Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 28

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Democratic Edition

June 23, 2022

In this issue: Updates on Alaska’s special House primary and SEIU switches candidates in FL-20

Primary results roundup

Here are recent results from marquee elections we’ve been following.

Alaska’s special U.S. House primary: Sarah Palin (R), Nick Begich III (R), Al Gross (I), and Mary Peltola (D) were the top four finishers in Alaska’s special U.S. House primary—the first top-four congressional primary in U.S. history. 

Gross withdrew on Monday. The Division of Elections said Tuesday that fifth-place finisher Tara Sweeney (R) would not advance to the Aug. 16 special general election because Gross withdrew fewer than 64 days before the general. Lawsuits are possible. The Division plans to certify results Saturday. 

Forty-eight candidates ran in the special primary. Unofficial results from the final ballot count for the top five candidates are below.

  • Palin (R): 27%
  • Begich (R): 19%
  • Gross (I): 13%
  • Peltola (D): 10%
  • Sweeney (R): 6%

Texas’ 15th runoff: A recount of votes in the May 24 runoff showed Michelle Vallejo defeating Ruben Ramirez by 35 votes. The Associated Press wrote that Vallejo’s victory “sets up a significant test this fall for progressive Democrats who backed her in the 15th Congressional District, one of two new U.S. House seats awarded to booming Texas after a decade of explosive growth driven by new Latino residents.”

State legislative incumbents defeated

The figures below were current as of Wednesday morning. Click here for more information on defeated incumbents.

At least four state legislators—all Republicans—lost in primary runoffs on June 21. Including those results, 111 state legislative incumbents have lost in primaries this year. This number will likely increase: 37 primaries featuring incumbents remain uncalled.

Across the 21 states that have held state legislative primaries so far this year, 5.4% of incumbents running for re-election have lost, continuing an elevated rate of incumbent primary defeats compared to recent election cycles.

Of the 21 states that have held primaries so far, five had Democratic trifectas, 13 had Republican trifectas, and three had divided governments, with Democrats controlling the governorship and Republicans controlling both legislative chambers. Across these 21 states, there are 2,650 seats up for election, 43% of the nationwide total.

SEIU endorses Cherfilus-McCormick over Holness in switch from 2021

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Florida chapter endorsed Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick in Florida’s 20th Congressional District, where she’s in a rematch with several candidates who ran in the 2021 special Democratic primary. That includes Dale Holness, who the SEIU backed last year. Cherfilus-McCormick defeated Holness by five votes in the 2021 special primary

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel‘s Anthony Man wrote, “SEIU mobilizes lots of campaign workers, easily recognizable by their trademark purple shirts, and can provide money. In the final days of the 2021 special primary campaign, expenditure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission showed the Service Employees International Union spent about $100,000 on behalf of Holness.”

Holness said when announcing his rematch bid for the district, “Families are hurting these days as the costs of everyday necessities — including housing, childcare, healthcare, gas, and groceries — continue to rise but wages fail to keep up. … Our communities deserve a champion with experience and follow-through to build a stronger, healthier future for all of us.” 

Cherfilus-McCormick said within her first 30 days in office, she cast important votes including for the COMPETES Act, which she said would contain inflation and “bolster American independence and self-sufficiency in manufacturing.” Cherfilus-McCormick said she is “the first Democrat of Haitian descent elected to Congress, and I am here to bring that voice and understanding and cultural competency of being a Caribbean, being a woman and representing a district full of minorities.”

Eight candidates are running in the Aug. 23 primary, five of whom ran in 2021.

SEIU Florida announced its endorsement as part of a slate of more than 60 candidates, including Charlie Crist in the gubernatorial primary.

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez endorses Carlina Rivera in NY-10 primary

On June 16, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) endorsed New York City Council member Carlina Rivera in the Democratic primary for New York’s 10th Congressional District. Rivera is one of 17 candidates running in the Democratic primary. 

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D) represents the current 10th District. Due to redistricting, Nadler is running in the 12th District against Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-17) is running in the redrawn 10th District on a ballot that includes former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, state Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, and former U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman.

Velázquez is the fourth current member of Congress to endorse in the race so far. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) endorsed Jones in late May.

Velázquez said, “I’m sorry, why didn’t [Jones] run in the district that is a 9-plus Biden district?” The New York Times said she was referring to the 17th District. 

Jones’ campaign spokesman Bill Neidhardt said, “Rep. Jones refused to primary fellow Black progressive Rep. Jamaal Bowman when his residence was drawn into Bowman’s district. … He also wanted to avoid a member-on-member primary with Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney,” who is running in the redrawn 17th.

New York’s U.S. House primaries are on Aug. 23.

Updates in IL-03: Satellite spending and candidate surveys 

Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District primary has seen around $2 million in satellite spending supporting two candidates: state Rep. Delia Ramirez and Chicago Alderman Gil Villegas. 

VoteVets Action Fund has spent nearly $1 million supporting Villegas and opposing Ramirez. A recent ad criticized Ramirez for joining a statement in 2020 calling to “defund the Chicago Police Department immediately.” 

Ramirez said in April, “I’m not the ‘Defund the police’ candidate. I actually helped secure $200 million for violence prevention and pension benefits for police and firefighters.”

The satellite spenders supporting Ramirez include the Working Families Party and the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC. The Working Families Party has run ads saying Ramirez will support Medicare for All and abortion access and that Villegas helped send COVID relief funds to the Chicago police. 

All four primary candidates have filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Here are excerpts from candidates’ responses to the question: What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

  • Juan Aguirre: “Anti-Corruption legislation as well as legislation to end corporate America’s [exploitation] of the working class AND the nursing profession.”
  • Iymen Chehade: “[Chehade] proposes an ambitious Marshall Plan for the United States, inspired by the post-World War II rebuilding of Europe.”
  • Delia Ramirez: “Affordable Housing – Delia grew up volunteering at her church’s homeless shelter and became the Director of a homeless services agency at 21 years old.”
  • Gil Villegas: “Public Safety … Families have a right to feel safe and secure in their own neighborhood, but crime is completely out of control. Enough is enough.” 

Click here to read the candidates’ full responses to this and other questions.

The district was drawn as a plurality-Latino district after the 2020 census. Rep. Marie Newman (D), the old 3rd District’s representative, is running in the 6th District. The primaries are on June 28.

United Democracy Project gets half of May donations from major GOP donors

Politico Weekly Score wrote that the “second-biggest-spending group in Democratic primaries this year was financed last month by major Republican megadonors,” referring to United Democracy Project and donors Paul Singer and Bernard Marcus. The super PAC, affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), reported $1 million in donations each from Singer and Marcus in May.

United Democracy Project has spent exclusively in U.S. House Democratic primaries this year, including Texas’ 28th (opposing Jessica Cisneros) and Ohio’s 11th (supporting Shontel Brown and opposing Nina Turner). The group recently released an ad opposing former Rep. Donna Edwards in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District primary, which takes place on July 19.

The United Democracy Project website says the group is “comprised of American citizens—Democrats, Republicans and Independents—united in the belief that America’s partnership with our democratic ally Israel benefits both countries.”

According to Open Secrets, the highest-spending group in this cycle’s Democratic primaries so far is Protect Our Future PAC at $19.9 million. United Democracy Project has spent $9.9 million. The third-highest is Democratic Majority for Israel at $5.8 million.   

Competitiveness data: Colorado and Oklahoma

Colorado and Oklahoma hold primaries on June 28. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.



Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.