Abortion politics, DeSantis flexes his muscles

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has learned who his Democratic challenger will be this fall. The impact of the redistricting was fully visible. Democrats have sorted out their rivalries with each other. And abortion can give Democrats a lifeline in an otherwise difficult November.

The most intense period of the midterm primary season ended Tuesday with results that will spark fierce general election contests across the United States.

Takeaways from Tuesday’s contests in Florida and New York:

ABORTION WILD CARD

Midterm elections are usually miserable for the ruling party. But Democrats are hoping one of their biggest memory lapses can ultimately save 2022 for them.

Since the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court revoked a woman’s constitutional right to get an abortion, Democrats have seen a surge in donations, polls and special election performances for open seats. in Congress. The latest came on Tuesday in a swinging Hudson Valley district that, in a Republican wave year, should have been an easy GOP victory. Instead, Ulster County Democratic executive Pat Ryan beat his Duchess County Republican counterpart Marc Molinaro.

The stakes, from a governance perspective, were small – the seat will disappear in the fall with the coming into force of a new map of Congress. But because the race became an abortion referendum after the High Court ruling, the political implications are huge. It comes after a ballot measure to ban the procedure was crushed in staunchly conservative Kansas.

Republicans were anticipating a typical medium-term landslide, with inflation high and President Joe Biden’s approval rating low. It may still end in a strong GOP year, but Ryan’s victory is the latest indication that Democrats don’t have to give up hope.

DESANTIS FLEXES HIS MUSCLES

One Florida politician didn’t face a primary challenge on Tuesday but still made sure to dominate the news – DeSantis.

DeSantis is considered former President Donald Trump’s main rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, in part because of how he has addressed political and cultural divisions in the Sunshine State. On Tuesday, he demonstrated why.

The governor started the day with a Cabinet meeting, which included Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. She was competing for her party’s nomination to face DeSantis that night.

DeSantis shook Fried’s hand at the end of the meeting and said “good luck” before criticizing his campaign and predicting – accurately, it turned out – his loss in brief remarks to reporters.

“I think you know she’s had an opportunity, as the only elected Democrat in the entire state, to exercise some leadership and maybe get some things done. Instead, she has used her time to try to smear me on a daily basis, that’s all she does,” DeSantis says of Fried.

After the polls closed that evening, DeSantis again caught the eye, addressing a crowd in Miami. “We’re not going to let this state be overrun by woke ideology, we’ll fight revival in business, we’ll fight revival in government agencies, we’ll fight revival in our schools,” DeSantis said. “We will never, ever surrender to the woke agenda. Florida is the state where the revival is going to die.

Expect to hear a lot more from DeSantis in the months — and maybe years — to come.

THE LONG SHADOW OF GERRYMANDERING

Florida and New York, which held primary elections on Tuesday, were two of the states whose legislative maps have been most dramatically redrawn this year to favor one political party. It was part of a centuries-old political ploy known as gerrymandering.

But Tuesday night showed two different sides of gerrymandering. The map of New York that Democrats redrawn to ruthlessly target vulnerable Republicans has been thrown out by the state’s highest court as an illegal partisan act.

The map was redrawn to be more balanced, disregarding the political fortunes of some of New York’s most prominent members of Congress and grouping several high-level lawmakers into the same district for the sake of fairness. Ignoring scattered protests that its April decision came too late in the map-changing process, the High Court moved the state’s congressional primary to Tuesday, two months after its June primary for office. of State.

That’s why the New York Democratic primaries on Tuesday were so turbulent and chaotic.

By contrast, the Republican-appointed Florida State Supreme Court declined to change the partisan map that DeSantis pushed the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature to approve. Unlike the New York court, the Florida court refused to play with the card as the election approached.

As a result, incumbent Florida House members generally stayed put on Tuesday night, not being forced into career-ending primary battles due to shifting districts. The big exception was Rep. Charlie Crist, who ran — and won — the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in part because DeSantis’ map turned his district into a solidly Republican one. The new map also effectively eliminated two seats, currently represented in Washington by black Democrats, where African Americans make up the largest share of voters.

Nationally, both parties attempted to gerrymander during the last redistricting cycle, but Democrats were held back slightly more than Republicans — largely by Florida and New York. Florida’s highest court may change that in the coming years when it rules on challenges to DeSantis’ cards.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering several cases that could alter the courts’ ability to redistrict gerrymanders. This may help determine whether we see more congressional primaries like those in New York or more like those in Florida.

DEMOCRATIC DIVISIONS

He was deafened by the spectacle of Trump’s GOP makeover, but Democrats also spent the primary season torn over their party’s direction.

The left-leaning contenders continued to issue major challenges to the centrist Democrats. The left has lost its biggest bids to oust incumbent House members in South Texas and Cleveland.

Two more losses came on Tuesday, when a liberal state senator was crushed by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in a congressional primary in upstate New York. And attorney Dan Goldman, who worked on Trump’s first impeachment, narrowly beat a host of more progressive rivals in a primary for a congressional seat centered in Brooklyn.

But the left has had a few victories this primary season, earning a nomination for a House seat in Pennsylvania and seeing one of its favorite politicians, that state’s Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, win the party’s Senate nomination.

Neither side was crushed, so expect more centre-left primaries in the next election cycle.

TRUMP’S PARTY, WITH AN ASTERISK

Trump set out to demonstrate his GOP dominance this primary season, and he succeeded — to a point.

His endorsement helped define the party’s senatorial field and played a pivotal role in a number of hotly contested primaries. He won his biggest prize last week, when his chosen candidate defeated Rep. Liz Cheney in Wyoming’s Republican primary. On Tuesday, Trump’s chosen candidate, Air Force veteran and conservative activist Anna Luna, won her primary in a GOP-leaning open seat on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

But Trump has suffered enormous humiliation – especially when he tried to interfere in the gubernatorial races of Idaho, Nebraska and especially Georgia, where Trump failed to oust Gov. Brian Kemp for refusing to nullify the 2020 election in his state and award it to Trump.

More importantly, Trump has elevated candidates who may not be able to win competitive races — or even pose a threat to democracy itself. Last week, GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell warned that his party may not win a majority in the Senate due to the “candidate quality” among its nominees. They include Trump-backed candidates struggling in swing states, like Herschel Walker in Georgia, JD Vance in Ohio and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania.

Others, like GOP candidates for Pennsylvania governor Doug Mastriano and Arizona governor Kari Lake, have denied that Trump lost the 2020 election, raising questions about whether they would certify the real winners of future elections if they took back their state houses.

Trump doesn’t always have to intercede for extreme candidates who have emulated his style to stand up in the Republican primaries. On Tuesday, Laura Loomer, a conservative provocateur who has been banned from several social media websites for posting anti-Muslim remarks, surprised many with a strong – albeit unsuccessful – display in a main challenge at the 73-year-old Florida representative Daniel Webster.

Yet Trump’s effect on the GOP has become immeasurable this primary season.

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This story has been corrected to show Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney defeated a Liberal state senator, not a congresswoman; and removes reference to a court named by the Democrats as having redrawn the map; others were also involved.

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