
Iowa: Big turnouts
Iowa – the state with the first presidential election caucuses – had signs of being excited for the November midterms, with big showings by voters on Tuesday night to support their party favorites.
“The AP called the Iowa Democratic primary for retired Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell,” CBN News announced. “He will face Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds come November. Election officials, according to the AP, said the race appeared to have record turnout.”
Looking for an upset and takeover, Democrats believed they are poised to regain some ground in the state that is predominantly red at heart.
“CBS News ranks Iowa's Republican-held third congressional district – which stretches from Des Moines to the Nebraska border – as probably competitive as the Democrats hope to unseat Republican incumbent David Young,” the national news network added.
Montana: Anti-Trump Dem to face pro-Trump rival
A much-anticipated showdown has come to fruition after Tuesday’s party matchups, with an anti-Trump Democrat looking to spar with an ardent Trump supporter.
“Montana's gubernatorial race will be incumbent Democratic Sen. John Tester against state auditor Matt Rosendale, according to the AP,” CBS News indicated. “Rosendale fended off former Yellowstone County District Judge Russell Fagg. The Republican primary hopefuls vying to take on Tester are aligned themselves with Mr. Trump and his policies. Tester was one of the most vocal critics of Ronny Jackson – Mr. Trump's nominee to be Veterans Affairs secretary.”