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Here's what you need to know about today's primary elections

Voters cast their ballots at a Los Angeles County lifeguard headquarters at Venice Beach on Tuesday in Los Angeles. California could play a determining role in upsetting Republican control in Congress, as the Democrats hope to win 10 of the 14 seats held by Republicans. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Eight states have primary elections on Tuesday. Here's what you need to know.

In a nutshell:

Voters in Alabama, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota will go to the polls on Tuesday. Several congressional races look like they could be close this year, including 10 in California and five in New Jersey.

Republicans are hoping to hold their majority in both the House and the Senate (and maybe add to it just a little), while Democrats are hoping for a "blue wave" that will leave them in control of one or both houses of Congress. Of course, voters won't decide which party gets which seat until November (for the most part), but the candidates who win today will determine how good each party's chances will be.

California is the one exception to that rule. In that state's "jungle primary" system, the top two candidates from any party move on to the general election. This means that the state could potentially wind up with two Democrats running for several seats in November, but it could also end up splitting the Democrat vote enough to cause otherwise unlikely Republican victories.

Here's a closer look:


Alabama is not predicted to have any close elections in this primary.


SENATE: Sen. Dianne Feinstein is being challenged by state Sen. Kevin de León, who views Feinstein as being too "centrist." However, Feinstein is still the clear favorite, and her resources, including $10 million in cash reserves, dwarf de León's.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Republicans currently control 14 of California's 53 congressional seats. Democrats are hoping to take up to 10 of them. Two of these seats are currently open, as both Rep. Darrel lssa (49th District) and Rep. Ed Royce (39th District) are retiring.

Democrats are hoping to target seven congressional seats currently held by California Republicans in November. This means putting their best candidates forward.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R) is also up for election, but is expected to survive. Nunes has won with votes to spare in the past.


GOVERNOR: When President Donald Trump appointed Gov. Terry Branstad (R) as the U.S. ambassador to China, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) took over. Now she's running unopposed for a full term. Two Democrats are fighting for a chance to oppose her in November.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Two congressional races in this state could be competitive.


SENATE: Sen. Roger Wicker (R) was in danger of having to face a primary challenger when Sen. Thad Cochran decided to retire. Now Republicans, like state Sen. Chris McDaniel, are targeting Cochran's old seat instead. Wicker still faces a nominal primary from businessman Richard Boyanton, but he is expected to win with relative ease.


SENATE: Democrat Jon Tester is up for re-election. He's running unopposed in the primary, but four Republicans are fighting for a chance to take his seat.

New Jersey

SENATE: A few primary challengers have tried to oust Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), but he has the support of Democratic Party leaders, and seems unlikely to lose his primary. On the other side, Republicans are hoping that they can use Menendez's recent corruption trial to nominate a candidate who can run a strong campaign against him in November. The favorite right now is Bob Hugin, a pharmaceutical executive who is funding his own campaign.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Two Republicans, Rep. Frank LoBiondo and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, have retired, leaving the 2nd and 11th Congressional Districts up for grabs. Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Chris Smith seems likely to hold onto the 4th Congressional District.

New Mexico

GOVERNOR: New Mexico term limits governors, so both parties are looking for someone new to replace sitting Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. Rep. Steve Pearce is running unopposed for the Republican nomination, while three Democrats are vying for their party's endorsement.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Rep. Pearce is running for governor, so his seat is up for grabs. And Democrats think they might be able to take it.

South Dakota

GOVERNOR: The current governor, Dennis Daugaard, is term limited. Two Republicans are fighting for their party's nominations, while a Democrat is running unopposed. The Republican nominee seems likely to win, so this primary vote could essentially determine the next governor.

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