LOS ANGELES (AP) — Primary elections in seven states Tuesday will set the stage for U.S. House and Senate races this fall, with many contests shaped by political fissures in each major parties and the lingering shadow of former President Donald Trump.
With control of Congress in play, a string of Republican House incumbents are contending with challenges from the political right, and a few rivals are embracing Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud in his 2020 loss to President Joe Biden.
No incumbent governors or senators seem like in imminent danger. In Iowa, several Democrats are jockeying for the prospect to tackle seven-term Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, with the campaign showcasing the breach between the Democratic Party’s progressive and establishment wings.
What to observe in Tuesday’s primaries in California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Recent Jersey, Recent Mexico and South Dakota:
In a heavily Democratic district within the state’s Central Valley farm belt, Republican U.S. Rep. David Valadao is seeing blowback for his vote to question Trump over the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol revolt.
Jacquelyn Martin via Associated Press
California is a Democratic fortress where the party holds every statewide office and its voters outnumber registered Republicans by nearly 2-to-1. Gov. Gavin Newsom and U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla face little-known competitors.
But Republicans retain pockets of strength in some U.S. House districts which might be expected to be among the many best races within the country.
In a heavily Democratic district within the state’s Central Valley farm belt, Republican U.S. Rep. David Valadao is seeing blowback for his vote to question Trump over the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol revolt. 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, several Democrats are hoping to tackle Republican Rep. Mike Garcia, who is anticipated to advance to November with considered one of the Democrats as the highest two finishers within the race. Garcia rejected electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania being forged for Biden and opposed Trump’s impeachment after the Capitol revolt.
The crowded Los Angeles mayor’s race is shaping as much as be a fight between Rick Caruso, a pro-business billionaire Republican-turned-Democrat who sits on the board of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, who was on Biden’s shortlist for vp. If no candidate clears 50%, the highest two finishers advance to a November runoff.
In one other closely watched election, San Francisco voters are considering whether to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin, a progressive Democrat who critics say has did not prosecute repeat offenders, amid widespread frustration with crime and homelessness.
Republicans have gained a bonus within the state over the past decade, and the Democratic Senate primary provides a snapshot of the minority party’s battle for relevance.
Finkenauer is a 33-year-old, former two-term state representative who argues her youth and more moderen experience in Iowa make her a greater fit to challenge a Republican first elected to the Senate in 1980. She has made term limits a centerpiece of her campaign.
Franken, 64, is promoting a progressive agenda, including adding a public insurance choice to the Inexpensive Care Act. He’s from conservative western Iowa and argues he might be more competitive against Grassley by whittling into the senator’s margins in heavily Republican areas.
Physician Glenn Hurst, a councilman for a small western Iowa city and the Iowa Democratic Party’s chair for its rural caucus, is running to the left of each Finkenauer and Franken.
Meanwhile, three Republicans are competing for a likelihood to run against Iowa’s lone Democratic member of Congress, Rep. Cindy Axne.
Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) is facing his largest-ever field of challengers after a congressional ethics watchdog raised questions on his campaign spending.
J. Scott Applewhite via Associated Press
Republican U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo is facing his largest-ever field of challengers after a congressional ethics watchdog raised questions on his campaign spending.
A 2021 report by the Office of Congressional Ethics found “substantial reason to consider” Palazzo, a military veteran who serves on the Appropriations and Homeland Security committees, abused his office by misspending campaign funds, doing favors for his brother and enlisting staff for political and private errands. His then-spokesperson, Colleen Kennedy, said the probe was based on politically motivated “false allegations.”
Mississippi’s two other Republican congressmen, Trent Kelly and Michael Guest, face primary challengers who support Trump’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s opponents are drawing attention to his troubled tenure on the agency, which was marked by multiple ethics investigations.
Cliff Owen via Associated Press
It’s the primary time since 1993 that the state could have two House seats, after one was added to account for Montana’s growing population.
Zinke, Trump’s former Interior Department secretary, technically is in an open race for the brand new seat. But the previous Navy SEAL is widely considered the de facto incumbent, since he twice won elections for the state’s other House seat before stepping down in 2017 to affix the Trump administration.
His opponents are drawing attention to Zinke’s troubled tenure on the agency, which was marked by multiple ethics investigations. One investigation determined Zinke lied to an agency ethics official about his continued involvement in a business real estate deal in his hometown. He’s faced a smear campaign over his military service from the acute right wing of his party and questions on his residency following revelations that his wife declared a house in California as her primary residence.
His opponents within the GOP primary include former state Sen. Al “Doc” Olszewski, an orthopedic surgeon and hard-line conservative who has tried to color Zinke as a “liberal insider.”
Three Democrats are vying for his or her party’s nomination: public health advocate Cora Neumann, Olympic rower and attorney Monica Tranel and former state Rep. Tom Winter.
Within the state’s other district, first-term Rep. Matt Rosendale, who has Trump’s endorsement, will look to fend off three Republican primary challengers.
A dozen House districts are on the ballot.
Trump said in 2021 he would back a challenger to long-serving Republican Rep. Chris Smith, but that never happened. The absence of an endorsement hasn’t stopped conservative talk show host Mike Crispi, considered one of Smith’s Republican challengers, from claiming Trump’s mantle.
In northern Recent Jersey, former state Senate minority leader Tom Kean Jr. has a fundraising edge and establishment support over five rivals. Kean, the son of former Republican Gov. Tom Kean Sr., is hoping for a rematch with Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski, who won an in depth contest two years ago.
On the Democratic side, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s son, Rob, is running for a seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Albio Sires. Menendez, a Port Authority of Recent York and Recent Jersey commissioner, locked up party support upon entering the race.
Five Republican candidates are competing to tackle Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Jim Weber/Santa Fe Recent Mexican via Associated Press
Five Republican candidates are competing to tackle Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The incumbent is favored to maintain her job in a state where Democrats control every statewide office and dominate the Legislature.
Former television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti and state Rep. Rebecca Dow are distinguished GOP contenders in a contest touching on concerns about U.S. border security, urban crime, inflation and the teaching of race and ethnicity in a heavily Latino and Native American state.
Democratic voters are deciding on a nominee for the state’s top law enforcement post to succeed Attorney General Hector Balderas. Albuquerque-based District Attorney Raúl Torrez is competing against state Auditor Brian Colón in a hard-fought campaign with few ideological divisions.
Gov. Kristi Noem, who is taken into account a possible White House prospect, is favored to win the GOP nomination.
John Raoux via Associated Press
A trio of Republican incumbents face primary challengers running on their political right.
Gov. Kristi Noem, who is taken into account a possible White House prospect, is favored to win the GOP nomination. One rival, state legislator Steve Haugaard, has argued that Noem spent more time attempting to construct a national political profile than specializing in her job at home. She’s mostly ignored him.
U.S. Sen. John Thune faced Trump’s ire after dismissing the previous president’s election fraud claims. Nonetheless, no well-known challenger has emerged in Thune’s reelection bid. Certainly one of his opponents, Mark Mowry, was amongst the gang that demonstrated near the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Within the House, Republican state lawmaker Taffy Howard is attempting to unseat GOP Rep. Dusty Johnson within the state’s lone district. Johnson touts his conservative voting record while keeping a capability to work across party lines, but Howard has tried to color him as a foot soldier for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Associated Press writers Tom Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa; Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Miss.; Matthew Brown in Billings, Mont.; Michael Catalini in Trenton, N.J.; Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, N.M.; and Stephen Groves in Sioux Falls, S.D., contributed to this report.