While there have been no real big surprises so far tonight in primary election results in other states, California’s “Jungle” Primary system where the top two candidates move on to the general election promises to provide some real excitement for politically minded individuals.
The problem with a jungle primary system is becoming quite evident today in California: so many Democrat candidates have flooded the ballot that they may dilute their share of the vote to the point that their Republican opponents may end up facing each other alone in November.
The polls close soon in California, but the seats to really pop the popcorn for may be the mega battles going on between Democrats in the 38th and the 49th districts where they have sloppily engineered a situation that may hand them the nightmare scenario: every Democrat gets shut out of the general election ballot.
While several states had competitive primaries on Tuesday, none will be more consequential in the fight for congressional control than California, which features seven Republican seats in districts won by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016. No other state features more than three.
Yet the state’s unusual election laws complicate things for both sides.
Under California’s system, all candidates appear on a single primary ballot, with the top two vote-getters regardless of party advancing to the November election. That allows the possibility of two candidates from the same party qualifying.
That’s exactly what could happen in California’s marquee races for Senate and governor, where Republicans fear the prospect of being left off the general election ballot altogether.
In the race to succeed term-limited Democrat Jerry Brown, two Democrats, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, are leading the pack. For the GOP, the Trump-backed Cox, a business executive, has the best chance at earning a spot.
It’s also possible Republicans may not secure a nomination spot in the challenge against 84-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is expected to easily win first place in her primary. Second place is far less certain.
On the other hand, Democrats could be shut out in a handful of House races, which would be a massive blow to the party’s fight to claim the House majority this fall. The party must wrest at least 23 seats from Republican hands.
National Democrats have spent more than $7 million trying to curb and repair the damage inflicted by Democrats attacking each other in districts opened by retiring Republican Reps. Ed Royce and Darrell Issa, and the district where Republican Dana Rohrabacher is facing challenges from the left and the right.
That’s money the Democrats would have preferred to spend promoting their candidates this fall.