What to Watch in the June 7 Primaries
Dozens of local elections in California dominate one of the year’s busiest election days, and there is plenty to watch that will shape criminal justice, environmental, and housing policies. Voters will also settle many primaries, and one important referendum, in Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. At stake are congressional and judicial seats, prosecutor and sheriff elections, and the mayorship of the nation’s second largest city.
Here are 59 elections to watch on June 7, and why they matter, as prepared by Bolts editor Daniel Nichanian. More may be added to our cheat sheet through Election Day. And if you are interested in criminal justice, be sure to check out our guide of the year’s critical elections in California.
Check back on Election Night as we fill in each result. And support us to sustain this work.
Note: In California, unlike in other states voting on June 7, all candidates run on one ballot regardless of party and the top two move to a runoff. As a rule of thumb, in partisan races like governor, there is a runoff even if a candidate clears 50 percent; nonpartisan elections like sheriff end if someone gets a majority.
Governor Gavin Newsom easily survived the effort to recall him last year, and now he’s seeking a second term. He’s heavily favored to grab one of the two runoff spots in the first round, but there’s a crowded field looking to face him in November.
|Runoff: Newsom (D) vs. Dahle (R)|
|New Mexico (GOP)|
The GOP hopes to reclaim the governorship after four years of a Democratic trifecta, and will choose its nominee in a five-person field; Mark Ronchetti, a former television meteorologist, led by a large margin in one recent poll.
Alex Padilla, who replaced Kamala Harris when she became vice president, is now seeking to win a full term; he’s favored to grab one of the runoff spots, with the second up for grabs.
|Runoff: Padilla vs. Meuser|
Democrats pick their nominee to face Chuck Grassley, who is seeking an eighth term. The Des Moines Register previews.
|South Dakota (GOP)|
Donald Trump talked about defeating incumbent John Thune, but no serious primary threat materialized.
Other statewide elections
|CA | Attorney General |
Incumbent Rob Bonta, a reform-friendly official, who was appointed last year, is the only Democrat on the ballot; there’s suspense over the second runoff spot, as Sacramento County DA Anne Marie Schubert is running on a tough-on-crime message as an independent, and there also are two Republican lawyers running.
|CA | Controller |
Republican Lanhee Chen is viewed as the Republicans’ best shot to win a statewide office in California, for the first time since 2006. But he first has to make it into the general election, and see who will face him in the runoff as there are many Democrats vying for a spot, including some on the moderate wing of the party.
|CA | Super. of Public Instruction|
Incumbent Tony Thurmond is seeking another term with the support of teachers’ unions, and could win in June without a runoff if he crosses 50 percent against a field that has not caught fire.
|IA | Secretary of State (Dem)|
Two Democratic county auditors, Joel Miller and Van Lancker, are running for the Democratic nomination to take on the Republican secretary of state, each saying they’re worried about the effects of new voting restrictions.
|NM | Attorney General (Dem)|
In a state where prosecutors have helped thwart criminal justice reforms, the DA of the most populous county (Raúl Torrez) is now seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general against the state’s auditor (Brian Colón).
|South Dakota |
With a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid looming in November, Republicans have rushed to put a constitutional amendment on the June 7 ballot that would change the rules and increase the threshold for passing future initiatives. Read Bolts‘s preview.
|CA | Ventura County (Measure A and B)|
Big Oil companies are pouring in money to roll back recent county environmental ordinances. Spectrum News previews.
Democrat Christy Smith is looking to challenge GOP Rep. Mike Garcia for a third time, but John Quaye Quartey wants a go as well, in what’s set to be one of Democrats’ top pick-up opportunities this fall.
|Runoff: Garcia (R) vs. Smith (D)|
Dem Rep. Karen Bass is running for mayor of Los Angeles, and the June 7 primary may produce an all-Dem runoff in November, with state Senator Sydney Kamlager, former Los Angeles city council member Jan Perry, and Culver City Mayor Dr. Daniel W. Lee among the favorites.
|Runoff: Kamlager (D) vs. Perry (D)|
GOP Rep. Young Kim has been touted as a Republican star, but in a district that is largely new to her she is in danger of being ousted from the top 2 spots by more conservative candidate Greg Raths.
|Runoff: Mahomood (D) vs. Kim (R)|
This new SoCal district has no incumbent, and plenty of candidates, and it may end up in a runoff between the two Democratic frontrunners, which would delay even the intra-party resolution until November. The Press Telegram previews.
|Runoff (D): Garcia vs. Briscoe (R)|
Who will grab the second runoff spot, likely alongside Dem Rep. Mike Levin? Levin has sent mailers that ostensibly attack Republican Christopher Rodriguez’s opposition to abortion, but could boost him among GOP voters.
|Runoff: Levin (D) vs. Brian Maryott (R)|
Trump’s former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is trying to get back to Congress by running in this new, open Western Montana district. He has Trump’s backing against four Republicans. Democrats have a contested primary too. The Montana Free Press reports.
Incumbent Donald Norcross is favored against progressive Mario DeSantis. But George Norcross’s South Jersey machine did suffer one giant upset last year.
Republican Tom Kean Jr., a former senator and son of a former governor, has a friendlier district to run in this year, but he has to beat back conservative primary opponents to get to the general.
Robert Menendez Jr., the son of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, quickly accumulated establishment Democratic support in his bid for this open seat.
Incumbent Donald Payne Jr. is facing a challenge from the left from Imani Oakley.
Dusty Johnson, the state’s lone member of the U.S. House, is facing a challenge from the right, in part for voting to certifying the last presidential election.
|California | AD80|
This all-Dem special election runoff in San Diego captures the shifts in the local landscape, as a candidate who once was fought by the business interests is now their candidate. Voice of San Diego previews the election.
Four left-leaning Dem. lawmakers face challenges from their right, supported by one of their colleagues. Source New Mexico reiews the results.
|Three of the incumbents won; one lost.|
|Montana supreme court|
Republicans hope to oust Justice Ingrid Gustafson with challenger Jim Brown, but there’s also a third candidate in the race, Michael McMahon; the top two will move on to a runoff.
|Runoff: Brown vs. Gustafson|
|CA | Los Angeles judges #60, #67, #70, #118, and also #90 and #116|
A slate of four progressive candidates, three of them public defenders, are running on a platform of challenging mass incarceration. Watch whether they grab one of the runoff spots in each of their four races. (Other public defenders like K. McGurk and L. Handler who are not in this four-person slate are also running for judge.) Read our preview.
|CA | Alameda County (Oakland)|
After a DA who remained steadfast on the more punitive side of prosecution retires, it’s a four-way race to replace her, incl. progressive Pamela Price and assistant DA Tom Wiley. KTVU previews.
|Runoff: Wiley vs. Price|
|CA | Contra Costa County|
Diane Becton, one of the reform-minded California DAs who has drawn opposition from law enforcement unions for prosecuting a sheriff’s deputy, faces a challenge from her right. Read our preview.
|CA | Kings County|
DA Keith Fagundes is seeking a third term while under fire for prosecuting women over pregnancy loss. Fagundes faces Sarah Hacker, a conservative who protested those prosecutions and insists Fagundes has run afoul of state law. Read our preview.
|CA | Orange County|
Caught in a racism scandal, DA Todd Spitzer has turned to demonizing neighboring Los Angeles to convince voters to not go for his more reform-minded challenger Pete Hardin. (While the race is technically nonpartisan, Spitzer is supported by the local GOP and Hardin by local Democrats.) Read our preview.
|CA | Riverside County|
Riverside County, at the heart of blue California, is a national engine of new death sentences, and DA Mike Hestrin faces two challengers in the primary election that recently took a deeply negative turn.
|CA | Sacramento County|
The local DA, a leading figure for proponents of tough-on-crime politics in California, is now running for attorney general, and the race to replace him reveals major fault lines over criminal justice reform. The Sacramento Bee reports.
|CA | San Joaquin County|
The local DA is a Republican who has allied with the state’s reform-minded DAs, but in seeking a third term she faces a challenger backed by law enforcement unions. Read our preview.
|CA | San Francisco|
This is of one of 2022’s highest-profile prosecutor elections, and the California race you’ve likely heard of: DA Chesa Boudin faces a recall, fueled by opponents of his progressive policies.
|CA | Santa Clara County (San Jose)|
Longtime grievances between DA Jeffrey Rosen and public defender Sajid Khan have spilled unto the electoral realm, as Khan is challenging Rosen on a vow of embracing more decarceral reform. A third candidate, former prosecutor Daniel Chung, is running as well, so the election may head into a runoff. Read our preview.
|CA | Yolo County|
Former public defender Cynthia Rodriguez is emphasizing progressive proposals in her challenge to DA Jeff Reisig, who is the president of the state’s DA association (CDAA), the organization that typically lobbies against criminal justice reforms.
|Iowa | Polk County (Des Moines)|
In Iowa’s most populous county, a competitive three-way primary may bring progressive prosecution into the state; the election will replace the retiring incumbent, known for favoring more punitive policies. Former U.S. Senate candidate Kimberly Graham is a progressive running on a reform-focused platform against Laura Roan, a prosecutor, and Kevin McCarthy, a former lawmaker.
|CA | Alameda County (Oakland)|
The Alameda County jail, close to Oakland and Berkeley, is marred by a string of deaths and dismal conditions, and it will be under a federal consent decree. This election will decide who oversees its implementation, as Sheriff Gregory Ahern faces a robust challenge. Bolts previews the election.
|CA | Contra Costa County|
Sheriff David Livingston has defended a deputy convicted over two fatal shootings, and criticized the DA who prosecuted him. He faces Benjamin Therriault, a police union leader who has criticized Livingston on the issue and who the support of the local Democratic Party, on Tuesday. The San Francisco Chronicle previews.
|CA | Los Angeles County |
Where to even start with the Los Angeles sheriff’s race? Even as Sheriff Alex Villanueva and the department he leads face many scandals of abuse and organized violence, efforts to oust him this year struggled to coalesce. Some progressives have rallied behind challenger Eric Strong, while many local activists are focusing their efforts on pushing for structural change. Bolts previews the election.
|Runoff: Villanueva vs. Robert Luna|
|CA | Riverside County|
Sheriff Chad Bianco, a former dues-paying member of the Oath Keepers who has defended efforts to police pregnancy loss, faces Michael Lujan, a retired sheriff’s captain.
|CA | Sacramento County|
Jim Cooper, who is one of the more reform-skeptic Democrats in the state legislature, is now vying to be sheriff against Undersheriff Jim Barnes.
|CA | Solano County|
In yet another department rocked by scandal, the incumbent sheriff is running for re-election with the strong support of law enforcement unions against a former employee of the department. The San Francisco Chronicle previews.
|CA | San Diego County|
The sheriff overseeing California’s deadliest large jail system resigned under a cloud of scandals earlier this year, and the dangerous conditions behind bars have broken through to become a campaign issue in the three-way race. Bolts previews the election.
|New Mexico | Bernalillo County (Albuquerque)|
The Democratic sheriff of this blue-leaning county cozied up to Trump, angering local Democrats. Now he’s retiring, and both parties have primaries to see who will succeed him.
|John Allen (D), Paul. Pacheco (R)|
Other Local Elections in California
|Los Angeles Mayor|
Billionaire developer Rick Caruso has been spending freely to become the next mayor of LA, upending the race in which Democratic Rep. Karen Bass was initially viewed as a clearer front-runner. Other candidates include Kevin de León and Gina Viola.
|Runoff: Bass vs. Caruso|
|Los Angeles City Attorney|
This office is in charge of prosecuting some misdemeanor cases, and so the election predictably features some extensions of the many other fights in the region over the shape of criminal justice reform.
|Los Angeles City Council, Seat 1|
Abolitionist organizer Eunisses Hernandez is running for city council, challenging incumbent Gil Cedillo. Read our profile.
|Los Angeles City Council, Seat 11|
Mike Bonin is retiring after leading the left contingent on the city council, leading to the major question of whether progressives can defend their hold on this district. (The election may head to a runoff.)
|Los Angeles City Council, Seat 13|
Union organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez is challenging Mitch O’Farrell from the left, in a crowded field.
|Los Angeles City Council, Seat 15|
Joe Buscaino left the city council to run for mayor as part of the more conservative Democrats, but ended up dropping out and endorsing Caruso. The race to replace him may head to a runoff and, depending on who wins, move the council a step toward the left.
|Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, District 1|
Hilda Solis, Barack Obama’s former Labor Secretary, is running for re-election.
|Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, District 3|
For this powerful open position, three candidates are facing off for two runoff spots: West Hollywood City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath, state Senator Henry Stern, and state Senator Bob Hertzberg, who is the further right of the three. Hertzberg has the support of the association of Los Angeles deputy sheriffs and wants the board to be more accommodating toward the county’s embattled sheriff. The Los Angeles Times previews.
|Runoff: Horvath and Hertzberg|
|San Jose Mayor|
This city of more than one million is hosting a six-way mayoral race, with policy debates over affordable housing as a focal point. San Jose Spotlight previews the election.
|Runoff: Chavez vs. Mahan|