By Rachel Janfaza and Andrew Menezes, CNN
It’s Election Day in New Jersey, Mississippi, South Dakota, Iowa, New Mexico, Montana and California, as the 2022 primary season picks back up in earnest following a one-week break for Memorial Day.
None of the Senate races on the ballot Tuesday are expected to be competitive in November, so most of the focus will be on primaries for the US House — with several that could be crucial to determining control of the chamber this fall.
All states — with the exception of South Dakota, which retains its at-large district comprising the entire state — are holding elections under new congressional lines following redistricting after the 2020 census. While California lost a seat in reapportionment — going from 53 to 52 — Montana gained a second seat after a gap of 30 years. There were no changes to the seat counts in New Jersey (12), Iowa (four), Mississippi (four), New Mexico (three) and South Dakota (one).
California is hosting the lion’s share of competitive House primaries Tuesday, including for several swing seats — no surprise for the state with the biggest House delegation in Congress. Unlike the other states voting Tuesday, California does not have partisan primaries; instead, all candidates run under the same ballot, and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the general election.
Voters in California’s 22nd Congressional District will also decide a successor to former GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, who resigned in January to head the Trump Media & Technology Group. Republican Connie Conway is favored against Democrat Lourin Hubbard for the remainder of Nunes’ term in a Central Valley seat that was dismantled in redistricting.
In Iowa, the races for three of the state’s four House seats are expected to be competitive in November. Two of those matchups are set with incumbents and their challengers unopposed in their primaries Tuesday. In the new 1st District, GOP Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks will face Democratic state Rep. Christina Bohannan in November, while Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson will take on Democratic state Sen. Liz Mathis, in a clash of two former local TV news anchors in the 2nd District. Meanwhile, Hinson’s predecessor in Congress, former Rep. Abby Finkenauer, is seeking the Democratic nomination to take on GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley in November.
Democrats dominate New Jersey’s current House delegation, holding 10 of the state’s 12 seats. Redistricting saw several vulnerable Democrats get safer seats, including Reps. Andy Kim, Josh Gottheimer and Mikie Sherrill. Still, the GOP is targeting the three lawmakers this year — perhaps energized by last year’s closer-than-expected governor’s race — and there are multi-candidate Republican primaries to take them on. Democratic Rep. Albio Sires‘ retirement opened up the 8th District that includes Jersey City and some New York City suburbs; Democrat Rob Menendez, a Port Authority commissioner and son of Sen. Bob Menendez, is the heavy favorite to win the Democratic primary for this deep-blue seat.
None of Mississippi’s four House seats — three Republican-held and one Democratic-held — are expected to change party hands this November. Three incumbents are expected to win their primaries handily on Tuesday — Republicans Trent Kelly and Michael Guest and Democrat Bennie Thompson — while GOP Rep. Steven Palazzo has drawn multiple primary challengers.
New Mexico Democratic Reps. Melanie Stansbury and Teresa Leger Fernandez are unopposed in their primaries Tuesday, as is GOP Rep. Yvette Herrell, who faces a competitive general election in the 2nd District. Montana GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale, who represents the state’s current at-large district, is running for the new 2nd District, which is more rural and considerably redder than the new 1st District. And in South Dakota, GOP Rep. Dusty Johnson faces a primary challenge from the right for his at-large seat.
Democrats drew the congressional map in New Mexico, while Republicans had control over the lines in Mississippi. The California map was drawn by the state’s independent redistricting commission. A nonpartisan agency drew the Iowa map, which was then passed by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. Redistricting in Montana and New Jersey was done by bipartisan commissions — each party presented their own maps with the Democratic map getting picked in New Jersey and the Republican one in Montana.
We earlier took a look at the House primaries to watch in California. Here are the other primaries we’re watching Tuesday:
Iowa’s 3rd District
Incumbent Rep. Cindy Axne, the lone Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation, is running for reelection in a Des Moines-anchored district that former President Donald Trump would have carried by less than half a point. Axne, who is once again a GOP target, holds a strong fundraising edge over her three Republicans challengers, raising just over $4 million through May 18. State Sen. Zach Nunn, an Air Force combat veteran, is the top GOP fundraiser, bringing in $882,000 through May 18 compared with $602,000 for financial planner Nicole Hasso. Both Nunn and Hasso have high-profile surrogates, with Nunn being endorsed by former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Hasso having the support of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Mississippi’s 4th District
Six-term Rep. Steven Palazzo, who is under a congressional ethics investigation over allegations of misuse of campaign funds, has drawn several GOP challengers in this deep-red southeastern Mississippi district. Trump would have carried the seat by 38 points, so winning the GOP primary would largely be tantamount to winning the general election. Palazzo’s primary challengers include state Sen. Brice Wiggins, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell and businessmen Carl Boyanton, who took 9% of the vote in the 2020 primary, and Clay Wagner. If no one takes more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will meet in a June 28 primary runoff.
Montana’s 1st District
Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is the front-runner for the Republican nomination in Montana’s new 1st District in the western part of the state. Zinke, who held the state’s at-large House seat from 2015 to 2017 before leaving to join the Trump administration, has the endorsement of his former boss. His top rival for the GOP nod is former state Sen. Al Olszewski, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for US Senate in 2018 and for governor in 2020. Candidates vying for the Democratic nomination include nonprofit executive Cora Neumann, lawyer and former Olympic rower Monica Tranel, and former state Rep. Tom Winter. Zinke and Neumann are the fundraising leaders in their respective primaries. Republicans are favored to win the seat, which Trump would have carried by 7 points in 2020.
New Jersey’s 7th District
Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski narrowly won a second term in 2020 from an ancestrally Republican Central Jersey district that Biden carried by 10 points. His GOP opponent in that race, Tom Kean Jr., the son of a popular former governor, is back for a rematch with much improved prospects in a swing seat that became more Republican in redistricting. Malinowski is also facing an ongoing congressional ethics investigation over allegations that he failed to properly disclose stock transactions. Kean, a former state Senate minority leader, is viewed as the favorite in the GOP primary, which also includes pastor and 2021 gubernatorial candidate Phil Rizzo, state Assemblyman Erik Peterson and businessman John Isemann.
New Mexico’s 2nd District
Freshman GOP Rep. Yvette Herrell is a Democratic target after redistricting turned her southern New Mexico seat from one Trump carried in 2020 by double digits to one Biden would have won by 6 points. Former Las Cruces City Council Member Gabe Vasquez is seen as the front-runner in the Democratic primary, which also includes physician and union leader Darshan Patel. Herrell, who is unopposed for the GOP nomination, holds a fundraising advantage over Vasquez, taking in $2.4 million through May 18 compared with $776,000 for the Democrat.
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