Progressives brace for reality check on crime in California: The Note

Consequential races for Democrats are taking place inside liberal bastions.

June 07, 2022, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

At the national level, Tuesday is mostly about the race for the House -- with primaries across seven states that test internal dynamics and electoral prospects inside both parties.

The most consequential races for Democrats, though, might not be national at all. And they're taking place inside liberal bastions of a state where they seldom have reason to sweat elections these days.

San Francisco's progressive district attorney, Chesa Boudin, is the subject of a recall election barely half-way through a term where he has sought to reduce incarceration rates and provide fairness in sentencing. Boudin's job was held by Vice President Kamala Harris from 2004 to 2010 -- and she faced criticism for being too tough on crime during her tenure.

In Los Angeles, the first round of voting for mayor pits a progressive who has championed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Rep. Karen Bass, up against a billionaire mall magnate who was, until recently, a Republican. Rick Caruso has put millions behind his campaign vow to "clean up L.A." by targeting homelessness and corruption -- messaging that helped win him the backing of celebrities ranging from Snoop Dogg and Kim Kardashian to Elon Musk.

Democrats have grown perhaps too familiar with debates about crime, justice and policing. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- who happens to be San Francisco's member of Congress -- are among the major party voices who have sought to make clear that "defund the police" does not represent the official view of the Democrats.

There are plenty of demographic and historical reasons to think what happens in San Francisco and L.A. in June will say little about what will happen nationwide in November. But with crime rates and economic anxieties driving political conversations across the board, Tuesday's results could be consequential for incumbents as well as outsiders taking note of effective messaging this year.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Five members of the extremist far-right group the Proud Boys, including its former chairman Enrique Tarrio, have been indicted on charges of seditious conspiracy.

The indictment, which was announced Monday by the Department of Justice, alleges that the members acted in coordination to use violence to disrupt last year's count of the Electoral College votes that certified Joe Biden's presidential win. (The five members, who are in custody, pleaded not guilty to previous federal charges; they will be in court this week.)

The new indictment comes days before the lawmakers on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol are slated to conduct primetime hearings on their findings, starting Thursday.

PHOTO: Henry "Enrique" Tarrio, leader of The Proud Boys, holds an American flag during a protest in Miami, July 16, 2021.
Henry "Enrique" Tarrio, leader of The Proud Boys, holds an American flag during a protest in Miami, July 16, 2021.
AFP via Getty Images, FILE

While the lawmakers intend to make their case to American people, the jury is still out on if the committee will be able to convince those who haven't made up their minds about the horrific events of that day.

What's more important, perhaps, is that the evidence laid out in these hearings and the eventual report that will be published could serve as a roadmap for the Department of Justice to proceed with charges against both former President Donald Trump and those who were closest to him. Criminal cases are a possibility if the committee refers charges to the DOJ and if Attorney General Merrick Garland opts to pursue them.

The TIP with Brittany Shepherd

Tuesday's primaries may begin to expose a potential wrinkle in Democrat's redistricting plan to maintain control of the House. Perhaps most glaring is in New Jersey's 7th District, where incumbent Tom Malinowski is expected to sail through his own party's nominating process. But members of his party have made his path to re-election extremely murky. As New Jersey Democrats took part in the once-a-decade process of redrawing the state's congressional districts, they, along with some Republicans, opted to draw 11 safely partisan districts. Put another way, the incumbents in those races are more than likely to secure their gigs come November. That left only one competitive district -- Malinowski's -- vulnerable to pick-up by the GOP.

Malinowski feels this redistricting trend is bad for democracy.

PHOTO: Rep. Tom Malinowski speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 10, 2021.
Rep. Tom Malinowski speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 10, 2021.
Ken Cedeno/AP, FILE

"I don't think it's healthy for the country. Setting aside the fact that I have to work hard, I don't mind having to work hard, and that's what I got into this for. I don't think it's healthy for the country that the overwhelming majority of Americans live in congressional districts where the primary is the only thing that matters, where the general election has been decided by the people who drew the map," he tells ABC News.

The bet from the left is Malinowski's winning streak in a swing district will continue through the general. But he must convince the new parts of his constituency, his district's most conservative voters, that his moderate brand of Garden State politics is enough.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

16. That's the number of individual primaries to watch in states that aren't California on Tuesday night. Voters in Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota will also be headed to the polls then, and as FiveThirtyEight's Geoffrey Skelley writes, there are a number of Republican nominating contests to keep a close eye on, as who wins in those races could make it very challenging for Democrats come November, especially in New Jersey and New Mexico. We'll be live-blogging these primaries as well as California's, so please be sure to join us on the FiveThirtyEight liveblog, starting at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Tuesday morning with a special episode dedicated to finding solutions for gun violence. First we talk to Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, about the aftermath of the Uvalde school shooting and where lawmakers can find common ground on gun reform. Then, conservative columnist David French explains the Republican Party's so-called gun "idolatry" and a recent shift among some conservatives from touting guns for self-defense to arming themselves to the teeth as an act to "menace and intimidate." http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • At 10 a.m. ET the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on domestic terrorism in the wake of the mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket that authorities suspect was racially motivated. The hearing explores the threat posed by white supremacists and other extremists.
  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre delivers a briefing at 1:45 p.m. ET.
  • At 2:45 p.m. ET President Joe Biden signs into law nine bipartisan bills that honor and improve care for veterans.
  • Polls for primary elections open in New Jersey at 6 a.m. ET, in Iowa at 8 a.m. ET, in Mississippi at 7 a.m ET, in most of South Dakota at 8 a.m. ET, in New Mexico at 9 a.m. ET, in Montana at 9 a.m. ET and in California at 10 a.m. ET.
  • Polls for primary elections close in New Jersey at 8 a.m. ET, in Iowa at 9 p.m. ET, in Mississippi at 8 p.m. ET, in most of South Dakota at 9 p.m. ET, in New Mexico at 9 p.m. ET, in Montana at 10 p.m. ET and in California at 11 p.m. ET

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Wednesday for the latest.

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