California primary election: live results

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Voters on Tuesday head to the polls for California’s pivotal primary, which could help determine whether Democrats will gain control of the House in the November midterms.

The Golden State is home to 10 of the most competitive House races in the nation, virtually all currently held by Republicans. The state is a key to the Democratic Party’s plan to net the 23 seats it needs to flip the House majority in November.

But uncertainty abounds thanks to the state’s “jungle primary” system, where the top two vote-getters advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation.

The unusual dynamic threatens to keep the Democrats shut out of key House battles, eliminating any chance of competing in top races. It could also keep Republicans off the ballot in the governor’s race, an outcome that could deal a blow to GOP turnout in November.

The polls close at 11 p.m. EDT. Follow below as The Hill provide live updates and analysis throughout the day.

Democratic state senator recalled over gas tax

3:22 a.m.

California Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman will be recalled from office after voting in favor of the state’s gas tax, a result that could prove to be an ominous sign for Democrats in the fall.

Newman will be replaced in the state senate by former Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang (R), which will break up the Democratic Party’s supermajority in the body, making it harder for Democrats to pass through legislation at will.

The incumbent’s support of the gas tax was the central focus of the recall effort against him, and the effort’s success will raise Republican hopes that their candidates can run on the issue in the fall. Without legitimate chances of winning the governor or Senate races, Republicans have coalesced around the gas tax as way to motivate the base. GOP Rep. Mimi Walters, one of the most vulnerable incumbents this cycle, has been a vocal opponent of the tax hike.

Newman’s former state Senate seat overlaps with the congressional district of retiring Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), one of the top House seats on the map in November. So the area will be home to two high-profile clashes in the fall, as Democrats look to win back the state Senate seat and flip Royce’s House seat.

– Ben Kamisar

Warren-backed Dem hangs on to second place in Walters race

3 a.m.

With 61 percent of precincts reporting, Democrat Katie Porter holds firm in second place in the race against GOP Rep. Mimi Walters.

Porter, a professor at University of California, Irvine, who was backed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), holds a slight edge over Democrat Dave Min.

Min, who’s also a professor at UC Irvine, was the favorite of California Democrats, scoring an endorsement from the state party at its convention in February.

If Porter pulls off a win, that’ll be a big victory for a candidate who supports Medicare-for-all. Porter and two other Democratic candidates favored a single-payer health care system, but Min hadn’t fully embraced it. He said instead that he supports steps toward achieving universal health care.

– Lisa Hagen

Rohrabacher advances 

2:29 a.m.
Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher will advance to the November general election to defend his seat, The Associated Press projects, but it’s unclear who he will run against. 
Rohrabacher had 30 percent of the vote when the AP projected he would move on. But three candidates, two Democrats and one Republican, are locked in a tight race for the second spot. 
At this point, Democrat Hans Keirstead has a hold on the second slot, but Republican Scott Baugh is less than 1 percentage point behind him. Fellow Democrat Harley Rouda is 2 points behind Keirstead with 49 percent of precincts reporting. 
The incumbent is seen as eminently beatable by a Democrat because of two factors: Hillary Clinton won the district in the 2016 presidential race, and Rohrabacher has the dubious distinction of being openly supportive of Russia during a time where the news is dominated with reports about Russian meddling in the 2016 election. 
He’s also seen as potentially vulnerable from the right in a matchup against a Republican. 

– Ben Kamisar 

Cisneros gets some breathing room in Royce race

2:12 a.m.
Democrats looking to avoid a shutout in California’s 39th District, the race to replace retiring Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), should be cautiously optimistic as Gil Cisneros (D) is beginning to put some distance between himself and third-place Phil Liberatore (R). 
Cisneros has 16.6 percent of the vote with 31 percent of precincts reporting, compared to Liberatore’s 12.8 percent. Republican Young Kim, who was expected to be the top vote-getter in the primary, leads with 25.6 percent. 
Cisneros is the choice of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which believes he’d be the party’s best chance to flip the GOP seat in a district Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Fellow Democrat Andy Thorburn, who won the backing of the Bernie Sanders-inspired Our Revolution, sits in fourth place with about 8 percent of the vote.
– Ben Kamisar  

Keirstead still leads for No. 2 spot amid potential tabulation issue

1:47 a.m.
Democrat Hans Keirstead has expanded his lead over Republican Scott Baugh for the second spot in the race against Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, even as Democrat Harley Rouda inches closer to the two candidates. 
With 36 percent of precincts reporting, Keirstead leads Baugh by less than 1 percentage point for that second spot — Rohrabacher appears to be safely holding the first seat. 
Rouda has pulled the margin between him and Keirstead to 3 percentage points as his campagn is monitoring a potential tabulation issue. 
As Cook Political Report elections analyst Dave Wasserman explained in this tweet thread, there were questions as to why Rouda is performing markedly worse in one part of his district than he is across the rest of the district.
It’s possible that the discrepency is an error, but it’s also possible Rouda is performing worse in that area for some reason. Rouda’s campaign told The Hill it had flagged the possible error for its legal team, but Keirstead’s campaign said it was told by the Orange County Registrar that the count is in fact accurate. 
– Ben Kamisar

Top two trouble in race for Rohrabacher seat

1:01 a.m.

Democrats aren’t out of the woods yet, with a potential shutout still looming in the race against GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

With 12 percent of precincts reporting, Rohrabacher is in first with nearly 30 percent of the vote, followed by Democrat Hans Keirstead in second place with 18.7 percent. But Republican Scott Baugh is right behind Keirstead, with 18 percent.

Meredith Kelly, the communications director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), told ABC News in an interview early Wednesday morning that it’s “too close to comment” on whether Democrats get shut out here.

But things are likely to get more complicated with reports that there’s been a tabulation error in Orange County that could be hurting Democrat Harley Rouda, who’s currently in fourth place.

Dave Wasserman, a House analyst with Cook Political Report, said the rumored error “could be costing Harley Rouda about 2,000 votes.” If that’s the case, there’d be a tight race for second place between Baugh, Rouda and Keirstead.

– Lisa Hagen

Newsom qualifies for November runoff

12:17 a.m.

BURLINGAME, Calif. — Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has taken the top spot in California’s all-party primary contest to replace retiring Gov. Jerry Brown (D), guaranteeing him a spot in November’s runoff.

The Associated Press said Newsom had made the runoff at 12:17 p.m. Eastern time. With 15 percent of precincts reporting, Newsom held 34 percent of the vote.

Businessman John Cox (R) is in second place, at 27 percent of the vote. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) was trailing at 11 percent.

– Reid Wilson

Villaraigosa asks to extend Los Angeles voting

12:10 a.m.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) is asking Los Angeles’ chief elections official to keep polling places open until Friday after a printing error inadvertently left 118,000 voters off the rolls.

The voters left off the list will still be able to cast provisional ballots, but Villaraigosa’s campaign said voters should still be allowed to cast regular ballots.

“Anyone who is turned away should be allowed to return to a vote center and make sure their vote is counted,” Villaraigosa’s campaign manager Pat Dennis said in a statement sent 48 minutes after the polls closed. “This election is too important, and every voice should be heard.”

L.A. is Villaraigosa’s home base, and without a strong showing there his campaign is likely doomed. Before any L.A. votes were reported, Villaraigosa languished in fourth place, with just 10 percent of the vote, behind Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), businessman John Cox (R) and Assemblyman Travis Allen (R).

Villaraigosa asked Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) to investigate how so many voters could have been left off the rolls.

– Reid Wilson

Republican threatening to shut out Dems in 10th District 
12:04 a.m.
California’s 10th congressional District is turning out to be a race for second place, where a Republican candidate is mounting a surprisingly tough push that could squeeze Democrats out of challenging Rep. Jeff Denham (R). 
With 30 percent of precincts reporting, Democratic venture capitalist Josh Harder is in second place, well behind Denham, who appears poised to lock up the first spot in the general election. But Republican veterinarian Ted Howze sits less than 2 percentage points behind Harder for that second slot. 
Democrats Sue Zwahlen, Michael Eggman and Virginia Madueño are all within 5 percentage points of Howze, so it’s very possible that either Harder holds on or another Democrat secures that second spot. But Democrats might start sweating if Howze can close the gap with Harder. A shutout here, while unlikely, would wipe a promising district for Democrats off the board.
– Ben Kamisar
Good news for Dems in race to fill Issa’s seat
11:50 p.m.
Democrats have some early good news in the battle to succeed Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), as three of their candidates appear to be jockeying for the second slot in the runoff. 
With early vote totals coming in, Democrats Mike Levin, Sara Jacobs and Doug Applegate trail Diane Harkey, the leading Republican in the race. While two Republicans sit in fifth and sixth place, the early numbers have Cook Political Report elections analyst Dave Wasserman predicting one of the three Democrats will hold onto that second slot.
That’s promising news for Democrats who had been concerned about being shut out in the district. And Republicans will be excited to see the margin too, as there were some distant worries two Democrats could advance here thanks to the enormous field of qualified candidates. 
– Ben Kamisar 

Dems in early lead for second spot in 39th District

11:46 p.m.
With Republican Assemblywoman Young Kim expected to secure the first spot in the race to replace Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Democrat Gil Cisneros controls the second spot as the Orange County early votes roll in.
Only a small fraction of the vote is in, but Cisneros has 16 percent of the vote, which is 3 percent more than Republican Phil Liberatore. Republican Shawn Nelson and Democrat Andy Thorburn are both pulling about 8 percent. 
Uncertainty remains in this district thanks to concerns about a voter roll problem that kept more than 100,000 voters off the rosters. Those voters will have to file provisional ballots, which will be counted later. But Democrats are hoping that one of their candidates continues to hold the second slot.
– Ben Kamisar 

Feinstein advances to November election

11:27 p.m.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) has secured the top spot in November’s runoff as she seeks a fifth full term in the Senate.

The Associated Press projected Feinstein would claim first place in the all-party primary at 11:27 p.m. EST. With just three percent of precincts reporting and virtually no results from California’s big urban cores, Feinstein led the crowded field with 40 percent of the vote.

Republican businessman James Bradley held an early lead over former state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D), though 97 percent of precincts remain to report. The AP has not called a winner of the second spot in November’s runoff.

L.A. voter roll glitch ensnares The Fonz

11:10 p.m.
Celebrities — they’re just like us. Actor Henry Winkler, most famous for his role as Arthur Fonzarelli in the iconic television show “Happy Days,” was among the 118,000 people who were left off the voter rosters in Los Angeles County thanks to a technical error.
Winkler, like others, will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot at the polls, meaning his vote will be counted, but not for a while.
– Ben Kamisar
Polls close in California
11 p.m.
The polls are now closed in California. But expect a long night extending into early Wednesday morning, especially if the margins are close in some of the hyper-competitive races.
All eyes will be on California’s 39th District, which includes part of Los Angeles County, where about 2.3 percent of registered voters in the county — or 118,522 voters — were accidentally left off the rosters. Those voters will be able to cast provisional ballots, but those aren’t verified right away. If the race is too close to call, the results might not come for a matter of days, or potentially weeks.
– Lisa Hagen

Glitch leaves over 100k voters’ names off registers in L.A. county

9:22 p.m.

Hundreds of thousands of voters’ names were accidentally left off the rosters in Los Angeles County because of a printing error, according to the Los Angeles Times.

About 2.3 percent of registered voters in the county — or 118,522 voters — were missing from the lists for Tuesday’s primaries. But those voters are still able to cast provisional ballots, though they won’t be verified right away.

This will have an impact in more than a dozen House districts, but will likely have the most dramatic effect on the race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Ed Royce, where Democrats are most fearful of a shutout.

Democrats are worried that the six Democratic candidates could split up the vote and lead to two Republicans making it on to the general election ballot thanks to the state’s “jungle” primary system.

If the margin remains extremely close in the 39th District into the wee hours of Wednesday morning, it’s possible it could take days or even weeks to count the provisional ballots. That primary cliffhanger would leave Democrats on edge in a district that is highly winnable in the fall.

– Lisa Hagen

Democrats, Republicans bracing for shutouts 

8:55 p.m.

California’s “jungle” primary system presents a unique challenge for the two major political parties: the prospect of failing to qualify a candidate for the general election ballot in November’s midterms.

Tuesday’s primaries pit all the candidates against each other on one ballot, with the top two advancing to November regardless of party affiliation. So it’s possible that two candidates from the same party finish in the top two slots, particularly in districts with so many candidates.

The threats are the largest in the races to replace retiring California Republican Reps. Ed Royce and Darrell Issa, as well as in the district where Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) is running for reelection.

In the Royce and Rohrabacher districts, it appears possible that Democrats could find themselves shut out in November, while in the Issa district, there are so many viable candidates that either party could find itself without a candidate in the top two. 

Shutouts in either of these districts would complicate each party’s path to the majority in 2018 — Republicans are fighting national trends to keep their incumbents from being knocked off in November, while Democrats need to flip a net of 23 seats in order to win the majority.

So while a shutout in June may take a winnable race off the board for either party, there are more than enough seats left for either to still have a real shot at the majority. 

– Ben Kamisar

High stakes draw heavy spending

8:05 p.m.

California is pivotal for both parties’ plan to take the House majority in November, so the state has seen significant spending by a bevy of groups meant to boost either their party or their chosen candidate.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has spent almost $5 million on attempting to influence Republican turnout. The vast majority of that has been on ads attacking Republican candidates in the hopes of helping Democrats leapfrog over them.

The DCCC has spent about $1.7 million against Republican former state Assemblyman Scott Baugh in the hopes of keeping him out of the top two slots in the 48th Congressional District, and a similar sum against GOP Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, who is running in the 49th District.

The organization has also spent about $1.5 million against Republican candidates in the 39th District to keep Republicans from winning the second slot in the race to replace retiring Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.).

And it’s spending about $140,000 to boost a lesser-known GOP candidate in the 48th to further divide the GOP vote.

The DCCC is also spending to help Democrats, specifically Gil Cisneros in the 39th and Harley Rouda in the 48th. 

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has focused its spending on broader turnout efforts instead of targeting specific candidates — it launched a six-figure digital ad and text message strategy targeted at GOP voters in those three key districts.

There has also been a flurry of outside spending. A handful of Democratic groups have spent millions promoting their own candidates, with much of the outside spending going to Sara Jacobs, a Democratic candidate in the 49th District whose wealthy family has helped to bankroll a super PAC boosting her candidacy.

And the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership, quietly spent $1.5 million in the 39th, 48th and 49th districts in order to counter the Democratic plan and secure a spot for GOP candidates on the ballot. 

– Ben Kamisar

Trump on voters’ minds

3:05 p.m.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — Five hundred days into his term in office, President Trump is top of mind for many voters casting ballots in California today, even if he won’t be on the ballot for another two years.

In interviews Tuesday morning, most voters said they were thinking of Trump and his high-profile fights with California officials over immigration and health care, even as they cast ballots for state offices.

“I don’t like what they’ve done to Donald Trump,” said Janice Umland, a dental hygienist in Burlingame who voted for businessman John Cox (R). “I’m tired of people bashing someone who’s just trying to do the right thing.”

“It’s all about the president,” she said of her vote.

Kirk Hawkins, who works in commercial insurance, said his votes for Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) were cast with an eye toward resisting Trump’s agenda.

“If you look at it as a chessboard, you need to set it opposite the other side. And Gavin is the king we need,” Hawkins said. Of Feinstein, he added: “Right now she’s one of the strongest voices we have.”

Kory Mingus, a legal assistant in Half Moon Bay, said he voted for Feinstein as “a bulwark against Trump.”

Several voters who said they cast ballots for Republicans cited California’s status as a “sanctuary state” as a focal point. Trump’s Justice Department has said California and dozens of other jurisdictions are ineligible for law enforcement grants because they prohibit police agencies from enforcing federal immigration laws in some cases.

“If illegal by definition means it’s against the law, don’t ignore the law, change the law,” said Steven Patton, a structural engineer in Half Moon Bay who voted Republican for governor. “When you think about our tax dollars paying for people who might not even be paying taxes, that’s ridiculous.”

– Reid Wilson

GOP super PAC quietly spent to boost candidates

2:48 p.m.

Republican outside groups mounted a behind-the-scenes effort to marshal support to favored House candidates in California’s unusual “jungle primary” system.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC with ties to House GOP leadership, funded the effort to air television commercials and build out a ground game for six GOP candidates. The group targeted three districts: the 39th, 48th and 49th.

In California, the entire field of candidates runs on the same ballot and the top two candidates advance to a general election, regardless of party. So it’s possible that divided fields could lead to a political party being shut out of advancing any candidates into a general election for a specific seat.

Democrats have telegraphed their heavy spending in these districts for weeks, part of the party’s efforts to ensure it won’t be shut out of any of these key races. But Republicans appeared to be taking a more hands-off approach, at least until the Congressional Leadership Fund’s plans were revealed.

The Congressional Leadership Fund spent $1.5 million on the effort, passing the money to another outside group, the American Future Fund, to spend on its behalf. Thanks to federal election laws that didn’t require the spending to be disclosed until regular campaign finance filings in July, the Congressional Leadership Fund was able to spend without raising eyebrows.

In the 39th District race to replace retiring Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the effort boosted Assemblywoman Young Kim and former state Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff.

In the 48th District, the effort aided two Republicans, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and former Assemblyman Scott Baugh.

And in the race to replace Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) in the 49th District, the effort boosted local public official Dianne Harkey and state Assemblyman Rocky Chavez.

Politico first reported the connection between the American Future Fund spending and the Congressional Leadership Fund. 

– Ben Kamisar

No-party voters outnumber Republicans in California

12:15 p.m.

BURLINGAME, Calif. — The number of California voters who decline to register with a political party now tops the number of voters who affiliate with the GOP, a first in state history and an indication of the struggle Republicans have in competing in the heart of the resistance to President Trump.

Figures from Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s (D) office, released two weeks before Tuesday’s primary election, show 4,852,817 unaffiliated voters and 4,769,299 registered Republicans.

The share of unaffiliated voters has doubled since 1998, while the share of Republicans has slumped 10 percentage points over the same time. Republicans hit a peak of almost 5.4 million voters in 2006.

Democratic voters, on the other hand, have held steady to their share of the overall electorate. Today, 44 percent of the electorate — 8,438,268 voters — are registered Democrats, about the same as pre-election reports issued in 2014, 2010, 2006 and 2002.

The most heavily Democratic counties are in the Bay Area. More than half of those registered to vote affiliate with the Democratic Party in San Francisco; Alameda County, home of Oakland; Marin County, on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge; Santa Cruz County; and Sonoma County.

The most heavily Republican counties in the state are northern rural counties, outposts of conservatism where secession movements have gained attention at times in recent decades. Modoc County, which borders Oregon and Nevada, is the only county in California where more than half the registered voters are Republicans. Neighboring Lassen County and Shasta County, and Amador County, southwest of Lake Tahoe, are all more than 45 percent Republican.

In what may be a troubling sign for Republicans, only a tiny percentage of the youngest generation of voters are choosing the GOP. California allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote. Of the 67,883 teenagers who have pre-registered, just 9.4 percent affiliate with Republicans; 37 percent chose Democrats; and 45 percent declined to affiliate with any party.

– Reid Wilson

House Republicans target 100,000 California voters with primary day text program

10:49 a.m.

National Republicans are looking to boost turnout in Tuesday’s pivotal California primaries with text messages targeting GOP voters in key districts.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is targeting 115,000 Republican voters who have either not turned in their vote-by-mail ballots or need to vote on election day. Voters began receiving text messages last week and will receive one more on Tuesday to remind them to vote.

The NRCC announced last week that it would roll out a series of digital ads and the text message program as part of its final push in the state. An NRCC official provided The Hill with additional details of that program.

Voters will receive a text message that reads “ELECTION ALERT: Today is Primary Day! Turn in your ballot or vote on-person before 8pm tonight to help California Republicans.” They’ll also be sent a link to a program that helps find their polling place, and they can text with a party official if they have questions.

The text program targets voters specifically in California’s 39th, 48th and 49th congressional districts, which are home to important, yet unpredictable, races.

– Ben Kamisar

Los Angeles voters get a Lyft

10:35 a.m.

Los Angeles County has partnered with Uber and Lyft to get voters to the polls on Tuesday, County Clerk Dean Logan said last week.

When voters in Los Angeles look up their polling place through the county’s website, they will see an option to summon one of the ride-sharing services to whisk them away.

The majority of voters who cast ballots in the Tuesday primary will have voted by mail, and the Los Angeles program isn’t as generous as the one in Washington State, where elections offices are pre-paying the postage on people’s ballots.

But, if someone needs help getting to the polls, maybe the Los Angeles program will be a bit of a … Lyft.

– Reid Wilson

Tags 2022 midterm elections Bernie Sanders California Dana Rohrabacher Darrell Issa Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump Ed Royce Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton Jeff Denham Live coverage polls primaries

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