A special election upstate offered new clues about the political impact of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade after CNN projected that Democrat Pat Ryan, who cast his campaign as a referendum on the ruling, would win.
Here are the key takeaways from August’s final primary day.
Crist looks to derail DeSantis in the fall
Crist’s argument against another four years of DeSantis is also predicated on Floridians longing for a less divisive tone from its leader. Throughout the primary, Crist and Fried depicted DeSantis as a bully and a despot who is far more focused on positioning himself to run for the White House than he is on governing the country’s third largest state. Time and again, they have noted, DeSantis has forced the state’s other branches to bend to his will, eliminating any checks on his executive power.
Florida’s latest contentious Senate race formally takes shape
The Senate race between Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio and Democrat Rep. Val Demings is on.
The two have been focused on each other for months — their primaries were not competitive — but on Tuesday night, the contours of the race were clear: Rubio plans to brand Demings a “Pelosi Puppet” who is inextricably linked to President Joe Biden, while Demings plans to attack Rubio as ineffective, selfish and wedded to a Republican Party dominated by Trump.
The onus is on Demings to prove she — or any Democrat — can win statewide in a state that has overwhelmingly backed Republicans for years. But Democrats got a morale boost recently: The National Republican Senatorial Committee came in with an ad campaign for Rubio while Demings was widely outspending the Republican.
Like many Democrats, Demings is also hoping the anger in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will propel her to an unlikely victory.
“I dream of an America where we protect constitutional rights like a woman’s right to choose. I’ve said it along this campaign trail, let me say it again. We’re not going back. We’re not,” Demings said on Tuesday night.
Democrat who campaigned on ‘referendum on Roe’ wins NY special election
Ryan defeated Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, a moderate Republican who repeatedly said he would not support a nationwide ban, but also stopped short of backing legislation to protect abortion rights at the federal level.
The current district, though, has long been a bellwether of politics beyond its upstate borders. It has voted for the eventual winner in every presidential election since 1996 (it only missed the mark in 1992, its first under the present borders).
Ryan set the terms of the contest early on — within an hour of the Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling with an ad that, after touting his military service, pivoted to a direct-to-camera message: “Freedom includes a women’s right to choose,” Ryan says. “How can we be a free country if the government tries to control women’s bodies?”
Molinaro, who has deep ties to and a long political career in the district, received significant backing from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which put more than $1 million into the race. The DCCC spent less, but Ryan’s campaign said it brought in more than $2 million in grassroots donations — a large chunk of it arriving in the aftermath of the Kansas referendum.
Nadler emerges in clash of Upper Manhattan Democratic titans
Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney are about the same age, share nearly identical ideological views and both chair powerful committees in the House, where they both arrived in 1993.
Maloney tried to tap into Democratic primary voters’ anger over the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and vowed, if reelected, to make the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment her main focus. She also accused Nadler of taking undue credit for his part in major local projects, like the construction of the Second Avenue subway, and — at the bitter end — suggesting on camera that he might be “senile.”
But Nadler, despite a disappointing debate performance, shored up the district’s progressive base. A key piece of validation came from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who cut an ad for Nadler highlighting his support from Planned Parenthood and NARAL, declaring New Yorkers “lucky to have Jerry in Congress.”
New York’s 10th District results still up in the air as moderate takes lead
Goldman came into the race with money — his own: he’s an heir to the riches of Levi Strauss & Co. — and broad name recognition from his role as the party’s lead counsel in former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment. But he had almost no political roots in the new district, which stretches from Lower Manhattan down into Brooklyn, making it one of the most liberal in the country.
Still, he is on a path to win the nomination with less than 30% of the vote because his top rivals — state Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou; City Council Member Carlina Rivera; and US Rep. Mondaire Jones, who moved into the city district rather than run against US Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney — appear to have split the progressive vote.
It’s not that Goldman’s opponents, or local progressive groups, didn’t see it coming. They just failed to do much of anything to stop it. Last Monday, Niou and Jones held a joint news conference to denounce Goldman for trying to buy the seat, but demurred when asked if there had been any talks about a given candidate dropping out and endorsing another. By Friday, it was Rivera standing side-by-side with former US Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, who praised Rivera but did not stand down or endorse her.
Both in the race and outside of it, influential progressives and aligned groups who might have been able to broker a consolidation were largely quiet on the question. Asked at his press conference with Niou if he would welcome some outside intervention from figures like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jones all but issued an invitation.
“If the people you just named want to help clarify those stakes for the people in this district, then I personally would welcome them amplifying this information,” Jones said.
Alas, none did.
Sean Patrick Maloney holds off progressive challenger
Biaggi — who became a hero on the left in 2018, when she ousted the leader of a turncoat pack of state Democrats who collaborated with Republicans in Albany — moved north of the city to take on Maloney, who also shifted districts following a drawn out redistricting process.
But Biaggi couldn’t keep up with Maloney on the fundraising front and, even though he left behind a big chunk of his old electorate to run in the 17th District, benefited from greater familiarity among primary voters.
Maloney, a former White House and campaign aide to former President Bill Clinton, who endorsed him, also got a boost from his colleagues on Capitol Hill in the form of Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act. The passage of the historic climate, health care and tax law calmed the nerves — and, possibly, the appetite to deliver a harsh message — of Democratic primary voters.
Markwayne Mullin to become the favorite in race to fill Inhofe’s Senate seat
Mullin, who represents Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District, defeated former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon in Tuesday’s runoff. Mullin advanced to the runoff after leading the first round with 44% of the vote, and that was before an endorsement from former President Donald Trump.
Mullin’s campaign website highlights his support for the former President, saying, “In Congress, he fought the liberals trying to stop President Trump.”