Eight states are set to hold primary elections today, in the first “Super Tuesday” of 2018, and California’s primaries will be among the most-watched races.

Super Tuesday (June 6 2018) Primary Election Preview

Seven Republican-controlled congressional districts in the Golden State — all of which Hillary Clinton won in 2016 — are up for grabs, and are key seats to determine which party obtains the majority in the House in November’s midterms.

Three of these districts — the 39th, 48th, and 49th — count a crowded roster of candidates.

Several Democrats including Gavin Newsom are also vying to replace Jerry Brown as California’s governor, as is a GOP businessman named John Cox who has received backing from President Donald Trump

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Polls in California close at 8 p.m. PST (11 p.m. EST).

The other states scheduled to hold primaries on Tuesday are Alabama, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota. Polls close at 8 p.m. EST in Alabama, Mississippi and New Jersey; 9 p.m. EST in New Mexico and South Dakota; 10 p.m. EST in Iowa and Montana;

Here are the races to watch for:


In California’s Senate, sitting Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 84, is facing off for re-election against several candidates that include fellow Democrat Kevin De León, the former president pro tempore of the California Senate. Feinstein, a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is the oldest U.S. senator.

The Republicans in this race include pro-Trump candidate James Bradley. There are so many contenders in this primary (32) that the top two vote-earners will advance to the general election. The “top-two” primary system is specific to California and applies to all races: candidates from both parties compete in the same race, and only the top two vote-getters move on.

In California’s fourth district, a group of mostly Democratic candidates are hoping to take on the state’s most conservative congressman, incumbent GOP Rep. Tom McClintock, who is in his fifth term.

Mitchell White is the only Republican hoping to challenge McClintock in this district, while four Democrats are vying for this seat.

The liberal contenders include two 30-something women: Jessica Morse, a 35-year-old national security strategist who has previously worked at the Defense Department and the State Department. She is considered the Democratic favorite and has received backing from several progressive groups.

Also running is Regina Bateson, an MIT professor on leave. Rounding out the Democratic challengers are Robert Lawton — an investment adviser and rancher — and Roza Calderon, a 32-year-old geographic information systems consultant. Lawton and Calderon have raised substantially less in their campaigns than Bateson and Morse.

In California’s 10th district, there is also a crowded race to unseat incumbent GOP Rep. Jeff Denham, who has served in Congress since 2010.

There are five Democrats in the race, and here are the three favorites: Josh Harder, a 31-year-old venture capitalist, Michael Eggman, a 53-year-old third-generation beekeeper, and Virginia Madueño, the 52-year-old former mayor of Riverbank who has received support from EMILY’s List, a PAC that helps elect pro-choice female Democratic candidates.

In California’s 22nd district, Democratic candidate Andrew Janz — the  Fresno County deputy district attorney — is hoping to unseat sitting GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which is one of the groups overseeing the Russia probe into Trump’s campaign. The Nunes-led committee has repeatedly favored Trump.

Janz has been endorsed by California’s Democratic Party and has raised over $1 million for his campaign.

Perhaps one of the most crowded and heated races in the state, however, is in the 39th district. Six Democrats are competing for a seat. The list of liberal contenders includes Gil Cisneros, a former Navy officer, and Andy Thorburn, a health insurance executive and former teacher.

Pediatrician Mai Khanh Tran, who is backed by Emily’s List, is also running in race that has become mired by several allegations including tax fraud.

Two more congressional races in California should be closely watched: the 48th and 50th districts.

In the 48th, the incumbent is GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. The hard conservative recently drew backlash for saying California real estate dealers should be able to deny gay people homes. He has been in Congress for 30 years and according to many reports he is close with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. A longtime friend of Rohrbacher’s named Scott Baugh — who is a former Orange County Republican Party chair — is running against the incumbent congressman.

The ballot for this district also includes eight Democrats, however. Among them is Harley Rouda, a DCCC and Indivisible-endorsed real estate investor, and Hans Keirstead, a stem cell scientist who has been endorsed by California’s Democratic Party.  In 2009, Keirstead was accused of allegedly sleeping with his graduate students and getting involved in a drunken bar fight. He and Rouda are neck-and-neck in the latest polls.

In the 50th, there are three Democrats hoping to unseat incumbent GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter, who is facing multiple allegations including illegal use of campaign funds. Ammar Campa-Najjar, a former member of Barack Obamas Labor Department, and retired Navy SEAL Josh Butner are both competing, as is real estate agent Patrick Malloy.


Iowa is a closely watches state partly because there is the possibility of a referendum on the privatization of the Obama-era Medicaid program for low-income Americans.

The Democratic primary for governor includes five candidates, among whom are business owner Fred Hubbell and local labor leader Cathy Glasson. State Sen. Nate Boulton withdrew from the race a few weeks ago due to sexual harassment allegations.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is running unopposed for her first full term. She replaced  Terry Branstad last year after he was named the U.S. ambassador to China.

Among the four congressional races taking place in Iowa on Tuesday, the third district is the one to watch most closely.

Pete D’Alessandro, a former Bernie Sanders campaign aide, and small-business owner Cindy Axne are facing off in the Democratic primary, while sitting GOP Rep. David Young is the only Republican running.

D’Alessandro is running on Sanders’ Medicare-for-all platform, while Axne is hoping to make changes to Obamacare.


The Montana Senate race to unseat Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, a top member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, is one of two races in the state. Tester is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, while the Republican race counts four candidates. Montana state auditor Matt Rosendale and retired state Judge Russell Fagg are among them.

Montana is one of the several states Trump won by double digits (20 points) in 2016.

Rep. Greg Gianforte, who assaulted a reporter on the eve of his special election last year, is unopposed in his Republican primary. Six Democrats are hoping to face him in November.

New Jersey

Incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez is one of two Democrats on the ballot, alongside community news website publisher Lisa McCormick.

The Republican Senate candidates include construction company executive Brian Goldberg, pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin, and lawyer Dana Wefer. 

Menendez, who is seeking his third term, was hit with corruption charges last year and went to court for this. It ended with a mistrial and the charges were dropped.

New Mexico

The Democratic primary for New Mexico governor counts three names: Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham — the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who is the favorite — Jeff Apodaca, a former media executive who is the son of a former governor of the state, and State Sen. Joseph Cervantes, who is well behind the former two in the polls.

Rep. Steve Pearce, a member of the Freedom Caucus, is the only GOP candidate for governor in the state. Republican Susana Martinez is the current governor of New Mexico. Pearce supported Trump in 2016, but has since criticized the president on many issues, including his border wall proposal.

South Dakota

Two well-known Republicans are vying to replace term-limited Gov. Dennis Daugaard in Tuesday’s primary: U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem and South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley. 

Only one Democrat, state Senate minority leader Billie Sutton, is running for Governor.

Jackley and Noem — who if elected would become South Dakota’s first female governor — have been locked in a bitter race.

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