Skip to main content

California voters poised to decide primary races for governor, senator and 52 House seats

The most populous state in the nation has some competitive races to follow as well as some high-profile incumbents up for reelection.

Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California | Shutterstock

June 6, 2022 9:32pm

Updated: June 7, 2022 2:38pm

On Tuesday, seven states are holding primary elections — more than any other primary date in 2022.

California will be home to more races than any other state — with 52 House races, a senator running in two separate races, and a competitive showdown for Los Angeles mayor. 

California uses a top-two primary primary system, meaning all candidates, regardless of party, run on the same ballot and the top two finishers advance to the general election. This can mean that in deep blue or red districts — or even sometimes in competitive ones — one party gets entirely locked out of the general election.

Three Republicans are running in Democrat-leaning congressional districts: Rep. Michelle Steel in the 45th, Rep. David Valadao in the 22nd, and Rep. Mike Garcia in the 27th. All three races are labeled toss-ups by Inside Elections.

In the new 40th Congressional District — roughly congruent with the Orange County area —GOP Rep. Young Kim is seeking reelection, though she currently represents only about one-fifth of the redrawn district's population. Kim will likely face Democrat Asif Mahmood, a physician, in November's general election. Mahmood has been encouraging local Republicans to support the underfunded campaign of Kim's GOP primary opponent, Greg Raths, a city councilman running to the right of Kim, on the assumption that Raths would be easier to beat in the fall.

Other high-profile, incumbent House Democrats competing in California Tuesday include current Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell and Maxine Waters, while Republicans up for reelection include Darrell Issa and GOP Leader and potential next Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

In Los Angeles, Democratic Rep. Karen Bass (D), who reportedly made the shortlist to be Joe Biden's 2020 running mate, and billionaire mall developer Rick Caruso, a former Republican-turned independent-turned-Democrat, are vying to succeed termed-out Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti. The candidates are running neck-and-neck, according to a recent poll.

Bass and Caruso are likely headed for a November intraparty matchup, however some have speculated that Caruso is aiming for 50% of the vote and an outright win on Tuesday. History is not on his side, as every open L.A. mayoral race since the early 1930s has led to a runoff.

Incumbent Democrats are running safely ahead in California's two high-profile statewide races.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who defeated a recall effort last year, has maintained a comfortable lead in polling in the gubernatorial primary. 

Sen. Alex Padilla, who was appointed by Newsom last year to replace then-Sen. Kamala Harris, is expected to advance in both his race to serve out the remainder of his current term, and his race to compete for the seat's next six-year term, which begins in 2023.