June 5 marks one of the most consequential and crowded primary days of the year.
Much of the action is in California, where a “jungle primary” system could lock Democrats out of important House races in November and 84-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein is facing a compelling primary challenger. There’s also a surprisingly heated governor’s primary contest in South Dakota.
Eight states go to the polls on Tuesday: Alabama, California, New Jersey, Iowa, Montana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Of course, not all those states have high-profile primary elections. We’ll guide you through what you actually need to pay attention to, with live results below, powered by Decision Desk.
Senate: Sen. Dianne Feinstein has a primary challenger
Incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein, at age 84, is the oldest US senator; she’s been in office since 1992. This year, she has a challenger: state Sen. Kevin De León, the former president pro tempore of the California Senate, who thinks California might be ready to elect a younger, more progressive candidate. But Feinstein is still fairly popular in the state and has a war chest with millions. She’ll be tough to beat.
On the Republican side, there’s pro-Trump candidate James Bradley, who has little money and almost no name recognition. He’s unlikely to make it through the primary.
California’s Fourth District: Democrats are trying to target California’s most conservative Congress member
Rep. Tom McClintock, the incumbent Republican and the most conservative Congress member in California, is almost guaranteed the top spot in the “top two” primary system. But there’s a heated race between two Democratic women to claim the No. 2 slot to run in November.
Jessica Morse, 35, a national security strategist whose résumé includes the State Department, Defense Department, and USAID, has gained the Democratic Party endorsement and the support of many progressive groups. She’s outraised her Democratic competitors and even McClintock and is the Democratic favorite. But Regina Bateson, an MIT professor and native of the local town Roseville, has mounted a formidable challenge.
This R+10 district is rated as Likely Republican by the Cook Political Report, but Democrats still think it’s in play. McClintock represents a district encompassing Roseville, Lake Tahoe, and down to Yosemite National Park — but he doesn’t live there.
California’s 10th Congressional District: a beekeeper, the venture capitalist behind Blue Apron, and the daughter of immigrant farmworkers
Incumbent Republican Rep. Jeff Denham, who came into Congress in the 2010 Tea Party wave, will likely be up against one of three Democrats in November: Michael Eggman, a 53-year-old third-generation beekeeper who is making his third run against Denham; Josh Harder, the 31-year-old venture capitalist who backed the meal kit service Blue Apron; and Virginia Madueño, the 52-year-old former mayor of Riverbank who has been tapped by Emily’s List.
In 2016, Denham narrowly won by 3.4 percent in one of the closest House races in the country, and Hillary Clinton won the Central Valley district in 2016 by 3 points too; it’s rated as a toss-up, and is a prime pickup opportunity for Democrats.
California’s 22nd Congressional District: a safe Republican seat that’s getting attention because of Devin Nunes
Incumbent Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, friend to President Donald Trump and the author of the House Intelligence Committee’s dubious Russia investigation memo, is in a pretty safe Republican seat. But Democrats are still targeting the district, hoping Nunes’s role defending Trump in the Russia investigations will give them a boost. Andrew Janz, the Fresno County deputy district attorney, is considered best positioned to take on Nunes. He has the endorsement of the California Democratic Party and has raked in more than $1 million to challenge Nunes (mostly because Nunes is so nationally well-known/disliked). Entrepreneur Bobby Bliatout and business consultant Ricardo Franco are also running.
California’s 25th Congressional District: a prime pickup opportunity for Democrats
In this toss-up Los Angeles County district, the seat of incumbent Rep. Stephen Knight, who has been in office since 2015, is being targeted as a prime pickup opportunity for Democrats. All eyes are on attorney Bryan Caforio, who challenged Knight in 2016 and has locked up a lot of endorsements from labor and progressive groups. Democrat Katie Hill, a nonprofit policy advocate, has also mounted a formidable challenge, with the backing of Emily’s List, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and a number of California’s Democratic Congress members. Both Caforio and Hill have out-fundraised Knight so far.
California’s 39th Congressional District: in an open race, Democrats are in an absolute squabbling match
This is a heated race to fill an open seat, vacated by retiring Republican Rep. Ed Royce. On the Democratic side, two wealthy candidates are in an ugly battle for a spot on the November ballot. Gil Cisneros, a former Navy officer and 2010 lottery winner (he won $266 million), is on the DCCC’s Red to Blue list, which is as close as the national campaign arm gets to endorsing a candidate. He’s up against Andy Thorburn, a health insurance executive and former teacher. It’s been a doozy of a race, including allegations of tax fraud and legal action over a voicemail. There’s also another Democrat in the running, pediatrician Mai Khanh Tran, who’s endorsed by Emily’s List.
The field of Republicans running in this race is just as deep as the Democratic side. Three stand out: Shawn Nelson, the Orange County supervisor; Bob Huff, who is the former state Senate minority leader; and Young Kim, who has served in the state Assembly. This Orange County district is prime territory for Democrats to make gains in November, but they’ve failed to get behind a single candidate, and it could result in Democrats getting shut out of the general election altogether.
California’s 45th Congressional District: a hotly contested Democratic race to challenge Mimi Walters
Four Democrats are looking to earn a top-two slot and challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Mimi Walters. There’s Katie Porter, a UC Irvine law professor, who has endorsed Medicare-for-all and has the support of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Dave Min, another UC Irvine law professor, is more moderate and received the endorsement of the California Democratic Party. Brian Forde is an ex-Republican who worked under President Obama, and Kia Hamadanchy is a young Iranian American who has worked for populist Democrats like former Sen. Tom Harkin and current Sen. Sherrod Brown. This is a diversifying Orange County district, where Clinton beat Donald Trump by 5 points in 2016.
California’s 48th Congressional District: drunken bar fights, a Putin-adored Republican, and a Kasich-friendly Democrat ... what could go wrong?
There’s a highly contested race playing out in Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s coastal district. Rohrabacher, who is expected to make it past the primary, has a surprisingly formidable Republican challenger in Scott Baugh, a former Orange County Republican Party chair who is a longtime friend of Rohrabacher’s.
In a field of eight Democrats, two stand out: Harley Rouda, a DCCC and Indivisible-endorsed real estate investor who donated to Republican campaigns as recently as 2016; and Hans Keirstead, a stem cell scientist with a California Democratic Party endorsement who has spent a lot of time trying to fend off 2009 allegations that he slept with his grad students and got into a drunken fistfight. The race is a circus. Clinton eked out a 1-point win in this district in 2016, so Democrats are energized for a potential takeover, but if Baugh does well, there’s a possibility Democrats are going to get shut out of this race altogether.
California’s 49th Congressional District: Republicans are just as likely to get shut out as Democrats
This is a wide-open race to fill retiring Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat. Four Democrats are in a dead heat: real estate investor Paul Kerr; Sara Jacobs, the CEO of a nonprofit who comes from a wealthy family; environmental lawyer Mike Levin; and retired Marine Col. Doug Applegate.
There are a whopping eight Republicans on the ballot too, and no clear winner among the pack. Among the notable candidates are Rocky Chávez, a state Assembly member and retired Marine Corps colonel; Diane Harkey, who used to serve in the state Assembly and has current Rep. Darrell Issa’s endorsement; and Kristin Gaspar, an Orange County supervisor and small-business owner who has Rep. Ed Royce’s endorsement.
Issa was considered to be the most vulnerable Republican in the midterms, having won reelection by the slimmest margin in the country; then he dropped out, leaving his Orange County/San Diego County district up for grabs. Clinton won the district by 7.5 points, and with a stacked ballot on both sides of the aisle, the possibility of a Republican shutout is just as likely as a Democratic one.
California’s 50th Congressional District: incumbent Duncan Hunter is being investigated by the FBI for campaign fraud
Incumbent Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter’s San Diego district is hardly competitive. Registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats 42 percent to 27 percent, and Trump won by 15 points. But Hunter has been dogged by serious legal and ethics scandals, accused of having inappropriate relationships with women, drinking on the job, and other unprofessional conduct, which his office has denied. He’s under investigation by the FBI. And there are two formidable Democratic challengers: retired Navy SEAL Josh Butner, and Ammar Campa-Najjar, who worked in Obama’s Department of Labor. Real estate agent Patrick Malloy, who has run against Hunter in the past, is also in the race.
Iowa governor’s race: a potential referendum on Medicaid privatization
Three Democrats are vying for the opportunity to challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds in November. Business owner Fred Hubbell and local labor leader Cathy Glasson are competing in the Democratic primary. Hubbell is the top fundraiser and first in the only poll on the race so far, but Glasson could be a competitive challenger.
Reynolds’s signature achievement is probably moving Iowa’s 600,000 Medicaid enrollees into managed care, a privatized version of the program where private health plans administer Medicaid’s benefits. Hubbell wants to reverse that privatization, while Glasson supports a more liberal single-payer option. State Sen. Nate Boulton recently dropped out of the race following sexual misconduct allegations.
Iowa’s Third Congressional District: Obamacare could be a big test in this swing district
Small-business owner Cindy Axne and former Bernie Sanders campaign aide Pete D’Alessandro are running for chance to challenge Incumbent Republican Rep. David Young. Axne has been endorsed by Emily’s List, while D’Alesandro (no surprise) has Sanders’s support. Cook rates this district R+1 this year, so it definitely has the potential to swing. And there’s a strong health care angle in this race. The Democratic side is a contest between a progressive vision for health care and a more moderate one: Axne is running on fixing Obamacare, while D’Alessandro has fully embraced a platform that includes Medicare-for-all.
Montana Senate: millions are being spent in the race to elect a Republican challenger to Sen. Jon Tester
There are four Republicans running for the chance to kick out incumbent Democrat Sen. Jon Tester. But the primary has heated up between Montana state auditor Matt Rosendale and retired state Judge Russ Fagg. Trump won Montana by 20 points in 2016, and Tester hasn’t exactly made friends with the president lately, so Republicans are working hard to kick him out. Conservative outside groups are spending millions to boost Rosendale, but it has the potential to backfire in a state where local ties are paramount. Rosendale moved to Montana from Maryland nearly 20 years ago, but Fagg is a fourth-generation Montanan and is painting Rosendale as a carpetbagger. The fact that outside groups are going all in for Rosendale could irk the locals.
New Jersey Senate: Bob Menendez seeks a third term
Incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez is running for reelection, and the only other Democrat on the ballot is community news website publisher Lisa McCormick.
As for the Republicans, pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin, construction company executive Brian Goldberg, and attorney Dana Wefer are all running. Hugin, a self-funder, has poured $7.5 million into his campaign already — he’s expected to win the GOP primary fairly easily. The only reason the general election contest might get interesting in this blue state is that Menendez faced trial last year on corruption charges. The jury failed to agree on a verdict, the prosecution ended with a mistrial, and the Justice Department decided to drop the charges rather than try a second time. Even though he wasn’t convicted, none of this looked great politically for Menendez.
New Jersey’s Second Congressional District: a retirement gives Democrats a big opportunity
Democrats were thrilled when Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo decided to retire after 24 years in Congress because it gave them an opportunity to contest this district at the southern end of New Jersey.
There are four Democrats running: state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, retired teacher Tanzie Youngblood, former Cory Booker aide Will Cunningham, and farmer Nathan Kleinman. Since Trump won this district by about 4 points, the party thought that Van Drew, a moderate state senator, would be their strongest nominee, but his voting record (he’s voted against same-sex marriage and often backs business interests on environmental matters) is making him vulnerable in a Democratic primary. Youngblood has gotten the most attention, as a progressive black woman running against a moderate white man with the backing of the state’s establishment.
Meanwhile, the Republican field is generally viewed as weak.
Engineer Hirsh Singh, former Assembly member Samuel Fiocchi, lawyer Seth Grossman, and former FBI agent Robert Turkavage are all running. Singh leads in county party endorsements, which are particularly important in New Jersey because they’re printed on the ballot — he won four of eight county GOP endorsements in the district.
New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District: the most Republican-leaning congressional district in the Garden State
In the center of the state is the most Republican-leaning district in New Jersey, but Navy veteran Josh Welle and former Asbury Park Council member Jim Keady think they have a chance in November against incumbent Rep. Chris Smith. Josh Welle won all three Democratic County party endorsements and leads his rival Keady in fundraising, while Keady has the backing of the Bernie Sanders-aligned group Our Revolution.
New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District: where the Democrat is on defense
This district was one of Democrats’ rare 2016 House pickups, as lawyer Rep. Josh Gottheimer defeated the deeply conservative longtime incumbent Scott Garrett by a little over 4 percentage points. Republicans hope they can take back the seat, and veteran conservative activist and former Mayor Steve Lonegan is facing off against former Council member John McCann in the GOP primary.
New Jersey’s Seventh Congressional District: the most endangered Republican incumbent in the state
Former State Department official Tom Malinowski, attorney Goutam Jois, and activist Peter Jacob are vying for the chance to challenge incumbent Rep. Leonard Lance, the likely Republican candidate. Lance is the only New Jersey Republican in a district Hillary Clinton won (by about 1 percentage point), so he’s naturally one of Democrats’ top targets in the state. Malinowski, who served as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor in the Obama administration, has the party’s backing, and blew away his rivals in fundraising. Peter Jacob, who has pledged not to accept PAC money, has the Our Revolution endorsement.
New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District: who will replace Rodney Frelinghuysen?
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, who’s been in Congress since 1995, chose to retire rather than run again, so Democrats have a big opportunity in this wealthy suburban district that Trump won by just 0.9 percent.
The Democrats in the race are former Navy pilot and prosecutor Mikie Sherrill, entrepreneur and advocate Tamara Harris, research scientist Alison Heslin, lawyer Mitchell Cobert, and history professor Mark Washburne. Sherrill has far surpassed her rivals in fundraising (she’s one of the top Democratic challenger fundraisers in the country) and won all the county-line endorsements.
There are five Republicans running as well: Assembly member Jay Webber, entrepreneur Peter De Neufville, investment banker and Army Reserve Maj. Antony Ghee, liberal Republican Martin Hewitt, and former concert promoter/Roger Stone employee Patrick Allocco. Webber is the expected GOP nominee.
New Mexico governor’s race: can Democrats turn the governor’s mansion blue?
Current Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is term-limited out of the position, giving Democrats an opportunity to turn New Mexico state leadership even more blue. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the current chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, is the favorite to win the Democratic primary. Grisham received an overwhelming proportion of the vote during a pre-primary convention the Democratic Party held earlier this spring.
Jeff Apodaca, a former media executive, and the son of former New Mexico Gov. Jerry Apodaca, is also running. State Sen. Joseph Cervantes is trailing at a distant third. The winner will be up against pro-Trump conservative Rep. Steve Pearce, a member of the Freedom Caucus and the lone Republican vying for the seat.
New Mexico’s First Congressional District: The battle for this seat underscores divisions within the Democratic Party
Lujan Grisham, the current representative for this heavily Democratic district, is also among the contenders for governor — setting up a fight among a slew of Democrats for her seat.
Among a stacked six-person Democratic roster, three have built sizable campaign war chests: former US Attorney Damon Martinez, retired University of New Mexico law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, and former New Mexico Democratic Party Chair Deb Haaland. As the Huffington Post pointed out, their three-way battle for Democratic votes underscores a fight for control of the future of the party, with different organizations like Emily’s List and VoteVets running ads on opposing sides of the race.
Haaland, as part of her platform, has also emphasized a goal of becoming the first Native American woman elected to the House. Pat Davis, an Albuquerque City Council member; Damian Lara, a former congressional staffer who now works as a lawyer; and Paul Moya, CEO of the consulting firm Millennial Labs, are on the ballot as well. Former state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones is the sole Republican running. She ran against Lujan Grisham for the House position in 2012.
New Mexico’s Second Congressional District: Democrats see opportunity after Republican incumbent opts out of reelection
With Rep. Steve Pearce, the current Republican representative, running for governor, this district is open for fresh faces on both sides of the aisle.
As for Democrats, Water attorney Xochitl Torres Small has a strong lead, with the backing of DCCC, Emily’s List, and NARAL Pro-Choice America. US Coast Guard veteran and history professor Madeline Hildebrandt is on the docket as well.
On the Republican side is a long list of conservatives.
The House Freedom Caucus is backing state Rep. Yvette Herrell, and Sen. Ted Cruz is endorsing former state Republican Party Chair Monty Newman. Meanwhile, Gavin Clarkson, a former official in the Trump administration’s Interior Department, has leaned into his ties with the White House. Former Gary Johnson campaign staffer Clayburn Griffin is also on the ballot. The Second District leans Republican and voted for Trump by more than 10 points over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
South Dakota governor: two prominent Republicans are battling to replace term-limited Gov. Dennis Daugaard
There’s a heated primary between Rep. Kristi Noem and South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley. Noem has served in Congress since 2011, and Jackley has been in office since 2009. Recent negative ads Jackley and Noem have run about each other reflect the closeness of the race. And Jackley has been tied up in a bizarre scandal over a $1.5 million sexual harassment and retaliation settlement. The recipient, a woman who won a harassment and retaliation suit after being dismissed from a state agency for filing complaints, claims Jackley delayed her settlement payments over politics.
A recent Mason-Dixon poll found Noem with a 1-point lead over Jackley and concluded she’s doing better with female voters. Candidates don’t have to distance themselves from Trump; the president has a 72 percent approval rating in South Dakota. Whoever wins this primary will likely be the next governor of South Dakota.