States Not Named California Also Held Primaries Yesterday

Last April, Alabama Lt. Governor Kay Ivey (R) was suddenly called upon to fulfil a duty, taking the place of an embroiled head of state. Since then, Governor Ivey’s administration has overseen low unemployment rates and, perhaps most importantly, has not experienced a scandal. She secured 56.1% of the vote in yesterday’s Republican gubernatorial primary and will go on to face Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox (D) in November. Republicans are expected to maintain control of the Governor’s Mansion; Ivey boasts a 63% approval rating and a massive fundraising advantage over Maddox. Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) and former Attorney General Troy King (R) will face one another in a runoff election on July 17 for the Republican Party’s nomination for Attorney General. Money poured into a race that did not garner many headlines. The two candidates heading for the runoff collectively had over $3.5 million in contributions. Joseph Siegelman won the Democratic nomination. Republicans are expected to retain control the Office of Attorney General in November.

In Iowa, another female incumbent who was never actually elected to the Office of Governor was on the Republican gubernatorial primary ballot. Governor Kim Reynolds (R) ran unopposed using the primary to introduce herself to Iowans and get a head start on the general campaign. Former businessman and Des Moines Register Endorsee Fred Hubbell (D) defeated four challengers by receiving 55.6% of the vote in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Hubbell was considered the frontrunner after State Senator – and once rising star – Nate Boulton (D) suspended his campaign amid sexual misconduct allegations from multiple women. He has put almost $3 million of his personal fortune into his campaign and had full command of the airwaves leading up to primary day. A Des Moines Register poll conducted back in January had Governor Reynolds up five (5) points over Hubbell. 

A new administration will be ushered in come January in New Mexico. The state has been trending blue; President Obama won the state decisively in 2008 and 2012 and it went for Clinton in 2016. Perhaps most telling, Democrats also took back the House in 2016. Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) easily defeated her challengers with 66.4% of the vote in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. She will take on fellow Congressman, and the lone Republican member in the state’s delegation, Steve Pearce (R) who ran unopposed. Democrats would have a trifecta if they flip the Governor’s Mansion in November.

The Republican gubernatorial primary in South Dakota featured two heavyweights and turned into an unpleasant intra-party slugfest. As polls suggested a tight race, Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) and Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R) launched attack ads in the final weeks of the primary. Both campaigns focused more on the candidates’ experience and background as Noem and Jackley rarely differed on the issues. In the end, Congresswoman Noem (R) secured the nomination with 56% of the vote. State Senator Billie Sutton (D) was unopposed in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. South Dakota is expected to remain in Republican control.

California’s primary has been in national news for weeks because it is the key to Democrats taking back the U.S. House and its rules may make that goal unattainable. The state holds a top two, or “jungle,” primary – and it is simple: all candidates from all parties run on the same ballot with the top two vote-getters moving on to the general. Thus, two Republicans could be the only options on the ballot in November; or, a Republican and a vulnerable Democrat; or, a Democrat and a vulnerable Republican. This has caused headaches for the party and its candidates for months. It has also had an effect on the gubernatorial primary. Throughout the race, polls had Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (D) in the lead. The Newsom camp rightly concluded running against a Republican will better its chances of victory in November so it released ads that boost one’s appeal – John Cox (R) – with the Republican base. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D), the only other viable Democrat in the mix, believes a traditional party match up will hurt Democrats down ballot and was critical of such tactics. He will watch his theory be tested in November from the sidelines. With 92% of precincts reporting, the top two finishers are Lt. Governor Newsom (D), who has received 33.4% of the vote, and Mr. Cox (R), who has received 26.1% of the vote. The Governor’s Mansion should remain in Democratic control. Steven Bailey (R) and Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) secured nominations for Attorney General. It was a heated race as Becerra was criticized for fighting with the Trump administration too often and has also been accused of violating state law by filming an ad in a state building. The Office of Attorney General should also remain in Democratic control.

Want to know more about any of these primaries? Contact Meghan Holihan at

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