The Election Recap: Oct. 3, 2022

Congress avoids a shutdown, Wawa fires back, and more

Wawa gas station.
(Image credit: Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

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

Doug himself a hole

State senator and Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor Doug Mastriano found himself in headlines again last week, after it was revealed he once suggested that women in violation of his proposed abortion ban should be charged with murder. NBC News was first to report on the previously uncovered comments, which were made during a 2019 interview with Pennsylvania radio station WITF. The legislation in question, for which Mastriano was a co-sponsor, would have banned abortion around six weeks of pregnancy; and when the radio show's host asked the state senator if a woman who violated the ban would be charged with, say, murder, Mastriano replied, "Is that a human being? Is that a little boy or girl? If it is, it deserves equal protection under the law." "So you're saying yes?" the host responded. "Yes, I am," Mastriano said. Mastriano has recently sought to downplay his past support for strict abortion laws, given the issue's importance this election cycle, NBC News writes; but still, Democrats were all too happy to seize on the past remarks as evidence of what the Republican might do if he wins the governor's mansion, the Times adds. Mastriano's opponent, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, has said he supports current Pennsylvania abortion law, which outlaws the procedure after 24 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions. Notably, the Pennsylvania Legislature is likely to remain under GOP control post-Nov. 8, "making it a strong possibility that Mastriano would be able to sign further restrictions into law should he win this fall," NBC News writes.

In the nick of time

President Biden on Friday signed a stopgap funding bill to keep the government running through Dec. 16, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown that was set to take effect at midnight. The House passed the legislation earlier that day, after it cleared the Senate 75-25 on Thursday (much to former President Donald Trump's chagrin). The package notably punts any difficult spending decisions until after the midterms, offering leaders more time to negotiate a full-year funding deal. It otherwise includes $12 billion in Ukraine aid, among other provisions. The plan was the subject of some drama earlier last week, after Senate Republicans and some Democrats threatened to pull their support over a deal Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had cut with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va). Apparently, Schumer had promised Manchin that, in exchange for the West Virginia lawmaker's vote on Democrats' flagship spending package, Schumer would see to it that the funding bill included a section designed to speed up permitting for energy-related infrastructure projects. Given the opposition, Manchin ultimately agreed to strip the provision from the bill, allowing it to advance. Now, both parties can rest easy, knowing they successfully avoided the blame for a shutdown ahead of the already-contentious midterm elections.

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Debate szn

Texas gubernatorial candidates Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Beto O'Rourke took to the debate stage Friday night, in a verbal match-up multiple outlets seem to agree did little to alter the trajectory of the highly-watched race. At a university performance hall in the Texas border city of Edinburg, the pair went back and forth (without an audience) on topics like gun violence, immigration, crime, and abortion, writes The New York Times. "Abbott labeled O'Rourke a flip-flopper while O'Rourke continually emphasized that Abbott has had eight years to fix problems such as shoring up the state's shaky power grid and school violence and hasn't been able to get it done," adds The Houston Chronicle. Despite having no clear winner, the outcome of the debate appears most likely to benefit Abbott, "who has been leading in the polls and has commanded a larger campaign war chest going into the final stretch," the Times adds. Meanwhile, Connecticut and Oregon held gubernatorial debates last week, as well, while Maryland's Republican nominee Dan Cox addressed a Morgan State University forum that his opponent Wes Moore declined to attend, per NBC News.

Wah wahhhh

Bet you didn't have this on your midterms bingo card: Wawa, the popular convenience store and gas station chain, has accused New Jersey congressional candidate Matt Jenkins of ripping off an archived version of its longtime goose trademark in his campaign logo. Company executives have since issued a cease-and-desist, requesting that Jenkins refrain from using the "Wawa Goose logo or any logo that is confusingly similar." "If Wawa allows other uses — such as the use by your campaign — it runs the very real risk that its trademarks will be weakened," the letter continues. "As a New Jerseyan, familiar with Wawa's reputation among and relationship with the public, we trust that is not something that you would want to occur." In Wawa's view, the pair of flying geese featured in Jenkin's campaign logo are uncomfortably similar to those of the chain's 1990-2004 trademark, thus suggesting Wawa is perhaps associated with or sponsoring his campaign, Politico notes. But Jenkins maintains that the resemblance is just a coincidence: "It is only a coincidence [the logos] are similar. Anyone who has been to my district has seen geese and seagulls," he wrote on Twitter. Ultimately, Jenkins told Politico he was unsure if he'd update the logo. "This is going to cost me money to change," he said. "Everybody knows my finances. I don't have any. To go out and reprint my signs, all my literature." The Democratic nominee will challenge longtime incumbent Rep. Chris Smith in November, and is expected to lose, Politico adds.

Hanging Chads:

  • "A stunning stat on Donald Trump's endorsed candidates." [CNN]
  • Where Democrats might lose with minority voters this November. [WSJ]
  • Less than half of Americans think midterms candidates should commit to accepting the results of their contests. [The Hill]
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen possibly exiting the Biden administration after the midterms. [Axios]
  • Trump says McConnell has a "death wish" in voting for Democrats' bills — and The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board is not pleased. [WSJ]
  • The Times' Nate Cohn takes on the Democrats' chances of retaining the House. [NYT]

Coming up …

  • … Did somebody say debate season? Prepare this week for a Wednesday match-up between Kansas governor and Democratic nominee Laura Kelly and Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt; a Thursday face-off between Arizona Senate candidates Blake Masters (R) and Sen. Mark Kelly (D); and a Friday debate between North Carolina Senate nominees Rep. Ted Budd (R) and challenger Cheri Beasley, per Politico.
  • And if that weren't enough action for your week, just wait until the September jobs numbers drop on Friday.
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