The Note: Democrats threaten Democrats in Tuesday’s California primary


The Note: Democrats threaten Democrats in Tuesday’s California primary

If there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing in politics, we’re about to find out — courtesy of the state that’s the de facto headquarters of “the resistance.”

Democrats’ biggest threat to a California sweep – which itself could be vital to hopes for a blue wave – comes not from President Donald Trump but from Democrats themselves.

Blame the state’s unusual all-party “jungle primary” system, or blame Democratic leaders for not being able to sort out intramural fights, or for not knowing enough about all the candidates running and what it all would mean. Either way, there are simply too many Democrats running for too few competitive seats going into Tuesday’s primary.

And it’s not like there aren’t plenty of competitive seats on the ballot Tuesday. California and New Jersey alone – two of the eight states voting on Tuesday – have enough vulnerable House Republicans in office to provide Democrats more than half of the 23 pick-ups they’d need to take control of the House.

The problem, though, is in actually getting a shot at all those seats. Democrats’ fear of being shut out of House races in California, with multiple candidates cannibalizing votes cast by confused voters, has brought an expensive and novel series of free-for-alls: Democrats attacking Republicans, attacking fellow Democrats, and even boosting some Republicans to hold down the votes for others.

It’s a massive battle not over ideology but over strategy, electability, and personalities. The net effect could be boosting the GOP in a state where, demographically, it would seem to have little future.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

In one of the bluest states in the union, frustration with the Democratic Party is palpable.

During an interview at one of his campaign offices in Orange County, Democrat Hans Keirstead, running in California’s 48th Congressional District, said without hesitation he thought party players in Washington should bear the blame if Democrats in this competitive district splinter the vote and get boxed out of the general election.

“I will hold them responsible,” he said, referring to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that decided rather last minute to back another Democrat in Keirstead’s race.

While it would be easy to dismiss Keirstead’s complaint as sour grapes, the move by the Washington-based DCCC was peculiar in a way, as it came after delegates from the California State Democratic Party voted overwhelming to endorse Keirstead.

The drama in that race is now proving emblematic of other political battles playing out among Democrats ahead of today’s primary, battles that do not seem to be about progressive vs. centrists or Bernie vs. Hillary, but Washington vs. California.

“It was very shortsighted. They should have done some thinking about it,” Keirstead said, arguing that the national party should have just stayed out.

Other strategists say the jammed-packed primaries left the national party no choice but to get involved, but that DC power brokers could have navigated it all better. Clumsy moves might prove costly.

Over and over again, too, left-leaning voters will tell you they are disappointed with a lack of vision in the Democratic Party.

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Three Republican-held battleground districts centered in California’s Orange County threaten to upend Democratic hopes of taking the House come November — and by the time polls close in the Golden State, nearly $25 million will have been raised to get campaigning Democrats in this Republican enclave onto the November ballot.

Southern California is home to some of the most expensive congressional races nationwide. This time it’s not Republicans coming with personal fortunes. Instead, they’re crying big money and accusing some Democrats of trying to “buy their way” into Congress.

“You cannot buy an election, that’s for sure,” 39th district Republican candidate Young Kim told ABC News.

Federal Election Commission numbers show that in California’s 39th, 48th and 49th districts, which extend from San Bernardino County down the Pacific Highway to San Diego, the 14 Democratic candidates still actively campaigning had raised nearly $25 million by the week before the primary.

More than two-thirds of that money came from the candidates’ own wallets, all in races where self-funding millionaires have found favor with national groups.

Just this week, Democrat Harley Rouda in the 48th Congressional District gave his campaign a last-minute $300,000.

And in the 49th, Democrat Paul Kerr contributed $3.6 million of the nearly $4 million he’s raised. Then he went on and lent himself another half-million just last month.


  • It’s primary day! The ABC News politics team will be live-streaming all night with primary coverage. Find us on or the ABC News app on your Apple, Android, or Roku devices.
  • Here are the opening and closing times for the polls tonight (all times EDT):

  • Alabama: open 8 a.m., close 8 p.m.

    California: open 10 a.m., close 11 p.m.

    Iowa: open 8 a.m., close 10 p.m.

    Mississippi: open 8 a.m., close 8 p.m.

    Montana: open 9 a.m., close 10 p.m.

    New Jersey: open 6 a.m., close 8 p.m.

    New Mexico: open 9 a.m., close 9 p.m.

    South Dakota: open 9 a.m., close 9 p.m.

  • President Trump participates in the Celebration of America at 3:00 p.m.
  • The president participates in a signing ceremony for The Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research Act of 2018.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with several foreign ministers and officials at the State Department throughout the day: Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray Case, Head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq and Special Representative Jan Kubis, Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and the U.S.-China Business Council.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivers remarks at the Elder Justice Coordinating Council Spring 2018 Meeting at 9:30 a.m.
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies at 10:15 a.m.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivers the keynote address at Georgetown Law School’s symposium called “The War on Regulation: Good for Corporations, Bad for the Public” at 12 p.m.
  • Several former gymnastics officials from USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University will testify at a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing at 3 p.m. Several of Larry Nassar’s victims are set to be in attendance.

    “There are smarter people than me to ask.” —Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)—a former Air Force lawyer—to ABC News when asked if he thinks President Trump can pardon himself.


    Trump says he has ‘absolute right’ to pardon himself, calls special counsel ‘unconstitutional’. President Trump’s declarations came through Twitter Monday morning, one day after his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” that the president “probably does” have the ability to pardon himself. This question of pardoning has come up over the past few months as special counsel Robert Mueller and his team continue to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. (Meghan Keneally, Alexander Mallin and Benjamin Siegel)

    Mueller accuses Manafort of attempted witness tampering. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is seeking to revoke the bail of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, for allegedly tampering with witnesses in the year-long probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, according to a court filing Monday night. (John Santucci, Trish Turner and James Hill)

    In California primary election, all hands on deck in Southern California to make it through. California’s crowded primary shapes up to be crucial for Democratic hopes of retaking the House of Representatives in November. The state has seven Republican-held districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 — and are now opportunities for Democrats. That’s nearly one-third of all congressional seats Democrats need to flip to win the majority come Election Day. (Esther Castillejo)

    New Jersey primaries arrive with Democrats targeting Republican retirements. Democrats, who already hold seven of the state’s 12 congressional seats, are optimistic that they can dominate November’s slate and push their number of representatives into double digits. The impending retirement of two New Jersey Republican congressmen has only served to increase Democrats’ focus on the midterms. (Adam Kelsey)

    ‘The right Democrat can win’: South Dakota gubernatorial candidate Billie Sutton. South Dakota state senator Billie Sutton, a Democrat who says he is a pro-life, pro-gun, “Prairie Populist,” is vying for the governorship in a state where Democrats do not hold a single statewide office, has not elected a Democratic governor since 1974, and voted for Donald Trump by nearly 30 points in the 2016 presidential election. (John Verhovek)

    Feinstein challenger says he understands Californians better. “When you have a president who mocks our inclusivity, who demonizes our diversity . . . you can’t ask for patience,” former state Sen. Kevin de Leon said in a recent interview with the Washington Post, noting that Feinstein once said she thought Trump “can be a good president” if he opens himself to listen and change. (Ali Rogin)

    Supreme Court sides with baker who refused to make wedding cake for gay couple. The Supreme Court, ruling 7-2 in favor of a Colorado baker who turned away a gay couple, said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was hostile to the baker’s first amendment rights and that his “religious objection was not considered with the neutrality that the Free Exercise Clause requires,” striking down the lower Colorado court’s ruling as a result. (Stephanie Ebbs)

    Congress’ agenda looms ahead of midterms. Legislating typically gets pushed to the wayside during the summer of an election year, but Congress is shaping up to be anything but quiet in the weeks and months ahead. The House is readying for a showdown over immigration. And Senate Republicans are trying to stop a growing trade war ignited over President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on U.S. allies. (Mariam Khan)

    Pruitt asked staff for help finding apartment, used mattress from Trump hotel, aide says. EPA chief Scott Pruitt asked his government staff to handle personal tasks for him according to testimony released on Monday by House Democrats. Federal law says that employees should not be asked to do anything other than their job during work hours and that subordinates cannot be asked to provide any financial benefits or favors, which could qualify as a gift if the person isn’t compensated. (Allison Pecorin) trump-hotel-aide/story?id=55633357″ target=”_blank”>

    Police called as Sen. Jeff Merkley tries to enter immigrant children’s shelter. The Oregon Democrat on Sunday was trying to enter a shelter for undocumented children during a trip to the Texas border — a trip the lawmaker said he took to learn how the Trump administration is implementing its policy of separating children from their parents. (Ali Rogin and Gina Sunseri)

    Koch brothers taking on Trump with free trade campaign. Days after the president moved forward with imposing steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Canada and Mexico, three political groups affiliated with the billionaire Koch brothers are launching a multi-year, multi-million dollar campaign to tout free trade and oppose tariffs, ABC News has learned. (Jonathan Karl and Arlette Saenz)

    Pentagon investigating White House doctor who withdrew his nomination as Trump’s VA secretary. The Pentagon’s Office of the Inspector General has begun an investigation into allegations related to Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson who’s been accused of fostering a hostile work environment in the medical office, drinking to excess and improperly dispensing prescription drugs. (Luis Martinez)

    Don’t bother visiting White House: Trump to Philadelphia Eagles over anthem dispute. President Trump decided to disinvite the Super Bowl champions and throw a celebration of the National Anthem instead in the face of a growing boycott by Philadelphia Eagles players refusing to visit the White House Tuesday because of the president’s controversial comments about the NFL and players who have staged protests during the anthem, administration officials tell ABC News. (Meridith McGraw and Devin Dwyer)

    Melania Trump makes first appearance since surgery at White House event honoring killed service members. First lady Melania Trump made her first public appearance since surgery for a kidney ailment in mid-May at a White House event Monday evening honoring service members killed in action. (Meridith McGraw)

    COLUMN: It’s up to us to bridge the great divides that seem to exist at all levels in America. ABC News analyst and special correspondent Matthew Dowd dives deep into a fundamental question: If, “as many sociologists and historians have pointed out, democracy can’t survive or function in tribal cultures…How can we again become the United States of America, and bridge the great divides that seem to exist at all levels?” (Matthew Dowd)

    “Some called it valuable. Others called it a nuisance.” Roll Call talked to House staffers who’ve gone through workplace harassment and discrimination training that was mandated after #MeToo revelations in Congress. All House staffers are required to complete this training by July 2.

    In Iowa’s gubernatorial race, the only statewide Democratic race before 2020, nobody’s talking about the rivalry between the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders factions of the Democratic party, Politico reports. “Even the gubernatorial contenders in the Clinton and Sanders molds say that the Democratic divide is so 2016,” writes Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere.

    Ever since Sen. Bernie Sanders tapped Nina Turner to lead his political organization Our Revolution, the Democratic operative has been on a mission to push the party establishment to realize that its future can no longer depend on “safe, centrist leadership,” writes Terrell Jermaine Starr at The Root. “It needs revolutionaries, the kind Turner travels the country to support in their local races, where the paradigm shift really begins.”


    The Note: Democrats threaten Democrats in Tuesday’s California primary

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