Because of its new primary date, the populous western state is poised to take on greater significance in the nomination process this year. Previously, California wasn’t slated to vote until early June, when the nominee had typically already been chosen. But to increase its influence, state officials moved its primary up to Super Tuesday for 2020.
The presidential race is far from the only thing that will be on the ballot, though. All 53 congressional districts will be holding House primaries, and the 25th Congressional District will also be conducting a closely watched special election to replace former Rep. Katie Hill.
Of the primaries, a few are particularly contentious: In the state’s 16th District, progressive challenger and Fresno City Council member Esmeralda Soria is attempting to unseat eight-term Democratic incumbent Jim Costa. And in the 50th District, a slew of Democrats and Republicans are vying for Duncan Hunter’s old seat, which will remain empty until next year.
Polls in the state will be open until 8 pm PT (11 Eastern), and voters will also be able to mail in their ballots until midnight on election day.
Because of its mail-in voting, the final results from California might not come out for days. When they do, they could have some major implications for the 2020 race and several key House seats. Vox has live results below, courtesy of our friends at Decision Desk. Follow the rest of our live results here.
Democratic primary: Sanders leads polls — with a lot of delegates at stake
California’s 415 pledged delegates, effectively a fifth of what candidates need in order to win the Democratic nomination, make the state a major target this year.
Because of California’s proportional allocation rules, candidates can earn delegates by hitting either the 15 percent threshold of support statewide or the same threshold in an individual congressional district.
According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Sen. Bernie Sanders currently leads the field statewide with 35 percent voter support, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden, who has 23 percent, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has 16 percent. The state is known for its progressive and diverse electorate: 31 percent of eligible voters are Latino, and 15 percent are Asian American or Pacific Islander.
For the candidates that are able to clear the necessary thresholds, the state could be a windfall of delegates — and momentum.
California’s 16th District primary: Longtime incumbent Jim Costa faces a challenge from the left
Eight-term incumbent and Blue Dog Democrat Jim Costa is facing a formidable challenge from the left this cycle.
Costa represents California’s 16th District, which includes Fresno and part of the state’s heavily agricultural Central Valley. He’s known for being one of the more conservative Democrats in the House, particularly on environmental issues. In the past, he’s been called out by liberals for the donations he’s taken from corporate agricultural interests and oil companies, as well as for a state bill he authored which severely limited rent control in California.
Fresno City Council member Esmeralda Soria, former diplomat Kim Williams, and Republican Kevin Cookingham are all running for Costa’s seat. Soria and Williams both have highlighted themselves as more progressive alternatives to Costa. And Soria, who’s also the member of a statewide task force on addressing homelessness, has picked up support from local organizers and activists including SEIU California. Williams, meanwhile, has gotten the backing of the Democratic Socialists of America and Our Revolution.
Because of the top-two primary system in California, the top two finishers will advance to the general election taking place in November, regardless of party affiliation.
California’s 25th: A primary and a special election for Katie Hill’s district
California’s 25th, the southern swing district that Katie Hill flipped last cycle, is open once again, after she decided to resign in the wake of allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a staffer and a smear campaign involving revenge porn.
A staggering 13 candidates are running in a primary for the seat, which is currently rated as “Likely Democratic,” by Cook Political Report.
Again, because of the top-two primary system in California, the top two finishers will advance to the general election taking place in November, regardless of party affiliation.
In addition to the primary, however, the district is also holding a special election for someone to replace Hill and serve out her existing term through this year.
Ten candidates will participate in both races — and one will have to secure a majority of the vote to win the special election. Otherwise, the top two candidates will head to a runoff set to take place on May 12.
The individuals vying for the seat in the primary and special election run the gamut of familiar names across both parties. The Democrats include Young Turks co-founder Cenk Uygur and state Assembly member Christy Smith, while the Republicans include former district Rep. Steve Knight (whom Hill unseated just two years ago), former fighter pilot Mike Garcia, and former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.
California’s 50th District primary: Members of both parties — including former Rep. Darrell Issa — are duking it out for Duncan Hunter’s old seat
California’s southern 50th District, which includes part of San Diego County, is now vacant after former Rep. Duncan Hunter, who pleaded guilty to violations of campaign finance laws, resigned.
A longtime Republican district that’s poised to stay that way, the race has still attracted candidates from both sides of the aisle who will be competing in the primary.
Ten candidates will face off on Super Tuesday in an attempt to qualify for the general election ballot. Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar is trying once more to flip the seat, and he’s joined this time by businesswoman Marisa Calderon. Notable Republicans competing for the seat include former Rep. Darrell Issa and former San Diego City Council member Carl DeMaio.
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