The Election Recap

The Election Recap: Sept. 12, 2022

Healey v. Diehl, Fetterman v. Oz, and more

Welcome back to The Election Recap, your weekly, one-stop shop for the last seven days of midterms news.

Before diving in today, I'd like to first invite you to share your feedback on this newsletter via a brief, anonymous survey. I know you have a lot of choices when it comes to election news, and I want to ensure your time spent here is worthwhile (not to mention my boss will love it!). 

Let's get into it:

It's Healey v. Diehl …

The Massachusetts gubernatorial primary went largely as expected last Tuesday, with Democratic state Attorney General Maura Healey and Republican Geoff Diehl securing their party's respective nominations. Though Diehl, a former state representative boasting the backing of former President Donald Trump, prevailed over moderate Republican candidate Chris Doughty, he's widely expected to lose in a November match-up against Healey, who would be the first female and first openly gay person elected to the state governorship if victorious. In terms of platform, Diehl has vowed to repeal vaccine mandates, as well as reverse a law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain Massachusetts driver's licenses, per The Associated Press and his campaign website. Healey, meanwhile, is looking to improve child care accessibility and protect statewide access to abortion. Historically, Massachusetts has opted to elect "fiscally conservative, socially moderate Republican governors" who serve a "check on overwhelming Democratic legislative majorities;" outgoing-but-popular Gov. Charlie Baker, who decided not to seek a third term, is the perfect example, The Associated Press adds. 

… and Fetterman v. Oz

Pennsylvania poll-watchers, get your popcorn ready: Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate John Fetterman on Wednesday said he'd be up for a single debate against Republican opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has been pushing for a matchup amid reports of Fetterman's recent stroke, CNBC reports. Oz has "empathy" for his opponent's current position, but Fetterman is "either healthy and he's dodging the debate because he does not want to answer for his radical left positions, or he's too sick to participate in the debate," the celebrity doctor said Tuesday, per CNBC and The Washington Post. Fetterman soon responded: "We're absolutely going to debate Dr. Oz, and it was always our intent to do that," he replied Wednesday. In August, Fetterman's campaign declined to participate in an early September debate, claiming Oz was acting in bad faith and mocking his opponent when originally pitching the idea. Overall, the pair's PA match-up represents "a major pickup opportunity for both parties," and has proven itself one of the banner contests of the season, CNBC writes. As of the end of August, Fetterman held a slight lead over Oz, who has recently grown more aggressive in his campaign rhetoric and attacks.

Obama hits the road

It seems old habits really do die hard — former President Barack Obama plans to hop back onto the campaign trail and appear beside a number of midterms candidates this fall, a person familiar with the matter told CNN last week. Not only does he reportedly plan to stump for candidates in marquee congressional and gubernatorial races, the former president will also target secretary of state races in key battleground states, underscoring the impact such down-ballot positions will have on the 2024 presidential election and beyond, CNN adds, per its source. As for exactly where and how often Obama might appear, well, such details are currently unclear … but expect to see him only in the races he'd be most effective. In the meantime, however, the former president will be attending a few upcoming fundraisers, CNN reports: He'll be in New York City for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Thursday, and then on the West Coast next week for the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. 

Out, out?

South Carolina Democratic nominee for Senate Krystle Matthews has found herself embroiled in controversy and up against intra-party calls to resign after being caught on tape "speaking disparagingly of her constituents," Fox News reported Friday. In the leaked audio, which was recorded and then released by conservative activist organization Project Veritas, Matthews is heard saying she represents a "mostly white district," and likes to keep those voters "right here — like under my thumbs. ... Otherwise, they get out of control — like kids," per The Associated Press. "You ought to know who you're dealing with," Matthews, who is Black, continued. "You've got to treat them like s--t. That's the only way they'll respect you." Multiple Democrats, including South Carolina gubernatorial nominee Joe Cunnigham and state Rep. Justin Bamberg, subsequently called on Matthews to drop her campaign and step aside. "There is absolutely no place in our political discourse" for such comments, and "the Democratic Party cannot and should not tolerate such behavior from our elected officials and candidates," Cunningham said in a statement provided to AP. For her part, Matthews acknowledged her voice in the audio, and described Project Veritas as a "satirical MAGA-powered news outlet." "The statement that is being shared is a blatant mischaracterization of what I said in context," she said during a Friday press conference. "With that being said, I do understand how some who saw or heard the comments may have been put off, and for that, I want to offer my sincerest apologies." She added that she has no plans to suspend her campaign, which will put her against Republican Sen. Tim Scott in November.

Hanging chads:

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) says he might run for president even if Trump decides to do the same. [The Week
  • How the 2022 midterms have turned into the 2020 Biden rematch Trump wanted. [Bloomberg]
  • A look at how midterms candidates are spending their money (and yes, this includes takeout food). [USA Today]
  • Politico-Harvard University survey sees gun policies ranked as an immediate concern for voters. [Politico]

Coming up …

  • We're almost there, folks: Tuesday marks the last big primary day of the 2022 midterms season, with voting rounding out in New Hampshire, Delaware, and Rhode Island. In New Hampshire, all eyes are on the U.S. Senate, where Democratic lawmaker Maggie Hassan is up for re-election and might even lose in November, depending on the Republican nominee. State Gov. Chris Sununu (R), meanwhile, is also angling for another term. Speaking of gubernatorial races, don't forget about that of Rhode Island, where Gov. Dan McKee (D) is campaigning for a full term of his own after taking over for former Gov. Gina Raimondo in 2021 (Raimondo was appointed to Biden's cabinet). His nomination is not a done deal, however; McKee is actually "caught up in a mostly three-way primary with Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and former CVS Health executive Helena Foulkes, although former Secretary of State Matt Brown is also in the mix," writes FiveThirtyEight. Otherwise, things are a bit quieter in Delaware, where Republican Lee Murphy is preparing for a November rematch with Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (against whom he lost in 2020) for the state's only House seat, adds The New York Times.

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