6 Takeaways From Tuesday's Night’s Primaries | NTK Network 6 Takeaways From Tuesday’s Night’s Primaries

6 Takeaways From Tuesday’s Night’s Primaries

Voters across the country went to the polls last night to cast their vote in critical primaries up and down the ballot.

By NTK Staff | 06.06.2018 @8:15am
6 Takeaways From Tuesday’s Night’s Primaries

Voters across the country went to the polls last night to cast their vote in critical primaries up and down the ballot. While votes are still be counted in some California primaries, there were some glaring and equally important, but under-the-radar, takeaways from last night’s results. Check out ours below.

1) Menendez Might Be in Real Trouble

With a showing called “underwhelming” and “unimpressive,” embattled U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) won his Democratic primary with only 62 percent of the vote, against a little-known opponent who hadn’t reported raising any money.

The result had all the hallmarks of a protest vote from New Jersey residents, against the U.S. senator who has been embroiled in ethics controversies and a federal corruption case for the past few years. As Politico wrote on the results, “Democratic primary voters in New Jersey sent a message” last night.

It is also an opening for executive Bob Hugin, who easily won his GOP primary. Roll Call has the bottom line from an unexpected race to watch in the battle for the Senate going into the fall:

The Democratic primary for Senate wasn’t expected to earn too much attention, with incumbent Robert Menendez running against a little-known challenger. But with 99 percent of precincts reporting, the two-term senator led with an underwhelming 62 percent, according to the AP, while local media publisher and liberal activist Lisa McCormick took in 38 percent — a significant showing for a candidate who hasn’t reported raising any money. The Senate Ethics Committee “severely admonished” Menendez earlier this year for improperly accepting gifts from a South Florida ophthalmologist, who had been a longtime campaign donor and friend. That was after the federal corruption case against the senator was dropped. Menendez is facing a general election challenge from pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin, who easily won the GOP primary Tuesday night. Inside Elections rates the race Solid Democratic.

2) Democrats Avoided Lockouts in California

In the lead-up to the congressional primaries in California, much of the media and political chatter was the possibility that Democrats could be locked out of the general in several House elections, due to the state’s unique “jungle primary” setup.

While results are still being tabulated, media report this morning that “those fears did not come to pass,” as Democrats “were on track” to avoid the lockout scenario in several competitive races. The outlook is certainly welcomed by national Democrats, but it came at the significant cost of millions being spent to get their preferred outcome. What’s more, grassroots activists are upset over some of the national interventions. From The Washington Post:

With nearly every precinct counted in Orange County, Democrats are growing confident of getting candidates into every competitive congressional district in southern California — preventing a “lockout” that the national party had spent millions of dollars to prevent. In California’s 39th, 48th and 49th congressional districts, Democrats at least ended the night in second place, which would set up two-party elections in November. In the 39th, lottery winner and Navy veteran Gil Cisneros led a Republican candidate in the battle for the No. 2 spot by more than 3,000 votes. In Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s 48th, two Democrats — Hans Keirstead and Harley Rouda — were battling for second place, both roughly 1,000 votes ahead of Republican Scott Baugh. And in the 49th, Democrats Mike Levin, Sara Jacobs and Doug Applegate were more than 3,000 votes ahead of the nearest Republican. By midnight in California, none of the races had been called; several candidates told voters at their election night parties to expect results in the morning. Rohrabacher had advanced to the runoff, as had Republicans Young Kim in the 39th district and Diane Harkey in the 49th district.

3) Republicans in California Are Set for Big Assists in November

While on the defense in House races in California, Republicans did set themselves up for two big assists in November last night. First, with an endorsement from President Donald Trump and support from national Republicans (especially U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy), businessman John Cox came in second in the state’s gubernatorial jungle primary.

The New York Times called this “a major tactical victory for national Republicans.” The GOP had been concerned that, without a Republican at the top of the ticket, their turnout in the state would have been further depressed. For Capitol Hill-watchers, note this as a big win for the McCarthy-Trump dynamic. More from The Hill:

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will face businessman John Cox (R) for California governor in November as voters on Tuesday winnowed a field of nearly 30 candidates. The Associated Press called the race for Newsom at 12:17 a.m. EST. NBC News and Fox News called the race for Cox shortly thereafter. … Cox secured the second spot on the November ballot after battling three other well-funded contenders on Tuesday –– Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D), state Treasurer John Chiang (D) and Assemblyman Travis Allen (R). Cox began rising in the polls after winning an endorsement from President Trump, who tweeted his support last month. Newsom will begin the sprint to November as the overwhelming favorite in a state where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. But the fact that Cox secured the second position over Villaraigosa and Chiang is something of a coup for California Republicans. Though the race is not likely to be competitive, Republicans had worried that two Democrats advancing to the general election would have led to a precipitous drop in turnout among Republican voters. “You have to have a Republican talking about the issues,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told The Hill in an interview this weekend. “If you have nobody making the policy arguments, turnout would collapse. Now we’ve got a whole different conversation.”

Second, voters recalled a Democrat state senator who had voted to raise gas taxes last year. Republicans are backing an effort on the November ballot to repeal the tax increase. This could be instrumental in lifting conservative turnout, and thus helping House Republicans in the state in competitive races.

In recalling the Democrat state senator, voters also denied California Senate Democrats the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass tax increases. Check out The Associated Press breakdown of the significant result:

California voters unseated a sitting state senator in midterm on Tuesday, denying Senate Democrats a supermajority and setting up a statewide battle this fall over a gas tax increase. Republicans said the recall showed Democrats are vulnerable after they successfully targeted Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman’s vote to raise gas taxes last year. A Republican-backed effort to repeal the tax increase is likely to be on the November ballot. … Nearly two-thirds of voters recalled Newman, of Fullerton, over his vote last year to increase fuel and vehicle taxes to raise about $5 billion a year for road repairs. They replaced him with former Republican Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang, keeping Senate Democrats below a two-thirds supermajority needed to pass tax and fee increases for at least the rest of the year. But it also sets up the larger narrative as out-numbered Republicans try to further eat into Democrats’ dominance going into the fall campaign. “Recalls are never pretty, but voters overwhelmingly rejected the aggressive left-leaning direction of the Legislature,” said Matt Fleming, a spokesman for the California Republican Party. Carl DeMaio, chairman of Reform California and a sponsor of the recall, said recalling Newman “was only the first phase of our campaign.” “This November we look forward to repealing the car and gas tax hikes,” he said in a statement

4) Democrats Got What They Wanted in New Jersey House Races

As ABC News noted in their takeaways column, “results in the Garden State emerged as expected for Democrats” in election matchups the party hopes will lead to pickups in November. More from ABC News below:

Candidates with intriguing resumes who won Tuesday evening and can expect the support of the party include a former Navy pilot, Mikie Sherrill, attempting to take over the state’s 11th Congressional District from retiring Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen; a former assistant secretary of state, Tom Malinowski, waging a challenge to Rep. Leonard Lance in the 7th district; and state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, running in the 2nd district where Rep. Frank LoBiondo is stepping aside. Preventing Democratic flips in New Jersey would go a long way towards Republicans’ goal of maintaining their majority in the House, as would stealing back the seat of Rep. Josh Gottheimer in the northern 5th Congressional District after the former Hillary Clinton campaign adviser scored an upset in 2016.

5) Trump Had a Good Night

In addition to the president’s endorsement proving pivotal to helping John Cox secure the second spot in the California gubernatorial general election, Trump also was an issue in forcing incumbent Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) into a runoff for her seat in Alabama’s 2nd District.

Roby had “attracted national attention” for saying she would not vote for Trump after the release of the Access Hollywood tape. Her opponent in the primary had run ads calling himself “a true supporter of President Trump” and replaying video of Roby calling for Trump to drop out. Check out the bottom line from USA Today on the race:

If there was any doubt that the Republican Party was now the party of Donald Trump, Tuesday’s results in a deep-red Alabama congressional race should put it to rest. Incumbent Republican Rep. Martha Roby came under fierce fire in her GOP primary for withdrawing her endorsement of Trump in the 2016 presidential race, after the after the Access Hollywood tape revealed his boasts about grabbing women by the genitals without their consent. Those attacks took their toll, and Roby was forced into a runoff on Tuesday after failing to win the GOP nod outright. Her opponent will be Bobby Bright, a one-time Democratic congressman, who ran ads accusing Roby of turning “her back on President Trump when he needed her the most.” Roby is the second Republican incumbent to stumble so far this election cycle.

6) The Sanders Revolution is Not Being Televised

Bernie Sanders is “no kingmaker.” That was the takeaway from Politico, as more of his candidates in Democrat primaries continued to fall flat, in races from Iowa to New Jersey. Check out Politico’s takeaway here:

Tuesday’s results demonstrated again that despite Bernie Sanders’ popularity, he’s no kingmaker. Case in point is Pete D’Alessandro, a top aide to Sanders during his 2016 Iowa caucuses campaign, who finished third in a field of three in the 3rd District. With much fanfare, Sanders handed out an early endorsement to D’Alessandro, visited Iowa for a rally and sent out a fundraising email. But any bump in small donors and grass-roots support was short-lived: D’Alessandro finished with just 15 percent of the vote. A similar scenario unfolded for Iowa gubernatorial candidate Cathy Glasson, a nurse and union leader who won the backing of Our Revolution, the Sanders-aligned group. Glasson couldn’t overtake Fred Hubbell, who was boosted by a storied family name and by millions of dollars in self financing. In New Jersey, the story was the same: Peter Jacob in the 7th District, and Jim

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