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Voter anger is a warning to all candidates running in 2022

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Election worker Donna Young inspects a mail-in ballot for damage at the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters in Sacramento, Calif., on June 3, 2022.
Election worker Donna Young inspects a mail-in ballot for damage at the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters in Sacramento, Calif., on June 3, 2022.Rich Pedroncelli / AP

WASHINGTON — If it’s Tuesday ... It’s Primary Day in California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota. ... President Biden signs bipartisan legislation into law honoring and improving care for U.S. veterans. ... British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survives a no-confidence vote. ... Jessica Cisneros files for a recount in Texas-28 Democratic runoff. ... John Fetterman goes up on the air in Pennsylvania Senate. ... And abortion emerges as the top issue in last month’s ads for House, Senate and governor.

But first: Americans are so fed up with politics right now that we’ve reached this bipartisan consensus: Two-thirds of Democrats and Republicans believe that all or most candidates who run for office do so to benefit their own personal interests, not the community’s interests.

That finding, per a new Pew poll, is a damning indictment from the public. And we’re seeing that anger toward the political class play out in many of today’s primary and other races where: 

San Francisco voters might oust their progressive district attorney, Chesa Boudin, in a recall election after criticism that he’s been too soft on crime; wealthy real-estate developer Rick Caruso has shot up in the polls in LA’s mayoral race as he’s spent millions of his own money on the race (though we’ll see how he fares when his former Republican credentials get litigated in a likely runoff against Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif.);

GOP Congresswoman Young Kim, R-Calif., has been attacking one of her GOP opponents in California’s Top 2 primary system as a “politician” — when Kim is the actual incumbent; and former Rep. and young Democratic star Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, has been struggling against retired Admiral Michael Franken in the Democratic Senate primary to take on Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in the fall — in part because she has "former congresswoman" in front of her name (and also because Franken is outspending her on the airwaves).

Don’t get us wrong: Plenty of incumbents have survived — and even thrived — in their primaries so far, including Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, who has faced an FBI raid on his home (though challenger Jessica Cisneros has asked for a recount in that runoff).   

But it’s a flashing red light for all politicians when two-thirds of Democrats and Republicans believe the simple act of running for office is for personal, not public, interest.

And when you add that finding to the three-quarters of Americans who say the country is headed in the wrong direction, it’s a recipe for a political depression. 

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 72

That’s the number of campaign ads in May that mentioned abortion, according to an NBC News analysis of 586 ads captured by AdImpact that month. Abortion emerged as a major theme in ads the same month that Politico published a leaked draft memo of a Supreme Court opinion to strike down Roe v. Wade.

Many Democrats highlighted their plans to enshrine abortion rights if they’re elected, while Republicans featured their stances opposing abortion rights or celebrating the looming Supreme Court decision.

Other major themes in May ads included immigration, inflation and election integrity, with a combined 141 ads mentioning at least one of those issues.

Other numbers you need to know

82.1 million: How many Covid vaccinations were thrown out from December of 2020 through May of this year, about 11 percent of what was distributed. 

59 percent: The share of Conservative Party members of parliament that Prime Minister Boris Johnson won in a no-confidence vote, meaning he won’t have to face an internal challenge for at least a year.

$7 million: How much the progressive group The Indivisible Project is planning to organize for Democrats in the midterms

$2 million: How much failed Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has raised for other Democrats, per the Hill. 

102,589: The seven-day average of daily Covid cases in America, per NBC News’ analysis.

279: The seven-day average of daily Covid deaths in America. 

Midterm roundup: The other primaries to watch

Voters are heading to the polls in seven states today. And in addition to the contests we highlighted above, here are some of the other primary races we’re watching today: 

Mississippi: GOP Rep. Steven Palazzo is running for re-election against a crowded field of candidates all looking to take advantage of the ethics investigation into Palazzo and force him into a runoff (which will happen if no one wins a majority of the primary vote).

Montana: Montana gained a House seat in reapportionment, and this election looks to be setting up a return to Congress for former Interior Secretary Ryan ZInke, who left Congress to join the Trump administration. Zinke (who Trump’s endorsement) left his Interior post in 2019 after allegations of impropriety — the Office of Inspector General at the agency eventually found he “did not comply with ethical obligations and duty of candor” surrounding a development project in his hometown.

New Jersey: There could be another Menendez in Congress. Port Authority Commissioner Rob Menendez, the son of Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, is the frontrunner in the Democratic primary to replace retiring Rep. Albio Sires in a deep-blue seat. 

New Mexico: Incumbent Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is running for re-election in a race that could become competitive. The best-funded GOP candidates are former meteorologist Mark Ronchetti, the party’s Senate nominee last cycle, state Rep. Rebecca Dow and former Bernalillo County GOP chair Gregory Zanetti. 

South Dakota: At-large GOP Rep. Dusty Johnson is being challenged from his right flank by state Rep. Taffy Howard, who has called Johnson “a staunch supporter of Liz Cheney,” and attacked him for not voting to object to the 2020 election, as well as for voting in support of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack. Trump has not endorsed in this race.

Read more about five ads that define today’s primaries on the Meet the Press Blog.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Pennsylvania Senate: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is placing his first TV ad buy since winning the Democratic primary, reserving $247,000 on the airwaves, per AdImpact. His campaign is launching two new ads, one minute-long bio spot and another 30-second ad highlighting his work in Braddock, Pa., which will run on Fox News, per the campaign. The ads were filmed in early May. The new ads come amid questions about his health and return to the campaign trail after suffering a stroke last month.

Wisconsin Senate: Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes received the endorsement of a key labor union, AFSCME Council 32, in his race for the Democratic nomination for Senate.

Florida Governor/Florida-27: Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo dropped out of the race for governor, instead challenging GOP Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar in the 27th District.

New York Governor: Gov. Kathy Hochul will debate her two top Democratic primary rivals on Tuesday on WCBS. 

Texas-34: House Majority PAC, the group aligned with Democratic leadership, is going up with its first ad buy in the special election aimed at replacing former Rep. Filemon Vela. It comes amid some Democratic concerns about whether the party can hold the seat.  

Louisiana Redistricting: A federal judge blocked Louisiana’s new congressional map, which only included one majority-Black district, giving the legislature until June 20 to draw new lines. The GOP secretary of state appealed the ruling. 

Ad watch: Everything but the kitchen sink

One PAC is throwing everything they have GOP state Rep. Russell Fry, just one week ahead of his June 14 primary against Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C.

In a new 60- second ad, the Grand Strand Pee Dee PAC accuses Fry of voting multiple times in the state legislature to raise taxes. Then, the ad’s narrator says, Fry, “hasn’t done enough to protect our borders,” before adding that Fry “has done little to push back against woke radical left ideas like critical race theory.”

The narrator also adds that Fry hasn’t done enough to control classroom curricula before saying, “Makes you wonder — what else is Russell Fry hiding? Don’t be fooled, Fry is no conservative.” To conclude, the ad calls Fry a “Biden-Pelosi liberal.” 

It’s all an attempt to shift the conversation away from Rice’s vote to impeach former President Donald Trump, and Trump’s support of Fry. So far, Fry has spent over $299,000 on ads and Rice has spent over $402,000, according to AdImpact, an ad tracking firm. (Correction, June 8, 2022, 12:30 p.m.: An earlier version of this story mistakenly attributed the above ad to the Tom Rice campaign. It was run by the Grand Strand Pee Dee PAC).

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world 

A group of key senators is hoping to reach a deal on a gun control bill as soon as this week, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said on Monday. Murphy also told “Meet the Press Now” that their eventual agreement will be “substantial.” 

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., returned to the Senate on Monday after suffering a minor stroke in May.

Five members of the right-wing Proud Boys have been indicted by a grand jury for seditious conspiracy related to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.