Primary election results: Live updates
California’s nonpartisan redistricting commission bucked the national trend last year by creating a new congressional map with at least eight competitive seats, offering pickup opportunities to both Democrats and Republicans vying for control of the US House.
Tuesday’s House primaries in California will serve as an early test of strength for both parties as the GOP seeks a net gain of five seats to win the majority.
While Democrats were originally bullish about their chances this year in congressional races across the Golden State, those ambitions have been tempered by the difficult election climate they face. Many California voters are reeling from the highest gas prices in the nation and frustrations over the state’s ongoing homelessness crisis as well as rising crime at a time when all of the top officeholders in the state are Democrats.
Most of Tuesday’s real action will be in the House races and several local contests, including the contest to replace term-limited Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Under California’s “top two” primary system, the top two vote-getters in each congressional race, regardless of party, will advance to the November ballot. Turnout so far looks low, even though every voter in California received a ballot in the mail.
Here are the key House contests to watch:
California’s 3rd Congressional District: State Assemblyman Kevin Kiley ran for governor last year as a fiery disrupter, as GOP voters attempted to recall Newsom. His effort drew the notice of former President Donald Trump, who endorsed him in this new GOP-leaning district that encompasses Sacramento suburbs as well as areas surrounding Lake Tahoe and the mountainous communities of the Eastern Sierras. Kiley and Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, who invokes Trump’s name in one of his ads, are the two most prominent GOP candidates. Kiley has led a series of recent attempts in the state Assembly to suspend California’s gas tax, which is the highest in the nation.
The most formidable Democratic candidate is Kermit Jones, who served as a flight surgeon with the US Navy and deployed to Iraq. He later became a White House fellow during the Obama administration, where he worked with the Health and Human Services Department on improving care for veterans. Focusing on Kiley, Jones has framed the race as a choice between “a partisan politician who supports January 6th insurrectionists and a public servant who always puts country above party.”
California’s 9th District: Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney’s decision to retire prompted another Democrat, Rep. Josh Harder, to swap his Modesto-area district for this more Democratic-leaning seat anchored in Stockton. With $6.8 million in cash on hand as of mid-May, Harder appears well-positioned for November.
Republican Tom Patti, a member of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors and a crane company owner, is viewed as Harder’s stiffest competition and promises to bring a national focus to homelessness. Patti’s biography notes that he was a “five-time state and Golden Gloves boxing champion” who trained under boxing coach Cus D’Amato, which led to his friendship with Mike Tyson. Tyson has said he nudged Patti into politics, and he headlined a fundraiser for Patti last fall when the candidate was exploring a run for Congress. Harder, a former venture capitalist, has touted his advocacy for expanding health care and for “commonsense gun reforms.”
California’s 13th District: Though this open seat in the Central Valley leans Democratic and a majority of its voters are Latinos, Republicans see an opportunity because of the anger over inflation, the continuing struggle with water issues and the unyielding rise in gas prices.
State Assemblyman Adam Gray, who has focused on expanding the water supply in this heavily agricultural region during his tenure in the statehouse, is viewed as the front-runner among the Democrats in the race. A self-described “radical centrist,” he is backed by the Blue Dog PAC, the campaign arm of the Blue Dog Coalition of moderate House Democrats. Gray won the endorsement of the California Democratic Party earlier this year by a 2-to-1 margin over Phil Arballo, who unsuccessfully challenged former GOP Rep. Devin Nunes in 2020.
Business owner John Duarte, who owns a crops nursery in Stanislaus County, won the coveted designation as a “Young Gun” from the National Republican Congressional Committee. Duarte gained national attention from conservatives during his long-running fight with the Obama administration — he was charged with harming wetlands in violation of the Clean Water Act after plowing a field to plant wheat on his farm. He was fined nearly $2.8 million dollars and ultimately settled the case. Duarte’s tagline: “Send a farmer to Congress.”
California’s 22nd District: GOP Rep. David Valadao has often defied the odds in his predominantly Latino, Democratic-leaning Central Valley district — with the notable exception of the 2018 cycle when he narrowly lost to Democrat TJ Cox and then won the seat back two years later. But California’s redistricting commission dealt Valadao, whose family owns two dairies as well as farmland in Kings County, an even more difficult hand this cycle by excising some of the more Republican areas of Valadao’s current district.
Democrats landed a top recruit in state Assemblyman Rudy Salas, who is endorsed by the Blue Dog PAC and is already being bolstered with a six-figure ad buy from House Majority PAC, the super PAC tied to House Democratic leadership.
Valadao’s opponents believe he may be more vulnerable to erosion within the GOP base this year because he voted to impeach Trump after the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol, even though the former President has not intervened in the race. Valadao is being challenged on the right by former Fresno City Councilmember Chris Mathys, who has criticized the incumbent’s impeachment vote and sued the state after it rejected his request to be identified as a “Trump Conservative/Businessman” on the ballot.
But Valadao is leaning into his image as an independent voice for the Central Valley as he advocates a state gas tax suspension and promises to be a bulwark against the “radical left.” The GOP hopes the unfavorable political climate facing Democrats this year will get him across the finish line even though Democrats hold a clear registration advantage in the newly drawn 22nd District.
California’s 27th District: The race for this northern Los Angeles County seat looked like it was headed for a rematch between GOP Rep. Mike Garcia, a former fighter pilot and Democratic former state Assemblywoman Christy Smith, who lost to Garcia twice in 2020 (first in a special election to replace Democratic Rep. Katie Hill and then in the November election by about 300 votes). But Democrat Quaye Quartey, a former intelligence officer in the Navy, has marshaled a strong challenge for the likely Democratic slot, as he argues that his military experience and background growing up as the son of an immigrant father from Ghana would make him a more formidable contender to face Garcia in November. Quartey has nearly matched Smith’s fundraising and notched the endorsements of key Democratic influencers in California, including Reps. Katie Porter and Barbara Lee.
In the redrawing of the district, Garcia lost Republican areas in the Simi Valley — making it easier for Democrats to turn this into a highly partisan contrast of ideals in November as they try to boost turnout by highlighting Garcia’s loyalty to Trump and his vote against certifying the 2020 election results from Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Read about the other key races here.