U.S. ELECTION WRAP: Suspense Vanishes in Last Major Primaries

Hillary Clinton Wins Democratic Nomination: AP

A presidential campaign that has defied expectations features its last major primaries today—contests that have an aura of anticlimax about them.

  • California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota hold primaries for both parties, and North Dakota conducts Democratic caucuses
    • What had appeared a bitter GOP fight to the end came to a sudden close more than a month ago when Donald Trump cleared the field with his Indiana primary win
    • What became a surprisingly protracted struggle for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic race was gauged essentially over last night when delegate tracking by the Associated Press determined she had clinched the nomination
  • The AP total includes the party superdelegates who aren’t picked via the primary system and are free to back whomever they want, causing Bernie Sanders to insist he’ll take his campaign to the Democratic National Convention in late July
  • But the pressure for Sanders to fold his tent—and do so graciously—already is intensifying
    • Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, a Sanders backer, said on CNN that party unity “is going to begin today as soon as the polls close”
    • Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, a Clinton backer, said “it’s time” for Sanders “to be a unifier and a healer” who “should stand down now,” Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis reported
  • Still, a Sanders win in California’s primary will be a significant symbolic blow to the unity push
    • Clinton leads Sanders by only 2 points—47.7% to 45.7%—in the RealClearPolitics average of recent California polls
  • About 8 million California voters will vote in presidential primary, with 5 million casting votes by mail, up from 3.5 million in the 2012 primary, according to The Field Poll
    • That would mean turnout of 44.7% of state’s 17.9 million registered voters, 32.3% of 24.8 million adult citizens eligible to register and vote
  • Washington D.C.’s Democratic primary next Tuesday is the last in the presidential race

 

ENDORSEMENTS/RETRACTIONS

  • Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk retracted his earlier endorsement of Trump, spurred by the businessman questioning a federal judge’s fairness because of the jurist’s ethnic heritage
    • Kirk, facing a tough re-election fight, said the latest controversy surrounding Trump, previous attacks on Hispanics, women, “and the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for president regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party”
    • NOTE: Kirk was disabled in 2012 by a stroke
  • President Obama is not ready to endorse in the Democratic race “at this point,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters
    • The New York Times reported yesterday that an Obama endorsement of Clinton could come as early as this week
    • “As somebody who’s done the job for the past seven-and-a-half years, the American people will be interested in his opinion,” Earnest said today
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to server as the chamber’s speaker, endorsed Clinton, who will become first female presidential nominee of a major party
    • “I’m a voter in California and I have voted for Hillary Clinton for president of the United States and am proud to endorse her for that position,” Pelosi said on ABC’s Good Morning America 

 

ATTACK BACKLASH

  • Even before Kirk took back his Trump endorsement, scores of high-profile Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, criticized their party’s presumptive nominee for his attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing civil cases challenging Trump University
    • Ryan: “Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment”
    • Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas: “It’s inappropriate to be attacking a federal judge’s race or ethnicity”
    • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defends Trump as not racist; “allegations that he is are absolutely contrary to every experience that I’ve had with him over the last 14 years”
    • Trump surrogate Jeffrey Lord follows Trump’s advice to hit back harder “Speaker Ryan has apparently switched positions and is now supporting identity politics, which is racist”
    • More: JUDGE WRAP: What Republicans Said About Trump’s Curiel Attacks

 

STAFF MOVES

  • Trump’s campaign is in talks with Dick Morris, “the former Clinton adviser turned Clinton nemesis,” about becoming a strategist for the Republican’s effort, New York magazine reported

 

ETC.

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s advising Trump to “get on message” and talk about policy issues; said November election is “eminently winnable,” Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis reported
  • House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas met with Trump in New York to discuss a rollback of and alternative to the 2010 Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul
    • Clinton campaign adviser Gary Gensler said Hensarling’s Dodd-Frank replacement plan is “ill-conceived”

 

CONGRESSIONAL RACES

NC-02: Despite deep dissatisfaction with Congress in opinion polls, no Republican has lost a primary yet this cycle. That will end tonight in North Carolina.

  • Republican Reps. Renee Ellmers and George Holding, along with physician Greg Brannon, are competing for the Raleigh-area district
  • Holding represents 57% of redrawn district compared to 18% for Ellmers and is backed by conservative groups like Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity
  • Trump endorsed Ellmers, and recorded a robocall for her
  • NOTE: North Carolina legislature redrew congressional map under court order in Feb.; GOP favored to maintain 10-3 advantage in House delegation

Senate primary races to watch tonight:

CA-SEN: Democrats Kamala Harris, the state Attorney General, and Loretta Sanchez, 10-term congresswoman, are expected to advance to the November election and face off against one another; Democrat Barbara Boxer retiring

  • NOTE: California uses “Top 2” primary system under which two leading vote-getters in all-candidate primary advance to the November election, regardless of party affiliation

IA-SEN: Ex-Lt. Gov. Patty Judge, state Sen. Rob Hogg among four Democrats seeking to oppose Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley

  • Winner needs 35% of vote to clinch nomination; otherwise, state convention will pick nominee

House special election to watch tonight:

OH-08: Republican Warren Davidson is favored to win the special election today for the House’s only vacant district, which ex-Speaker John Boehner vacated last October

  • Davidson’s election and swearing-in would give House 247 Republicans vs. 188 Democrats; 218 is majority

Other House primary races to watch tonight:

CA-17: Democratic Rep. Mike Honda expected to draw rematch with Democrat Ro Khanna, former Obama Commerce Department official

  • Honda won 2014 general election over Khanna, 52%-48%, in a district that includes Sunnyvale, part of San Jose, and the Apple headquarters in Cupertino

CA-21: Republican Rep. David Valadao to face either Democrat Emilio Huerta or Democrat Daniel Parra; Valadao would prefer to face Parra, who’s not as well known

CA-24: House Democratic leaders prefer Santa Barbara County supervisor Salud Carbajal over three other Democrats; Republicans vying for seat include state Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, businessman Justin Fareed

  • NOTE: Democratic Rep. Lois Capps is retiring

CA-44: State Sen. Isadore Hall, lawyer Nanette Barragan among Democrats seeking seat of Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn, who’s leaving Congress to seek seat on L. A. County board of supervisors

CA-46: Three Democrats, four Republicans are seeking to succeed Senate candidate Sanchez in Orange County district that leans Democratic

CA-52: Five Republicans seek to oppose two-term Democrat Scott Peters in competitive San Diego-area district

IA-01: Democrats Monica Vernon and Pat Murphy are in a rematch of the 2014 primary won by Murphy; winner to face GOP Rep. Rod Blum in Democratic-leaning district in and around Cedar Rapids, Dubuque

IA-03: Jim Mowrer and Mike Sherzan are the leading Democrats to oppose freshman GOP Rep. David Young in Des Moines-area district

IA-04: Seven-term Rep. Steve King is opposed for re-election in the GOP primary for the first time; state Sen. Rick Bertrand says King has focused on national profile and ignored district needs

NC-09: Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger challenged by pastor Mark Harris and former county commissioner Todd Johnson in substantially revised district

NC-12: Democratic Rep. Alma Adams has six opponents, including state Sen. Malcolm Graham, in this Charlotte-centered district; Adams is from Greensboro and now represents the district that runs from that city to Charlotte

NC-13: Five Democrats, 17 Republicans seek seat in Greensboro area where no incumbent is running

NJ-01: Democratic Rep. Donald Norcross is opposed by Alex Law, a 25-year-old backer of Bernie Sanders’ campaign

NJ-07: Republican Rep. Leonard Lance is opposed for the 4th straight primary by David Larsen, who lost 54%-46% in 2014

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