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Primary election: San Francisco voters recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin

Boudin was elected in 2019 during a very different moment in American politics, as concern over police accountability was rising. Calls to reform the criminal justice system reached a crescendo following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020.

But in the years since, Boudin’s progressive policies have become a central point of contention. San Francisco residents have been shaken by the rise in violent crime and high-profile hate crime incidents and angered by the increase in burglaries and car thefts across the city.

The Boudin recall follows the decision of voters to oust three San Francisco school board members earlier this year amid anger about their preoccupation with renaming as many as 44 schools when many parents were more concerned with how long it had taken to fully reopen them during the pandemic.
On the same night that Boudin was recalled, voters in the overwhelmingly Democratic city of Los Angeles also appeared to be registering their disquiet with Democrats’ handling of rising crime and homelessness in the race to replace term-limited Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Six-term US Rep. Karen Bass was once viewed as the frontrunner in that contest, but she has faced an unexpectedly strong challenge from billionaire shopping mall magnate Rick Caruso, a former Republican.

Spending more than $40 million in the race, Caruso has argued that city leaders have failed to keep voters safe and protect their quality of life. Tents have proliferated across Los Angeles, taking over parks, sidewalks and public spaces as the city has struggled to house some 41,000 people who need shelter.

While Bass says she would return the Los Angeles Police Department to its authorized force of 9,700 officers — in part by hiring more civilians to free up 250 officers to return to street patrol — Caruso has promised to hire 1,500 additional officers and to bring on some 500 sanitation workers to clean up the streets.

For months now, the crosswinds facing Democrats nationally have been apparent in races across California, where Democrats currently hold all the statewide offices and dominate the congressional delegation. The new map that was drawn by the state’s nonpartisan redistricting commission last year yielded as many as ten competitive House races in California, where Democrats were bullish about the potential for pickups.
But Golden State voters are contending with the highest gas prices in the nation, and are unsettled by a spike in crime and a homelessness crisis. All those issues have surfaced in the close races in the state, emboldening Republicans who are advancing the notion that things are spiraling out of control.
The low turnout Tuesday in California, where nearly 22 million ballots were mailed out to every eligible voter, was another sign that Democrats have failed to come up with an effective message on issues like crime and inflation as they attempt to energize their voters in states that will be key to their hopes of holding control of Congress. Despite an array of competitive House races — where the top two vote-getters regardless of party will advance to the general election — only about 18% of California ballots had been returned as of Tuesday even though they were mailed to voters weeks ago, according to ballot tracking data from the California-based firm Political Data Intelligence.
8 things to watch in Tuesday's primaries

Voters also cast ballots in Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New Jersey and South Dakota on Tuesday in primary contests that offered a window into how much voters intend to blame the party in power for their dissatisfaction about the state of the economy and the country.

Several California Republican incumbents faced their own challenges as the various factions of the GOP continue to wrestle for dominance. US Rep. David Valadao, one of ten GOP members who supported Trump’s 2021 impeachment, faced a challenge on his right in his Democratic-leaning Central Valley seat — the new 22nd Congressional District. Former Fresno City Councilmember Chris Mathys said he decided to run because of Valadao’s impeachment vote, but Trump has not gotten involved in the race.

GOP Rep. Young Kim is also facing strong competition from her right flank in the newly drawn 40th District in Orange County from Marine veteran Greg Raths, another Trump loyalist.

On the flip side, Democrats hope to use GOP Rep. Mike Garcia’s ties to Trump against him in California’s 27th District after redistricting made his northern Los Angeles County seat more Democratic. (Garcia voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania.) Former state Assemblywoman Christy Smith, a Democrat, will advance to a runoff in the district with Garcia, CNN projected.

Iowa Democrats delivered an upset on Tuesday night by rejecting a onetime star in the party, former Rep. Abby Finkenauer, in her bid to take on veteran GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley in November.

Following Finkenauer’s recent blunder — where she almost failed to qualify for the ballot when a judge found that she had not met the signature requirements — as well as her loss two years ago to Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson, Democrats in the Hawkeye State went in a different direction. They chose retired Navy Adm. Mike Franken to go up against Grassley, the longest-serving Republican in the US Senate, who will win his party’s primary as he seeks an eighth term, CNN projected.

Finkenauer served for one term in Congress after she won a district in 2018 that former President Donald Trump had carried two years earlier. At that time, she was the second-youngest woman ever elected to Congress, at the age of 29.

Elsewhere in Iowa, one of the most competitive races is in the 3rd District, where Rep. Cindy Axne, the only Democrat in the congressional delegation, hopes to hold her seat in a district that Trump would have won by less than half a point. CNN projected that state Sen. Zach Nunn, an Air Force veteran, will win the Republican primary in the Des Moines-area district.

The other two competitive House races in Iowa are set. GOP Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks will face Democratic state Rep. Christina Bohannan in the new 1st District. In the 2nd District, Hinson will face Democratic state Sen. Liz Mathis, who is also a former local TV news anchor.

There were also several high-profile congressional races in New Jersey. In the state’s 7th District, a battleground that became more Republican in redistricting, CNN projected that Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski and Republican Tom Kean Jr., the former state Senate minority leader and son of former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, will face off in the general election.

Here are the key House primaries to watch beyond California

In the 8th District in northern New Jersey, Democrat Rob Menendez Jr., son of New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, will win the Democratic primary, CNN projects, as he runs for the seat of retiring Democratic Rep. Albio Sires.

GOP Rep. Chris Smith, who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, fended off an array of primary challengers in the 4th District in central New Jersey, including Mike Crispi, a talk show host endorsed by Trump allies such as Roger Stone and Rudy Giuliani.
In Montana, Trump is backing his former Interior secretary Ryan Zinke — despite’s his history of controversy — as the candidate attempts to return to Congress. The state won a second congressional seat following the 2020 census results. He is facing four other candidates in Tuesday’s GOP primary, including former state Sen. Al Olszewski and pastor Mary Todd, as questions swirl about Zinke’s residency. Politico recently reported that Zinke’s wife claimed a home in Santa Barbara as her primary residence on tax records, but Zinke maintains that he lives in Whitefish, Montana.
In South Dakota, Rep. Dusty Johnson will win the GOP primary for the state’s only congressional seat, CNN projected. He faced a primary challenge after voting to certify the 2020 presidential election results. CNN also projected that South Dakota GOP Gov. Kristi Noem, a potential 2024 contender, will defeat her primary challenger, state Rep. Steven Haugaard, who had accused her of being insufficiently conservative and spending too much time as governor tending to her ambitions for higher office.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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