Your Guide to the June 4 Primaries

Bolts is watching dozens of races across five states, as scandals rock statewide contests and ideological factions in each party fight for more control in their legislatures.
May 30, 2024
Senator Bob Menendez, center, looms over the New Jersey primaries. While he is on trial for bribery, both parties hold primaries to replace him and his son Rob, right, is battling a heated congressional challenge. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

In the five states holding primaries on June 4—Iowa, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota—there’s little suspense as to which party will control the state government next year. But these intraparty conflicts will decide the balance of power among factions within the ruling parties.

In New Mexico, for instance, progressives are challenging a series of incumbent Democrats who killed a bill mandating paid medical and family leave earlier this year. In Montana and South Dakota, some moderate Republicans are fighting for survival as their states’ politics move fast to the right.

Also on the menu? Washington, D.C., heads to the polls as well to select some city councilors.

And that’s not all. Montana Republicans are selecting their nominee against one of their top targets, U.S. Senator John Tester. New Jersey holds its first primaries since a judge this spring barred state Democrats from using the so-called county line, a unique ballot design that has long allowed party bosses in each county to significantly influence results by doling out favorable placement to their preferred candidate. 

An attorney general in Montana faces a challenger he admitted on tape to personally recruiting to run. The DA who prosecuted Alec Baldwin in New Mexico faces reelection. Several South Dakota counties are deciding whether to eliminate election tabulators. And in California, a school district holds a special recall election.

Here’s your guide to the elections taking place on June 4, from coast to coast.

Be sure to return to this page after election night: We’ll update this page with results. Also note that this guide is not exhaustive; it is Bolts’ selection of important races to monitor.

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Jump to: Senate, House, President
Montana (GOP primary)

National Republicans did their best to clear the field for businessman Tim Sheehy, believing him to be their strongest candidate against Democratic Senator John Tester. They succeeded to an extent, but Sheehy still faces a primary against former Secretary of State Brad Johnson.
New Jersey (Democratic primary)

Tammy Murphy, New Jersey’s wealthy first lady, was the early frontrunner to replace indicted Democratic Senator Bob Menendez thanks to her connections to the state’s Democratic establishment. But her bid sparked a grassroots revolt and a lawsuit that upended the state’s election rules, and Murphy dropped out in late March.

Representative Andy Kim now faces labor leader Patricia Campos-Medina and Larry Hamm, a left-leaning activist.
New Jersey (GOP primary)

The Republicans running for Senate are jostling to show loyalty to Donald Trump. Among four candidates, Trump endorsed Christine Serrano Glassner, a mayor who has echoed his false statements about the 2020 election.
Curtis Bashaw

U.S. House

IA-03 (Dem primary)

GOP incumbent Zach Nunn is one of Democrats’ top targets this year; the party will decide its November nominee between Lanon Baccam, who worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture under Secretary Tom Vilsack, Iowa’s former governor, and Melissa Vine, who heads a nonprofit that assists women released from incarceration or recovering from trauma like domestic violence.
MT-02 (GOP primary)

The retirement of Matt Rosendale, a Republican who is part of the House Freedom Caucus and has been a thorn in the side of the GOP leadership, prompted this crowded primary. Former U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg is mounting a comeback but he faces many prominent candidates including Auditor Troy Downing and Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen, who has the support of the Freedom Caucus.
NJ-03 (Dem primary)

This the primary to replace Democratic Representative Andy Kim, who is running for Senate—and it’s a race where the disappearance of the so-called county line may have a stark effect, Bolts and the New Jersey Monitor report.

One candidate, Herbert Conaway Jr., secured prominent ballot placements throughout the district through local party endorsements; historically, such an edge has been difficult for competitors to overcome. But a statewide court ruling that revamped the ballot’s design has eliminated that edge, making the race a prime test of the ruling’s effect.
NJ-08 (Dem primary)

U.S. Representative Rob Menendez, the son of the state’s indicted senior senator, faces Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla. The incumbent is trying to outrun his father’s shadow, while Bhalla calls him a “replication of the same apparatus” and wants voters to reject “the Menendez machine.” Here, too, the race may be impacted by the disappearance of the county line.

Presidential primaries

Of the four states with primaries on June 4, the presidential election will show up on the ballot in Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. (The fifth state, Iowa, held caucuses earlier this year.)

Joe Biden and Donald Trump have already wrapped up their parties’ respective nominations, but face continued protest votes. In New Jersey, the option to vote “uncommitted” in the Democratic presidential primary will appear on the ballot under the slogan “Justice for Palestine.”


Jump to: Executive offices, Supreme court
Montana governor (GOP primary)

Greg Gianforte, who first came to national attention for assaulting a journalist back in 2017 and was then elected governor in 2020, has pushed his state to the right while presiding over the Montana GOP’s first trifecta since 2004. But he faces a challenge from his right from state Representative Tanner Smith, who faults the governor for implementing the legalization of marijuana that voters approved via a ballot initiative in 2020.
Montana governor (Dem primary)

Looking to oust Gianforte and regain an office they held from 2004 to 2020, Democrats will nominate Ryan Busse, a former firearms executive turned critic of the gun industry, or attorney Jim Hunt.
Montana attorney general (GOP primary)

The Associated Press dropped a bombshell earlier this month: Attorney General Austin Knudsen boasted during a recent fundraiser that he had recruited a challenger to run against him in the GOP primary as a way of circumventing campaign finance restrictions and elevating his cap on how much money he can raise. In Knudsen’s words, Logan Olson “filed to run against me simply because under our current campaign finance laws in Montana, it allows me to raise more money.” 

The primary is still scheduled for Tuesday, with Democrat Ben Alke waiting in the general election.

Supreme court

Montana | Chief justice and associate justice (nonpartisan primary)

Conservatives are looking to push this court to the right. Two justices who’ve been their target are retiring this year, prompting two open races. The elections are ostensibly nonpartisan. 

Each of the two races has a candidate whom most conservatives support, and a candidate who is the flag-bearer of more liberal forces—but will each make it to the Top Two runoffs in November?
Cory Swanson vs. Dan Wilson
Jerry Lynch vs. Katherine Bidegaray
Iowa, New Mexico, and South Dakota all have one justice who is up for retention this year, which means they face an up-or-down vote with no challenger on the ballot, but these will take place in November. Our Bolts guide walks you through all of the nation’s supreme court races.

State and Local

Jump to: Legislative, County offices, City offices, School boards, Referendums
Iowa | SD30 (GOP primary)

The construction of a proposed pipeline in northern Iowa has fueled local grumblings that the project is not respecting property rights, but local state Senator Waylon Brown, a Republican, has helped kill legislative proposals to reform eminent domain laws. Bleeding Heartland reports that Doug Campbell is now challenging him on a platform of protecting “the sanctity of private property,” with support from hardline conservative groups and former U.S. Representative Steve King. 
Montana | HD7 & HD8 (GOP primaries)

Hardline conservatives want to push the GOP-run legislature further to the right, and primaries in the Flathead Valley are ground zero for that dynamic. Watch out for the reelection bids of more moderate House members Courtenay Sprunger (HD7) and Tony Brockman (HD8), whose challengers are endorsed by the local GOP committee. (Of note, Brockman’s challenger is an 18-year-old ultra-conservative, Lukas Schubert.) 
Sprunger & Schubert
New Mexico | Five House districts (Dem primaries)

Democrats run the New Mexico legislature, but the failure of a paid family and medical leave bill this year has exacerbated the divides, and a slew of centrist incumbents now face progressive challengers. Of the 11 House Democrats who opposed the bill, five have opponents in the Democratic primary: Keep an eye on the results in HD9, HD27, HD53, HD69, and HD70.
Three of these 5 Dems lost.
New Mexico | SD15 (Dem primary)

Over in New Mexico’s Senate, Daniel Ivey-Soto (SD15) voted for the paid leave bill but frustrated progressives on other issues, and has faced ethics questions. He faces Heather Berghmans, a challenger endorsed by the Working Families Party. (The WFP is also backing challengers in most of the House districts listed above.)
New Mexico | SD30 (Dem primary)

Clemente Sanchez was ousted from the state Senator by a progressive challenger four years ago, in circumstances similar to the primaries above. Now he’s mounting a comeback, and faces Angel Charley, a Native American advocate.
South Dakota | SD8 (GOP primary)

South Dakota Senate Majority Leader Casey Crabtree faces a challenge in SD8 from prominent election denier Rick Weible. The race is part of a broader effort by the state’s far-right to gain even more clout in this GOP-run state.

County offices

New Mexico | Santa Fe prosecutor (Dem primary)

Mary Carmack-Altwies, a local DA who drew nationwide attention for her handling of a movie set shooting involving actor Alec Baldwin, faces predecessor Marco Serna, who did not run for reelection in 2020. The candidates have mostly assailed each other over their records, with neither offering major policy proposals to differentiate themselves. The district covers Rio Arriba and Los Alamos, two sparsely populated counties, alongside Santa Fe County.
New Jersey | Passaic County sheriff (Dem primary)

The death of Sheriff Richard Berdnik has sparked a heated battle in this North Jersey county. Former Sheriff Jerry Speziale wants his old job back, but he has a very poor relationship with the local Democratic Party, which has backed sheriff’s deputy Tommy Adamo. But there’s a twist: A springtime ruling struck down the so-called county line ballot, which has long boosted candidates endorsed by local parties, depriving Adamo of that advantage.

Municipal offices

Washington, D.C. | At-large council seat (Dem primary)

At-large city councilor Robert White, a progressive who ran for mayor last year, is now seeking reelection against primary challenger Red Grant, the Washington Post reports.
Washington, D.C. | Ward 4 council seat (Dem primary)

Another progressive city council member in D.C., Janeese Lewis George, faces two challenges who are denouncing her support for local criminal justice reforms. (The city passed sentencing reforms that were overturned by Congress last year.)

School board

Temecula Valley school board

A conservative school board member in Temecula Valley faces a recall election over the introduction of anti-LGBTQ policies, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. (This comes on the heels of multiple successful recalls in California in March on similar issues, and more coming in July.)

Ballot measures

Montana | Bozeman: on a local audit

Voters across every Montana county and municipality will hold a decennial vote in June on whether to order an audit of their local government structures. The Montana Free Press zeroes in on the intriguing campaign in Bozeman, where local leaders and activists want to force a review of their city government in hope of a government structure that affords more power to renters.
South Dakota | Gregory, Haakon and Tripp counties: on vote counting

Three counties are voting on separate measures, initiated by conservative activists upset by the results of the 2020 presidential election, that would ban the use of tabulators to count votes and force hand counts, South Dakota Searchlight reports.
No in each.