Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 35

August 18, 2022

In this issue: Alaska election takeaways and NYT‘s battleground endorsements

Primary results roundup

Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming held primaries over the past week. Here are results from battlegrounds in Alaska and Hawaii.

Before we get into Alaska’s results, here’s a refresher: Alaska held top-four primaries for several offices and a ranked-choice special general election for U.S. House on Tuesday. This year’s are the first elections under the system voters approved in 2020.

Alaska’s special U.S. House election: This race won’t be callable until at least Aug. 31, the deadline for mail ballots to arrive for the special election. After all eligible ballots are in, election officials will begin ranked-choice voting tabulation. As of Wednesday, Mary Peltola (D) had 38% of first-choice votes, followed by Sarah Palin (R) with 32% and Nicholas Begich III (R) with 29%. Write-in candidates received votes as well. 

In initial rounds of tabulation, last-place finishers will be eliminated, and the votes from people who voted for those candidates will be redistributed to those voters’ second-choice candidates (if they ranked someone second). The process continues until one candidate receives a majority of votes.

Al Gross (I) had also advanced from the special top-four primary, but he withdrew from the race in June.

Rep. Don Young (R) died in March. The special election will fill the remainder of Young’s term, which ends Jan. 3, 2023. The winner will be sworn in after results are certified. Certification is currently scheduled for Sept. 2.

Alaska’s top-four U.S. House primary: Peltola, Begich, and Palin are leading the 22-candidate field with 35%, 31%, and 27%, respectively, as of Wednesday. Tara Sweeney (R) was fourth with 4% and Chris Bye (L) fifth with 1%. This is for the regular two-year term from January 2023-2025.

Alaska Governor top-four primary: Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) had 42%, and Les Gara (D) and Bill Walker (I) had 22% each as of Wednesday. Charlie Pierce (R) had 7% and Christopher Kurka (R), 4%. Five other candidates ran.

Walker was governor from 2014 to 2018 when Dunleavy was elected. Walker initially ran for re-election in 2018 but withdrew from the race. Gara is a former state House member, and Kurka currently serves in the chamber. Pierce worked as a manager at ENSTAR Natural Gas Company.

Hawaii Governor: Lt. Gov. Joshua Green won against Vicky Cayetano, Kaiali’i Kahele, and four other candidates in the gubernatorial primary on Aug. 13. Green had 63% of the vote to Cayetano’s 21% and Kahele’s 15%. Incumbent David Ige (D) is term-limited. 

Media analysis

Anchorage Daily News wrote about the challenges Alaska’s top three U.S. House candidates have faced and their prospects both in the current elections and in the regular general election:

Palin has a devoted following but is also resented by many longtime Alaskans who recall her decision to resign the governorship and become a reality television star. Begich is running with the support of the Alaska Republican Party establishment, but is battling an association with his Democratic uncle, former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich. Either Begich or Palin would have to rely on second-place votes in order to overtake Peltola in the ranked choice tabulation.

Matt Shuckerow, a political consultant who has previously worked for Young, said the results put Palin “in the driver’s seat.” If she remains in second position, he said she will likely get a sufficient number of Begich voters’ second-place votes to propel her ahead of Peltola.

After results came in Tuesday night, Begich said in a phone call that he remains “really optimistic” about his November run. Peltola’s campaign manager Anton McParland also said they were already looking ahead to November.

Shuckerow said the November election results could be different from the special election results. Turnout is typically significantly higher in November compared to the August primary, which can change both campaign strategies and the makeup of the voters.

John-Henry Heckendorn, a political consultant who runs Ship Creek Group, which has advised Peltola’s campaign, said the results are particularly encouraging for the Democrat’s campaign. Rural Alaskans and progressives — two groups that are likely to favor Peltola — have higher turnout in the November election. And Peltola has had less money to spend on getting her name out there, meaning that there are still many voters who aren’t familiar with her, polling suggests, he said.

“Mary has the biggest ceiling of any of the candidates,” Heckendorn said.

State legislative incumbents defeated

The figures below were current as of Wednesday morning. Click here for more information on defeated incumbents.

Fourteen state legislative incumbents—five Democrats and nine Republicans—lost primaries in Hawaii and Wyoming over the past week. No incumbents faced contested primaries in Alaska. Overall, there are seven uncalled state legislative primaries featuring incumbents: two Democratic and five Republican.

Across the 41 states that have held state legislative primaries so far, 198 incumbents, 4.8% of those running for re-election, have lost, continuing an elevated rate of incumbent primary defeats compared to recent election cycles.

Of the 41 states that have held primaries, 11 have Democratic trifectas, 20 have Republican trifectas, and 10 have divided governments. Across these states, there are 5,319 seats up for election, 85% of the nationwide total.

New York Times endorses in battleground congressional primaries (and a roundup of other news)

The New York Times endorsed Dan Goldman in New York’s 10th Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler in the 12th District, and U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in the 17th. 

City & State New York wrote that the Times‘ mayoral primary endorsement last year helped Kathryn Garcia, who placed second, win in areas in the redrawn 10th and 12th Districts.

Goldman, lead counsel in the first impeachment proceeding against former President Donald Trump (R), is running alongside U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones (of the pre-redistricting 17th District), New York City Council member Carlina Rivera, state Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou, and several others. 

Nadler is running against U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Suraj Patel, who challenged Carolyn Maloney in 2018 and 2020.

Sean Patrick Maloney, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is running against state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi in the redrawn 17th.

Here’s a roundup of other news in these battleground districts:

In the 10th:

  • On Aug. 15, Jones and Niou held a joint press conference saying Goldman was trying to buy the seat. Jones referred to Goldman as a conservative Democrat. NY1 reported that Goldman has given his campaign $4 million. 
    • Goldman said in late July that until campaign finance reform happens, “it is important for us to try to match some of my competitors and level the playing field as a first-time candidate. So I want to spend more time with the voters, so I have agreed to put some of my own money in this race.”
  • An Emerson College poll showed Goldman with 24%, Niou with 18%, Jones with 17%, and Rivera with 15%. The margin of error was +/- 4.3 percentage points.
  • Six candidates participated in the first televised debate on Aug. 10.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed Jones.
  • The Latino Victory Fund endorsed Rivera.
  • New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (D) endorsed Niou. 

In the 12th:

  • The candidates participated in a debate on Aug. 9.
  • Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) endorsed Nadler.
  • Gloria Steinem endorsed Carolyn Maloney. 

And in the 17th:

  • The Police Benevolent Association (PBA) of the City of New York has spent $416,000 opposing Biaggi. PBA president Patrick Lynch called Biaggi a “privileged New York City radical.” 
    • Biaggi said Sean Patrick Maloney should “immediately condemn pro-Trump Super PAC interference in our Democratic primary.” 
    • Maloney’s campaign said, “It is the height of hypocrisy for Alessandra Biaggi to solicit over $100,000 in PAC and dark money support on her behalf, and then attempt to deny others the same right to be heard.”
  • The Working Families Party PAC spent $100,000 on ads supporting Biaggi and criticizing Sean Patrick Maloney for votes the group said were against the Affordable Care Act.
    • Maloney said the votes in question “go back to 2013 when the website wasn’t working and I thought people should have a little more time before we fine them.”
  • On Aug. 10, former President Bill Clinton endorsed Maloney. 

New York’s congressional primaries are Aug. 23.

Campaigns make final push in Florida’s gubernatorial primary

Heading into Florida’s Aug. 23 gubernatorial primary, candidates Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried are “flooding Floridians with phone calls, texts, door-to-door canvassers and mailers in the homestretch of an almost certain to be low-turnout” primary, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Recent polls have told very different stories about the state of the race. A St. Pete Polling survey from early August showed Crist leading Fried 56%-24%. A University of North Florida poll conducted last week showed them tied within the +/- 4.3 percentage point margin of error—Fried had 47% to Crist’s 43%.

The winner will face Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Both Crist and Fried say they’re the candidate most likely to defeat DeSantis in the general election. 

Crist, a U.S. House member, said, “I’ve got the experience, I’ve done the job, I’ve raised the money, I’ve got the endorsement of every major newspaper in the state.” 

Fried, the state agriculture commissioner, said Democrats “see I’m the one who has taken on Ron DeSantis the last three and a half years, that I’m able to tackle him on issue after issue and that I can get into the trenches and not just throw punches, but land them.”

Crist was elected governor as a Republican in 2006. He left the Republican Party in 2010 and lost the U.S. Senate election running as an independent that year. Crist ran for governor as a Democrat in 2014. Rick Scott (R) defeated Crist 48%-47%. Crist then defeated incumbent Rep. David Jolly (R) in the 2016 election for Florida’s 13th Congressional District, 52%-48%.

Fried defeated Matt Caldwell (R) by 6,753 votes in the open agriculture commissioner race in 2018. Fried is the only Democrat to win statewide elected office in Florida since 2012 when Barack Obama (D) won the state in the presidential election, and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D) was re-elected. (Nelson lost his 2018 re-election bid to Scott.)

Finance reports through June 30 showed Crist raised $11.7 million to Fried’s $2.5 million. 

Three independent forecasters rate the general election Likely Republican.

Competitiveness data: Florida

Florida’s primaries are on Aug. 23. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.