By Jim EllisMarch 15, 2022 — Candidate filing closed in three states on Friday — California, Georgia, and Idaho — and we see some highly competitive primary and general election campaigns occurring in each.
Despite 26 candidates filing against him, appointed California Sen. Alex Padilla (D) has done a good job of securing his Democratic base. As a result, he faces no serious opponent. The only way Sen. Padilla would lose in the state’s jungle primary system is if another strong Democrat surfaced and forced him into a double-Democratic general election. No such individual filed. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) also faces little in the way of strong competition even though he has 25 opponents.
The Georgia governor’s race features the most important May 24 primary campaign, a Republican battle between Gov. Brian Kemp and former US Sen. David Perdue. Three minor candidates are also on the ballot, and they could be a factor to force a runoff if the Kemp-Perdue race evolves into an even contest. In that scenario, a secondary election on July 26 would occur should both Kemp and Perdue be stopped short of 50 percent support.
Former Georgia state House Minority Leader and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams is unopposed for the Democratic nomination. The state’s US Senate contest is already winnowing down to a battle between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and retired pro football player Herschel Walker (R).
In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little faces a Republican primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. Sen. Mike Crapo has four Republican primary opponents but is in strong shape for both re-nomination and re-election to a fifth term.
In the House races, veteran Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) will face a familiar foe in the Republican primary. Bryan Smith, who challenged the congressman in the 2014 Republican primary and attracted some national attention and support before falling 62-38 percent, returns for a re-match eight years after their original political battle.
Back in California in the US House races, it appears there are seven districts that will host competitive general election campaigns and many more that could send a pair of the same party’s members to the November election from the June 7 jungle primary.
Only one of the projected partisan general election battles comes in an open seat. The 3rd District, which begins in the Sacramento suburbs and stretches down along the Nevada border all the way into southern California, will yield a competitive Republican battle between state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Granite Bay) and Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones for one of the general election finalist positions. The state Democratic Party has endorsed physician Kermit Jones. The new 3rd, where Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) could have run, is rated an R+8 district.
Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) will likely face San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti (R) in the D+8 District 9 that retiring Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) currently holds.
The two toughest post-redistricting Republican California defense seats are the 22nd and 27th District seats of Reps. David Valadao (R-Hanford) and Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita). With both of these marginal districts becoming even more Democratic, both GOP incumbents will be endangered regardless of the national political temperature come November.
The other incumbents in highly competitive general elections will be Reps. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County), likely opposite Community College Trustee Jay Chen (D) in a 45th District that is more than 41 percent Asian; Katie Porter (D-Irvine), who will likely face former state assemblyman and ex-Orange County Republican Party chairman Scott Baugh in D+6 District 47; and Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano), who will oppose the Republican general election finalist (three credible GOP candidates are running) in the coastal 49th CD now rated D+5.
In the June 7 qualifying election, a total of seven Democratic seats and four Republican districts yield contests that could send members of the same party to the November election. We will detail those in later updates.
The Georgia House elections will see most of the political action coming in the May 24 primary elections and in some cases a subsequent July 26 runoff contest. Just one district, Rep. Sanford Bishop’s (D-Albany) 2nd CD in southwest Georgia, could host a strong November challenge as his seat has become more Republican, moving to D+4.
The most competitive primaries are in the new 7th District that features a Democratic incumbent pairing between Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee) and Lucy McBath (D-Marietta).
An open 6th District was created that will break Republican in the fall. Nine are vying for the GOP nomination, which will prove tantamount to winning the general election. Dr. Rich McCormick (R), who was the 7th District Republican nominee in the 2020 election and captured 49 percent of the vote, appears to be the leading candidate in this current GA-6 contest, rated as R+24. Two contenders advancing to a runoff, however, is likely.
The open 10th District will likely go to a Republican runoff that will decide who wins the general election. The late Congressman Mac Collins’ son, Mike Collins, and state Rep. Timothy Barr (R) appear to be the top candidates. Former President Trump has endorsed former DeKalb County Executive Vernon Jones, who left the governor’s race at Trump’s urging.
Other incumbents facing crowded primaries, but who are favored for re-nomination, are Reps. Andrew Clyde (R-Athens), David Scott (D-Atlanta), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Rome).