The Races

By Jim Ellis

June 8, 2016 — In addition to being the final major presidential primary yesterday, five states were deciding congressional primaries. The North Carolina campaigns were covered in our report yesterday.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both clinched their respective political party nominations as expected last night through major primaries in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota (Democratic Caucus only), and South Dakota.


The state’s jungle primary format qualified the top two finishers in every race for the November general election, irrespective of political party preference. The most competitive situations follow:

The open Senate race (Sen. Barbara Boxer-D retiring) will likely advance a pair of Democrats to the general election for the first time in state history. Both Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) are expected to respectively place first and second. The fact that California allows voters to postmark their mail ballots on Election Day means a count that will take days to finalize. Ms. Harris would be favored in such a general election contest.

CA-17: This San Jose district will send two Democrats to the fall election. It is expected that the 52-48% contest fought in 2014 will be re-played this year. Eight-term Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) and former Obama Administration official Ro Khanna (D) will face each other in the November vote.

CA-20: The first of four California open seats features retiring veteran Congressman Sam Farr (D-Carmel). Former Monterey County Deputy District Attorney Jimmy Panetta (D) finished first and and will advance to November. Mr. Panetta, the son of former Defense Secretary, CIA Director, and congressman Leon Panetta (D), will easily claim the seat in the fall against whomever he is paired.

CA-24: The race to replace retiring Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) turned out to be the most interesting qualifying contest of the evening. Both parties have some chance of sending two of their candidates to the general election. A combination of Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal (D), Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian (R), and businessman and former UCLA football player Justin Fareed (R) will yield the two finalists in what should be a competitive November election. One Democrat and one Republican will move to the next phase but it will be days before we know which Republican will advance.

CA-30: Though none of the three Democrats and three Republicans opposing Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) appear to be particularly strong, one of six will move forward into the general election against him in this heavily Democratic San Fernando Valley district.

CA-44: With Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro) running for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, state Sen. Isadore Hall III (D-Compton) is poised to win the seat in November. He will probably face a Democrat in the fall, and be immediately viewed as the prohibitive favorite. Hall was approaching the 50 percent mark against nine opponents. It is likely he will face another Democrat in November, frequent candidate Nanette Barragan.

Much more on the California results when all of the numbers become final later in the week.


Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley (R) learned the identity of his general election opponent. Late polling suggested that former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (D) would win the Democratic primary, and that held true.

IA-1: Rep. Rod Blum (R-Dubuque), who was a major Democratic target because this district surprised everyone in 2014 by electing a Republican, will face Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon this year. The party establishment favored Vernon.

IA-3: Freshman Rep. David Young (R-Van Meter/Des Moines) will face former 4th District Democratic nominee and Iraq War veteran Jim Mowrer, who lost to Rep. Steve King (R-Kiron) in the 2014 campaign. The political nature of this district suggests a competitive general election campaign.

IA-4: Rep. King faces state Senate Assistant Majority Leader Rick Bertrand in the Republican primary. The congressman had little trouble winning re-nomination and should have little trouble winning re-election.

New Jersey

District 5: Former Bill Clinton speechwriter Josh Gottheimer (D) was unopposed in the Democratic primary. The northwest NJ-5 district is shaping up as a competitive and expensive race between the former and seven-term incumbent Rep. Scott Garrett (R-Wantage).

District 7: Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township) only scored 53% against manufacturer David Larsen in the 2014 Republican primary. Mr. Larsen is back for a re-match, and the results were about the same: a tepid 54-33 percent win for Lance.

New Mexico

New Mexico does not have a Senate campaign this year and all three House incumbents have little in the way of opposition and are prohibitive favorites in the general election.

South Dakota

Sen. John Thune (R) will easily defeat minor opposition in the fall. The state’s at-large House member, three-term Rep. Kristi Noem (R-Castlewood), is set to win re-election. State Rep. Paula Hawks, unopposed for the Democratic nomination, will be her November opponent but won’t likely transform the campaign into a top tier challenge race.

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