The Election Recap

The Election Recap: Sept. 19, 2022

Bolduc wins big, Sanders recovers, and more

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

Big and Bolduc

Retired army general Doug Bolduc won the Republican nomination in New Hampshire's Senate primary last week, having notably defeated a "slate" of candidates including "establishment pick" New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse, The Wall Street Journal reports. Bolduc will now move to the general election, where he'll challenge Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan. The high-profile contest is expected to be one of the fall's most competitive and consequential, considering Hassan's seat remains "key" to Democrats' hopes of hanging onto the Senate, the Journal adds. Hassan is currently the slight favorite in the race; in fact, some Republicans are concerned Bolduc's 2020 election denial claims might actually work against him in the purple state, thus thwarting a potential GOP pick-up. Meanwhile, former staffer to former President Donald Trump Karoline Leavitt also notably won her primary in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District and will face Democratic incumbent Chris Pappas in the general. At 25, Leavitt "is only the second member of Generation Z to win a House primary and the first Republican," NPR writes. Her victory follows that of 25-year-old Democrat Maxwell Frost in Florida.

Under the knife

GOP nominee for Arkansas governor and former Trump administration press secretary Sarah Sanders has undergone surgery for thyroid cancer, the candidate revealed last week. "During a checkup earlier this month, my doctor ordered a biopsy on an area of concern in my neck and the test revealed that I had thyroid cancer," Sanders, 40, said Friday. "Today, I underwent a successful surgery to remove my thyroid and surrounding lymph nodes and by the grace of God I am now cancer free." Sanders was suffering from the most common type of thyroid cancer, per her physician, John Sims. She will require continued treatment, but should be "back on her feet within the next 24 hours," Sims said. "I think it's fair to say she's now cancer free, and I don't anticipate any of this slowing her down," he added. "Our hearts go out to you, Sarah," Sanders' Democratic opponent Chris Jones wrote in a statement alongside his wife, Jerrilyn. "It's truly a blessing that you caught this cancer early and were able to receive world-class treatment so quickly." The daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Sanders is the heavy favorite in the gubernatorial contest. As noted by The Associated Press, she has also based her run on primarily national issues, "promising to use the governor's office to fight [President Biden] and the 'radical left.'"

Unintended consequences

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) last week handed what's been viewed as a huge political gift to Democrats after he proposed a nationwide, 15-week abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest, or medical necessity. The left is now hoping to capitalize on the new legislation as yet another midterm talking point, especially considering it runs counter to GOP claims that the issue of abortion should be returned to the states, CNBC notes. The suggested policy arrives at a time when some Republican midterm candidates have been strategically pivoting away from the topic of abortion, even going so far as to scrub their websites of more-extreme policy suggestions so as to avoid costing the party votes. But now, the issue has again taken center stage. The new proposal may very well be "sensible and reasonable policy," but the idea of a federal ban "trounces … Republicans' long-term message that this really should be left up to the states to manage," said The Wall Street Journal's Kim Strassel. Even if Graham is trying to help his party by offering some sort of "federal landing spot" on the matter, Democrats are going to trust that voters, many of whom do in fact support some abortion restrictions, won't "look at the details" of the proposal. "I understand what he was trying to do, but I think it's a very dicey political prospect," Strassel added. Not for nothing, Graham's announcement also deftly shifted attention away from a less-than-stellar inflation report that could've proven bad news for Biden so close to the election. Interested in more analysis on the matter? Lucky for you — Harold Maass last week compiled a helpful list of opinions for The Week.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania … 

Looking to fill the Succession-sized hole in your heart? Try the Pennsylvania midterms, unfolding live every day until Nov. 8. These races have everything: money, drama, an overarching, very threatening sense of consequence … fun! First up, today we have Senate candidates John Fetterman (or John Fetterwoman, as he so dubbed himself during a recent campaign event for female voters) and Dr. Mehmet Oz, who recently agreed to debate on Oct. 25 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. After much prodding from Oz's team, Fetterman only recently committed to a single debate with his rival — so long as it includes a closed-caption monitor and practice sessions to get used to said monitor, which will help with Fetterman's post-stroke auditory processing issues. Oz then gave a few demands of his own: the debate moderator must explain to the audience that Fetterman is using a closed-caption system, the practice debate must not include real debate questions, and the debate must be 90 minutes instead of 60, per Politico. But the statewide drama doesn't stop there: Last week, it was reported that GOP candidate for Pennsylvania governor and state Sen. Doug Mastriano has some curious ties to — you guessed it — New Jersey. You know, the same place Dr. Oz can't seem to leave behind? According to a write-up from the New Jersey Globe, Garden state native Mastriano "was a registered voter in New Jersey for 28 years until July 2021, when election officials changed his status to inactive." And that's not all: Per a report from Rolling Stone, Mastriano has also campaigned with a "self-described prophet" who, in addition to predictions about the Pennsylvania race, believes the real Biden is dead and that an actor directed by former President Barack Obama has taken his place. Really.

Hanging chads:

  • "Democrats punt same-sex marriage vote until after election." [AP]
  • Biden decries Trump's "totally irresponsible" handling of classified documents, but maintains that he has "not asked for specifics" on the investigation: "I don't want to get myself in the middle." [Reuters]
  • Why the midterms might actually be different this year. [NYT]
  • "J.D. is kissing my a--": Trump stumped for (and also seemingly mocked?) GOP Senate nominee J.D. Vance at an Ohio rally over the weekend. [Axios, LA Times]
  • Crossover episode! Virginia's Glenn Youngkin will campaign for Arizona's Kari Lake later this month. [The Washington Examiner]
  • What two new polls tell us about the midterms. [Politico]

Coming up …

  • It's pretty quiet out there now that primaries have wrapped up. This week, keep an eye on Biden's Wednesday address before the United Nations General Assembly, as well as an upcoming meeting of the Federal Reserve. The central bank is expected to raise interest rates by 75 basis points in the coming days.

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