From the late summer of 2021 to the early summer of 2022, Republicans seemed poised for a midterm wave on par with their 2010 and 2014 victories. Heading into the fall, however, it appears the vibe has shifted.
Tuesday night, in a special election to fill the remaining term in New York’s 19th District, Democratic nominee Pat Ryan prevailed over Republican Marc Molinaro. Ryan finished with 68,807 votes (51.9%) against Molinaro’s 63,846 votes (48.1%).
Why is this win significant? Well, NY-19 is an Obama-Trump-Biden district, where Ryan made abortion the centerpiece of his campaign after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. So if abortion was a motivating issue for Democrats here, the reasoning goes, then that will extend to toss-up suburban seats nationwide in November.
Consider also another, lower-profile special election in the more Republican 23rd district. While GOP nominee Joseph Sempolinski won over Democratic nominee Max Della Pia, 38,749 votes (53.3%) to 34,001 votes (46.7%), this was in a district Trump won by 11 points in 2020.
In addition to these special elections, the Empire State also hosted several contentious and highly-watched primaries, none more so than the Democratic contest in the 12th district.
Two long-time Manhattan Dems were locked in a bitter incumbent vs incumbent battle that provided plenty of media fodder. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t much of a contest. Rep. Jerry Nadler handily defeated Rep. Carolyn Maloney, 45,545 votes (55.4%) to 20,038 votes (24.4%). Apparently, Nadler performed much stronger on the Upper West Side than Maloney was able to on the Upper East Side.
Meanwhile, there was a Democratic free-for-all in lower Manhattan for the new open 10th district. Former Federal Prosecutor Dan Goldman leads with 16,686 votes (25.8%) here. Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou took the silver with 15,380 votes (23.7%) and Congressman Mondale Jones had to settle for the bronze at 11,777 votes (18.2%).
Goldman made his name as the counsel for House Democrats during Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial and later as an MSNBC pundit; making him a bit of a Morning Joe Democrat. Some progressive groups sought to stop the Levi Strauss heir, but were unable to unite behind either Niou or Jones.
Speaking of Rep. Jones, the reason he was running in a different district is that New York’s controversial new map drew him into the same seat as DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney. Maloney impulsively jumped into the 17th district race, a move that provoked outrage yet proved to be wise, as he comfortably defeated State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi. The DCCC Chair secured 21,525 votes (66.7%) while the progressive challenger got just 10,752 (33.3%).
One last New York race we should look at is the Republican contest in the new 23rd district. The GOP was hopeful that State Chairman Nick Langworthy could prevent the dubious character of Carl Paladino from winning a seat in Congress. It was close, but Langworthy ultimately won with 24,275 votes (52.1%) to Paladino’s 22,283 votes (47.9%).
In the Sunshine State, the most high-profile contest was the Democratic primary for Governor. That race pitted Congressman Charlie Crist, who also happens to be an ex-Governor and ex-Republican, against Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. Crist, in the midst of his seventh statewide campaign since 1998, styled himself as the veteran moderate best equipped to beat Ron DeSantis. Fried, meanwhile, pitched voters on her personal and progressive appeal.
Ultimately Florida Democrats decided to wager on Crist. With nearly all the precincts in, he earned 903,030 votes (59.7%) to Fried’s 534,521 (35.3%). Nevertheless, at the moment DeSantis is heavily favored to win re-election in November.
Over in the panhandle, embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz easily survived a primary challenge from ex-Marine Mark Lombardo. Gaetz sits at 73,015 votes (69.7%) compared to Lombardo’s 25,560 votes (24.4%).
Florida Republicans are favored in two open seats, the 7th and 13th districts, for November. In the former, Cory Mills emerged victorious over Anthony Sabatini, 27,734 votes (33.8%) to 17,314 votes (21.1%). In the latter, Anna Luna prevailed against Kevin Hayslett, 37,133 votes (44.5%) to 28,088 votes (33.6%).
Lastly, Rep. Val Demings left her Orlando-based seat to take on Sen. Marco Rubio in November, giving a host of Democrats a shot at this deeply blue district. Maxwell Alejandro Frost, who at 25 years old will be the first member of Generation Z to reach Congress, won the race with 19,271 votes (34.7%) over State Sen. Randolph Bracy’s 13,711 votes (24.7%) and former Rep. Alan Grayson’s 8,531 votes (15.4%). Frost’s ascension is a win for the Bernie wing, after many progressives put their weight behind Frost.
The poor Sooner State was overshadowed by New York and Florida, but it held some important run-offs ltoo.
With Sen. James Inhofe retiring, the winner of the Republican Senate primary is practically guaranteed victory in November. In that race, Congressman Markwayne Mullin easily prevailed with 183,034 (65.1%) votes over T.W. Shannon’s 98,215 votes (34.9%).
With Rep. Mullin likely moving on up to the upper chamber, his red seat in the House is now open. State Sen. Josh Brechen won a close race with State Rep. Avery Fix, as Brechen finished with 33,507 votes (52.2%) while Fix got 30,674 votes (47.8%).
We’re nearly through the primary season, folks, with just four states left to go. Delaware, New Hampshire and Rhode Island will all hold their nominating contests on September 13th, while Massachusetts will wrap it all up on the 20th.
Although there are a few more races to watch, and we’ll have updates on those when they’re decided, for the most part we’re set up for November’s midterm elections. It’s bound to be an exciting and tumultuous time, so make sure to keep checking Decision Desk HQ this fall!