LOS ANGELES — (AP) — Battles in the U.S. House have taken shape in a heavily Democratic California that could tip the balance of power in Congress, while the administration’s former Interior Secretary Trump’s Ryan Zinke was in a close contest to claim the Republican nomination for a new House seat in Montana.
In Mississippi, Republican U.S. Representative Steven Palazzo was forced into a runoff after a congressional ethics watchdog raised questions about his campaign spending and he faced his highest number of main challengers.
Primary elections in seven states on Tuesday set November contests in dozens of races, as Democrats seek to protect the party’s fragile majority in the House.
In a diverse neighborhood rooted in California’s Orange County, Republican U.S. Representative Michelle Steel, a South Korean immigrant, will take on Democrat Jay Chen. The district, which includes the largest Vietnamese American community in the country, is widely seen as a puzzle.
In other districts of the nation’s most populous state, two members of the Republican House were trying to overcome challenges with former President Donald Trump: one voted to support Trump’s impeachment after the insurgency of the US Capitol, while the other opposed it.
In Iowa, Republican state Sen. Zach Nunn won the GOP spot to face the state’s only Democratic House member, Rep. Cindy Axne, in a newly drawn district with a stronger tilt of the GOP.
A look at the results of the main US House races on Tuesday:
CALIFORNIA BATTLEFIELD: TRUMP’S HISTORY IS IN KEY DISTRICTS
In 2020, Republican U.S. Representative Mike Garcia won a narrow victory in a Democratic-leaning district north of Los Angeles. The former Navy fighter pilot was endorsed by Trump that year, then joined House Republicans who rejected electoral votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania and opposed Trump’s impeachment after the Capitol insurrection. That record will be front and center for Democrat Christy Smith, who earned a shot at a rematch with Garcia after losing two years ago.
In a Democratic-leaning district in the state’s Central Valley agricultural belt, Republican Representative David Valadao puts out an independent streak while battling the GOP fallout for his vote to impeach Trump during the insurrection of the January 6. Preliminary returns showed him holding an advantage over Republican Chris Mathys, who made Valadao’s vote a centerpiece of his campaign to oust him. The winner will face Democrat Rudy Salas, a state legislator.
California uses a first-two electoral format in which only the top two voters qualify for the November general election, regardless of party.
In the Central Valley, Republican Connie Conway won a special election to finish the term of former Rep. Devin Nunes, who stepped down to run Trump’s media company.
MISSISSIPPI CONGRESSMAN WITH ETHICS ISSUES TO DEAL WITH TRIP
Republican U.S. Representative Steven Palazzo of Mississippi is heading for a June 28 runoff.
The congressman first elected in 2010 failed to win the GOP nomination on Tuesday, winning less than 50% of the vote.
His opponent will be either Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell, who also campaigns on border security, or Clay Wagner, a retired banker who says he wants to limit taxation and regulation.
A 2021 report from the Congressional Ethics Office found “substantial reason to believe” that Palazzo, a military veteran who sits on the Appropriations and Homeland Security committees, abused his office by spending campaign funds. , doing favors for his brother and enlisting personnel for politics and personal errands. His spokeswoman at the time, Colleen Kennedy, said the investigation was based on politically motivated “false allegations”.
FORMER TRUMP CABINET MEMBER SEEKS RETURN TRIP TO WASHINGTON
Montana has gained a second congressional district this year thanks to its growing population, and Zinke, secretary of the Interior Department under Trump, is one of five Republicans in the primary ballot for the open seat.
Zinke’s rivals have drawn attention to his troubled tenure at the agency, which has been marred by multiple ethics investigations. An investigation determined that Zinke lied to an agency ethics officer about his ongoing involvement in a commercial real estate transaction in his hometown. He faced a smear campaign over his military service from his party’s far-right and questions about his residency following revelations that his wife declared a home in California as her primary residence.
Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, is widely seen as the de facto incumbent, as he twice won elections for the state’s other House seat before stepping down in 2017 to join the Trump administration.
His main opponents are former state senator Al “Doc” Olszewski, an orthopedic surgeon and a hardline conservative who has tried to portray Zinke as a “liberal insider.” The winner will face Olympic rower and lawyer Monica Tranel, a Democrat, in the general election.
Incomplete returns showed Zinke locked in a close race with Olszewski.
IOWA’S ONLY DEMOCRATIC HOUSE MEMBER FACES TOUGH FIGHT
A Republican state senator has captured the spot to take on Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne this fall in a newly drawn district that looks more pro-GOP.
Axne is the only Democrat in the Iowa delegation.
State Sen. Zach Nunn easily outpaced rivals Nicole Hasso, a financial services worker, and Gary Leffler, who works in the construction industry, to claim the GOP spot. Nunn, an Air Force pilot who has served in the Legislature since 2014 and worked to cut taxes, was the best known among the GOP candidates.
In previous elections, Axne was lifted by her strong support in the Des Moines area, even as she struggled in rural counties that typically lean Republican. The new district includes several southern Iowa counties known to be strongly pro-Republican, increasing pressure on Axne to increase its membership in Des Moines and its suburbs, pro-Democrats.
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel promised Iowa would “send the first all-Republican congressional delegation to Washington since 1957.”
UPCOMING REMATCH IN NEW JERSEY HOUSE BATTLEGROUND
In what may be New Jersey’s most watched contest of the fall, Democratic U.S. Representative Tom Malinowski and Republican Tom Kean Jr. won their primaries, setting up a rematch of their hotly contested 2020 race.
Malinowski, a State Department official in the Obama administration, is seeking a third term as his party faces headwinds ahead of the general election. His district added more Republican-leaning towns in the redistricting, making his re-election bid potentially more difficult.
Another complicating factor is an ethics investigation he is facing into stock transactions at medical and technology companies that had a stake in the pandemic response. A report by the Congressional Ethics Office said the board found “substantial reasons to believe” that he had failed to properly disclose or report his stock trades.
Malinowski said his failure to initially disclose the transactions was “a mistake that I own 100%.” He said he did not direct or even ask about trades made by his brokerage firm.
Kean, a former state Senate minority leader and son of the former two-term Republican governor, said in a tweet that he was touched by his victory and looked forward to taking the seat in November. .
SOUTH DAKOTA REPUBLICAN WINS POLITICAL RIGHT CHALLENGE
U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson of South Dakota has won his state’s GOP primary contest as he runs for a third term.
Johnson defeated state legislator Taffy Howard, who attempted to run to her right. He must be re-elected in November because no other candidate has entered the race.
Howard repeated Trump’s lies that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election and attacked Johnson for certifying the Electoral College vote. While Johnson touted his Conservative voting record in the primary contest, the congressman also worked with a bipartisan group of lawmakers called the Problem Solvers Caucus.
Johnson held a big fundraising advantage in the contest, but also drew attacks from a pro-Trump political action committee called Drain the DC Swamp, which spent $500,000 trying to get him out. from the room.
Associated Press writers Scott McFetridge in Des Moines, Iowa; Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi; Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana; Mike Catalini in Trenton, NJ; and Stephen Groves in Sioux Falls, SD, contributed to this report.
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