California has 50-plus congressional races, but marque matchup appears to be who'll be next LA mayor

Tuesday's balloting also includes recall vote on progressive San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin

Updated: June 7, 2022 - 5:20pm

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California will be home Tuesday to more election races than any other state – including 52 for House seats, a senator running in two separate races, a competitive showdown for Los Angeles mayor and a recall vote on San Fransisco's district attorney over voter concerns that he's too soft on crime.

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. 

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 on Tuesday's ballot include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Reps. 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.

The vote that's perhaps getting the most attention is the one in San Francisco in which voters will decide whether to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who critics say is "soft on crime."

In California's two high-profile statewide races, incumbent Democrats are running safely ahead.

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. Harris vacated the Senate seat to become vice president.

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