The Election Recap: Oct. 11, 2022

A bombshell abortion report, some marquee debates, and more

Herschel Walker.
(Image credit: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Hello, and welcome back to The Election Recap, your weekly, one-stop shop for the last seven days of midterms news. A special thanks for your patience over the long weekend. Without further ado, let's get into it:

Big bombshell

Georgia Republican Herschel Walker's Senate campaign was playing major damage control last week, after an Oct. 4 report from The Daily Beast alleged the publicly pro-life candidate paid for a woman's abortion back in 2009. The woman, who said she came forward with her story because "I just can't with the hypocrisy anymore," provided the Daily Beast with a check and a get-well card purportedly from Walker as proof. Walker quickly decried the report as a "flat-out lie," alleging he didn't know who this woman could be, only for the woman to subsequently claim to be the mother of one of Walker's children. She then told the Daily Beast she was "stunned" by Walker's denial, "but I guess it also doesn't shock me, that maybe there are just so many of us that he truly doesn't remember. ... But then again, if he really forgot about it, that says something, too." Christian Walker, a conservative social media influencer and Walker's 23-year-old son, also went after his father in the report's wake, tweeting, "I know my mom and I would really appreciate if my father Herschel Walker stopped lying and making a mockery of us. You're not a 'family man' when you left us to bang a bunch of women, threatened to kill us, and had us move over six times in six months running from your violence." Walker's team apparently knew about the story for months, but dismissed "the potential disruption it would cause," despite Walker's stance on the issue and his support for a nationwide abortion ban with no exceptions, Politico reported last Tuesday. Top Republicans, meanwhile, have stood by the candidate; former President Donald Trump, for example, claimed that Walker "is being slandered and maligned," while Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel condemned the news as the work of "desperate Democrats." As for how the bombshell will affect Walker's Senate bid, well, we'll see — as of Oct. 11, he is trailing Democratic opponent Sen. Raphael Warnock by roughly 3.7 points, according to averages from both FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics.

Up for debate

It's finally debate season, and last week saw a number of marquee midterms contests take to the stage. On Thursday, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona and Republican challenger Blake Masters met in Phoenix to discuss an array of issues, including "abortion, border security, inflation, and election integrity," writes The New York Times. The Trump-backed Masters has previously perpetuated claims that the 2020 race was stolen, though he's seemed to back off such theories as the general election approaches. During the debate, Masters accused Kelly and the Democrats of being weak on immigration and giving the border "up to Mexican drug cartels," while Kelly attempted to paint Masters as extreme on abortion. And on Monday, Republican Senate candidate in Ohio J.D. Vance and his Democratic counterpart Rep. Tim Ryan met in a debate of their own, this one focused on MAGA extremism, the economy, China, and more, the Times adds. Ryan criticized Vance for his proximity to politicians like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), whom he described as "the absolute looniest politician in America," and said that if "J.D. had his way, [Russian President Vladimir Putin] would be through Ukraine at this point." Vance, meanwhile, hit Ryan and Democrats for their weak border security and economic policies, having asked Ryan why Youngstown, Ohio "lost 50,000 manufacturing jobs during your 20 years."

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Hitting home

Two teenagers were shot outside of Rep. Lee Zeldin's (R-N.Y.) home over the weekend, the Republican candidate for New York governor confirmed Sunday. Zeldin said his 16-year-old daughters were at the house doing homework, and "ran upstairs, locked themselves in the bathroom, and immediately called 911" after hearing "gunshots and the screaming." Zeldin and his wife were not home at the time and had just left a Columbus day parade. Police said the two victims were shot from a moving car and tried to hide in the representative's yard. "My entire family is at home working with the investigators and providing the security footage from our home cameras," Zeldin said Sunday. The injuries sustained from the shooting are not believed to be life-threatening, and "investigators have no reason to believe there is any connection between the shooting and the residence," added the Suffolk County Police Department. Democratic candidate and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Twitter that she is "relieved to hear the Zeldin family is safe and grateful for law enforcement's quick response." In July, Zeldin was attacked by a man wielding a sharp object during an appearance in Rochester.

Entering the chat

Donald Trump's Make America Great Again Inc. super PAC waded into the midterm "ad wars" last week with two spots railing against Democratic Senate candidates in both Pennsylvania and Ohio, "the first wave in what is expected to be millions of dollars in spending from the former president's new political-action committee," The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. The Pennsylvania ad targets Lieutenant Governor and Senate candidate John Fetterman, who is described in the spot as "dangerous" and weak on crime, per the Journal. The Ohio ad, meanwhile, characterizes upper-chamber hopeful Rep. Tim Ryan as a "suck up" to Democratic leaders. Prior to now, Trump preferred to show his support for GOP candidates by staging "boisterous rallies in battleground states" — not by spending on ads, the Journal notes. But "MAGA Inc. was established to ensure [Trump's] vision succeeds in 2022 and beyond," said Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich. Both Ryan and Fetterman are leading in their respective races, according to averages from FiveThirtyEight, though the contest between Ryan and Vance appears particularly tight.

Hanging Chads:

  • Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) announces she's leaving the Democratic Party: "An elitist cabal" [NBC News, Twitter]
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) pens op-ed urging Democrats to focus on midterms issues other than abortion. [The Guardian]
  • "A majority of GOP nominees — 299 in all — deny the 2020 election results." [WaPo]
  • "The relationship between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the man who is most likely to succeed her should Republicans win control of the House in next month's elections is barely civil." [NYT]
  • Stevie Nicks shares poem and teases new song ahead of the midterms. [NME]

Coming up …

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