The Election Recap: Aug. 29, 2022

Nadler beats Maloney, Beto takes a break, and more

Gen Z candidate Maxwell Frost won his primary election in Florida
Gen Z candidate Maxwell Frost won his primary election in Florida
(Image credit: Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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

Empire + Sunshine State of mind

Voters in New York and Florida last Tuesday cast their ballots in a number of high-profile, consequential contests, choosing to elevate contenders like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Democratic New York Rep. Jerry Nadler to their respective general elections in November. DeSantis, an incumbent, will face off against challenger Charlie Crist, while Nadler — who was forced to compete against fellow long-time lawmaker Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D) due to redistricting — will go head to head against Republican Michael Zumbluskas. Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Sean Patrick Maloney also prevailed in his NY primary, trouncing state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, while firebrand Florida conservative Rep. Matt Gaetz similarly advanced to take on liberal opponent Rebekah Jones in November. Meanwhile, 25-year-old Democrat Maxwell Frost won his party's nomination in Florida's 10th Congressional District, where he is expected to win and subsequently become the first Gen Z member of Congress.

Loans, loans, go away

President Biden on Wednesday announced his highly anticipated plan to forgive up to $10,000 in federal student loans for borrowers making under $125,000 a year, notching a huge (though smaller than some desired) win for the progressive wing of his party, as well as yet another piece of Democratic ammunition pre-midterms. That said, however, bipartisan critics of the policy have accused the president and his congressional allies of an irresponsible attempt at buying votes ahead of the November election, without any regard for the plan's associated costs or inflationary effects. It's "shrewd politicking," sure, said policy analyst Brad Polumbo in Newsweek. "But it's no way to run a country." Some have also latched onto the fact that one-time forgiveness fails to address the root of the college affordability crisis in the first place (though Biden did offer up reforms to income-driven repayment plans, as well). "In my view, the administration should have further targeted the relief, and proposed a way to pay for this plan," said Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), who is up for re-election. The new policy "sends the wrong message," added Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D), who's locked in a tight Senate race against author J.D. Vance, Insider notes. "While there's no doubt that a college education should be about opening opportunities," Ryan said, "waiving debt for those already on a trajectory to financial security sends the wrong message to the millions of Ohioans without a degree working just as hard to make ends meet."

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Health comes first

Democratic candidate for Texas governor Beto O'Rourke on Sunday said he'd be temporarily pausing campaign events while recovering from a bacterial infection. "While my symptoms have improved, I will be resting at home in El Paso in accordance with the doctors' recommendations," O'Rourke wrote in a statement. "I am sorry to have had to postpone events because of this, but I promise to be back on the road as soon as I am able." The candidate was first diagnosed on Friday. The events he misses as a result of his recovery will be rescheduled, his campaign said. O'Rourke is slated to challenge Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott in November.

Say cheese

Far-right Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor Doug Mastriano at one point donned a Confederate soldier uniform while posing for a photo at the U.S. Army War College, Reuters wrote Friday in an exclusive report. The picture, which the outlet obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, shows "Mastriano in a 2013-14 portrait for the Department of Military Strategy, Plans, and Operations, where he worked," Reuters writes. Individuals familiar with the photo said faculty were told they could dress up as historical figures, and some did, in fact, opt for the period garb; Mastriano, however, is the only one in a Confederate uniform, per Reuters. Senior adviser to Mastrianos' campaign Jenna Ellis has subsequently accused the media of throwing a hissy fit over the portrait. "The left wants to erase history," she said on Twitter. "@dougmastriano wants us to learn from it. I invite @Reuters to go on a Gettysburg tour with Doug. You'll learn a lot!" The Army War College told Reuters it has since removed the faculty photo in question.

Hanging chads:

  • "Semi-fascism" and Biden's new campaign rhetoric. [WSJ, WaPo]
  • Maybe this long-predicted Democratic shellacking won't be so bad after all… [NYT, Politico]
  • What Mitch McConnell was really saying in claiming "there's probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate." [Washington Examiner]
  • "Democrats in tough races distance themselves from Biden's student loans decision." [NBC News, Fox News]

Coming up …

  • Even election season is getting a Labor Day break: Primaries are off this week, and won't resume until Sept, 6, when Massachusetts voters will decide both the Republican and Democratic ticket for governor. Then, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island are up one week later.
  • And, as usual, keep an eye out for Friday's August jobs report, which could perhaps serve as another midterms boon to the underdog left.
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