“It’s Judgment Day for Democrats. The party has been sounding the alarm for months that its candidate surge could box it out of the general election in three Southern California seats under the state’s jungle-primary system. As concerns mounted, national Democrats tried to cull the fields, and when that failed they picked favorites in the hopes of fostering consolidation. The final play was an exorbitantly expensive rescue mission. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Majority PAC have combined to invest some $7 million, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data.
“Tuesday’s biggest question will be whether or not they were successful. … Conventional logic and polling are complicated by the fact that this is an unprecedented situation. Democrats have never tried to navigate the top-two primaries in races with this many candidates.”
“Another trend to watch: Voters will also select nominees in districts that present no shutout risk, but are still crucial to Democrats’ majority path. A few 2016 nominees are vying against some political newcomers and ideological splits dominate a couple of matchups. The results could shape the competitiveness of key battlegrounds this fall.” (Hotline reporting)
Polls close at 11 p.m. ET. Results can be found here. Here’s our breakdown of the districts to watch:
CA-10: Investor Josh Harder (D) and 2016 nominee Michael Eggman (D) are the front-runners for the second-spot in the race for Rep. Jeff Denham’s (R) seat. Former Riverbank Mayor Virginia Madueno (D) is also in the race and has benefited from EMILY’s List outside spending. Watch out for ex-Turlock Councilman Ted Howze (R); there’s a tiny top-two risk in this district.
CA-21: Engineer TJ Cox (D) is running unopposed to take Rep. David Valadao (R) in this massive Central Valley seat, which backed Hillary Clinton by double-digits.
CA-25: 2016 nominee Bryan Caforio (D) and nonprofit executive Katie Hill (D) are the top contenders to face Rep. Steve Knight (R). Hill got more outside help, largely from abortion-rights groups, but Caforio’s got the name ID. Hill cuts a more moderate profile and some Republicans hope Caforio nabs the second slot.
CA-45: Housing bubble whistle blower Katie Porter (D) and UC Irvine law professor Dave Min (D) are the front-runners to take on Rep. Mimi Walters (R) in this Irvine-based seat. Republicans are eager to face Porter, who has gone all-in for singlepayer healthcare. Min is backed by the New Democrats’ PAC. Former Obama administration adviser Brian Forde (D) is also in the race and has posted decent fundraising.
CA-50: Democrats don’t need to pick up this seat to take back the House, but it’s worth watching because the party appears poised to nominate activist Ammar Campa-Najjar (D), the grandson of a man who allegedly help plot the Munich massacre at the 1972 Olympics. Former Navy SEAL Josh Butner (D) is running a more moderate campaign, but he’s lagged in recent polling.
THE SHUTOUT RISKS.
CA-39: Conventional wisdom here is that former state Assemblywoman Young Kim (R) and lottery winner Gil Cisneros (D) will advance, but surging GOP turnout has added a layer of unpredictability in the race for retiring Rep. Ed Royce’s (R) seat. Operatives say Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson (R) and former state Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff (R) could make the top two, as could nonprofit executive Andy Thorburn (D).
CA-48: It’s a three-way race for second-place behind Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) between businessman Harley Rouda (D), who is backed by the DCCC; stem-cell biologist Hans Keirstead, who has the state party endorsement; and former OC GOP Chairman Scott Baugh. Democrats have spent $2.7 million so far trying to knock Baugh out of the top-two.
CA-49: “Democratic early voters in retiring Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R) district have shown outsize enthusiasm: Both parties make up 38 percent of returned ballots—even though more Republican ballots were mailed out, according to an analysis of from the tracking firm Political Data, Inc.” Most strategists expect Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey (R) to be the top GOP vote-getter, and Democrats hope their outside spending has knocked state Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R) out of the top-two. It’s a fluid Democratic field between environmental attorney Mike Levin (D), former Hillary Clinton policy adviser Sara Jacobs (D) and 2016 Doug Applegate (D). Navy veteran Paul Kerr (D) has spent millions, though he’s shown little viability in polling.
WHEN TO EXPECT RESULTS. “Democrats and Republicans say they are bracing to wait days or even weeks before knowing the winners of some of the most closely contested contests, particularly House primaries. The first votes tallied will be vote-by-mail ballots counted in the 11 p.m. Eastern time hour. Election day results will begin flowing into the California secretary of state’s office in the hours that follow. However, there will be many—perhaps millions—more votes to count as they arrive in the mail at county elections offices on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.”“To be counted, vote-by-mail ballots only have to be postmarked by Tuesday. They can arrive as much as three days later. Counties are due to report how many mail ballots are outstanding to the secretary of state’s office by Thursday. That means the state isn’t even certain how many ballots remain unaccounted for until later in the week.” (CNN)
UP NEXT. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Jerry Brown (D) “will headline a high-dollar fundraiser in Beverly Hills on June 18, less than two weeks after Tuesday’s primary. The event is being hosted by film mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife, Marilyn, at Spago — Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant — and tickets are $25,000, according to an invitation obtained by The Times. Tickets for event co-chairs are going for $250,000, the invite says. Proceeds will benefit the House Majority PAC, a super PAC with close ties to Pelosi that has already spent $1.3 million trying to avert a top-two disaster in three Orange County districts. Attendees will include Democratic nominees in targeted House races in California, according to the invite.” (Los Angeles Times)