The Election Recap

The Election Recap: Oct. 24, 2022

A clean bill of health, a Taylor Swift crossover, and more

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

Bill of health

Democrat John Fetterman "has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office," the congressional candidate's primary care physician concluded in a medical report shared last week with The Philadelphia Inquirer. Fetterman, who suffered a stroke back in May, is running against Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz in the race to replace retiring Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R). Physician Clifford Chen said Fetterman's physical exam, blood pressure, and heart rate were all normal, and that the candidate "spoke intelligently without cognitive defects" despite still struggling with auditory processing. "Overall," however, "Lt. Gov. Fetterman is well and shows strong commitment to maintaining good fitness and health practices," the doctor said. Fetterman told the Inquirer on Wednesday, "I've been feeling good, and I feel strong, but absolutely it's good to actually see numbers be put on paper," and noted his campaign has been "very transparent about our issues and our challenges throughout all of this." After the stroke, Oz has repeatedly called into question Fetterman's run for office and urged the candidate to release his medical records. The report from Chen is the most up-to-date information on Fetterman's health since his campaign "released a note from his cardiologist in June," per the Inquirer. Chen notably donated $500 to Fetterman's campaign in January of 2021, the Inquirer added, though Fox News put that number at over $1,300 within the last year. An Oz campaign spokesperson told Insider it's "good news that John Fetterman's doctor gave him a clean bill of health," but the "bad news is that John Fetterman still supports releasing convicted murderers out on the streets and has zero explanation for why he didn't pay his taxes 67 times." And now that he's been deemed healthy, "he can debate for 90 minutes, start taking live questions from voters and reporters, and do a second debate now too," the spokesperson added.

Turning up and showing out

Election Day is still over two weeks away, but voter turnout for this year's midterms already appears "on pace to shatter previous records," Axios reported Sunday. More than 5.8 million ballots have been cast across 39 states, with early voting numbers "on par with the 2018 elections," CNN added per data from Edison Research and Catalist. (As of Oct. 22, 2018, roughly 5 million people had voted early for the midterms, per Axios.) In Georgia, for instance, numbers from the first day of early voting were "twice as high as the same day in 2018," Axios noted. Though election experts are consequently expecting a strong turnout, "they are quick to caution that it is still early in the voting calendar — many states are less than a week in and some have not started," The New York Times noted Saturday. Still, "we're seeing both sides being really energized this time around, which is pretty unique to a midterm cycle," Republican pollster Patrick Ruffini told the Times. "Normally, the out party is just far more energized and enthused about voting." As of Friday, ballots cast in Arizona and Pennsylvania for Democrats were "far outpacing" those cast for Republicans, though it's worth noting that Democrats are more likely to vote absentee than their GOP counterparts, CNN adds. As of Monday afternoon, a total of 7,917,877 early votes had been cast, per the United States Election Project.

This I promise you

President Biden last week pledged to push Congress to codify abortion rights into law if Democrats hold onto their majorities in the upcoming midterm elections. "Your right to choose rests with you," Biden said in a Tuesday speech hosted by the Democratic National Committee. "If you do your part and vote, Democratic leaders of Congress, I promise you, we'll do our part. I'll do my part. And with your support, I'll sign a law codifying Roe in January." Should Democrats both maintain and bolster their majorities in the House and Senate, Biden said the first piece of legislation he would send to Capitol Hill would be one enshrining abortion protections into law, per CNBC; he also hopes to sign any such bill in time for "the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, which is Jan. 22 of next year," the outlet summarized. Senate Democrats notably tried and failed to codify abortion protections earlier this year, after struggling to procure the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster. In order for a bill to pass this time around, voters would need to elect at least two more Democratic senators who support ending the threshold, considering both Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) remain opposed to its elimination. Further, the president on Tuesday promised to veto a national abortion ban if one were passed by a Republican-led legislature. "If Republicans get their way with the national ban, it won't matter where you live in America," the president said. "So let me be very clear, if such a bill were to pass in the next several years, I'll veto it."

Not so proud, boy

Republican candidate for Maryland governor Dan Cox was on the defense after a video emerged last week of him accepting a gift from a member of the far-right Proud Boys, an "extremist group connected to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol," The New York Times reported Friday. In the video, Cox, who had just won the GOP primary, shakes hands with a young man wearing a black polo shirt featuring the Proud Boys insignia. The boy then hands Cox a "Proud Boys comb" as a "present from the Maryland Proud Boys to you," the young man says. Footage of the moment was published by The Washington Post, which said the video was reportedly deleted from Cox's public Vimeo account after the Post inquired about it. "In the noise of the victory celebration, it was hard to hear what was being said," Cox said of the encounter in a statement given to the Post. "I was [surprised] by him handing me something, and frankly, I did not even keep the comb. I had never seen him before, and I have not seen him since. I have no affiliation with anyone involved in violence on Jan. 6, period." Cox did previously admit to attending the "Stop the Steal" rally on Jan. 6, but claims he left before rioters marched to the Capitol. He has also characterized the 2020 election as stolen. As of late, however, the former President Donald Trump-backed candidate has worked to "steer discourse away from such third-rail topics, opting instead to focus "his campaign on 'restoring freedom,' parental rights, public safety, and crime," the Post writes. Cox is expected to lose his bid for Maryland governor to Democratic candidate Wes Moore, according to both FiveThirtyEight and Politico

Hanging chads:

  • Has the Republican midterm wave returned? Harold Maass rounded up the best opinions on the matter for The Week. [The Week]
  • Biden releases 15 million oil barrels from the strategic reserve ahead of the midterms. [The Week]
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), running for re-election against Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, is apparently on texting terms with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. [NYT]
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is "worried" young voters and working voters won't show up for Democrats in November. [Politico]
  • Big Taylor Swift fan? So is everyone running for Congress, apparently. The pop superstar's latest album, Midnights, inspired a slew of political Twitter content from a number of 2022 midterms candidates, including Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio). Check out this comprehensive thread compiled by Rolling Stone reporter Kara Voght. [Twitter]

Coming up …

  • Is this the moment we've all been waiting for? Well, maybe not, but it's at least one of the biggest, most-anticipated debates of the season: Pennsylvania Senate candidates John Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz will square off in their first verbal match-up of the contest from 8-9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 25.

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