The Election Recap

The Election Recap: Sept. 26, 2022

McCarthy shares a new agenda, J.R. Majewski pushes back, and more

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

Charity clarity

There is "scant" evidence that Herschel Walker — the Republican Senate candidate in Georgia and owner of food distribution company Renaissance Man Food Services — has actually matched his promise to donate 15 percent of his company's profits to charity, The New York Times reported Thursday. When the Times attempted to contact four of Renaissance Man's supposed longtime charitable beneficiaries — which include the Boy Scouts of America and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) — regarding Walker's supposed donations, "one declined to comment and the other three said they had no record or recollection of any gifts from the company in the last decade." The Times analysis does not definitively prove that Walker failed to donate profits; it is also possible "his company donated to other charities without naming them in public," the Times notes. And at the NMSS, for instance, officials said Walker and Renaissance Man had donated previously, just not in the last 10 years. Still, the apparent discrepancy is yet another instance in which Walker has been "found to have given misleading or outright false details about his life story," including that he graduated in the top 1 percent of his class at the University of Georgia, and that he previously worked in law enforcement. "Herschel Walker has given millions of dollars to charities," campaign spokesman Will Kiley said in a brief statement on the matter, per the Times. Walker, who boasts the backing of former President Donald Trump, will face off against Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock in November. A Marist poll released Tuesday showed Warnock with a 5-point lead.

A man with a plan

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) unveiled the GOP's so-called "Commitment to America" agenda on Friday, detailing on a macro level what House Republicans will attempt to pass should they regain control of the lower chamber in November. Skimpy on the specifics, McCarthy's plan focused less on controversial, third-rail election issues du jour and more on things like "cutting crime, lowering prices, and giving parents more influence over their schools," writes The Wall Street Journal. The minority leader — who is angling to become speaker, should the GOP take back the House — also went after Democratic plans to expand the Internal Revenue Service. Meanwhile, Democrats took the opportunity to criticize the to-do list. President Biden, for instance, called it a "thin series of policy goals with little or no detail," and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) decried the plan as "an alarming new extreme MAGA platform." 

Bad service

Ohio Republican House candidate J.R. Majewski on Friday pushed back on reports claiming he misrepresented his time in the Air Force, describing the allegations against him as "blatantly false." "Let me be clear. Anyone insinuating that I did not serve in Afghanistan is lying," Majewski said during a press conference, per ABC News. "I served in our United States of America, across multiple countries in many roles, but that didn't matter to the liberal media, who wrote a politically-motivated hit piece on me." Citing military documents obtained through a public records request, The Associated Press on Wednesday reported that Majewski "never deployed to Afghanistan but instead completed a six-month stint helping to load planes at an air base in Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally that is a safe distance from the fighting." That narrative runs counter to Majewski's campaign, a significant portion of which has been focused on his time in Afghanistan specifically and his status as a "combat veteran." When asked in a subsequent interview why he does not have medals typically awarded to those who have served a certain number of days in Afghanistan, as was reported in the AP story, Majewski said he "did not apply" for the medals because he "exited the service honorably" before the awards were created, per ABC News. The candidate also said during the same interview that he "absolutely" set foot in Afghanistan and that he believes he is "entitled to call himself a combat veteran." During the Friday presser, Majewski claimed his work involved flying in and out of Afghanistan from Qatar, but did not share further documentation on the matter because he said it was "classified," AP summarizes. The outlet has stood by the story, even under the threat of litigation. The embattled Majewski is currently squaring off against longtime Democratic incumbent Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who stands to lose the contest thanks to redistricting. The non-partisan Cook Political Report had classified the race as a "toss-up," but we'll see what happens now that the House GOP campaign arm has pulled almost $1 million in advertising intended to support Majewski in response to the scandal.

Jokes aside

Tough crowd? Republican nominee for Michigan governor Tudor Dixon stoked Democratic ire last week after reportedly mocking the 2020 kidnapping plot against her opponent, incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). "The sad thing is Gretchen will tie your hands, put a gun to your head, and ask if you are ready to talk. For someone so worried about getting kidnapped, Gretchen Whitmer sure is good at taking business hostage and holding it for ransom," Dixon said at a Friday event in Troy, Michigan. She issued a second jab later that same day: "The look on her face was like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is happening. I'd rather be kidnapped by the FBI,'" Dixon remarked, alluding to a recent moment of hand-holding between Whitmer and President Biden. The GOP nominee then claimed her earlier comment about "taking business hostage" was not a joke, and that "if you were afraid of that, you should know what it is to have your life ripped away from you." Democrats quickly hit back — Deputy Communications Director for the Democratic Governors Association Sam Newton, for example, called Dixon's jokes "dangerous, an insult to law enforcement who keep us safe, and utterly disqualifying for the role of Michigan governor." Whitmer's campaign agreed: "Threats of violence and dangerous rhetoric undermine our democracy and discourage good people on both sides of the aisle at every level from entering public service," spokesperson Maeve Coyle told CNN, per The Hill.

Hanging chads:

  • "For the first time in at least 25 years, no Democrat has top grade from NRA." [NYT]
  • Everyone wants the female vote this November. [Fox News]
  • Liz Cheney says she "won't be a Republican" if Trump is the 2024 nominee, signals willingness to rally for Democrats. [CBS News]
  • Jen Psaki: "If the election is about who is the most extreme ... then [Democrats are] going to win. If it is a referendum on the president, they will lose, and they know that." [Washington Examiner]
  • Former campaign manager to Iowa Democratic Senate nominee Mike Franken accused the candidate of kissing her without her consent; police closed the case as "unfounded." [Politico, Des Moines Register]
  • Voters are pretty evenly split on which party they want to control Congress — and "both sides are highly motivated to turn out in November." [The Washington Post]

Coming up …

  • The Jan. 6 Committee returns Wednesday with its first public hearing since July. Catch up on everything you've missed (and maybe even forgotten) with this helpful briefing from my colleague Catherine Garcia.

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