The Election Recap

The Election Recap: Aug. 1, 2022

Doug Mastriano issues a clarification, Eric Greitens flounders, and more

Happy August — welcome back to The Election Recap, your weekly, one-stop shop for the last seven days of midterms news. Let's get into it:

Let's make a deal

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) shocked us all on Wednesday when he and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced they'd struck a deal on a pared-down version of the party's flagship social spending package, potentially notching a huge win for President Biden and the Democrats ahead of midterms. What was once the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better agenda is now "The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022," and claims to "fight inflation, invest in domestic energy production and manufacturing, and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030," Manchin and Schumer said in a statement, per Politico. Of course, it's not the same package Biden originally proposed or worked to negotiate, but it is something upon which he can hang his proverbial hat after a pretty abysmal few months. Considering their razor-thin majority in the Senate, Democrats will only be able to pass the bill, which utilizes the filibuster-bypassing process known as reconciliation, if every member votes in its favor. But even so, not everyone's convinced the bill will make a difference in November. "I don't think it will affect the midterms one way or the other," Mark Penn, former chief strategist to Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign, told Fox News Digital: "Midterms being driven by inflation not congressional action." 

Thank you for clarifying…

Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor Doug Mastriano on Thursday clarified that he rejects "antisemitism in any form," after members of both parties called on him to address a $5,000 payment made to far-right social media website Gab in early June. Paid for with campaign funds, the "consulting" payment was apparently "intended to bring [Mastriano] a broader following on Gab, which is known as a haven for white nationalists and users banned from other platforms," The New York Times writes. Gab founder Andrew Torba "doesn't speak for me or my campaign," Mastriano wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. For his part, Torba responded to the reports of payment in a series of videos, saying in one that his "policy is not to conduct interviews with reporters who aren't Christian or with outlets who aren't Christian, and Doug has a very similar media strategy where he does not do interviews with these people." Torba continued: "These people are dishonest. … "They're a den of vipers, and they want to destroy you."

On the way down

The GOP is working overtime to stop former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) from clinching the nomination in his state's Republican Senate primary, out of fear the "disgraced" ex-official might spoil what's considered an "otherwise safe Republican seat" in November, The Hill reported Sunday. Not only are opposition groups running attack ads highlighting allegations of domestic violence against Greitens, top Republican donors are also "pouring money into the effort, hoping to deal one final blow to [his] campaign." Signs say it might be working — Greitens recently dropped to third place in polls, with Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt snagging the spot at the top.  Before resigning in June 2018, just 1.5 years into his first term, Greitens was embroiled in controversy following an affair with his hairdresser and allegations he had threatened to blackmail her if she disclosed their relationship. He later faced felony charges (which have since been dropped related to the alleged blackmail. Then, this spring, his ex-wife "testified under oath that the former governor had assaulted her and their 3-year-old son," The Hill writes.

I'm with her

Former President Donald Trump on Friday endorsed Republican candidate for Michigan governor Tudor Dixon, a former conservative commentator and actor who's climbed from polling obscurity to the front of the pack in a matter of months. Dixon's unexpected ascent began back in May, after receiving backing from the DeVos family (as in former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos). That, combined with an otherwise chaotic Republican race, has afforded Dixon a slight lead in what's expected to be a close primary race, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday. As for her platform, Dixon has appeared sympathetic to Trump's stolen election claims, supports abortion only when the life of the mother is at risk, and wants to phase out the state's personal income tax, among other stances, per NBC News. Incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Hanging Chads:

  • Hulu presses rewind on decision to shun political ads. [NPR]
  • Okay now, ladies: Female candidates set records in 2022 midterms. [CNN]
  • For the first time since 1946, New Yorkers have only 2 choices for governor. [NYT]
  • Republicans have a comfortable lead in House races, per the CBS Battleground Tracker. [CBS]
  • Manchin is quiet — too quiet — as to whether he'd like Dems to hold onto their majorities this fall. [AP]
  • Andrew Yang has launched a new political party … but many are skeptical it can succeed. [NYT, Intelligencer, The Guardian]

Coming up …

  • Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington all head to the polls on Tuesday, as primary season finally ramps back up after a quiet July. In Arizona, keep an eye on the Republican governor's race, which is being pitched as a proxy battle between Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence. In Missouri, watch as to whether the controversial Greitens secures the coveted Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. And in Michigan, we'll find out who will be facing off against incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in November.  
  • On Thursday, Aug. 4, Tennesseans will then cast their ballots in the state's gubernatorial primary, where nine Republican candidates (including incumbent Gov. Bill Lee) and three Democratic hopefuls are battling it out for their party's nomination.
  • Meanwhile, look out for Kansas' big, post-Roe abortion vote, also set for Aug. 2. Voters will decide whether to pass the so-called "Value Them Both" amendment, a proposed change to the state's constitution that would afford the Kansas Legislature the power to regulate and ultimately ban abortion.  
  • And finally, we can't forget about the July jobs report, set to drop Friday, Aug. 5.

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