Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso speaks to his supporters on election night.
CNN  — 

Seven states – including the population behemoth California – held primaries on Tuesday. In the most-watched race of the night for Los Angeles mayor, billionaire businessman Rick Caruso ran ahead of Democratic Rep. Karen Bass as both will advance to the November general election.

I combed through all of the results and came up with some obvious – and not-so-obvious – winners and losers from the night that was.


* Rick Caruso: It’s not over until it’s over – and Caruso will have to run a one-on-one race against Bass all the way through November – but make no mistake: Tuesday was a very good night for the billionaire businessman and Republican-turned-Democrat. His immense wealth and his willingness to spend it – he dropped $40 million of his own money on this campaign – coupled with his strong showing on Tuesday make him the frontrunner for the fall.

* Gavin Newsom: Nine months removed from an attempted recall election, the governor of California had 56% of the vote in a crowded field as of Wednesday morning and will be heavily favored to win a second term this November. In his speech Tuesday night, Newsom sounded like someone with an eye on national politics. “Across the country, Republicans are attacking our fundamental rights as Americans,” he said. “Destroying democracy, stripping a woman of the right to choose, and standing idly by as gun violence claims too many lives. California is the antidote to their cynicism – leading with compassion, common-sense and science.” If President Joe Biden takes a pass on the 2024 race, Newsom could be a contender.

* Establishment Republicans: In the waning days California’s primary, there were growing worries that two Republican members of Congress – David Valadao in the 22nd District and Young Kim in the 40th District – were in danger of being aced out of a spot on the November ballot by fellow Republicans running as Donald Trump acolytes. (In California’s primary system, the top two vote-getters regardless of party advance to the general election.) As of Wednesday morning, both Valadao and Kim were in second place in their primaries behind Democratic opponents. CNN has not yet projected the second person advancing to the general election in either of those races. In New Jersey’s 7th District, former state Sen. Tom Kean Jr.’s victory in the GOP primary is in that same vein. His race against Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski will be now be one of the marquee House contests in the country this fall.

* John Thune: Three days before Christmas 2020, as he sought to exert pressure on Republican senators over the coming Electoral College count in Congress, Donald Trump tweeted this about the South Dakotan: “RINO John Thune, ‘Mitch’s boy’, should just let it play out. South Dakota doesn’t like weakness. He will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!” It didn’t turn out that way on Tuesday, as Thune won his primary with 72% of the vote as of Wednesday morning and secured his spot as the likeliest successor to Mitch McConnell as Republican Senate leader.

* Mark Ronchetti: The former meteorologist easily won the Republican nomination for governor in New Mexico. National Republicans are extremely high on his chances against Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, although the national political environment would have to erode badly to open the door for a Ronchetti upset in the Democratic-leaning state.


* Liberals: California, one of the most liberal states in the country, offered a twin rebuke for the left on Tuesday. The big news was the recall of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin after just more than two years in office. Boudin led an unapologetically liberal DA’s office – and the vote Tuesday was regarded as a referendum on his progressive policies on crime and prison reform. The clear 60%-40% vote in favor of recalling him will be seen as a rejection of the lurch to the left of Democrats nationally on issue of criminal justice reform. While Boudin was the big loser in California on Tuesday, Bass’ finish will also disappoint the left. She was clearly the more liberal of the two leading candidates in the mayor’s race and finished second.

* Abby Finkenauer: A former congresswoman running to be the nominee this fall against Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, Finkenauer started off the Democratic primary as the clear favorite. She ended it losing to retired Navy Adm. Mike Franken by a whopping 15 points. Such a stinging defeat could mean the end of Finkenauer’s political career – or at least a deep think on her next step. Franken starts the general election as a clear underdog to Grassley.

* Mississippi Republican incumbents: It was not a great day to be a Republican House member in the Magnolia State. CNN projected that Rep. Steven Palazzo, who has faced a series of ethics-related controversies, and Rep. Michael Guest, who voted last year to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection, were both forced into runoff elections on June 28 after neither crossed the 50% threshold in Tuesday’s primary.

This story has been updated with additional developments.