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Image: Rick Caruso
Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso during a tour of Industrial Metal Supply in Sun Valley, on, June 6, 2022. Los Angeles Daily News via Getty ImagesHans Gutknecht / MediaNews Group via Getty Images

Five ads that define Tuesday's primaries

Voters head to the polls Tuesday in California, Iowa, Mississippi, New Mexico, Montana and South Dakota.

By and

Voters in seven states — California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota — head to the polls on Tuesday for party primaries. And that means millions of dollars has been spent on ads from candidates and outside groups.

Here are five ads that help define Tuesday's contests:

1. Billionaire Rick Caruso blankets the mayoral airwaves in LA

Caruso, the former civilian police head and former University of Southern California trustee, has spent a mind-boggling $40 million his campaign for mayor of Los Angeles, largely from his own self-funding. That's all bought him a lot of ad time — $25 million per AdImpact, five times more than the rest of the Democrats combined.

He's run a lot of ads trying to paint his top rival, Rep. Karen Bass, as corrupt. But he's also run a significant chunk of issue-oriented ads focused on crime and homelessness. All this ad spending is a major reason why Caruso is expected to move onto a runoff against Bass.

2. Democrats meddle in California

House Majority PAC, a super PAC aligned with Democratic leadership, has meddled in a competitive House district in the Central Valley. The group launched a TV spot and a digital ad painting former Fresno City Councilman Chris Mathys as the Republican most strongly aligned with former President Donald Trump, highlighting GOP Rep. David Valadao's vote to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

Both parties have been known to meddle in California's Top 2 primaries, where all candidates compete on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election.

Republicans believe Valadao is the best candidate to hold onto the 22nd District, which Biden would have won by 13 percentage points in 2020 had the new lines been in place, per CQ Roll Call. The Cook Political Report rates the race a Toss Up.

3. A crowded GOP primary field tries to unseat Palazzo

A host of Republicans are trying to knock off Mississippi GOP Rep. Steven Palazzo, who has been dogged by an ethics investigation into whether he misused campaign funds and abused his position — or at least force Palazzo into a runoff.

Palazzo's rivals have been hitting him for the investigation and arguing he isn't visible enough in the community, and five challengers have raised at least $240,000. But the power of incumbency looms large here, especially considering the wide field is. And this new ad from Conservative Champions PAC criticizing three of the top challengers underscores the difficult calculus at play for all those vying to be the one to knock off the incumbent.

If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the Top 2 candidates will advance to a June 28 runoff.

4. GOP congresswoman spends big to avert disaster

California GOP Rep. Young Kim’s campaign has spent nearly $1.5 million on ads, per AdImpact, as she seeks to fend off fellow Republican Greg Maths and avoid getting shut out of the general election. One TV ad ties Raths to President Joe Biden and Democrats.

“Young Kim is fighting Raths and the liberals to lower taxes, close the border and make California safe and affordable,” a narrator says in the ad. “Vote conservative, vote Young Kim.” 

5. Retired admiral massively outspends former Iowa congresswoman

Former Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer may have jumped into the Iowa Senate race with much fanfare, but it looks like her top Democratic rival is blowing her out of the water when it comes to ad spending.

Retired Admiral Michael Franken has spent $1.7 million on ads so far, per AdImpact, compared to $330,000 from Finkenauer — a big discrepancy that adds some intrigue to the race. Many of Franken's ads center on his military record, making the argument that, in the Senate, he'll protect Americans at home like he protected them abroad.